Dating someone from a different faith can be incredibly rewarding or a disaster of biblical proportions. In my experience, it was both.
Some years ago, I found the love of my life. I had recently left the mission field, where my job was to convince people that Jesus loved them. After dedicating six years to Evangelical Christianity, at 24, I decided to venture into the "real world." I landed on the densely populated isle of O’ahu, Hawaii, where I met a striking doctor-in-training with bone-dry humor, a motorcycle, and a Fu Manchu mustache
(it was Movember). He was unlike anyone I had dated before — those guys were typically youth pastors or fellow missionaries. Adam was neither of those things and he definitely wasn’t a Christian.
Adam was raised a secular humanist, a "nonreligous lifestance
" that deemphasizes the role a God-like entity plays in a person’s life and emphasizes making good personal decisions. His family was so far left and my family so far right, they practically came back around the circle. The only thing they could agree on was that we should care for the poor — how
to do this, though, was another minefield of ideological differences and presuppositions about who was to blame for that poverty.
Our first few dates together were intoxicating. He would scoop me up on his black motorcycle and whisk me to the best restaurants on the island, where we’d discuss our mutual love for travel and the family legacies we both shouldered. All the while, fireworks literally exploded above us. But after three weeks, Adam knew things couldn’t stay that blissful. Sitting quietly by my side, the doctor-to-be stated his prognosis: He said that though things might seem great, we believed differently, and ultimately, that would tear us apart. I didn’t want to believe it at the time, but I knew he was right. So, we broke up.
And yet, there was something that couldn’t keep us apart. A week after he had shed one of his rare tears kissing me that final goodbye, he stood outside the crappy Italian restaurant I was working at and asked if we could "try." And so began the most difficult journey of my life to date.
It started with a lot of bluster and confidence, mostly on my part. I thought, Sure, this will be easy enough. He just needs to see my faith in action and he’ll be singing Hallelujah in six months, tops
. Converting the "lost" was my profession, after all.
It wasn’t all ego, though. I also needed to believe this and needed to tell my worried, but open-handed, parents that although I was breaking the one rule they persistently drill into young evangelical girls (aside from no front hugs) — do not date non-Christian men — I was in control and was going to handle the situation.