Bringing Clarity

Greetings to you all mid-week, and I hope this finds you well.   As most of you know, this past Sunday I blogged about my experience of dating a non-Christian as well as the emotional whirlwind surrounding it.  Over the last few days it’s become clear there were some strong reactions to what I wrote, and I want to take the opportunity to address those who were affected in a negative way.   It is difficult to know I have hurt or disappointed some who have been members of this community for a long while and faithfully commit to the Monday practice of prayer and fasting we share.

Since we’ve had some recent posts on shame, I wanted to stay with that theme.  Shame is something I struggle with in my life around all sorts of issues, and right now it’s showing up in the context of my dating relationship.  Because of this, part of my faith practice involves regularly returning to the truth of God’s unconditional, unchanging love. Otherwise I have difficulty hearing His voice in a way I can understand or make sense of.

Making sense of the Holy Spirit’s voice, hearing His leading, ultimately discerning whether the man I’m dating should be in my life or not is something I can only do if I feel safe and accepted.  The voice of shame never feels safe, but God’s love always does.  It encourages and invites me back into His arms where I can receive His holy wisdom and perfect truth.

In writing about God’s unchanging love related to my dating life I was hoping to illustrate a path that God and I regularly walk together – out of shame and into love.  This is the way I hear His voice, not through harsh condemnation, but through gentle guidance and leading – the Shepherd’s rod if you will.  It is entirely possible that God will walk me out of this relationship, but part of discovering if that will happen involves me getting close enough to God’s heart in loving relationship that I can hear and trust His voice.

I can see now how the tone of my piece might have implied a focus on God’s unconditional love at the expense of His ultimate authority. This was certainly not my intention.  My goal now is to show how I see the two has intricately related:  God’s unchanging love fosters an environment in which to hear and accept His will, whether that is to be in relationship or to be single.

I sincerely hope this helps bring some depth and clarity to what I wrote.  I understand that this topic is a sensitive one and am grateful for your feedback.  Those of us at fast.pray want to know your thoughts, concerns, and feelings, and encourage dialogue around whatever comes up in relation to our writing.  Our desire is always for you to find hope and strength in the good God we serve, and to soak in His ever-present love and wisdom.

In Christ,

Kirsten
** Editors note **  After reading some of the initial comments below, I feel the need to clarify one more thing.  In this post I’ve referred to the man I’m dating as non-believer, while in my first post I refer to him as someone with a faith foundation who is not actively pursuing God.  The latter description is more accurate.  I apologize for the discrepancy. 

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62 Responses to Bringing Clarity

  1. Jen says:

    Fellow Fast Prayers,

    I’m just a fellow reader, but I’m pretty disappointed in some of the the strong and pretty judgmental reactions to Kirsten’s obviously very honest post. As we all know, the dating/singleness process is painful, confusing, and will never be fully understood. To suggest that Kirsten has “low faith” because of her decisions to continue dating this man is not only harsh, but it completely exacerbates the idea of shame – and probably doesn’t do much to help her through that. Jesus had some pretty strong words for people who did not acknowledge other’s pain and just followed through on actions that they thought made them holy, at those other’s people’s expense. Since Kirsten herself has indicated that this very topic brings up a sense of shame for her, who are we to remind her, over and over again, about it? Could not her wrestling be enough? It is love that will cast out fear and shame, not judgment. Some of these very harsh responses -obviously, not all of them – are why Christians today are viewed so poorly, and while I obviously fit into struggle of wrestling with grace/truth every day, I’m not so sure judging others in their walks should be taken so lightly as it seems to be. At the very least, I don’t think it’s our job to ensure truth is being shoved down someone’s throat – surely, we can attempt to believe that the Holy Spirit will speak to Kirsten as He sees fit.

    • Mo says:

      @ Jen –

      “Fellow Fast Prayers, I’m just a fellow reader, but I’m pretty disappointed in some of the the strong and pretty judgmental reactions to Kirsten’s obviously very honest post. ”

      This is an attitude I am seeing more and more often. The minute a Christian speaks up for biblical values (which necessarily means speaking against something else) other Christians pop up and call them judgmental.

      How on earth did this trend begin? Jesus never said anything about not judging. He said to judge correctly. The Bible is full of passages that tell us to watch out for each other, that we may not fall prey to the deceitfulness of sin. It doesn’t say that we are to see a fellow sister in Christ making a serious decision that may be a mistaken one, and instead of warning her, cheer her on.

      No one is judging anyone here. We are speaking up in concern for a fellow Christian sister who is beginning down a road that will only lead to pain for her and great confusion for her readers here.

      Finally, it’s remarkable how those who tell others never to judge (again, mistakenly, since this is not the teaching of Scripture) are the first ones to judge others.

      ” Jesus had some pretty strong words for people who did not acknowledge other’s pain and just followed through on actions that they thought made them holy, at those other’s people’s expense. ”

      No one has done that here, that I have seen. Everyone has admitted how difficult this struggle is. Some have even confessed to struggling in this area themselves at one point or another in their lives. (Including me.) So please show me who is saying anything because they think it “makes them more holy”?

      ” I’m not so sure judging others in their walks should be taken so lightly as it seems to be.”

      And yet you have no problem doing so to me and to anyone else who has spoken up here. Why is that?

      “At the very least, I don’t think it’s our job to ensure truth is being shoved down someone’s throat – surely, we can attempt to believe that the Holy Spirit will speak to Kirsten as He sees fit.”

      No one is shoving anything.

      The Holy Spirit HAS spoken to her, otherwise she wouldn’t be struggling!

      Finally, the Holy Spirit speaks through the rest of the body of Christ, which is us.

      • Jen says:

        Hi Mo,

        Thanks for the response. I can absolutely see how some of my thoughts come across as judging in and of themselves, and to be honest, even as I wrote it I felt like that’s how it may have come across. I apologize for that. I was not in anyway insinuating that you, or anyone else here on the boards, falls into one of the Pharasiac mindsets, but I do know other believers who do. For you or anyone reading this who thought that, I am sorry, and I was just speaking out of my frustration without considering that I was doing the same thing.

        I also agree with you that a) the Holy Spirit speaks to us through other people and b) that biblical truth does need to be pronounced. I am absolutely for both of these things. Kirsten did put her situation as a post in public, so perhaps she was looking for a response.

        However.

        I’m just saying that at the end of the day, we can pray, and exhort, and encourage, but decisions that anyone makes are up to them. We can’t force anything. And we really don’t know the situation. I have dated a non-Christian myself, and know full well it’s not the wisest thing in the world, and don’t plan on doing that again. But seeing as none of us, as far as I know, know Kirsten or the guy personally, we really can’t speak to that particular situation. Although, as you said, I don’t think it’s a good choice either, I just don’t think we need to shame her when she’s already felt the shame herself.

        • Mo says:

          @ Jen –

          “I’m just saying that at the end of the day, we can pray, and exhort, and encourage, but decisions that anyone makes are up to them. We can’t force anything.”

          I agree. That’s what makes it so difficult for those watching. Those of us who’ve been down this road know how much pain can come from it. We only wish to spare Kirsten and anyone else reading from making those same errors and going through that same pain.

          Maybe that’s why we are so passionate, and why we find it so frustrating when others not only criticize us and call us judgmental (again, this is not what Scripture teaches) but then also cheer this behavior on, under the guise of “She should pray about it and see how God leads.”

          “I just don’t think we need to shame her when she’s already felt the shame herself.”

          No one is “shaming” her, as though we are calling her ugly names or saying she’s a terrible person or anything else of that sort. We are simply cautioning her about this choice.

          If she already feels shame, then it’s not caused by those who are warning her. No one can “make” you feel shame! It is because she already knows what she is doing is wrong. That’s what God does when His children are going down a path that will harm them. He brings conviction. This fact alone demonstrates that she herself knows what she is doing is wrong. She is only trying to justify it here. Those cheering her on and condemning those who are trying to bring biblical truth into the discussion (as opposed to all this talk about “feelings”) are not helping Kirsten, or anyone else in this same type of situation.

          If this was a relationship that was a good one, she wouldn’t be feeling this shame, would she?

  2. fast. pray. says:

    Just as an FYI ladies: All of our comments are moderated, and the writers got behind approving the comments. Missing comments are just accidental webmaster error. –Anna

  3. Natalien says:

    Hi Kristen,

    I have to agree with Mo. Knowing full well what Scripture says about being unequally yoked, we are in disobedience if we choose to continue to pursue a relationship that does not honour God. When we willfully try to justify why we should be in a relationship with a non-believer, we have made that relationship more important than God. It is crossing idolatry territory. We want a relationship so badly, tired of being single and no longer in our twenties. Once a man shows interest in us, how exciting and satisfying it is; however, when the man is not a Christian, there is a danger in trying to find ways to make it ok to be in the relationship. We mentally cross our fingers and pray that God quickly saves him. You will be making more excuses than a politician.

    I am speaking from experience. It’ll be painful in the long run. Scripture is very clear, unchanging, eternal and not temperamental like Man. When we desire something so badly, it is much easier to mold Scripture (which weakens the authority of Scripture in our lives, which means we are not dying to our ‘selves’) to our desires than to have Scripture mold us.

    By being in a relationship with an unbeliever, you are saying that his life is ok. Desire that he be saved instead and continue to fast and pray.

    God is sovereign, trust in Him. Be satisfied in Him.

  4. Lynn says:

    I can empathize with the original post. This life of extended singleness is a bumpy, rocky, difficult road, one wrought with difficult choices, disappointment and temptation — as well as shame — both unwarranted shame, and well-earned “shame”. About 15 years ago, I dated a non-Christian, simply because I wanted to date SOMEBODY (anybody??). I was in a period of low/questioning faith and doubt, he was cute and he pursued me actively. I knew it had no future, I knew it was wrong, and in the end nothing good came of it.

    However, I must admit, that it does bother me a bit to read about a Christian dating someone of questionable/marginal faith — without admitting more unequivocally how problematic that is. Clearly I’m not in a place to condemn anyone — and since I don’t know the poster personally, I am not in a position to impute motives. That said, I don’t get it. I honestly don’t understand the “see where God is leading” part. Does that mean that God may be leading Christians to date non-Christians? If so, given that hundreds of single women are reading this, how are we to discern whether similar opportunities (to date men of marginal/questionable faith) are God’s leading — or just loneliness and low faith? Granted, some of the issue may rest in different opinions about the point of dating. In other words, some believe that dating is just for the purpose of finding a spouse, whereas others believe dating is for skill-building, self-discovery or learning how to interact with men. Those who believe that dating is just to find a spouse may feel more strongly that dating non(marginal/questionable) Christians is wrong – whereas those who see dating as serving other purposes may see less of a problem with it.

    I guess I wonder where you stand on that — and what you hope will come of this dating relationship(?). Perhaps this is just a topic that should be tackled more directly on this blog. It is a very real issue that many people struggle with. I don’t think it helps to make it fuzzier than it already is. “Mo” got a bad rap for her postings — but I think she raised good points. Realistically, what do we expect to happen here?

  5. Monica says:

    @Mo
    For me and perhaps others, the word “yoked” equals marriage and therefore I do not see dating a non-believer (as it does not necessarily lead to marriage) to be in direct contradiction to God’s word although I understand and respect that you do. Since choosing a marriage partner, dating, courtship, whatever one calls it, was not quite the same practice in first-century culture when the New Testament was written as it is now, I believe there is room for interpretation. Fasting and prayer help us to discern. I also believe that an overly literal approach to Scripture, a text rich in images, parables, metaphors and other figures of speech, can be as dangerous as ignoring it altogether.

  6. Melody says:

    I would like to say one more thing. As much as this topic of dating a non christian partner is something that draws up strong opinions, I’d like the point out that it seems the whole point of Kirsten’s post was about feeling shame and how her relationship related to shame. Identifying that this topic brings up shame for her. So, why are we talking about whether or not she should date a non christian when we could be talking about how shame relates to feelings and thoughts in our own lives?

  7. rationalmind says:

    I’m with Mo on this.
    I am sorry but there is absolutely no justification for a born again Christian dating an unbeliever. Ever. None. The two simply don’t mix. And writing about such an experience on a blog such as this is even worse. Let’s tell ourselves the truth here. If we can’t trust God for a spouse what really are we going to trust Him for?
    We can pretend to be wiser than God, but the fact is, we are not. When we choose to go our own away, we end up with a heartache. A huge one. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to turn around, and claim that we didn’t know.
    I am not in any way trying to judge anyone here, or to pretend that I am better than anyone (I have dated an unsaved woman in the past). But the scriptures are clear on this. The tragic thing is, when we insist on going our own way, we can eventually come up with reasons why we are right. “There is a way which seems right to a man (or woman), but in the end, it brings death (to spiritual progress)”. Proverbs 14:12

    • Mo says:

      @ rationalmind –

      Thank you! One, out of an entire page of comments! (That I have seen. Perhaps there are others.)

  8. Bonnie says:

    Hi, thank you for your honesty in writing these two posts. I can’t judge you, because although I haven’t had a relationship with a non believer, I have yearned to, even though I know it would not end well.
    With all due respect though, I am disappointed that you are posting about this here, on this blog. I believe the whole purpose of this blog is to encourage young women to pray that God will raise up Godly men, and lead them into relationships…not the other way round.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Bonnie,
      Thanks for your comment. I can really understand your perspective and why it would seem ill-advised for me to write about this experience on the fast.pray site. In the end I wanted to be as honest as possible about my relationship and about feelings of shame since I believe others have had similar experiences that bring similar feelings. Obviously my decision to do so has raised lots of feelings and opinions. In which I’m thankful we have space here to talk about said feelings/opinions and influence one another, hopefully towards deeper relationship with Christ. Please know I’ve heard and thoughtfully considered all comments related to my post, and I appreciate your candidness. Thanks.

      Kirsten

  9. Tru says:

    Kirsten and all the FP Bloggers,
    Thank you so much for being bold and vulnerable with all of us on this journey of singleness. I am a writer also, and know first hand the level of courage it takes to share one’s life with others and allow their commentary. I applaud you all. I am impressed even by the depth of thought from the readers on this and many other issues. Let us press on! Be blessed you wonderful women of God!

  10. Mo says:

    @ Halennox –

    “It is wonderful that you read Scripture with a very clear concept of what it is saying to you. But, not everyone reads Scripture as you do.”

    This is exactly what has struck me as so perplexing and disturbing about this entire conversation. Of course I agree that there are some issues where Scripture is not clear and people may come to differing conclusions. (Your example of the Sabbath rest was an excellent one in that regard.) But I can’t see how that is the case with this particular issue.

    I’m just going to remove myself from the conversation and from the blog. Nothing I say seems to be getting through. The really surprising thing has been learning that nearly everyone is claiming that Scripture is some subjective thing where we all may ‘draw something different from it.’

    This has all made me very sad. I don’t know Kristen, but I can see her going down a dangerous road that will result in pain. I would hate to see that happen to anyone, even someone I do not personally know. But instead of warning her, her sisters in Christ are cheering it on. I cannot tell you how shocked this has left me.

    • DB says:

      I think it can be a issue where scripture is clear vs what God does in our hearts in order for us to live it. The way that Kirsten worded this blog let’s us know she’s aware of where she is, getting to where God wants her to be is the bottom line and recognizing hey I thought fore sure God would strike me with THAT one but He continues loving us.

      I get what you’re saying and why this conversation would vex you, I’ve said the same to people in terms of scripture being clear but it’s scripture being clear coupled with the Holy Spirit’s empowering us to carry that out AND to read it with clarity, even where our own flesh causes us to lie to ourselves so that the confusion is in what we desire vs it not being plainly spoken, even in that however if we surrender that to God He’s faithful to make that clear to the person that may not be surrendering but desires to.

      Consider any sin in which you struggle with, scripture is clear on that as well and either you can seek to try and apply the text on your own or you can in that struggle, seek God to bring you to what He desires for you to do as you submit to His will and leading in it over what you’re doing and feeling at the time.

      There are those things that we flat out have to say God said it I’m going to do it based on obedience not how I feel, but there are areas when I’ve done that and have seen growth, there are other areas where I’ve done that and failed miserably and left with nothing but the conclusion that I need God to uproot some things in me and to expose some things in me, because there is a change in me that needs to happen even if I understand what the text is saying plainly. AND as Kirsten said, coming to learn that
      God is still there and He didn’t take away His love due to whatever that wrong thing is.

      So you may not see this post but wanted to give some input on this in event you decide to revisit:)

    • ogal says:

      Hi Mo –
      I’m not sure if you’ve already removed yourself from this blog, but I am curious about why it’s so important that what you say ‘gets through’ to everyone. I must admit that when I first read the blog, I had similar feelings to you, but I also take Kirsten at her word when she says that she is trying to stay close to the Lord & his leading, which we should all be striving for. Also, I think she did make some excellent points about how our own feelings of shame can keep us from Him.

      I believe like you that most of Scripture is not subjective; however, Paul exhorted us in the following way: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Living out Ephesians 4:2 is much harder than it looks, but I appreciate how this blog has been a place for ‘bearing’ with one another. We’re already bearing with one another in our singleness, but of course, Paul doesn’t limit this exhortation to only the things that we completely agree on with one another on. I could go on and on about how all of Eph 4 applies to spiritual accountability, but maybe someone will blog on that topic if it hasn’t already:)

      Hopefully you’ve been able to take in some of the feedback others have tried to give you, but it’s not necessarily easy to absorb, is it?

      Kirsten –
      It sounds like you made a Freudian slip when you mentioned that the man you’re dating is a non-Christian, and so I have to wonder whether you already know deep down where he is spiritually and haven’t wanted to act on that knowledge. Obedience isn’t an easy path, so stay accountable to your friends who are fellow believers, and stay close to Jesus! No need to respond to my comment.

      • Mo says:

        @ ogal –

        I thought I did remove myself, but I must’ve done something wrong because I am still receiving comment notifications! So I’ll just reply because I happened to see this, and will try again to unsubscribe.

        What I have seen here in so very many comments is much talk about “feelings”, and very little about the Word.

        I’ll just leave it at that.

    • Melody says:

      But we are all different people with different perspectives, different personalities. We were made uniquely. How can we not draw something different from it? Not to say that we should all have completely opposite opinions/impressions of what scripture says, but it would be impossible to expect us ALL in the world, EVERY SINGLE christian person to get the exact same thing from every piece of scripture we read.

  11. Eve says:

    Did anyone consider that both parties may be devout believers/Christians, yet still unequally yoked? I have to agree with Jessica and Hallenox. Sometimes, no matter how well intentioned, we try too hard to play God or be His spokesperson, when God Himself is so much bigger than our interpretations and understanding of Scripture and who He is. We worship a God who holds the entire universe in His hands. Dare we, like the Pharisees, reduce Him to fit a little box? Kirsten, I support you in your walk with the Lord and as you continue to learn to revel in His love and listen to His voice. He does not judge, condemn or accuse us. We know whose role that is (yes, the enemy’s). And thank you for your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable in such a public space. Above all, guard your heart and continue to wait on Him alone in utter humility. With you in the fight. 🙂

  12. Martha says:

    Kirsten, from all of your writings, I have come to “know” you as a spiritually mature woman. You have an active, real relationship with Jesus. So, can you help me understand why you would be pursuing a relationship with a man who doesn’t have the same? Although I feel that Mo’s comments come across as harsh, I am also wondering about the “why” behind dating a man who is not heading in the same direction as you–or perhaps is not even on the same path–at this time. We can always hope for change to take place in the future but we have to base that hope on what we know now.

    My three sisters all married men who were either baby Christians or had a struggling walk with the Lord. They are wonderful men. They treat my sisters well. They are faithful. But…..they have ALL struggled significantly with spiritually leading their wives and families–and I’ve seen/heard the pain and suffering that causes. That is not to say that their marriages/family lives would be perfect if their relationship with the Lord had been rock solid–I’m just referring to the stress, distress, lack of direction, and insecurity that the weak spiritual lives of my brothers-in-law have impressed on the lives of my sisters and their children. My dad also fits the same “bill.” He is a wonderful father but my sisters and I, along with my mom, did struggle spiritually as a family because my dad’s faith and walk was faltering–dating back to when my parents started dating. I am not insinuating that you are planning to marry this guy….this is just part of my confusion–why would you want to begin to attach yourself to a man who doesn’t exemplify a life of faith in Jesus now?

    Please know that I am asking/sharing these things simply because you’ve posted about your experience–not because I’m on the prowl. I’m just struggling with how you may see this spiritually unequal dating relationship as God’s best for you, no matter how great the guy is to you.

    In all honesty, your post stirred up feelings of almost jealousy. There have been a few men in my life who have fit similar profiles/descriptions as this guy you’re dating and just about everything in me wanted to attach myself to them in a dating relationship. I will NOT assume that you and I are the same–absolutely not. But I will say that I am grateful I ripped myself away from those few possible relationships that may have been good….but not God’s best.

  13. lyreflower says:

    I am an ardent follower of fast.pray having stumbled on it somehow one day and I started following it week after week. Most of the writings are quite helpful in my own journey as a single Christian thirty something who not only believes in the absolute sovereignty of God’s word and also who has an earnest desire to find a Godly husband someday. I am not perfect but I walk each day earnestly desiring to live in obedience to His word and to honor Him. You may wonder where I am going with all these but where I am leading to is that following Christ has costs. The cost as single Christian women if we are earnestly desiring to honor God is that we will have to say NO to dating non – Christian men who are good, loving, kind, wonderful (and many other verbs you could insert here) or “people who are not actively pursuing a relationship with God” just to use the words that Kirsten used in her earlier blog. We will have to say to ourselves ‘NO, I cannot do that because it is contrary to God’s in 2 Cor 6:14”. Hence I agree with some of the comments that MO made. However, I extend much grace to Kirsten precisely because I know my own heart and how long it took to come to this conviction. I pray that God gives you wisdom in that situation and that the decision you ultimately make would be one that honors God, draws you to a deeper faith in God and causes you to be a more visible witness of God in the world.

  14. Karen says:

    Hi Kirsten,

    I just wanted to thank you for this and last weeks post! I felt a sense of honesty and openness in your blog from this past week and really appreciated that! Especially since I feel I am going through the exact same thing! I have felt so alone, rejected, and also felt that shame you talked about! But your blog really encouraged me and reminded me that I am not in this fight alone and that I’m not the only one who faces these challenges! And most importantly it helped turn my focus back to God and remember that it’s my relationship with Him that is most important! And that only He can provide a certain comfort and security that man can not! Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your heart with your sisters in Christ!

    Sincerely,

    Karen

  15. Kirsten has raised a topic that clearly has ignited tons of response. She has gone where in 5 years of writing, I didn’t, and I think that can help all of us get more clarity.

    As the Bible mentions nothing about dating, issues around dating can be fuzzy. I appreciated Kirsten’s line in today’s post where she wrote: “I can see now how the tone of my piece might have implied a focus on God’s unconditional love at the expense of His ultimate authority. This was certainly not my intention.” This resonated because I am convinced that a willingness to walk ever-more surrendered to Him and his purposes is core (on our end) to living the life as a beloved disciple.

    But following the Lord in this chaotic world of relationships is not always easy. So, for what it’s worth to anyone who is reading, the way I’ve tried to make my choices in lots of these fuzzy areas involves attending to 3 principle questions: What do the Scriptures teach? How am I wired? Am I in the light?

    So around this question of dating a non-believer:

    1) What do the Scriptures teach? My conclusion? There’s nothing direct about dating, but for a whole bunch of reasons, I’ve concluded from Scripture that God wants believers to marry believers—not because he’s a killjoy but because he’s a lover. So that should inform where any believer wants to end up with any serious dating.
    2) How am I wired? I have to be ruthlessly honest with myself. Not everyone is like me, but in my case around these dating questions, I know that I can too easily gloss over my deepest convictions for the sake of connection with an emotionally attractive man. Ironically, though, I know I only really exhale with the men who I know ultimately want to seek God above me. I have to be honest about both these things.
    3) Am I in the light? My commitment: I want to keep my honest wiring/soul/mind in the light of an empathetic community of friends who will help me make wise choices based on the realities of Scripture and the realities my own wiring. Sometimes they just listen; sometimes they shoot straight. Always they pray and help point me back to the Lord’s goodness.

    So in this case, around the question of seriously dating non-believers, I’ve concluded that as a matter of wisdom (not morality) I don’t do it, even as in all fairness, I’ve known folks who’ve seen the matter differently than I, and their boyfriend/girlfriend came to faith and marriage ensued.

    Oh, and one final P.S.: I admire that Kirsten came back so quickly to attend to the firestorm. She has modeled maturity in paying attention to folks’ concerns. All of this has reminded me to keep praying—to pray for more men to come to (or back to) Christ, to pray for the hearts of so many awesome women, to pray for profound wisdom for all of us, and to pray that we will all walk surrendered into and offering to one another the passionate, jealous love of our triune God.

  16. karen says:

    I heard your heart through your writing in your first blog…and this second one. Thank you for being willing to share honestly of your struggles. Your love for Him shines through.

  17. Liz says:

    I personally haven’t enjoyed or appreciated either posts. Whilst we all battle in different areas, I’m sure I have also with the non-Christian male/ male not actively pursing the Lord issue at one point in my life, but perhaps while you work through such a slippery issue that’s best between you and the Lord and a handful of personal spiritual mentors/accountability partners rather than a website that stands for being biblical in the season of singlehood and using that to glorify God. We all have areas we are being sanctified in with the Lord, but I feel sharing as you did in the way you did was glorifying your current situation, personally I believe the Bible is clear and there’s nothing to work through, God is gracious and takes the time and has the patient to get us to obedience, but this website I feel wasn’t where you should have shared it. There may be much younger Christians in the faith who consciously or subconsciously now ok this matter in their mind.

  18. Robin says:

    Kristen, it was good of you to reply to those who took issue with some of the points in your last blog; however, I was not bothered by it one iota and want you to know there’s a contingent who understood/related to/and was encouraged by your story. Thank you for sharing it.

  19. Carla says:

    @Mo. I am of the belief (and I’ve experienced) that God often leads us down paths that seem to be outside of our own interpretations of Scripture — and which turn out to be a fulfillment of the Scripture itself. For example, you stated that you will have “NOTHING in common (as far as a close relationship like dating) with someone who is not following Him. Nothing.” This position implies that not even God can overcome the differences between two people. Is that what you’re saying? From my perspective, your statements almost make it seem like you don’t seek the Spirit’s direction on romantic relationships yourself and instead rely on your own understanding of the Scriptures. Sometimes I’ve had to let go of what I think God told me in Scripture and hear a different interpretation from his Spirit. For example, I would argue that the Scripture about not being unequally yoked is not as black and white as you think it is.

    I’ll admit that I take a more postmodern view of the workings of God than most of the writers on this blog, so I don’t expect that everyone will agree. But I have gained so much from fasting and praying with a friend, and with this group. In fact, this experience of fasting and praying is what opened me up to all of the possibilities that God has for us that we can’t even see or understand. I’m not advocating that women who follow this blog should date non-Christians and give up any standards as to a date’s spiritual walk. But I do think that walking with God means being surprised and blessed in unexpected ways as I trust that He knows what is best for me.

    Grace and peace.

  20. halennox says:

    Kirsten – (and all the other bloggers!). What a total blessing this blog is!! I was commenting to a friend the other day how much I wish I had been around in the days of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien – sitting in a pub in Oxford, smoking a cigar (at a time when they didn’t know it was bad for you!), and wrestling with some deep, theological issues. Discussing “heavy” stuff. Fine lines between white and gray and black.

    Today, I realized this blog is a bit of the same idea. People with different backgrounds, weighing in on theological concepts, desiring to be more like Christ. Some of us have life experiences that have caused us to embrace clear black and white lines. Some of us have life experiences that make us see things in varying shades of gray (but not 50 Shades… let’s not go there!!). And praise God, we live in countries that allow us freedom to wrestle with these ideas in an open forum!! To challenge each other, and encourage each other, and pray for each other, and show each other grace upon grace upon grace as He has shown us.

    I’m so thankful that God does not want robots for children, but women (and men) who are living, human beings, engaging in a relationship with Him – one in which we are bound to disappoint, but also cause Him great joy – where He says “Wow! Look at that daughter – isn’t she fabulous?!”

    Oh, I so hope that we do not shy away from the hard questions and the hard issues in life. Thank God we have people with different opinions here who make us stop and think.

    Grace upon grace upon grace!!

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Halennox,

      Thank you for your encouragement and enthusiasm! Your desire to joyfully think and wrestle about issues of faith is something I believe we here at fast.pray want to celebrate. God did give us minds and hearts with which to engage one another, and I believe as long as He is Author over that experience we can’t go wrong.

      Kirsten

      • Mo says:

        This really is getting perplexing.

        There are a lot of spiritual-sounding words about thinking and wrestling and different opinions, but when I bring up the clear teaching of Scripture on this matter, it’s dead silence!

        This is not about feelings. It’s not about “wrestling”. It’s not about opinions. There is nothing to pray about and ‘wait for God’s leading’ on. God’s leading is clear. It is His Word. The bottom line of the matter is that a professing follower of Christ has no business to be in a dating relationship with someone who’s spiritual condition is questionable, at best.

        It’s clear as can be. The question is whether you are going to submit to Scripture, or go your own way.

        • Heather says:

          I think the Bible is clear in its command not to *marry* unbelievers. I definitely question the wisdom of dating an unbeliever/someone who’s not walking with the Lord/whatever you want to call it, but I don’t think the Bible is black and white on that issue (probably in part because I don’t think people really dated in biblical times). Mo, I appreciate your firm stance on the issue, and I agree that it can be dangerous to rationalize in a situation like this – but I also think that while it can be a slippery slope, spending a few weeks feeling out how open/serious some one is about seeking the Lord, all the while praying for wisdom, for the work of the Spirit in changing the guy’s heart, being clear and honest with the guy about the necessity of shared faith/commitment if the relationship is to become more serious, and seeking accountability from believing family and friends is not clearly forbidden in the Bible.

          It’s my first time commenting here – but I’ve long appreciated the challenges from everyone who writes and comments here (even, or perhaps especially, when I disagree). Praying that the Lord will grant wisdom and humility to us all in this challenging walk!

        • halennox says:

          Mo – I don’t agree with your comment about “dead silence”! In fact, today’s blog has elicited many comments – and a few that refer specifically to things you have posted. No silence at all! But perhaps you meant about the particular Scripture of being “unequally” yoked, to which you refer?

          It is wonderful that you read Scripture with a very clear concept of what it is saying to you. But, not everyone reads Scripture as you do. Some of us struggle to understand it at times. Certain verses that seemed clear last year are not clear this year. I’m not saying this to be “flowery”, but to admit that I don’t always see things black and white. I’ll give you a quick example. The Ten Commandments say “Rest on the Sabbath”. I’m a nurse and have worked routinely in the past on Sundays. Sometimes I go grocery shopping on Sundays now. Should I substitute another day of the week for a “Sabbath rest”? Change jobs? It’s a silly example, but I hope you understand what I’m saying.

          You have been very clear that Scripture says we should not date a non-believer, which you say Scripture clearly points out by advising us not to be “yoked with unbelievers”. I do admire you for your conviction. May I encourage you then, as a strong believer, to “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1).

          We are fellow sojourners and need each other to link arms in this journey.

  21. Monica says:

    Dear Kirsten, I also appreciate your vulnerability in sharing this delicate topic with us and the desire to clarify your position. Both postings were helpful for me as I am growing in not shutting down immediately, running away from people that do not have the spiritual appearance I have desired or expected. On the other hand, I have been lured and been burned by many wolves in sheep’s clothing, a.k.a. Mr. Spiritual, which hurt more in the end because of the deception, hypocrisy and self-righteousness involved.

    To Mo and others, yes the Scriptures are clear that we should not be unequally yoked, but Kirsten has not dedicated herself to marriage yet. She is in the discovery process and is submitting herself to the Lord’s rod of leading. Christ himself did not shun people who did not recognize him immediately. For example, in the conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in the gospel of John, did Christ refuse to speak to someone who was not exactly of his tribe or did not have a perfect understanding of who the Messiah was and what true worship was? There was actual discourse which led to the woman’s realization, not a perfunctory condemnation or dismissal. Likewise, with the SyroPhoenician woman in the gospel of Mark, Christ agreed to dialogue with a woman who was not part of Israel.

    I agree that sometimes these stories can bring heartache, but I have learned as well that preemptively closing something off is sometimes the fruit of fear and mistrust and a desire to control circumstances. Of course I am not advocating immorality. What I am trying to say is that if one submits to the Lord’s leadership, he will make it eventually clear what one should do. If he does not want the relationship to grow and blossom, it will not. If he does, it will, but the right course of action is not always immediately apparent and requires walking down the path some in trust that you will be shown the next step when you need to go.

    Blessings to all who are in this situation and to you Kirsten for your honest and beautiful reflections about God’s unchanging love.

  22. suzanne says:

    I wasn’t going to weigh in on this topic, since I figured others would. But I’ll comment now after the Bringing Clarity post. I’m a missionary in Austria, and have seen this work both ways, but everything depends on having Christ first as Lord. If that’s not the case, then compromise usually ensues. But I know of situations (also in the US) where the woman had clear standards for any stage of the relationship which were communicated (also had a support group/relationships). The man knew where she stood, and that he was going to have to be the one to move, but that she wouldn’t in the most crucial areas. In these cases, the guy became a Christian (or totally committed) and ended up becoming a leader in the church. Dating is usually not yet being yoked together. God can and does use dating situations, especially in initial stages, to bring someone to Himself. It means staying close to Jesus and seeking His wisdom. It’s not rationalizing
    , but a walk of faith, whatever happens. I pray that for you.

  23. Melody says:

    Hi Kirsten!

    I want to say that I appreciated what you shared. I can’t imagine sharing something so personal to a large group of people who don’t know you personally face to face. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing and I hope that we can all read this with a perspective of open mindedness and love. I have MANY friends who’ve been in this situation. I live in a city where there are way more single women then man, WAY more single Christan women, AND has a high homosexual population. It is interesting to watch my friends go through this situation, wrestle with it, agonize over it, and pray about it continuously. I applaud you for having the courage to go there but agree that you should be mindful and seek wisdom (which it seems like you are doing). These relationships that I’ve seen have BOTH worked beautifully and not worked. I believe God loves those men too and even if this relationship is for you to be God’s love in his life then so be it! Blessings on you. I pray for support, love, and wisdom, from your personal support system.

    • Melody says:

      HA HA! I read your post AFTER I commented. I also want to say that it is important to identify shame and to know that it is not what God has intended for us. Good for you for identifying this within your personal life. I find that this can be difficult to do.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Melody,

      Thank you for your comment and for your encouragement. Based on what you said, it seems we live in very similar places! I’m glad what I wrote touched you and pray for God’s blessing in your own dating life.

      Kirsten

    • Jessica says:

      Ok, this is what I was trying to say. Thanks Melody, you said it so much better. 🙂 Jessica

  24. Carla says:

    Kirsten: I am writing to encourage you in walking down this path seeking wisdom and guidance from God. I agree with Jessica’s comments that sometimes we Christian women have an idea about being “unequally yoked” that is not from God and rules out relationships with many great men. I have a wonderful marriage to a man who would have been rejected outright by the woman I was five years ago. A woman I know refuses to even date someone who is not a virgin [and when you’re 35 and single, you might need to consider dating someone who has been married before or has walked away from the Lord at some point.]

  25. Theresa says:

    I just wanted to tell you about my personal experience with this. Last year I dated a “baby believer”. I was hesitant but I wanted to give the guy a chance and see if he would grow in his faith. I made sure I had a ton of accountability within my church and introduced him to all my church friends (he lived an hour away from me). My friends prayed for him and with him. We had many talks about faith. I hung in there for many months. But after awhile, I had to let him go and we are actually still friends and there is absolutely no love connection at all. Without a deep mutual spiritual foundation, it was just impossible for me to fall in love him. It was too shallow and I don’t miss dating him. I had a feeling it would end that way, but I wanted to see if God wanted to do something through the relationship. I don’t know you Kristen at all. I don’t know your weaknesses, your tendencies, your accountability- but God does. Sometimes God does do a miracle and baby believer will hit a growth spurt within your relationship, but many times that does not happen. Guard your heart above all else.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Theresa,

      Thanks for this. I am so glad God brought clarity to you in your situation. I really relate and recognize this is where I am. I know that God will make it clear whether this man’s faith will grow or remain stagnant, and that the relationship very well might end. I appreciate your wisdom, especially in the advice to guard my heart. Thank you.

      Kirsten

  26. Christy says:

    Hi Kirsten,

    Thank you so much for your posts and for your honesty in sharing your experiences with us! I write about relationships, as well, and know how challenging it can be. I am also a 31-year-old Christian woman who has been dating for quite some time, and have recently come to the conclusion that there are 2 major questions I always ask before dating someone:

    Is God working in this man’s life? And is he being receptive to it?

    If the answer is yes to both those questions, then I honestly don’t see why you shouldn’t be dating him. Following God is a journey, and we need to give men grace as they both doubt and question along their journey. We would want them to do the same for us, wouldn’t we?

    Blessings,
    ~ Christy ~

  27. Arolyn says:

    Kristin thank you for your vulnerability I too wrestle with Gods will and dating Christians, Catholics, non Christians those who seek etc I know it’s challenging when we are lonely and hungry for intimacy. I trust that God is in control. For 15 years I thought I knew who He wanted me with and that that man just needed to Renew his faith. After thinking God was answering my prayer of bringing him back over this summer I am grateful to say that God won. He’s not back but I am finally free of that connection. Praise God. He protects his children. I trust He will make it clear to you and lead you in your path. Not someone else’s idea of how you should walk but Your actual path. Blessings and thanks for risking criticism and judgement with your vulnerability. I’m sorry if others challenges made you feel badly. May He be in control and make it clear to you which direction to take. He is faithful and his love never ending. Hugs.

  28. Lucie says:

    Kirsten, you said: “Making sense of the Holy Spirit’s voice, hearing His leading, ultimately discerning whether the man I’m dating should be in my life or not is something I can only do if I feel safe and accepted.”

    Not having your original post in front of me, I’m a bit confused as to the young man’s exact spiritual status…I seem to recall your indicating that he was at least a believer, but not “growing in is faith.” In this post, you used the term “non-Christian.” If the latter is true, I would submit that you have already clearly heard the Holy Spirit’s voice, in the Scriptural injunction not to be “unequally yoked.”

    I fear sounding harsh, which is not my intention at all, especially since we have not even met. However, like Mo, I’m concerned by what sounds like some level of rationalization, not to mention the emphasis on feeling over clear Scriptural directive in the statement quoted above.

    As a writer, I understand that sometimes it is difficult to put things into words in a way that they can be exactly understood.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Lucie,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I do appreciate them. You’re right – in my first post I did refer to him as having a foundation of belief, which is true. So, using the term non-believer was hasty and not entirely accurate. I do understand your thinking and it makes sense. It is hard in such a small space with a topic like this to effectively address everything. All I can say is that I am doing my best to be in regular conversation with God about this relationship and follow His lead.

  29. Tumaini says:

    Dear Kirsten, I just wanted to thank you for your first post. It was really clear to me that you were focusing on God’s love as a place to be in order to receive His guidance in your life. I also deal with shame and I understand this necessity of clearing this dirty feeling away and be totally reconciled with the Lord by focusing on His love and acceptance so that we can be ready to listen to Him. We cannot obey somebody we do not trust or whom we think does not love us. Thank you very much for that. May the Lord lead you. I believe and pray you are ready to obey Him wherever He leads. Maranatha ! Nad

  30. Mo says:

    I had to go back and read the original post.

    This post is just more rationalization about a relationship that is not a good one. Scripture is clear on this issue.

    I realize anything I or anyone else says will likely be met with resistance. But out of concern, I would urge you to reconsider now, when the relationship is yet young. The longer you go, the harder it will be. Please, please reconsider!

    • fast. pray. says:

      Hi Mo,

      Thank you for your comment. I am always open for feedback and dialogue, so appreciate your perspective. All I can say is that I am actively, consistently in prayer with the Lord about this relationship and don’t take lightly the difference in our faith lives. (I should correct my above statement about him being a non-believer. In my initial post I stated that he has a faith foundation from childhood which has been dormant for some time, and this is more accurate). Whether his desire to know God deepens or grows remains to be seen, and I believe that determining this will take more time. And I understand that ultimately this relationship might end. If so, I will trust that it is God’s best for me and will walk that path.

  31. Jessica says:

    Kirsten, I very much appreciated your post. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen Christian women make is thinking that they can’t date anyone who doesn’t show up at their door looking exactly they way they pictured — including spiritually. Part of dating is figuring out how well you fit with someone — this man has a spiritual life, even if it’s not what you expected, and you’re enjoying him. I think you should keep doing so until the next step becomes clear. I’m sorry that your beautiful reflections brought condemnation. Blessing to you, Jessica L.

    • Mo says:

      All this talk about Christ being the most important thing in our lives really is for nothing, then.

      “One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen Christian women make is thinking that they can’t date anyone who doesn’t show up at their door looking exactly they way they pictured — including spiritually.”

      Scripture is clear that we are not to be unequally yoked. Yes, that includes dating.

      “Part of dating is figuring out how well you fit with someone — this man has a spiritual life, even if it’s not what you expected, and you’re enjoying him.”

      So, as long as you “enjoy” someone, their spiritual condition before Christ – whether they are a believer at all, or whether they are living in open disobedience – doesn’t even come into consideration?

      • Jessica says:

        Mo, I think you misunderstood my comment. Kirsten said that the man confessed Jesus and had a childhood faith foundation, but did not seem to be actively growing in his faith. This was on some early dates. I think we make mistakes when we expect, on date 1, someone to pray how we pray, or talk the way we talk. You’re part of the charismatic movement and he isn’t; or you go to a very evangelical church, and he’s a United Methodist. Part of the purpose of this blog is praying for people, men and women, to grow in their faith as well as for relationships. I see nothing wrong with hanging in there, struggling with what the limits are (no faith? only dating people who are more spiritually mature than oneself?), and discovering a bit of yourself as well as the person you’re dating. Tell him about your faith, and see how he responds. Is he receptive? Interested? Respectful? Does he want to go to church with you? These things become clear over time. I was merely encouraging people to be open to the possibility that sometimes people, and what God is doing in their lives, can unfold over more than the first 2 hours over coffee. Not doing giving something a bit of a chance — refusing to talk a second time, or a third or fourth time, to someone who has a faith foundation but where things are unclear, may close off things God himself may be doing. Please don’t move from that to accusing me of not loving Christ.
        Kirsten, I appreciated your moving, honest post about what it means to be a single Christian woman in a world where there of more of us than men, and discerning the Spirit’s leading in this difficult area. Thank you very much for your honest and vulnerable post. Best, Jessica

        • Mo says:

          The original post was clear that this man is not interested in spiritual matters. So much so, that in this post, she even calls him a non-Christian! (I actually missed that bit when I first read it!) That bit shows that this situation is even more serious than I first believed.

          Scripture is clear that we must not be unequally yoked. If Christ is first in our lives, we will have NOTHING in common (as far as a close relationship like dating) with someone who is not following Him. Nothing.

          There is no ‘Wait and see how God leads’, no ‘I’ll pray about it’ to be had in situations like this. God has already spoken clearly on this issue!

          Again, all of this rationalizing by the poster as well as commenters is very disturbing as well as sad. I’ve seen this situation time and time again. I have even been in it, personally. This will only end in tragedy and heartache.

          It’s doubly important to speak the (difficult) truth here because this person is in a position of leadership and influence because of this website!

        • MJ says:

          Jessica – you’ve put into words exactly what I was thinking Thanks for the post!!!

    • fast. pray. says:

      Jessica,

      Thanks for your comment. This is a topic that raises strong feelings and opinions, and it is important to give voice to various perspectives. I appreciate having yours at the table.

      Kirsten

      • Jessica says:

        I think I should give a little more context to this. When my parents married, my dad was probably about in the place you describe. Today, 45 years later, they teach Sunday School together. Is it something I would recommend? No. Does it happen, and sometimes work? Yes. Does that mean that having Christ first in our lives is not important? No, of course he’s our Savior, the author and finisher of our faith. I was merely trying to offer an alternative voice, and encouraging you in what seems to be a very faithful grapple with something difficult and — I think, contrary to other commenters — unclear. Thanks again, so much for being vulnerable with us. blessings, Jessica

        • Mo says:

          @ Monica –

          “To Mo and others, yes the Scriptures are clear that we should not be unequally yoked, but Kirsten has not dedicated herself to marriage yet.”

          It really is sad and disturbing to see so many people going down the “God says, but…”

          “She is in the discovery process and is submitting herself to the Lord’s rod of leading.”

          Discovery of what? The Lord does not lead us down a path that is in direct contradiction to His own revealed, written Word.

          As to using the illustrations of Christ and the woman at the well and the SyroPhoenician woman, come on! Let’s not be silly here. Obviously, Jesus was not dating or making any romantic moves toward these women.

          Talking to someone is one thing. Getting emotionally involved in a dating relationships is quite another.

          “Of course I am not advocating immorality. What I am trying to say is that if one submits to the Lord’s leadership, he will make it eventually clear what one should do.”

          Please explain to me how doing something that is already in direct contradiction to His Word is ‘submitting to the Lord’s leadership’?

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