Can I Be a Christian and Live with My Boyfriend?

Indulge me for a moment with a fictional conversation.

A young woman approaches and asks: “Can I be a Christian and live with my boyfriend? “

I bluntly reply: “Well, what do you think?”

She stares at me blankly for a moment in silence and I then go on: “Look, I’m not being flippant with your question and I’m not cranky about it. But the reason I’m answering your question with a question is because I want to know if you’re really being serious here.”

There are two obvious paths that the conversation is going to take from here. The first is that the young woman really doesn’t know what the Gospel says about such a relationship and she is going to immediately become defensive and angry. The second is that the young woman is looking for people she respects to help her affirm her decision to rebel against Scripture and when she doesn’t find it she’s going to quickly become defensive and angry.

In both instances, the conversation is going nowhere.

Of course, we could go on to ignore her anger and proceed to lecture her about the evils of her decision with a furrowed brow and a condescending look. We could snap off a reply or two about how much of a sinner she is, about how she needs the Gospel and just be done with her.

Or we could reveal the Gospel’s answer to her question in a far more constructive way.

Jesus was very good, even perfect, at using very constructive ways to show people their sin. To one Pharisee, he used a parable about a kindhearted Samaritan to show him the deficiencies of his heart. To a rich young man, he used his own standard to quietly dismantle his entire worldview.

So to a young woman who’s asking us about being a Christ-follower while living with her boyfriend, shouldn’t we approach the question with the same care and love as Jesus did when he showed us his Gospel?

So let’s try this again.

A young woman approaches and asks: “Can I be a Christian and live with my boyfriend? “

I softly reply: “Which do you love more: your boyfriend or Jesus?”

Though the question is no less blunt and potentially offensive, it puts the Gospel in plain view right from the beginning without unnecessarily inserting my arrogance and insensitivities into the answer.

With a little wisdom, the young woman will also pick up on what’s going on here. And if not, it might take a little more kindness and patience from me to get her there. But once she sees the bottom of the question, she’ll realize that she’s arrived at the crux of the Gospel. She’ll see that the Gospel requires that every Christian’s primary love be Jesus. And whether this means struggling to free herself from a sinful relationship or struggling to free her heart from the prejudice to answer sinful people in a kind and thoughtful way, the Gospel will show her quietly and methodically that every sin prohibits us from following Jesus. She’ll also come to understand that every sin ultimately leads to putting a person, place or thing in the place of God (idolatry) and that anything that comes between us and Christ must be removed if we want to truly follow him. After all, this is the root reason the young woman’s conscience is driving her to reconcile her actions with the warnings from her heart. This is the reason she felt compelled to ask her question to begin with. Your boyfriend or Jesus. It can’t be both. And for us: Our pride or Jesus. It can’t be both. May we encourage each other to leave every sin behind for him and carefully use his wisdom to rebuke each other wisely.

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