Question: I’m dating a really great guy but I’m a Christian and he isn’t and that bothers me. He’s nice about it but he doesn’t believe in God and I think that’s important because I really like him and he wants to get serious but I don’t know if I can marry an atheist. God is #1 for me. Help!
Answer: Well, religious beliefs are one of those core values that one tends not to compromise on. That said, all relationships require lots of compromise. The real question is this: what do you value more? Is it enough to have a “really great guy” who has no issue with you having your views as long as you let him have his? The bigger question is: how long are you going to wait before you try to convert him if you haven’t already? Biblically (if you are following the “letter of the law”), in Corinthians 6:14, the verse that is popularly quoted is, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” I do not inherently think that this is a deal-breaker. However, statistically, relationships that have conflicting world views rarely work out. The bigger issue here is whether you both have enough commonality in your values (not just religion) to have a long-term relationship be successful. At the end of the day, honor, respect and love win out when you put each other first. If you’re willing to allow each other to be free, in his religious beliefs and not pressure him to adopt yours then you might have a prayer. Freedom to be self-expressed is paramount in all relationships regardless of the details. If he respects your views and supports you in your self-expression (and you him) things might turn out fine. That said, you should look at what you REALLY WANT in a partner (and probably ask him to do the same) and see if your core values really match up. Do you both want children? Where do you see yourselves in five years? If his degree requires him to travel or yours does, is the other willing to follow? How do you feel about sex? How do you feel about infidelity or any number of other things? When looking at marriage, all of that matters. Ultimately, the details of the name of God may not matter, but at some point if you don’t get this reconciled, you’re guaranteed to have it rear its ugly, dogmatic head.