Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Several years ago, a woman emailed Paula Hendricks, a writer for the Lies Young Women Believe website, and asked her whether it was okay to date, love, and marry an atheist. Hendricks, a Christian fundamentalist, replied:
Dear “I’m falling in love with an atheist,”
I am so glad you wrote. Please don’t read this letter with a harsh, condemning tone, but with an urgent, pleading one. I am deeply concerned for you. If this letter feels like I’m dumping a bucket of cold water on your head, it’s because I want you to wake up!
Let’s start with who a Christian is.
An atheist and a Christian just aren’t compatible.
A Christian is a person who is now one with Christ. A Christian has been rescued by Jesus out of the darkness of sin and has been brought into His marvelous light—transformed from the inside out. A Christian has the spirit of Christ living inside of them! A Christian is someone whose entire identity has been refashioned around Christ. Christ is their life. Christ is the reason they are now accepted and beloved by God the Father.
An atheist, on the other hand, denies that God even exists. An atheist hates the very idea of there being a God.
An atheist and a Christian just aren’t compatible . . .
You will have to choose between God and this man. You can’t have both. James warns “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Let me be clear about this, though. If you choose God over this man, God will not love you any more than He already does. It won’t earn you extra points with God. If you truly trust in Christ Jesus as both your Savior and your Lord, you are already His 100% dearly loved child.
Does that mean that you have the freedom to date this man? No way! Besides, why would you want to, when Christ has revealed Himself to you as the greatest treasure there is—both in this life and for the life to come?
I get it that you have strong feelings toward this man. I’ve been where you are. And if you’re anything like me, my guess is that what you’re feeling isn’t true love, but something closer to romantic desire . . . and even maybe lust . . .
These atheists, they must be scary people. I suspect they hang out at dance halls, lurking in the shadows, hoping to find virgin Evangelical girls they can entice with thoughts of love and draw them away to the dark side. As every Christian knows, atheists are child molesters, sexual deviants, Satan worshipers, and eat BBQ babies on Fridays. According to Hendricks, atheists hate “the very idea of there being a God.” In one sentence, like most Evangelicals, Hendricks reveals that she doesn’t really know any atheists or hasn’t really thought about what it is atheists (and humanists) believe. All she has to go on is the bigoted stereotype she was taught in church. If she actually knew any atheists, she would know that atheists don’t hate the thought of the existence of God. How can they since they don’t believe there is a God? Not a Christian God. Not a Muslim God. Not a Jewish God. No Gods, period. What atheists do hate is what Christianity DOES in the name of its God. What atheists do hate is when Evangelicals such as Hendricks misrepresent and lie about what atheists actually believe.
Pity the poor girl who sent Hendricks the email. She’s fallen in love with her dance partner, and according to Hendricks she shouldn’t act on this love because God says such love is a sin. Besides, what she may really be “feeling” is lust. Ah yes, the ever-present lust that lurks in the heart of Evangelicals. You’d think with God living inside of you that there would be no room for lust, but it seems that Evangelicals lust just like the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. In fact, it could be argued that Evangelicals lust more than their counterparts in the world. Why do preachers preach so many sermons against sexual sin and lust if these sins are not a big problem in Evangelical churches?
One atheist commenter challenged Hendricks’ statement about atheists. Here’s Hendricks’ response:
Hey, Caitriona, You’re welcome here. While my statement may have been a bit broad and might not perfectly characterize all self-professed atheists, Romans 1 tells us that we’re ALL God-haters (whether we claim to be atheists or not), and we suppress the truth about Him in our unrighteousness.
I was a God-hater, too, until God revealed His lovingkindness to me in Christ Jesus paying the penalty for my sin so I might be set free from being a slave to my own selfish passions and might become His beloved, adopted daughter.
This is a bit off-topic, but would you be bold enough to ask God to reveal Himself to you if He really is real? And . . . would you be open to picking up a Bible and reading the book of Romans, or John?
Hey Caitriona, thanks for your input, I appreciate you taking time to comment:) I don’t want to get into any arguments by any means, but I would like to just give you some food for thought: if there isn’t a God, then that would mean that there really is no purpose for anyone’s life, right? I mean, if we’re all just here by accident, what does it matter? when you take God out of the equation, there is no longer value in anyone’s life, or in the world. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to kill anyone I don’t like? because the government says so? But if we’re all just an accident, with no real purpose, it’s “just” another person with no eternal value. How CAN anyone have true value without God?
On the flip side, we know for a fact that every human being (unborn or not), has value. Everyone has value because they were created in the image of a Holy God, and he loves us SO much! More than you could ever imagine! God cares about us so much that he even collects every tear we’ve ever cried and He keeps them!
Typical Evangelical drivel, right? But here’s the thing, I actually agree with Hendricks. Generally, it is ill-advised for anyone to marry someone who does not share their religious, ethical, and moral values. More than one marriage has been brought to ruin by clashing worldviews. Better to seek out a life partner that hasn’t been taught that you are a hater of God, the enemy of God, a tool of Satan, and a sexual deviant.
Atheists and Evangelicals alike think they can win over their boyfriend or girlfriend to the cause. Rarely, does it work out. And couples who ignore religious differences and marry anyway often end up in divorce court.
The Evangelical church emphasizes the need for every person to have a personal, born-again salvation experience. Countless young men have made what I call – excuse the bluntness – a pussy-driven salvation decision. They want the girl and they can’t have her, so they start going to church, make a profession of faith, and viola the girl agrees to date him. Later, they marry, and then the girl finds out that the boy she married feigned faith so he could date her. More than a few of these marriages end in divorce.
Atheists and non-Christians alike have completely different ways of looking at the world. Evangelicalism is a world filled with Bible verses, commands, and thou shalt nots. It is a world that will surely frustrate the non-Evangelical. It’s a world where obedience to authority is demanded at every corner and freedom of thought is often discouraged and condemned. It is a place fun-loving, free people go to die — and yes, I am painting with a Bruce’s Wide Ass Brush®.
Over the years, I have corresponded with a number of atheists who are in a mixed marriage. While most of them have found a way to make peace with their Evangelical spouses, their emails speak to the great pain and disconnect that comes from such a relationship. The believing spouse wants his or her unbelieving husband or wife to go to church and at least “act” like a Christian. More than a few of the people who have corresponded with me go to church every Sunday to please their spouses. Some of them are secret atheists. Their spouses don’t know that their significant other no longer believes. They go to church, sing the songs, and listen to sermons, all the while thinking it’s all bullshit. Why do they do this? Love. They love their believing spouses and children and they want there to be peace on the home front. All would agree that it would have been better for them if they had married a person who shared the same worldview, but they are willing to do all they can to make the marriage work.
Sadly, some of those I have corresponded with are now divorced. The reasons are many, but religion played a part in every divorce. The prophet Amos was right when he posed the rhetorical question, Can two walk together except they be agreed?
Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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