The Trouble With Evangedating
e·van·ge·da·ting 1. Attempting to date a non-Christian of the opposite sex with the intent of converting them to Christ, sharing the Gospel. (UrbanDictionary.com)
Scenario 1: Girl meets guy through a mutual friend. He’s handsome, funny, and genuine, but isn’t really interested in God, which is important to girl. Guy asks girl out. She hesitates and thinks “Should I go?”
Scenario 2: Guy gets invited to a bible study/retreat/conference by his friend, he goes, has a powerful encounter with Jesus and begins to live his life for Christ. Guy’s girlfriend has not had a similar encounter with Jesus, nor is she interested in doing so. He begins to wonder, “Can this still work?”
Scenario 3: Girl and guy are both into their faith, but guy has a life-changing event that dramatically changes his faith and he no longer believes the things he used to. Girl still desires to share in their faith, but guy is no longer interested. She begins to think the relationship is headed nowhere but is afraid to break up with him because if she does maybe he’ll lose his faith forever.
Hey reader, can you replace your name, or a friends name, with “guy” or “girl” in one of the above scenarios? I’m rarely a betting woman, but I’m going to say “yes” on this one. I’m confident in this because I’ve heard these scenarios over and over again from Catholics in the dating scene and the question is always the same “What do I do?”
Many Christians here will give you a blanket “2 Corinthians 6:14, do not be yoked with unbelievers.” Loosely translated to, “If you partner up with a non-Christian, it will never work out. The non-Christian will slow you down in your faith because they won’t be pulling their spiritual weight.” At the end of the day I certainly agree with where people are going with that, but at the same time I just don’t think it’s that black and white.
When a friend of mine first met her future spouse, he was a bit rough around the edges. He asked her out and she flat out said “no,” but because they lived in the same community their paths still frequently crossed, and his attraction to her goodness and beauty only intensified. Over time he began to see that what she desired in a man was holiness, something he hadn’t spent much time working on. It was her example that made him want to grow in holiness not just to win her heart, but more importantly for the sake of his own. Eventually they started dating and even although you wouldn’t call them “evenly yoked” at the time, he wanted more than anything to become the man she deserved and the man who could help her grow in holiness, which he continued to strive for on a daily basis.
Sometimes God uses human love and attraction to bring people closer to Him. The truth, beauty, and goodness of one person, can spur another person on to reach for something greater, but only if they are challenged to do so. The above scenarios can be sticky waters however and not something to be flippantly prayed through or ignored. If you find yourself here asking, “what should I do?”, my first piece of advice is to take it to serious prayer. Pray for the wisdom to see things clearly for what they really are. Then pray for the grace to accept God’s direction, whether it be what you want or not. Next, evaluate the situation, preferably with the help of a friend/mentor who will give you sound advice. I’ve put together the following red lights and green lights to help you know if your current or potential relationship could end in a true pursuit of love or a quick tailspin of disaster.
Red Light #1: They support your faith, but have no interest in ever pursuing a faith of their own.
Support is good, but when it comes to something as deep and personal as faith, walking the journey together is better. There will be times in your life when you will need to rely on each other’s faith for strength, and when those times come, you’ll want that faith to be there.
Red Light #2: They only attend faith related events to please you.
If Mrs. Wonderful only goes to Mass or Bible study because she knows it makes you happy, she’s probably not having the true conversion of heart that you’re looking for. This kind of faith is built on sand and as soon as the relationship is over the person will slowly, or quickly, walk away from their facade of faith.
Red Light #3: They pull you away from your faith.
Is the person you are dating having a negative impact on you? Are they pulling you away from the things that you once had confidence in? Questioning why you believe what you believe isn’t bad, but abandoning it in emotional haste is. If you find yourself beginning to lose the peace and joy that comes from a relationship with Christ, it’s important to ask yourself why.
Green Light #1: They seek spiritual growth outside of you.
Did they join a bible study or sign up for a service project without your prompting? Did they casually mention they were in adoration this morning or prayed a rosary during their run? These are signs of personal growth, not trying to please someone. If they are seeking out spiritual opportunities on their own, this is a very good sign.
Green Light #2: They have engaged in a Christian community.
One of the greatest needs of an authentic disciple of Christ is community. Nobody can live the Christian life well on their own. And while your support as girlfriend or boyfriend is good and necessary, your significant other will need others in their life who also support them in their journey to make the faith their own and not just something they share with, or because of, you.
Green Light #3: Their growing faith helps you grow in your faith.
Maybe they have never prayed a novena, are clueless as to who St. Francis Xavier is, and couldn’t tell you what Vatican II was about, but they have blown your mind several times over with their thoughts on the prodigal son and how amazed they are at the sight of the Eucharist. The details will fill in over time, just like it did for you, so if they inspire you make your own discovers in Scripture and fall more deeply in love with our Lord, you are both on the right track.
At the end of the day remember, it’s God who brings about a conversion, not us. If we are trying to evangedate so we can claim the “winning” of a soul or so that we create the good, holy boyfriend/girlfriend that we can’t find, we’re bound to get burned on multiple levels. But if God is at work and is using our lives as a tool to bring about a greater good in a unique style, who are we to stand in His way? Be authentically yourself and always prayerful; God will take care of the rest.
Be saints, it's worth it!