Or, alternately titled, "Me and some Evangelicals, Bringing in the New Year."
I spent New Year's Eve with some friends (based on the alternate title, you may have cleverly deduced that I was the only non-Christian of the group). For the most part, it went okay. The conversation stayed away from politics and religion and all those danger areas.
There was just one area that could've been awkward, had I chosen to comment with something other than "I see." A friend mentioned that she had been having some stressful times with her younger sister, and I asked about it. Without going into too much detail, apparently the younger sister is in her first serious relationship that will lead to a wedding in the summer of 2010. In the beginning, the sister's partner was not a Christian, though he had great interest in the religion. I'm guessing he is one now, based on the past-tense of his non-Christian status.
My friend wasn't thrilled with this news, for you don't date someone in order to Win Them for Christ. You either first Win Them for Christ and then date them, or don't date them period and still try to Win Them for Christ. The reason is, per her youth group's explanation: if you have someone sitting in a chair, and another person standing, the person sitting in the chair will always drag the standing person down. The standing person cannot drag the sitting person up.
I leave it to my readers to figure out which one is the Christian in that scenario.
My internal reactions:
1) If God is supposed to be a blazing presence in a person's life, and the Holy Spirit is indwelling, and God makes a new man out of an old creation and is as powerful as Christianity claims ... how can a Christian possibly be dragged down? Why isn't God strong enough to prevent that? Why isn't God enough of an influence to prevent that? Yes, in any other situation, people of two different outlooks will no doubt change the other person if in an intense relationship. But this isn't any other situation, this is an all-powerful God. If God can't prevent the Christian from getting "dragged down," then how much of a change has He actually enacted?
2) This friend of mine -- and the other evangelical friend -- have both said that they consider me to be a best friend. And there are major differences between an intimate relationship that leads to marriage, and a best friend. But both a spouse and a friend can provide influence, and I would think introduce some changes to one's moral behavior. So, in some ways, shouldn't I also be in danger of "dragging [the evangelical friends] down?"
Not only that, but the friend also got into the living a life pleasing to God, and how certain actions of her sister's were not doing that. And if living a life pleasing to God is engaging in moral actions, then anything that displeases God is by default immoral. I know that they would consider that I don't live a life pleasing to God, as not only am I a horrible, wretched sinner, I don't even have Jesus. By default, I am an immoral person. By default, I have nowhere to drag people but down.
Why would they want to be friends with an immoral person? And how can I possibly trust someone who does consider me an immoral person? How could I confide in them? This is precisely why I have restrained myself in so many ways over the past year, in what I tell them on a personal level.
I could tell based on her conversation that she didn't realize any of the undercurrents in what she was telling me. I'll be curious to see if the other evangelical friend did.
And one last note: Win People for Christ? People are not party favors.