Others need not live by your faith

October 9, 2008 

  • Do you have a question you've always wanted to ask a rabbi, a priest, an imam, a pastor or another faith leader? Do you wonder what role religion should play in your day-to-day life? Send us your questions, and we'll try to find an area clergyperson to answer them. We'll publish some of the questions and answers in our Faith pages. Send questions to debra.boyette@newsobserver.com or mail them to Debra Boyette, The News & Observer Features Department, 215 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, NC 27601.

Q. Here is a question in which I wonder how my faith plays a role in my day-to-day life.

I am a 42-year-old Christian mother of a 9-year-old daughter. I am "in progress" in my walk of faith and learning something new every day.

I would like clarity on how to react or respond when someone I know (could be family or friend) is participating in something that is displeasing to God.

For example: My niece and her boyfriend recently built a home and moved in together.

I am not going to sit there and pretend that it isn't happening. They were excited about their venture, and I asked questions about the house, etc.

Just because I am talking to them about it doesn't mean that I am condoning the behavior. Is there a fine line somewhere here?

A. The role our Christian faith plays in our daily living is very important.

For a Christian, biblically we are to process all of life -- our decisions, our perception, our values -- based on biblical principles. But one critical thing to remember: This is your faith and not necessarily the faith of your niece and friends.

Many Christians try to change the behavior and perspective, lifestyle or living choices of others because of their Christian beliefs. One fundamental question is: Is that what Christ chose to do?

Jesus chose to model and imitate Kingdom living. He understood that people must be changed from the inside out. This is the "born again" experience that comes through regeneration and transformation.

So it is not wise and not Christian to try to change the behavior of someone or to abandon our relationship with them because they don't adhere to our Christian beliefs.

We are not approving or validating someone's lifestyle simply because we visit them or even give them a housewarming gift in their new home.

Again, that is their choice. You might have a different conviction if you were paying their mortgage.

I'm sure there are a lot of choices we make, even as Christians, that God would disapprove of, but he never abandons us or forsakes his love toward us. As a matter of fact, he said, "Where sin abounds, grace therefore much more abounds."

This never justifies our wrongs, but it is good to know that the way God brings change is by penetrating the human heart with his love.

Clearly we may grieve when we see people making bad choices or living a lifestyle that is contradictory to our Christian beliefs.

But part of our maturity process is learning how to love and live with others who don't see things our way according to our faith.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service