I don’t know what to do. All I know is I’m sad. I can barely type this…
I have been a born again Christian since I was 19 years old. I was raised Catholic and always believed in Jesus. But I hit my late teens and started going to a Baptist church with my then boyfriend and future husband and I started questioning just what it was I believed. I read books, I talked to my priest who was very helpful. I began attending church with my best friend and opened a Bible for the first time in my life. And when I really felt like I understood the gospel, I knew my life would forever be altered because I understood what it meant to be a Christian for the first time.
The first few years were a bit of a struggle for me because the learning was stunted. My husband and I left California to live in Washington and the church we found was very friendly but weak on teaching. After almost ten years we moved back to California and I began working part time at our new church. A very strong teaching church. I worked for the pastor who knew his stuff and I began helping him with research and did his notes on Sunday morning. I read all of his sermons before, during and after. I sat in church knowing when each note should come up on the screen because I had chosen them the night before. I was surrounded by the Word, I had no choice but to soak it up. I grew and I learned so much.
I worked there for 8 years and now work in another ministry job where I can work from home. I’m still constantly reading commentaries, praying, reading the Bible and am surrounded for the most part by other Christians as my closest friends. I’m a good, strong, mature Christian woman….
But I’ve been struggling in one area. Men.
My husband played drums at our church, he was active in Bible study, we had many pastors who were great examples of godly men as close friends. But he had an affair with a woman from work and left me. All of our friends tried calling him, asking him out to lunch, talking to him anyway they could, but he rebuffed all their attempts. He sat in church with me my whole entire adult life and then he did the opposite of what he said he believed. He did not honor God by remaining faithful to his promise to me. He did not put God first. He put himself first. He walked out on us. We are still suffering the consequence of that sin. Financially, emotionally, spiritually.
Worse for me…Martin came into my life. He made me feel safe. He told me he loved Jesus. He told me he was a believer. He sat in church with me. He promised me things. I watched him get baptized. But all the while he was married and lying to me. I found out today he is on vacation in Greece with his two daughters and his wife. I believe he never did get that divorce. It’s funny because I told him I would watch and wait and that he needed to think there was no chance of us getting back together for me to really see what he was really like. Today I saw pics of him…happy and back with his family, including his wife…and I feel vindicated for telling him no and for putting my foot down and ending it once and for all. What a slime ball. Part of me is very glad he was too much of a wimp to leave his family – for their sake. They needed him, and it was the right thing to have happen. It proves he was an out and out liar to me…but I’m glad for them they still have their family intact.
But Martin…he was another among the faithful who really when it came right down to it…didn’t LIVE OUT his faith. No. He was so ready to declare himself a Christian but he was doing what he wanted…chasing me, lying to me, coveting me, leaving his faithful wife and kids in the lurch. It sounds really good to say, “I’m a Christian!” I believe in Jesus. Fine…great. But then what? Then you have to actually behave as if you believe in what He says, in the teachings of the Bible, you have to be obedient and humbly submit yourself to His authority as Lord of your life. That is what being a Christian is all about. Making him Lord. Living to glorify Him and not yourself. It’s radical.
And it’s tough. It’s not easy at all. It requires us to die to self continually and choose what He wants instead of what might seem best for us in our flesh. Not to punish us, but because we know he knows best and if we are obedient we will have something better than if we go our own way. Smoother, richer, sweeter, fuller.
I’ve had two Christian men betray my trust in the worst possible way. And that has done some major damage. I’m very skeptical of men who call themselves Christian. I’m skeptical of their claim. I’m very encouraged that my Harry doesn’t make such a claim. He is not a believer. He is curious, he is genuinely open to the possibility of it being the truth…but he is not in a place even remotely of laying claim to that truth for himself. I find that to be very honest and not off-putting at all because he attends church with me and knows a lot more about the Bible than my ex or Martin combined. He loves that I have faith and encourages me in it.
I’ve had more heart to heart talks with Harry about Jesus and the Bible than my husband and I ever did. And I’ve known in the back of my mind that my Christian friends would not approve of me dating someone outside the faith. I knew they would quote the “unequally yoked” Scripture and I was ready for them because it doesn’t specifically say “marriage”. Instead of sitting in church with a lukewarm psuedo-Christian I was with an honest, trust-worthy, loving man who “got me”.
I knew though that the fact that I work in ministry…was not ideal for my situation and that if they found out I was dating him I would be challenged as to the wisdom of that choice. They could technically fire me for conduct unbecoming if they were really upset. I can’t afford to get fired.
I’ve wanted to tell everyone, I’ve wanted to be happy about us to anyone and everyone, but in the back of my mind I knew that probably wasn’t going to go well for me. So Harry and I have been very quiet.
Today in preparation for my defense, I had it out with someone. I flashed all my Scriptures, my reasons, my justifications, my plea. And in my own defense as I was preparing to explain that even Paul in 1 Corinthians says it’s best to remain single just like he says it’s best not to be married to a non-believer in the unequally yoked verse, but the church isn’t counseling people to not marry. It was a last ditch lame argument on my part that after I read the passage in context (1 Corinthians 7) I knew didn’t hold up. But it was when I got to verse 39 that my heart stopped. It is speaking of married women and the Matthew 19:9 exception of divorce being acceptable in the case of infidelity is applied. In my case. I’m a divorced woman with biblical grounds…therefore I’m free to remarry as it says…anyone I wish, as long as he’s a Christian. It is clear in multiple translations.
1 Corinthians 7:39
It is clearly stated. It is not up for interpretation. It is written in the Bible I believe in.
So no matter how great me and Harry are together…if I AM who I say I am. If I am to LIVE my faith out like I pleaded with my husband to do. Am I to do the right thing? The thing God has called me to do? Or am I to do what makes sense to me and what I want to do?
What do I do? If I am a true follower of Christ and I really do put my trust in Him, then I tell Harry there is no possible way we can marry. I lose the love of my life believing God has something better for me. Knowing He has my best interest at heart and what I’m called to follow isn’t as much a curse of limitation as it is choosing to follow God to give me something better.
I didn’t remember that particular Scripture before or maybe I blocked it out….and I’ve been sick all evening, crying all afternoon, praying and wanting to be REAL. That is why Harry says he loves me. He says he loves how important my faith is to me. That I’m not a hypocrite but that I live it …
the worst part
It appears I’m in a catch 22. Either way, for right now, I lose.
My heart is broken because I love Harry so much. He is everything I’ve ever wanted. While we don’t agree on everything we have a deep connection because we treat people and need people in almost identical ways. We are a rare breed. I’ve never met anyone this close to who I am at my core ever before.
God has seen me through everything. I love Him, I pray to Him every night. I don’t want to be disobedient or prideful. Who am I to thumb my nose at God? What example would that be to my children?
I let Harry know today over the phone, because he’s out-of-town, that I had come across something very difficult to argue against. I didn’t want to give him the Scripture (the link has all the commentaries attached) because I knew he’d try to find a hole in it. But he really did know what I was getting at. He knows I’m struggling. He joked a little bit about getting me drunk so that I didn’t know what I was doing and having Elvis marry us in Vegas because once we were married the Bible says we have to stay married. I laughed…the thought made me smile. I said, “You would really do that to keep me?” and then cried some more.
I said the Bible doesn’t say anything specifically about dating a non-believer. And he said quickly that he would date me forever then.
I do love him so much.
But I have a choice right now. I can do what I want. Or I can be the kind of Christian I begged my husband to be. One that actually lives it even when it’s not easy. One that puts God first.
I don’t know what to do only because I can’t bear to lose someone else I love. I can’t bear it. I can’t bear it. I’m in an inner panic about it. Every time I think of that possibility tears well up in my eyes and start streaming down my face without even crying. Just pouring down my cheeks.
And I suddenly feel like digging another hole, huddling down in it, and letting the world keep spinning without me.
I don’t follow Christ because it’s convenient, I follow Him because I believe in who He says He is. Sometimes that means sacrifice. I get that. I get it. I hate it. But I get it.
I can’t bear it. But I get it.
I need to stop thinking about this now.
My nose is dripping of snot and my eyes are puffy and sore from crying.