Like, Ever

Christian-singles-datingDear Anthony,

I recently asked a girl out who I met on Ave Maria Singles.  She seemed so nice, but not very Catholic.  I think she would be so awesome if she would just get more serious about her faith.  I met with her so I could evangelize her and she stormed out of the coffee shop.  I really want to marry a Catholic girl strong in her faith. What do you suggest?

So many single Catholic men and women feel it’s their duty to evangelize the people they are dating.Too many.

You may have heard of Taylor Swift.  She sings a lot of songs about terrible relationships.  She has some wisdom in this department that men can learn from.  I have no doubt that if someone tried to evangelize her on a date, she would not only storm out, but you would be in her next song. But anyway…

The problem is not in the concept of evangelizing.  We are all called to evangelize.  The majority of effective evangelization is example, not confrontational.  Observing exemplary Christian living leads to trust.  Genuine friendship leads to trust.  Without trust, you can’t be effective in speaking to someone about your concerns.

You should never, ever, ever evangelize by confrontation on a date.  That’s simply bad timing, to say the least.  I’m not surprised this woman stormed out. She was blindsided by your so-called evangelization because she was expecting something totally different.  She expected to be on a date, and you made her feel like she was on trial.

You are implying she is not strong in her Catholic faith.  Another colossal mistake.  Just because a person seems to be behaving or speaking a way that you believe shows weakness in faith does not mean they are not strong in their faith.  Not at all!

So many good people who love Jesus Christ have strong, deep roots in their faith, but have attachments and influences from the world, culture, media, and people around them.  Don’t we all?  These have a way of causing confusion and blindness.  We can easily succomb to deceiving ourselves and falling for our own excuses. That leads to ignoring and turning a blind eye, and so on and so forth.

Many people are too impatient for the real process of this primary method of authentic evangelization. Perhaps upon observing your Christianity, a person like this girl you met gets turned off.  It would have served you better to be a fantastic first date, with absolutely no hint of putting her under the microscope or taking it upon yourself to point out her spiritual weaknesses and flaws. The Holy Spirit works through non-threatening, non-confrontational happenings which can naturally work on the conscience and inspire change for the better.

Perhaps you didn’t really intend to see her again.  And that goes for people on the website whose profiles you find questionable. Contacting them to “evangelize” is wrong. Those who join Ave Maria Singles have an expectation of using the site to meet someone. Any attempts to evangelize will likely be unsuccessful. They saw that a message was waiting. They got their hopes up. When they open it, they find you telling them what they are doing wrong in their life. They are really mad.  And then the customer support team has to hear how terrible members can be and clean up your mess.

I think it’s wonderful that you have such a heart for Christ that you want everyone to live Christ-centered lives, and desire to share Him with others.  But our hearts are to be governed by our minds. The mind determines important virtues such as prudence. It can actually be imprudent to do confrontational evangelization.

My advice is live by example and allow the Holy Spirit to do the primary work of conversion. The more you are living the life of perfection in the Christian life, the more attractive it will be to others.

So it’s back to the drawing board with you and online dating.  Never, ever, ever meet with a woman without being sincerely interested in getting to know her.

Nobody wants to be with someone who wants to change them.  If you persist in trying to confrontationally evangelize women, you will very likely hear her quoting Taylor Swift, “We are never, ever, ever getting back together.”

Anthony Buono is the author of Would You Date You? and founder of Avemariasingles.com. For thousands of Catholic singles, Anthony offers guidance, humor, understanding, and practical relationship advice.  Visit his blog at 6stonejars.com