From the Outside In

What do Christians look like to the rest of the world? How do others make sense of our behaviour – and does it matter?


Here’s a snapshot, taken from the Guardian’s problem page. In it, readers advise a woman who ‘has been rejected by a man because he is an evangelical Christian’.

She writes;

I am a 43-year-old woman who has been friends for 10 years with a man of 40. Neither of us has been in a relationship in that time. I began to notice that he would touch my arms or lower back, and always seemed pleased to see me, so I plucked up the courage to try to take things further. When I finally asked him out, he said no, because I am not an evangelical Christian. I knew faith would be an issue, but I was open to finding out more about it. I feel he has just ruled me out as “not suitable” and am desperately sad about this. Should I draw a line or is he worth trying to pursue?

Here are some of the reader responses:

“Faith can enhance a person’s life but it can also affect those around them and not always in the ways we’d like. It appears you have two choices.
1. Become an evangelical Christian. If you don’t have faith it’s going to be a bit difficult.
2 Get past it.

…if  he puts his religion ahead of the possibility of a relationship with you there’s not much you can do. God trumps pretty much everyone”.


“Try thinking your way into the head of an evangelical Christian. All his life is spent in communication with his anthropomorphic God. He will attempt to live his life entirely according to God’s will. He will ask God for guidance in every decision he makes, including whether or not to have a relationship with you. He will pray to God to intercede in this way or that. He has probably been praying for the last 10 years that you will be born again in Christ. He believes that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God and died on the cross for his and your sins, and was resurrected three days later and then ascended to Heaven. Depending on the precise brand of his belief, he will believe that at some point he will attain the Kingdom of Heaven.

Why would he spend his time on Earth in a relationship with someone who can never share eternity with him in the Kingdom of Heaven? This Christianity thing is not just some hobby, like going fishing on a Sunday morning. It will define his whole life.

God clearly has not interceded on this occasion, and you have not been born again in Christ. I think this man is doing you and himself a favour by not going out with you.  If you have really strong feelings towards him, you can try faking a Christian faith but in my experience it’s a lot harder than faking an orgasm”.


“He has certainly ruled you out as not suitable. And you should, by the same token, rule HIM out. Evangelical Christians don’t adopt a “Live and let live” attitude towards other people; they genuinely believe that their way is the right way (the only right way) and that other people are in error. It doesn’t matter to them if you are a fantastic person, a caring neighbour, a good citizen and a humanitarian; if you are not an evangelical Christian, you fall short of the mark.

What I don’t quite understand here is why he has been touching you in a way that implies sexual attraction. If he has no intention of being with you in that way, he shouldn’t be doing this… This is his whole life. And in the unlikely event of him changing his mind and entering into a relationship with you, bear in mind he would be constantly trying to “bring you to Christ”. And what kind of relationship would THAT be ?”


“This situation seems familiar as my friend went through something similar. She started a relationship with our colleague, a lovely guy who was heavily involved with an Evangelical Church. They dated for six months, fell in love and then he called things off because she didn’t share his faith. He said they could be together if she joined his church but only if she wanted to do it for herself and not just for him. She did and they got back together. Very quickly they got married and had a baby. Her life now is Bible study groups, Church, youth camps and social meetings and gatherings. Religion is at the centre of their life and marriage.
Her life has changed totally. She seems very happy and has a very full life but is almost unrecognisable as the woman she was three years ago. There is a lot of speculation about whether she is genuine but as a previous post said it would be very difficult to fake. I couldn’t do it. It was his way or the highway and I couldn’t live with a relationship without compromise. I do find faith admirable but couldn’t be with a man who wanted to impose strict rules and conditions on me”.


“You could try to get him to question his faith. Shocking, yes, but I don’t think it’s right to assume faith has a privileged position that must not be tampered with. It isn’t always the non-faith partner who must adopt faith, sometimes the reverse can happen. Besides, not everybody who professes faith is gung-ho, free from doubts (in general, you’d be surprised). Without advising any woman to enter a relationship with a man expecting to change him, I know if it was me I’d want to know if there were cracks in the edifice before I’d assume he was inflexible”.

“The evangelical Christians I have known (and I admit, I haven’t known hundreds) have been very loathe to admit doubt into the mix, they feel it is a weakness. They really do believe that they have a monopoly on truth. As such, other views ( however interesting, however thoughtful) are perceived as a threat. And considered to be actually wrong: not just misguided wrong but morally wrong, on a fundamental level”.


“The last person you need in your life is an Evangelical Christian. Even a Muslim or Jewish fundamentalist is better”.


“if you are a loud, confident female who is not afraid of having a view and sticking to it in the face of male opposition, you may be very, very unlike the women he meets at church and he may just be unable to imagine you ever fitting in there. Some Evangelical churches (by no means all, or even a majority, but they do exist) have a fairly traditional view of how women should behave (think fifties housewife) and if his church is like this he may bring a whole other set of expectations to a romantic relationship that don’t apply to a friendship”.


“If he was seriously attracted to you this guy would be pouring forth with invitations for you to attend bible study, sing songs, camps etc. The fact that he’s rejected you with the excuse that you’re not a born againer means he’s trying to let you down gently”.


“It is said that God loves all his children no matter who or what they do.I don’t think God would want us to not love each other solely on God’s account”.


“It’s nothing to do with his faith. Evangelicals f*** around as well as us sinners. Earthly desires often trump spiritual values. He’s just not that into you. I mean, he’s been happy to hang around with you, an unbeliever, for 10 years…presumably without trying to convert you ?”


“The key issue here is “evangelical” not “Christian”. I imagine the OP would have the same issues is the guy was a fundamentalist Muslim. Evangelicals believe literally in the word of the Bible (and tie themselves into knots trying to explain the contradictions) and not only do they believe that theirs is the only true God, but also that theirs is the only way of worshipping him (and God is always male). It is perfectly possible for people of different faiths and none to form successful relationships, so long as they are not fundamentalists”.


“It is quite possible that he is either gay or asexual”.


“There’s nothing wrong with a person wanting to spend their life with someone else who shares their faith. Being a Christian is the most important thing in this man’s life so it’s not unreasonable that he would want someone like minded. It’s hard for non believers to understand this but it really does make sense from a christian perspective”.



1 thought on “From the Outside In

  1. emma, i LOVE your place here. such a cool site, and you address some really raw, important issues. i’m so glad you commented on my blog so i could find you. bless you, girl. e.

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