He Doesn't Believe. What Do I Do?
I’ve been spending a lot of time with a guy I met at church and really like. He recently told me he believes God gave His Word to some people, but that other people also added their opinions to the Bible, so it’s not like the Bible is actually God’s Word. I believe the Bible is truly God’s Word, without error, and I live my life based on it. Am I overthinking this or should this be a red flag as I consider whether or not to date him?
Disappointed and Unsure
Dear Disappointed and Unsure,
I think it is very wise of you to take a pause and consider the ramifications of what he shared with you regarding the fact that he doesn't believe in the inerrant Word of God.
As humans, we place any trust or conviction in something based on the credibility we perceive that it has. And it is upon those very convictions that we act, make life-changing decisions, and live on a daily basis.
What we can know about God, Jesus and Christian-living are based predominantly on God's divine revelation via His Word. But when a person doesn't view it as authoritative, then there's really no firm foundation on which to base that person’s belief or godly convictions.
What we can know about God, Jesus and Christian-living are based predominantly on God's divine revelation via His Word.
It is then upon a mere opinion that we act, which is open to change, individual interpretation, our feelings, etc. At that point, we are free to choose to agree or disagree with whatever part of the Bible we happen to like or dislike based on our opinion, and there is no longer an absolute Truth.
That is a dangerous place to be for someone who professes to have trusted in Christ for salvation because apart from the Bible we have no objective basis for our salvation. So how can you trust his relationship with God is genuine?
It is very refreshing that he was so honest and vulnerable with you. That is very admirable. But the essence of what he told you is that when push comes to shove (and you do get to that point many times throughout life), he just does not believe the Bible is God's Word.
So, it sounds like you have some decisions to make about moving forward in this relationship. If you choose to, you have to keep in mind the following:
1) You may end up being the spiritual leader of the family – if your relationship progresses that far – because evidently, you are already more spiritually mature than he is. Or, he may indeed remain the spiritual leader, but lead you and your family down the wrong path. While he may have a tremendous amount of academic knowledge about God and the Bible, he doesn't seem to know God as personally and deeply as you do. Your faith apparently is not just an academic exercise for you, but a way of daily living.
2) You and he will likely approach life's inevitable challenges and difficulties from very different, and at times possibly conflicting perspectives. And this can have serious consequences.
He may have a difficult time respecting your opinions that differ from his if yours are based only upon God's Word. And trust me, there are times in life you have to make hard decisions purely out of obedience to God because you know what His will is based on the Bible. Oftentimes these may not be easy decisions to make; in fact, they may be downright excruciating. But they are easier to make if you truly believe we can know what God's will is based on His Word. It is much more difficult to make those hard calls when your convictions are tenuous because you don't think you can really know what God thinks about it. In that case, it's always more comfortable to take the easy road, which may not necessarily be the right road, and God can never bless that.
"...trust me, there are times in life you have to make hard decisions purely out of obedience to God because you know what His will is based on the Bible."
3) I firmly believe God prescribes a complementarian view of the husband's authority and headship in a family as seen in Ephesians 5:21-25. If you do as well, then you may have a hard time respecting and following his decisions or views that aren't based on God's Word and could very well be contrary to His Word. Then you will be forced to choose: “Do I follow God or my husband?” Ouch!!!
4) Ask yourself: Is this how I wish to raise my children?
So just based on your question, I do not believe you are overthinking this issue. For me, this would be a huge red flag, and I would have to do some serious reconsideration of this possible dating relationship because this is a foundational issue regarding his faith and sometimes the lack of it. Therefore, I would be very hesitant to move forward into a relationship until he truly was able to say with conviction – as you have – that the entire Bible is inspired by God, through the supervision of the Holy Spirit, is without error in the original manuscripts and is our final authority for all belief and behavior (Ps. 19:7; 2 Tim. 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:20,21).
Alisa Grace ('92) serves as the co-director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships where she also co-teaches a class called "Christian Perspectives on Marriage and Relationships." While she speaks and blogs regularly on topics such as dating relationships, marriage, and love, she also loves mentoring younger women and newly married couples, speaking at retreats and providing premarital counseling. Alisa and her husband, Chris, have been married over 30 years and have three wonderful children: Drew and his wife Julia, Natalie and her husband Neil, and their youngest blessing, Caroline.