Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Marriage would be an Unequal Yoke

Dear Aunt Dara, 

I hope you can maybe help with a question.  I think I’m grasping at straws, but here goes.  I’m a 48-yr-old woman who has been in a relationship with my partner (unbeliever) 5 years now.  I got saved in July.  I thought maybe it wouldn’t make a difference to us since I’d been with him when I met the Lord and we could just get married, and we would be okay as long as he didn’t hinder my walk with the Lord.  But the Lord has put this on my heart and I’ve asked for answers, and what I’m getting is the marriage would be wrong, the unequal yoke, etc.  I have told him I don’t think I can be with him any longer due to what I’m reading in the Bible, but he doesn’t understand and my heart is broken because I love him.  Also I feel terrible guilt for breaking his heart.  I’m hoping and praying all the time.  Please help. 

God bless,
Broken Hearted

Dear Broken Hearted,

What exactly does “in a relationship with a partner” mean?  Are you living together?  Are you having sexual relations with each other?

Giving your life to Jesus will always involve making a difference in your life.  No relationship can be the same, because you are not the same (I Corinthians 6:18-20, 
II Corinthians 5:17).  A Christian wife’s walk with the Lord will always be hindered by an unbelieving husband.  That does not mean that a woman cannot live a Christian life if her husband is an unbeliever—it just means that her service to the Lord will be limited due to being pulled in two directions (trying to do what God wants her to do, yet trying to be submissive to an unbelieving husband who likely will not be fully supportive of her service to God.)  However, rather than concentrating on marriage as the solution to your current situation and questioning if it would be okay to marry an unbeliever, perhaps you should be focusing on converting your partner to Christ.  After all, you love him.  Surely, you want him to be saved.  To convert him to Christ, you must set an example of Christ-like behavior.  That means repenting of any sins that you may be practicing and living your life according to God’s word.  This means that if you are having sexual relations with him, you must stop.  Explain to him that you can no longer have sex outside of marriage because it is sin.  But do this carefully so that he recognizes that you are rejecting a sinful lifestyle, but not rejecting him.  He may not understand at first, but as you continue to live a pure life, he may come to realize that your faith is genuine.  However, if he does not  support your decision to live a pure life, or if he demands that you make a choice between him and the Lord, then trust that God has a good plan for your life, whether it includes this man or not.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Managing Awkward Moments After a Friendship Breaks Down

Part One: 

Dear Aunt Dara,

I am struggling with what to do regarding a friendship.

About a year ago, I went to her because she had hurt me and I wanted to talk about it.  She did not think that she had done anything wrong and started to say all sorts of cruel and unkind things to me.  I reacted and we both ended up saying some very unkind and mean things to each other. 

Two days later, she wrote an email to my husband complaining about me, but accidentally sent it to me.  I looked at this as a sign to start the reconciliation process, by taking responsibility for my part in the argument.  I told her that I was sorry for what I had said and knew that it was wrong.  She wrote back telling me how hurt she was and all that is wrong with me.  I wrote again and suggested that we get together to talk.  She agreed to meet.  I suggested a meeting place, but by now I was wondering if she would ever admit her part in the argument, so I went into more detail of some of my character flaws and areas where I was asking God to help me grow.  I admitted that these flaws were what caused me to lash out at her and asked her forgiveness.  I also wrote that I wanted to continue the relationship but could only see this happening if we both acknowledged the areas in which we hurt each other. 

She wrote back saying that she appreciated my email, but at no point did she mention her part in the argument.  We met and the first thing she said to me was I was late, when I was not.  I had been waiting at the appointed place and time.  She came 20 minutes late and said that she didn’t see me.  She then started to ask me about my life,( how is your son, how is your husband, are you going on vacation?....those kind of questions).  But she didn’t mention the argument.  Since I had already stated where I had gone wrong and asked forgiveness in an email, I didn’t see any reason for hashing it over again and was waiting for her to admit where she had hurt me.  After an hour of us talking she showed no signs of talking about our relationship.  So I said, “Are we alright?” She said, “Yes.”  I didn’t see the point of forcing her to admit her faults or ask for an apology when she clearly had not given it much thought.  So we said our good-byes and parted very amicably.  I decided at that point to forgive and learn from it.  But I also did not see how I could continue in the relationship, as I felt it would be unhealthy for me.  I discontinued contact and so did she. 

A year has gone by and we have not spoken.  Today, we ran into each other and she was very friendly and wanted to get together.  I do not see how I can have her as a friend when I still feel there is unfinished business between us.  If I raise the issue with her, I don’t think that she will want to admit to any wrong on her part.  I am afraid also if I mention it that it will just get her angry and I will expose myself to more of her hurtful words. 

What should I do?
A Friend

Dear Friend,

Few people can hurt us as much as a friend who is not supportive of our feelings.  I am sorry that it seems as if your friend is not being sensitive to your needs and is blaming you for the problems in your relationship.  She has hurt you over and over, and appears to have no remorse for doing so.  Additionally, sending a negative e-mail to your husband could have caused problems for your marriage.  I would like to commend you for going to her directly about the things that she said that hurt you and for acknowledging your part in hurting her and asking for her forgiveness.  That is all that you could have done to repair this relationship.  However, when you have done all that you can do, that is all that you can do.  It is no longer up to you to maintain the relationship.  That she has not contacted you for a year is a revealing sign that maintaining a friendship with you is a low priority for her.  Keep in mind that whenever somebody says, “Let’s get together sometime,” they often do not really mean it.  That’s just something polite to say when you haven’t seen someone for a long time. 

You did well in deciding to forgive her and to consider this a learning experience.  You are showing wisdom in backing off from the relationship and being hesitant to renew a friendship with someone who shows no remorse for hurting you multiple times and shows no evidence of repentance.  Do not expect her to ever acknowledge her part in the problems between the two of you.  Perhaps someday she will be willing to apologize to you, but likely she may not.  I would suggest that you let go of the past, keep praying for her, but keep your contact with her minimal and conversations with her on a superficial level. 

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Part Two:

Dear Aunt Dara,

Thank you very much for your response.  You confirmed to me that I have taken the right course in discontinuing the friendship.

Running into her after a year has stirred up some anxiety and I was wondering what to say if she called or kept asking to get together.  I know you said that she may have just said that to be polite, but she is a very forceful person and she did ask us to sit and have coffee with them when we ran into them.  I made up an excuse and said that we had another commitment and had to get home.  May I please ask you for your opinion on what to say if she does ask or suggests again to get together?

She and her husband have started to come to our church and I expect that we will run into each other again.  Do I just make up excuses, ignore her suggestions to get together, or tell her why I don't think that a friendship with her will work?  If I make up excuses or ignore her suggestions, I feel dishonest, but if I tell her the reason that I don't think the friendship will work when she has shown no regard for my feelings, I think she will deny that she has done anything wrong and I will open up myself to an onslaught of insults.  The reason I think that she will do this is because this has been her pattern in the past and this is how she treats her own husband.

Also we very much like her husband.  He and my husband got along very well and we enjoyed them as a couple.  But now that this has happened with us gals, everything has gone by the wayside.  My husband has not contacted her husband out of respect for me, but when we saw them the other day, her husband said to my husband that he missed us.  I feel so badly about all of this.  Her inability to see her part in the breakdown of the relationship has caused us all to hurt and feel sad about not getting together.  I told my husband that if he still wanted to maintain contact with her husband that it would be okay with me.  But really, I think this will open up some stress, as the natural course will be for us to eventually get together as a couple or when the men are together, she may want to get together for a walk or coffee as we use to do in the past.

I am sorry for all these questions.  I really would appreciate your help in giving me a good verbal response to her that would end her requests and keep me safe.  I don't want to stop going to our church in anticipation of running into her again.  It is a very good church, but the thought of running into her has created a lot of anxiety in me.

Thank you for your kindness and understanding towards me and my situation.
A Friend

Dear Friend,

I can appreciate how uncomfortable this situation must be for all of you, especially since they are now attending your church and future contact with them is inevitable.  You are doing well in letting your husband know that you are okay with his continuing a friendship with her husband, but you should not feel pressured into renewing your friendship with her as a result.  Let your husband know that you do not want to get together with them as a couple, and he should support you in that decision and avoid any situation that would place the four of you together.

If she invites you to get together with her again, do not make up an excuse.  Just decline graciously without giving any reason.  Here are some suggestions for how to respond:

"Thanks, but not today."
"No thank you, but thanks for the invitation."
"It's kind of you to ask, but I'll have to decline."

If she persists in asking, or starts asking you why you are declining the invitation, say, "I love you as a sister in Christ, but we have grown apart and I am not interested in renewing our friendship at this time."  If she questions why, just say, "I have good reasons, but they are personal."  If she keeps trying to get you to explain, use the broken record technique. (Keep repeating, "I have good reasons, and they are personal.”) Don't let her pressure you into divulging the reasons.  You have already addressed the reasons with her, and
bringing it up again will serve no good purpose.  It would just give her something to argue with you about and will open up the opportunity for her to further attack you.

Keep praying for her!

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Dear Aunt Dara,

WOW!  Thank you so much!  The responses that you suggested are perfect and I am very comfortable with all of them.  Thank you very much for your support, in all of this.  It has really helped me and I no longer feel anxious.
God bless you!

Dear Friend,
You’re welcome.  Glad I could help.  God bless you and your husband.
Aunt Dara