Courtesy of Reddit
, this is an email someone received from a religious parent:
Subject: You and [girlfriend],
I see that you and [girlfriend] are ratcheting up your relationship. As I said before, this puts your family in a very difficult situation.
Althought it seems you have made up your mind about this, I want to make sure that you are aware of the scriptures on this.
The most helpful passage about marrying an unbeliever can be found at 2 Cor 6: 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[a]? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
Besides this there are numerous Old Testament passages in which Israelite men married non-believing women from other nations, always to the displeasure of the Lord. For example, in Ezra 10, Israel is rebuked for their marriage to foreign wives: 10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, "You have been unfaithful, you have married foreign women, adding to Israel's guilt. 11 Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives." 12 The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: "You are right! We must do as you say.
When you think about it, it only makes sense. What is more fundamental to a person, their values, their world view, their preferences and convictions than their true religious beliefs?
More to the point for the Christian, how can we justify joining ourselves as one with someone who is opposed to what we believe and hold dear, our relationship to Jesus.
I say all this [boyfriend] because while I love you dearly, I am quickly coming to a point where lines must be drawn. As your relationship picks up, so does my unease with the two of you.
I am sorry it has come to this [boyfriend]. I sincerely hope that I am wrong. But nothing I see in your relationship, nothing in the way [girlfriend] presents herself, gives me any hope. And it grieves me that you do not seem moved by this at all. Quite frankly, this has struck me as one of those times when you set yourself to do what you want, regardless of the truth of the situation.
I suggest that you, [girlfriend], and I meet. Unless and until we hear her beliefs about Christ, this uneasy relationship will continue. In fact, it will become worse
Is this intolerance? From my anecdotal point of view, on the outside looking in, it's behavior like this that makes many people see Christians as being intolerant. The sad part is that many Christians don't see this behavior as intolerance, and are confused as to why people think that Christians are viewed as intolerant since they have other behavior in mind altogether when they think of "intolerance".
The above relationship did not last, mainly due to the pressure from this parent. Of course, I witnessed a similar situation happen
: A Christian girl was convinced by one of her religious friends to end her relationship with her non-Christian boyfriend for the simple fact that he was non-Christian. Besides that example, I've seen this situation happen more times than just that one instance I wrote about in that blog post; Christians being intolerant of other people simply for not believing what they believe: Protestants refusing to date Catholics, Protestants refusing to date Mormons, etc. (for some reason it's always Protestants in my experience who are the intolerant ones…). Certainly, there has to be some intolerance from the other side too. Atheists who refuse to date Christians, Catholics who refuse to date Protestants, or what have you. But I've just never seen it.
For me, the problem isn't Christianity per se
, here. It's religious
Christians. The definition of "religious", for me, in the pejorative sense, is someone who thinks that what a person believes is more important than how that person treats other people. If a Christian had to choose between a fellow Christian who treated them badly over a non-believer who treated them well, I would think that a rational person would go with the person that treats them well, no matter what they believe. However, the religious Christian would choose the poor behavior Christian simply because they think that being a Christian necessitates good behavior (and by implication, that non-belief necessitates bad behavior
). So a situation like the one between Biblical scholar, and agnostic, Bart Erhman and his wife Sarah – even though it's a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever – is not a relationship between a religious
believer and unbeliever.
If the god of the Christians is love (1 John 4.8ff), then I would think that this would implore Christians to be more open to love no matter who it came from. But these examples only impress on me that their god is intolerance
. The worst part is, that this intolerance will only breed more intolerance: The above Redditor will be skeptical of dating another Christian again since they'll want to avoid having to deal with that intolerance of orbiting religious Christians of a future relationship, just as my friend who had his Christian girlfriend break up with him explicitly told me.
ἐάν τις εἴπῃ ὅτι ἀγαπῶ τὸν θεόν, καὶ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ μισῇ, ψεύστης ἐστίν: ὁ γὰρ μὴ ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ὃν ἑώρακεν, τὸν θεὸν ὃν οὐχ ἑώρακεν οὐ δύναται ἀγαπᾷν. – Ἰωάνου Α