For this Christian woman, it's the ultimate dealbreaker.
As a single, Christian woman living in New York City, dating can come with its fair share of challenges, but finding quality men isn't one of them. On the contrary; I've met several men who were funny, smart, successful and attractive.
Sometimes I really, really wanted to go out with them, but the problem is this: they don't share my faith. It's a bit of a dilemma.
A few nights ago, I was working my side job as a server when I found myself developing a crush on one of the men sitting in my section. He looked like he was around my age — late 20s to early 30s — with brown hair, blue eyes, and an irresistible Australian accent. He was out to dinner that night with a friend who was in town on business, and who seemed to be playing the part of his enthusiastic wingman.
Throughout the course of the meal, his friend would ask me random questions about the menu and make loud jokes about how I had "emasculated him" by suggesting he try one of our cocktails that was served in a martini glass. These comments were then followed by a series of overt references to his wife.
OK, buddy. I got the picture.
In the midst of my interactions with the two of them, I slowly began to notice that Mr. Australian Accent was smiling at me the whole time, and giving me looks that said, "Please ignore my friend." Slowly, he and I started chatting in between courses, as I refilled their water glasses or brought them steak knives. By the time dessert rolled around, I could sense some definite chemistry between us.
That was when it happened: the subject of my faith came up. I told him that I was a Christian, and he told me that he had previously met other Christian girls who refused to go out with him simply because he didn't share their faith.
"So, what about you?" he asked, point blank. "Would you ever go out with a guy who wasn't a Christian?"
Ugh. I paused for a moment and searched for a diplomatic answer to that question.
"Well, I certainly have in the past," I said. "But there always seems to come a point where our differences get in the way. For example, when I want him to go to church and pray with me, and he's not into it."
He nodded his head and gestured playfully between the two of us. "So, this probably wouldn't work out then, would it?"
I smiled, and looked to the floor. "I guess it wouldn't."
"Well, we gave it a shot, right?" He asked, looking directly at me, as though it were a test or a challenge. I thanked them for coming in, gave them their check, and hurried off to do my side work.
As I was closing down the restaurant that night, I couldn't help but feel frustrated at how it always seemed to come back to this. Am I crazy for passing this guy up? Sometimes it's hard not to wonder.
Christians over the centuries have had various answers to that question. The most common of which is a Bible verse from II Corinthians 6 where the Apostle Paul makes a rather dated reference to oxen and plowing. He advises his listeners not to be "unequally yoked" with people of different beliefs.
Not exactly the easiest metaphor to grasp from our modern standpoint, but a yoke is like a heavy, wooden collar that was placed around the necks of two oxen. It bound them together so they could walk at the same pace and plow fields in even rows. If their yoke wasn't even, it would rub against their skin and cause them major pain and discomfort, as they would constantly pull each other in opposing directions.
As tempting as it may be to date men with different beliefs, I think I'll go ahead and keep searching for one who isn't only funny and attractive, but who walks alongside me at an even pace.