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Monday, March 17, 2008
For me the question of fellowship is defined by socializing with other people ("believer" or not). Recently, some people that I have been in conversation with have responded with strong disagreement, one suggesting even that "unbelievers" are unable to love/agape.

If you will.. Is your relationship different with "unbelievers" than it is with "believers"? Why or why not?

Thanks ahead to those who share.
posted by Anonymous at 3:13 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 3/17/2008 07:01:00 PM, Blogger Lydia

    one suggesting even that "unbelievers" are unable to love/agape.

    That's almost like saying that people who aren't Christian are somehow less human. Or at least that is how it sounds to me.

    Is your relationship different with "unbelievers" than it is with "believers"?

    No. Maybe it's because I've been keeping such a tenuous hold on the "Christian" label I stuck my t-shirt all those years ago, but all of the reasons why I'm closer to one individual in my life than I am to another come down to things that aren't related to God at all.

    There are some people in my life with whom I can be completely honest. I know they'll love and support me regardless of how much we do or don't agree on certain issues.

    There are other people in my life who definitely would judge me if they knew certain things about the various identities or beliefs that are part of who I am as Lydia.

    Some of the people in each group are Christians, others are not.

  • At 3/17/2008 10:19:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    I agree with Lydia.

    I have "believing" and "unbelieving" friends that I can be honest with and know that they'll have my back and I theirs. There are others in both buckets that I wouldn't go there with.

    I have experienced some of the most profound moments of generous love with unbelievers. I can't imagine describing them as incapable of love in that way.

  • At 3/19/2008 09:28:00 AM, Blogger Valorosa

    God is love and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them. 1 John 4

    I don't think it is our place to say WHO is a believer and who is an unbeliever... that is a heart judgment that God alone knows.

    The capacity to love unconditionally doesn't come except that God provides it. That is our human state and only those tapped into God whether they know it or not have the ability.

    Do you see someone who loves his neighbour as himself or someone who loves her enemies as well ?

    Chances are they belong to the fold whether they frequent a church or not.

  • At 3/19/2008 09:56:00 AM, Blogger Janice

    While I don't believe 'unbelievers' are incapable of love. The answer to the original question about 'is my relationship different' would be 'yes'. It just is. On some level. With other believers there is a connection, in Christ - in faith, that isn't there with non-believers. In most ways that is 'better', but it doesn't diminish the relationships I have with 'unbelievers' at all. I don't really compare the relationships on that criteria. Each relationship I have with a person is unique to that person and has its ups and downs. :)


  • At 3/19/2008 09:42:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    Valerosa, I agree with you -- unconditional love comes from being tapped into God, by whatever name, whether consciously or not, yet it isn't a one-to-one correlation with what one believes about Christian doctrine. I find that my relationship with spiritual people who uphold similar values is of a distinct caliber from relationships with people who do not value growing in consciousness and fostering a connection to something Bigger. I have less in common with Christians who pretty much content to be spoon fed and do what is expected of them and watch the football game on Sunday afternoon than I do with Muslims, Buddhists, Jews or New Agers who hunger to be aligned with God and to be open, caring, accountable vessels of Love in the world.

  • At 3/22/2008 10:24:00 AM, Blogger wilsford

    as a member of the unchurched, i've learned a lot about the conditions upon which love is permitted than was ever considered in church.

    In church, the separation between believer and unbeliever reduced the concept of "unconditional love" to an intellectual proposition about as meaningful as the number-of-angels-which-can-fit-
    on-the-head-of-a-pin argument.

    When the state of another's belief or unbelief becomes the fulcrum upon which the conditions of love are balanced, the phrase "unconditional love" is an oxymoron.

  • At 3/22/2008 10:29:00 AM, Blogger wilsford

    so, the wierd thing is, my relationships with non-believers (by standard church definitions)tend to be much fuller than with believers, because believers tend to honor the fences that their faith system has erected.

    Those fences are what separate humanity from itself—and when we allow ourselves to classify each other as worthy or less-worthy, we can't extend love unconditionally.

    Sadly, this sounds more like the devil's work than God's.

  • At 3/22/2008 08:56:00 PM, Blogger Nate

    Being a guy, I hope I am not intruding here. But my friend Wendy shot me the link and thought that I would like to respond. So with her permission, I will do so.

    The Greek where agape comes from, has eleven different words for love. Agape was not coined by a christian. This love was identified and put into langauage before Jesus was ever on this earth. So yes, unbelievers, first found agape.

    Is my relationship different with believers vs nonbelievers? Absolutely. It is much better with unbelievers. Especially gay men. I don't know why that is, it just is. For me it comes down to the judgment, the lack of knowledge, and the blind faith that maost believers have. Very few REALLY study their bibles. Yet believe fully in the bible, without knowing what it says. Then they base their judgements upon that. Paul and James in the new testament say not to judge one another about 30 times. With all of the commandments from the bible we say must be kept, why do we encourage this one to be broken so much?

  • At 3/22/2008 09:45:00 PM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    Nate, you emerging woman, you! ;-)
    Glad you wandered over here. Nice to see you.

    My relationship with believers tends to be more strained than non-believers. Most of my 'believer' friends tend to make me want to yell "seriously?!" at some of what they're still clinging to in the area of doctrines; most, of which, I've left behind.

    Previously I would say that I felt more safety within my 'believer' friend group but now my safety is based solely on the merit of integrity.


  • At 3/23/2008 10:41:00 AM, Blogger jON

    i, as well, have received an invitation from valorosa, and hope that this is not an intrusion. of course she knows that most of the time i feel much like a lesbian in a man's body, so hopefully that counts for something. i have brought an assortment of godiva truffles as a peace offering. help yourself.

    it's almost a no-brainer. for me, relationships with "unbelievers" have traditionally been marked with unconditional love, acceptance, and non-judgement. while relationships with "believers" have been marked with unconditional love...as long as all the conditions for receiving the "unconditional" love have been met.

    plus, when around "believers" i feel as if i need to lie about who i am, or hide big parts of myself away. with "unbelievers", i don't need to do this. they can take me as i am at any moment. take my coworkers for example. i can be who i am at any moment and they love me the same. with certain people whose lives are intertwined with church culture, that is not always the case.

    which makes me wonder if perhaps whom we call "believers" and "unbelievers" in our evangelical cultures are backwards?

    but of course, these are simple generalizations. there are indeed lovers within the "church" as well as jerks without...

    thanks for the invite.

  • At 3/23/2008 03:52:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    I love having the guy voices here, of whatever version of guy :)

    I think alot of it has to do with fear as opposed to reverence. I think my earlier comment was a little judgmental of Christians who are difficult for me to love unconditionally. Yet it isn't usually bad-will but fear that distorts love into something hurtful, and it is the overcoming of fear with a love that is greater that connects us all to each other and to God, whether we consciously believe or associate ourselves with a particular stream of faith or we simply opt to be a new humanity without the labels.

  • At 3/23/2008 08:36:00 PM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    The flow of this conversation reminds me of a point I tried to make a year or so ago at this page

    It just seems that we have so much more to lose by being honest with 'believers' than we do 'non believers'. Believers tend to be more judgmental and grudge-holders than non-believers! I don't know that I'll ever quite understand that.


  • At 3/24/2008 01:01:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    This comment has been removed by the author.


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