Monday, February 10, 2014

How to drive away your boyfriend

Billy Graham receives a letter from a woman concerned about her boyfriend. As usual, bad advice is brandied about...
Q: My boyfriend went to church with me the other day, and afterward he said he didn't like it very much because the preacher kept talking about our need for God's forgiveness. He says he doesn't feel like such a terrible sinner. How should I respond?
Do you really need to respond? So what if your boyfriend doesn't like your church, preacher, or even agree with your religion? Does that have to be a big deal? Not at all! The real question here is what's more important to you? Do you want to love your boyfriend for who he is, or do you want to change him.
and mold him into someone who always agrees with you no matter what. If the latter is your answer, I'd say that you don't really love

A sure fire way to drive someone away is to try and force them to change against their will. It could be possible that this is an interfaith relationship. She may be a Christian, and he could be a non-believer, or a less literal Christian. But this doesn't have to be a problem. I am an atheist that is married to a believer of sorts. Sure, she's not a Christian, but she's no atheist. Relationships are as much about respect as they are love. We love one another, but we also respect one another. We share our theological opinions, but we do not force them on one another. We may not always agree, but we always respect one another and where they are coming from. What's so wrong with that?

You see, that's the kind of answer that should have been given to that question. Here is the mess of a reply that Graham offered...
A: What your boyfriend is actually saying is that he doesn’t think he needs God — and that should concern you very much. Not only does it create a barrier between you right now, but it should warn you about potential problems in the future — especially if you were to get married. The Bible warns, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). 
 Nice... So somehow her boyfriend having his own opinion is divisive, but telling her to only associate with Christians isn't? There are no signs here that he is trying to push anything on her. From the question, it appears that he only offered an opinion (possibly after being asked for it). And no, if
he actually does have a different theological stance than she does, that is not creating a barrier between then at the present. Actually, I have the feeling that Graham is the one that is about to suggest she do something that will create a barrier between them.

As for a barrier in the future... Prove to me that there is an afterlife to be concerned about first. Then we'll talk. And why do I get the feeling that Graham is painting nonbelievers as people to be avoided and as bad love interests? Does he need to be reminded that the majority of inmates are Christians, and that believers also get divorced more often than non-believers do? Turn off the blind discriminatory hate for a moment and look at your own problems please...
What can you say to your boyfriend? First, you might ask him how he defines sin. Is it only a horrible crime or act of violence? Is it only being enslaved by a terrible habit, like drugs or alcohol? If that’s all sin is, then he’d probably be right in his position. He reminds me of the man in one of Jesus’ stories who declared, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people — robbers, evildoers, adulterers” (Luke 18:11).
Oh yes, lets rely on a dusty old book that is often laughable and wrong to determine what is 'sinful'. If you've bothered to read the Bible you'll soon realize that it'd be easier to make a list of what this god doesn't consider to be a sin, than to make a list of what he does. Hell, according to the Bible, wearing a poly-cotton blend t-shirt, getting a haircut, or eating bacon are all sins... If you ask me, the laws that we've collectively come up with are far more realistic, rational, and conducive to a positive society.

Of course there's the irony that the Bible also dictates that the girlfriend in question shouldn't even be asking questions or speaking out in church, and instead defer to 'her man' for instruction. Rather convenient that she simply ignores that rule from her supposed god's perfect book...
But your boyfriend (like the one in Jesus’ story) is guilty of a sin that’s even greater than any of these. It is the sin of pride, and the reason it’s so serious is because it cuts us off from God. We think we don’t need God, and we don’t want anything to do with Him.
I don't think I've ever met anyone more full of the supposed sin of pride than a devout believer. They can come across as so very full of themselves and certain of their faith that it absolutely gushes from their every pore. Meanwhile, Graham would like to say that I'm the one that is too prideful because I don't believe. But am I? I don't think so. Give me one reason... one piece of  evidence and I could change my mind on the spot. I realize that I could be wrong. To me the person that knows that they could be wrong sound like a humble person, whereas the one that says that nothing could ever change their mind is the one that is 'too full of pride'.
Love... If you have this, I mean really have this, it shouldn't
matter one bit what your partner's religions beliefs are.
Pray for your boyfriend, that God will open his eyes to his need for Christ. Ask God also to help you be an example to him of God’s love and purity and righteousness. Your friend needs Christ, and God wants to use you to help him face his need.
 And there it is. Graham stated earlier that her boyfriend's simple opinion was creating a barrier
between them... And not Billy is suggesting something that is almost sure to create a barrier between them or even destroy their relationship. Remember, as far as we can tell from this letter, these two have no real issues between one another. So Graham suggests what? That we create one!

These two may love one another and this theological 'issue' may not even be an issue at all. But if she follows Graham's advice and tries to force him to change a very real rift could be created. Lets suppose that he's a non-believer for a moment. If he were to demand that she turn from Christ and leave the church, he'd rightly be considered an ass. But the same is true if she tries to tell him that he has to fall in line with what she believes. Do that, and consider that relationship over.

As I can personally attest people with different theological stances can and do thrive in a relationship. So Graham, instead of focusing on decisive labels, please try to focus on individuals for a change...

-Brain Hulk

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