I Believe in God, But My Boyfriend Doesn’t - EP 59

People Don’t Think We Should Be Together

“I grew up as a Christian. In my junior year I was introduced to this guy. We started talking and we started dating. Shortly after we were dating, he told me he did not believe in God. All the time, people are giving me bad looks or bad opinions because we believe in two separate things.” - Kayley

Kayley feels conflicted about her relationship with her boyfriend. She’s a Christian, she’s a follower of Christ and he doesn’t believe in God. We have a big lineup of peer-to-peer callers who want to give Kayley advice. Stay tuned, it’s going to be good!

Christian Dating an Atheist

Kayley: I’m a Christian. I’ve been a Christian my entire life. In my junior year I was introduced to this guy. We didn’t date or nothing like that, but something just kept me thinking about him. A year later, we started talking, and we started dating. Shortly after we were dating, he told me that he did not believe in God.

Dawson: Is he agnostic or an atheist?

Kayley: Some days it’s both, I don’t know. He has a lot of questions I can’t answer. Shortly after he told me that, he was involved in a very bad car accident, leaving my house, and almost died. He should have died.

Dawson: So, you started dating him out of high school?

Kayley: Yes, we were already graduated.

Dawson: And he was a flat-out atheist. Did that bum you out when you would talk about it and that’s what he would say he was?

Kayley: At first, it just caught me off guard, because I didn’t know how to go about it.  He had his car wreck. And before his car wreck I knew something was different about him. And I was like, I don’t know what it is. Then he told me that and I was like, that can’t be the different thing – I feel something different. Well, he had his car accident, nearly died, had to be airlifted to a hospital in Birmingham and could not walk for 6 months. He was in the ICU. It was just a very bad car accident. I stuck with him the entire thing, and we were dating a month when it happened.

We’ve been together 2 years next month now. The point of my call is all the time people are giving me bad looks or bad opinions because we believe in 2 separate things. I’m a Christian and he’s not, but what’s to say he won’t be one day. I know the Bible says we are supposed to be equally yoked, but what if I’m supposed to be there through his walk? Everybody gives me crap for it, but I don’t feel like what I’m doing is wrong.

I feel like if I told him, “You don’t believe in God, so I can’t be with you.” I feel like that would be worse than praying about it and showing him a good role model and a good Christian. He’s seen a lot of bad Christians and he knows a lot of people who are hypocritical and that’s what puts him off.

Relationship with God

Dawson: So, are you convinced that God wants you in this relationship in a romantic, intimate way? You’re saying, God says, clearly don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers, but I’m going to write a waiver for you. This applies to everybody but Kayley.

Kayley: No, I don’t think that it’s that. I felt from the day I met him that there was always something different.

Dawson: So, your feelings in this case are more important than your relationship with God?

Kayley: No, I don’t think that. I’ve been praying about it, and I felt in my heart I needed to call and talk to you about it.

Dawson: Is your mind made up?

Kayley: What do you mean?

Dawson: I’m going to stay with him, and I’m going to be his wife no matter what. I love him and I feel something special that overrides what God has to say.

Kayley: No. We almost broke up a few weeks ago. I pretty much broke down and I told God, “God, if I’m not supposed to be with him, just tell me. I’ve been praying about it, and we’ve been working through the issues. I know that if I’m not supposed to be with him then God’s going to take care of me. I know that we don’t believe the same but is it still okay to be with someone as they are walking through. He has a lot of questions and is very curious.

Dawson: Would you agree with me that the whole trajectory of your life could be changed forever?

Kayley: I do.

Either way, God’s going to take care of me. Either I’m going to have to go through heartbreak or I’m going to have to go down a road and see where God takes me with it and see where He takes my boyfriend. 

Dawson: I could cut off my hand, and tell God I’m sorry and to help me, and He would, but my arm wouldn’t grow back.  

Making a Choice to Listen to God

Kayley: I don’t know if I mentioned, but we do live together too.

Dawson: OMG

Kayley: Because of the wreck, I lived at his house with his dad to help through everything and we did get so close so fast. You are right, this will change my life one way or another.

Dawson: Kayley, you are in deep. I’m a pro, and you stopped me in my tracks when you said that. I’ve taken over 40,000 calls and I’m sitting here, like, I can’t believe what I just heard. So, it’s not just an intellectual thing of God’s word versus my emotions. It’s I’ve become one with this guy, I’ve been intimate with him. Now, I’m really wrapped up.

Kayley: Yes, and that’s the scary part, because I’ve been getting back in church and praying more and doing what I’m supposed to do for myself. It’s scary to tell God to take over – make your choice – whatever is going to happen is going to happen. It definitely is a scary thing.

Dawson: Well, God’s answered your prayers, He’s brought you here tonight…if you want to listen to what God has to say?

Kayley: Yes.

Dawson: Stakes are high, Kayley. We are going to your peers for advice. What do you think?

Kayley: Okay.

Dawson: Can you handle it?

Kayley: Yes.

Peer to Peer Advice For Kayley:

Here’s advice for Kayley from Chelsea, Janet, Martha, Janna, Annie, Nicole, Taylor, Chris, Madonna, Doug, and Clara.

I’m Married to Someone Who Won’t Go to Church - Chelsea

Hi. Well, I'm married to someone who won't go to church with me. He hasn't come right out and said he's not a believer. But I will say that right now, where you are in your life, just imagine what God can do in your life. And I'm going to tell you, if you stay with this guy, your life is forever going to be about… okay, I can't do this because my husband/my boyfriend doesn't love Christ; instead of being engulfed in loving people through Christ, engulfed in whatever God has for your life.

If you want to have people over at your house and have Bible studies and things like that, and I'm not saying that that's your interest, but those things automatically become “no” because you are in a relationship with someone who does not love Christ. And that's a very profound thing because not only have you stepped out of God's will, but you are now hindering God's will. And I think that it's just not worth it. I love my husband. He's my best friend, but our two-year-old son is going to grow up with his daddy, not knowing Christ.

I pray every day, but I just keep thinking back, like what could I have been doing with my life? What things could God have been doing in my life that I'm not able to do now? I want to tell somebody about this because I don't want someone else walking through that path. Like I said, I love my husband. I love my church family, and I love that they pray for my husband, but there's just so much more that God has for you.

Would You Do it Over Again?

It's so tough, and I don't even want to think about it, because I have a beautiful son. We have a beautiful life. I would have definitely thought about it.

My Ex and I Weren’t On The Same Page With Our Faith - Janet

I had dated, he's now my ex-husband, I had dated him for 10 to 12 years, off and on. I had been away from my faith. I got back to my faith, wanting to live by faith and I had things telling me - my common sense - I realized later, telling me we weren't on the same page (equally yoked). I had that same feeling that Kaley did, like who am I to question where he is on his journey with God. And even though actually he did come to want to live a faith-filled marriage, my common sense told me that things weren't matching up. He wasn't living it. He was saying it, but he wasn't living it.

And at that time, I believed faith would override common sense. Actually, I've learned that faith includes your common sense. We're not on the same page. We're not equally yoked. We're not going in the same direction.

Don’t Settle for Less Than God Has for You - Martha

When you walk with God, you don't need to settle for that. I was in the same situation. I kept saying, “I'm going to save him.” I made a choice to just let go. You need to let go, because God's not a God of confusion. He's going to give you somebody who will bring you closer to Him, not pull you away.

You cannot be with God and be having a sexual relationship because he's not your husband. It’s just somebody that you're sleeping with. I think if you really want to walk with the Lord, just let go. This relationship, it needs to be yours. God's going to make a way for him to come back to you, but the right way.

When I did that, I walk with the Lord now better than before. And I learned something, this relationship, you don’t need to settle for that. God has your husband. God has the man for you. Just let him go because the enemy has many scams to pull you away from God. God has a call on your life. You’re going to delay your calling.

There Are Consequences to Your Choice - Janna

My mother was a Christian and knowingly married an unbeliever. And it was hell.  My dad did accept Christ, but I can tell you that my view of God, and even general psychology tells you that the child's view of God is based on their father, and it is. There are consequences to pay for when you go against what our heavenly father wants for you. What he wants for Kayley is an abundant life. And he's telling you, it's going to be a struggle if you do this. There are going to be consequences to pay. And I can tell you that the first question out of my mouth, when I saw my husband was, “Are you a believer?” That's the difference it made in my life. And I would have turned around and walked away if he said, “no”.

And I can't imagine raising teenagers because I have a young son now that's 21 and a marriage that was equally yoked. If my mind was busy oriented on my husband's liturgy, I couldn’t have done it. And my mother is now 75 and has Alzheimer's and she tells me she wouldn't have done it again. So, be extremely careful about your choice.

And there's an alternative. I was stopped in my tracks when I heard she had slept with him – because now there's a piece of her heart and soul with this man that will always be there. I would caution her against being even his friend. You know, that's kind of plan B, but he's watching her, he's watching her witness and she’s not being hypocritical if she's saying that I'm believing what the Bible says. In other words, when you become a Christian or when you can go to church or when you're a believer, then we can have a relationship. God can work in mighty ways, but it's not Kayley's job. It's the Holy Spirit’s job. It's her job to pray and to do the right thing in her life.

Go Back to Scripture When You Need to Hear From God - Annie

She had said she had called in because she had this question and she also felt like she knew, but she also wanted to hear from God on the issue. And so that was the first thing that stuck out. And so, I wanted to say, we always go back to scripture when we need to hear from God. It's about what he says in his scripture as our primary point of hearing his direction on topics like this one. And so, he's already given his answer and he said, don't be unequally yoked. We have to decide if we're going to obey what he says or are we going to try and seek other answers that are actually more along the lines of what we want to hear. And so that's really hard, it's a hard truth. It's not this battle between justice and mercy. It is what he says.

But then we can also go to what he says in Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all your needs, according to his riches in Christ Jesus.” And in Hebrews 11: 6, he says that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. So, when we take him at his word, which is literally in the scripture and says, don't do this. And we choose to believe that what he says is best for us, then he will supply all of her needs when she decides to get out of that relationship. And he will reward her faith in him for seeking him and choosing to believe that he is what he says that he is.

I Thought I Could Change Him - Nicole

I was actually in Kaylee’s situation about a year ago. I knew going in that he was an atheist, and I knew going in that I was a Christian. I kind of had that same idea that maybe my convictions would lead him. But in the end, the only thing that happened was - I started to grow weary in my faith and I started to go away from Christ. And I think that kind of goes back to the saying that, you know, if they're not leading you to Christ, then they're leading you away from Christ. Said another way, it's always easier to pull somebody down that its to pull somebody up. You don't see it sometimes, but just not going to church every week starts to wear on you.

God Wants the Best for You - Taylor

I just wanted to tell Kaylee that she is loved, and she is worthy. She is special, that God knows all the hairs on her head. He knows everything that's going on with her life and he would not want her to entertain any kind of sin. He has someone special for her and she needs to just wait on him and pray for him. And as she prays and as she goes to church, God will put it on her conscience that what she's doing is wrong and it's not in his will. And don't violate that Kayley, listen to it. So, your faith is not shipwrecked, because with God all things are possible. He is good. He is God. He loves you so much and wants nothing but good for you. And he will surely give you that, but you have to trust him, and you have to follow him, and you have to obey his commands that he asks of you. He only asks them for your good, because he loves you and he wants the best for you.

I have been in a situation where I was doing the same thing, like missionary dating, trying to show someone God, through dating them. And I ended up with a child out of wedlock and now my child doesn't have a good Godly father and he doesn't have an example and there's just so much hurt and pain that comes with living out of God's will. And you don't have to have that baby. What is the relationship – with God it could conquer anything. Good things are worth waiting for!

Sometimes We Need a Little Bit of Tough Love - Chris

I do have advice for Kaylee.  You were just speaking about the truth, and sometimes we need just a little bit of tough love. What it all boils down to is… the truth is the most important thing here. First of all, I'd like to say when a Christian dates a non-believer - you have to ask yourself, why have I become so complacent in my walk with the Lord that I feel comfortable or that better yet, they feel comfortable being around me. And also, scriptures tell us what fellowship has light with the darkness and it tells us not to be unequally yoked.

Dawson: Okay, you got me thinking when you were talking there about…Why would they want to be around you? You know, Jesus made people nervous. It says in Isaiah, he was like one from whom men hide their faces. Jesus was so full of being Jesus. God in the flesh…perfect God, perfect man, Jesus Christ. When he walked in the room, either you were drawn to him because you wanted to deal with your spiritual needs or you got out of there, because you did not want to be around a man. Peter said, “Have nothing to do with me, you holy man.” Whoa, what was that? Jesus flashed a little deity on him - that's what that was about. So, you have to ask yourself the question. Why would somebody who is not trusting Christ? Why would they feel comfortable around us? Because we are the light of the world.

Chris: We can't settle for the things that we're willing to settle for when God has got so much better for us.

Why Do You Need to Give Up Yourself for Someone Else? - Madonna

I walked this walk that Kaylee's walking and I'm an old lady now. And I have some maybe wisdom to share that maybe Kelly needs to ask herself why she feels that she needs to give up herself for somebody else. Because I've been in relationships with people and not never been in a relationship with somebody that totally didn't believe in God, but there've been a lot of people that I've been in relationships with that weren't having a relationship with God. And then I married a man who was the spiritual head of my household. And I learned from him that when it says in the Bible to be submissive, we Americans living with the submissive word today - don't get it. That man loves me so much.

Dawson: Because you've made the right choices here. You are older than 29, let's put it that way and the fruit continues in your life, even as you are in your later years.

Right, where before I wanted to save somebody else and in wanting to save that other person, I was losing myself.

It’s Hard to Be Single and Hold Out for the Right Person - Doug

I just wanted to tell you I'm a single dad of three, and I raise my kids full-time by myself. I’ve probably been single for over a year now. And I know how hard it is to be single and hold out for the right person and trust God for that person. But if you don't do that then you're going to end up in a bad situation and you're not going to have God to intervene in that situation because of the disobedience that you had towards him. C.S. Lewis said, “If you're not seeking God, the devil is seeking you.

Listen to God Tugging on Your Heart Right Now - Clara

I just wanted to tell Kayley that I was in the same position as you a couple of years ago. I was in a relationship with an atheist. I'd grown up in a Christian household, but I was not on fire for Christ, but God was definitely tugging on my heart. I think that's something that he may be doing to you right now, which led you to call and seek advice. I would just encourage you to listen to God's tugging on your heart right now, Kayley, because I think he is calling you to something greater. And I definitely took that calling from God when I was in the relationship and out of obedience, he blessed me.

How Hard Was it to Walk Away?

It was the hardest thing possibly ever, but God has blessed me abundantly. Well, this is what happened - once I decided to leave the relationship, I decided to commit my life to Christ again.  I was all in for Christ. I decided that I'm either going to stay in this relationship and not be sold out for Christ. Or I can follow Christ and be obedient because I know that's what God wants. I want to be in heaven with God. I don't want to live in the darkness. So, I committed my life to Christ, and started attending church again. A year after, I met my wonderful husband and I've been married for a year and a half now. I'm just so thankful that I have somebody that can pray with me when I need help in the middle of the night, when I wake up from a nightmare and he can assure me that everything's okay. You don't need to fear anything because you have God. And that, that advice is just so comforting to have somebody that could be that for you.

Dawson: So, you put yourself in a position after you've broken up with this other guy, when that was the hardest thing you ever did. And then where did you meet your husband at church or where?

Clara: Yes, I met my husband at church.

Dawson: You know, when you're looking for a man or a woman in your life… church. Church beats the bars; I can tell you that.

Clara: Definitely. So, everyone told me at the time, “Follow your heart.” They were thinking, your heart is with this guy, you love this guy. But you know what? God was tugging on my heart more than this guy.

Dawson: You know, that's just so bogus. Follow your heart. Go with your heart. What!?! We know emotions are strong and powerful and God's given us emotions, but the Bible also says, guard your heart. Why would we have to guard our heart if God didn't want us to, you know what I'm saying? God said, guard your heart because you got to protect it for out of it comes the issues of life. Not when I go to Kroger to get food, these are decisions that put your whole life on a different trajectory - out of them come the issues of life. I'm just having a hard time with this - trust your heart. I don't trust my heart.

Clara: Yes, trust God, the maker of the universe.

Dawson: Yes, try the maker of the universe rather than your little pitter-patter heart and God will change our desires to and reshape our hearts. When we put our hearts ahead of obedience - now we're in trouble, it's better to obey than to sacrifice, God says.

Clara: It was a great experience. And honestly, in that moment I had to choose, am I going to be a testimony to my boyfriend at the time who's seen how serious I'm taking my commitment. And I feel like that was an even greater testimony of my walk with Christ to show him that perseverance and faith.

Your Will Versus God’s Will

It’s interesting…so often we as Christians want to live in the world and do everything the world does, but also have a relationship with God and have His blessing on our lives.

If you are a follower of Christ…what does God want from you? Jesus says the most important commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) It’s really hard to love God with your all, when you are partnered with someone who doesn’t believe. The ideal is that the person you’re in a relationship with, will see God’s love through you and accept Christ as their savior and embrace the faith…but so often that doesn’t happen. Is it worth taking the chance that they will never believe?

We had such great insights from our peer-to-peer callers. Thank you to Chelsea, Janet, Martha, Janna, Annie, Nicole, Taylor, Chris, Madonna, Doug, and Clara. So many of you were able to speak from personal experience…which is priceless!

I heard the emotion in Chelsea’s voice when she was talking about how her 2-year-old son is going to grow up with a dad who doesn’t know Christ. Chelsea, is married to a man, and clearly a good man, but she really understands the depths of what that means for her and her son that he doesn’t believe in God.

Martha talked about how God has a call on your life, Kayley. And that is true for each and every person. God has a call on your life. Do you want to the fullness of God’s calling, or do you want to be in conflict for the rest of your life? If you marry someone who doesn’t share your faith, there will be conflict. And maybe you are just dating someone. If you’re dating someone - you could potentially fall in love with them which could lead to marriage – so don’t even mess around dating someone who is not a follower of Christ (who’s not someone you would marry).

The culture tells us to follow our heart – I mean we are spoon-fed this from Disney movies from the time we are toddlers – follow your heart. But God tells us to guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Scripture also says, “For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, greed, wickedness…and more.” It is only through God’s grace we are transformed, and our hearts are made new.

There are many times throughout our lives, we have to choose to follow Jesus – are we going to follow Christ and obey him or are we going to go our own way? Kayley is at that crossroads in her life right now. Which will she choose…will she obey God or do what she thinks is right for herself? She says she will think about what has been shared today.

Thank you for listening and being a part of this podcast. If you have an opinion or experience, you’d like to share, please post in the comments. If you are struggling with a big decision and need advice, need Godly wisdom, visit us at TheHopeLine.com.

Resources on Relationships:

Relevant eBooks:

Need to talk to someone? Chat with a HopeCoach at TheHopeLine.

One last thing,

Dawson’s podcast, our website, everything we do is entirely listener supported. If you’d like to help us to continue our work, please make a gift right now on our Give Now page.

This is the Dawson McAllister Podcast, and until next time…Remember you are loved, you are valuable, and God has an amazing plan for your life. – Rachel

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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