Chinese Church Voices

Pastoral Advice for Life’s Dilemmas

Chinese Church Voices is an occasional column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.

Where can Christians turn for advice from a Christian perspective on topics like love, marriage, work, and life? One resource is an online Christian “Dear Abby” type column from the Three-Self Patriotic Movement WeChat account. The “Abby” in this case is “Yuan Sheng,” a pastor in the Three-Self church and an editor for its journal Tianfeng. This series of “What Do I Do?” posts comes from the book by “Yuan Sheng” called, Pastor Answers 100 “What Do I Do’s.”

What Do I Do? It’s Clear We’re Unsuitable for Each Other, But I Just Don’t Know How to Break Up

Zhou Yun:

After dating my boyfriend for a little while, I’ve slowly realized he isn’t my kind of person. But, because we are both members of Christ’s body, I find it too awkward to initiate a breakup. But if we reluctantly carry on seeing each other, it will only bring harm to both sides, with no benefit to either of us. What should I do?

Yuan Sheng:

Sister Zhou Yun, you need to earnestly confront your problem. Once it’s been worked out prudently, it will be good for everyone’s future.

If you have prayed and are certain, having met many times and discovered that the person you are dating really isn’t suitable for you, and that you can’t force yourself to carry on, then breaking up is the most suitable thing for both of you. But, a breakup can often be embarrassing and awkward.

When all’s said and done, within the church, sometimes the people around us will give us a kind of intangible pressure, or, on a spiritual level, hold our morals hostage. This will cause difficulties for you. But in the end, marriage is between the two of you—as far as your relationship problems with this guy are concerned—and God. You must not, just because the two of you are Christians, get married in spite of all these problems. To be sure, if you can’t love this person from your innermost heart, choosing to break up is the way out. But that leads us to the question: How should you talk about it with him?

Consider using the examples given below to start off the conversation. For example, “It’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that the two of us can be good friends, but marriage isn’t the best route for us;” “During the time we’ve been together, we haven’t helped each other progress in our spirituality, or any other area;” “There are clear differences in our interests and the directions we seek in life. So, I don’t think we’re suited for each other;” “I hope that when you think calmly about it, breaking up is the best decision for us;” and so on. Although you can’t come together in a loving marriage, there is still a friendship for you two. During the breakup, I recommend you use truthful and transparent words to express yourself to your boyfriend. Make it clear you are bringing the past dating relationship to an end. In addition, you must also pay attention to the following:

  1. Do not lie about the reason for the breakup. Some reasons are hard to talk about, but you mustn’t on account of that fabricate your line of reasoning. If you do, your boyfriend might take the things you said—the false things—as the real reason for the breakup. Consequently, he might make false judgements. You must, in all truthfulness, honesty and sincerity, frankly acknowledge your feelings. The precondition for romantic love is that it must be voluntary. If you truly aren’t suited for one another, a breakup is reasonable. Of course, you mustn’t put all the responsibility for the breakup on the other person. You must be clear that he is “unsuitable” rather than “bad.”
  2. Don’t muddy the waters and extend the suffering of the other person. You’ve decided in your heart that you don’t want to continue seeing him. You mustn’t, because of emotional or other reasons, cause him to still pine for you with an incomplete break, or create vagueness, or give him the wrong impression and false hope. If you truly believe you have no hope to restart your relationship, please don’t bring up the possibility of getting back together again. Instead of bringing comfort, that would extend his confusion and pain. The breakup must be as short and rational as possible. Concerning the suffering the breakup will cause the other party, you must apologize to him sincerely. If he threatens you, don’t be frightened. Meet the threat with calm and wisdom. You certainly must not, because of his threats, compromise and capitulate—because his threatening you in itself proves that he probably only “likes” (wants to have) rather than “truly loves” (wants to care for and cherish) you.
  3. Don’t burden yourself with all the moral responsibility for the breakup. Some sisters are so good-natured that they will always think that if they precipitate the breakup, they will be unworthy to face anyone, even unworthy to face God. Consequently, such sisters develop a guilty conscience, and feel that they have sinned. Actually, this is completely unnecessary. After all, so many young people date that it’s going to be impossible for everyone to experience love at first sight. You’re going to need to give people the opportunity to “date and see.”
    However, there are two things Christians absolutely must pay attention to: before you’ve decided you’re going to get married, don’t engage in swapping too many, or too costly, gifts; and, before you get married, don’t have a deep physical relationship. Otherwise, you will have too many complications to be able to set them straight. Imagine that while you were dating you already accepted expensive gifts from the other person. Truly, you would need to sort this out in an appropriate way if you broke up—you can’t end up feeling you owe a material debt to the other person.
  4. Don’t forget to always bring the “big thing”—marriage—to God in prayer. Asking God to prepare the marriages of his children, asking him for oversight, asking him for blessing—this is the wisest choice! Both before and after breaking up with someone, be devoted to prayer. Ask God to let you learn more wisdom and insight from the situation, and ask the Lord to give the other party comfort and strength in his heart. Don’t become dispirited and angry because of this setback. Reject everything that doesn’t accord with reason.

So, the dating relationship is over. The two of you, as individuals now, gain fresh strength from your quiet waiting on the Lord, and can also set out afresh on new journeys!

Original Articles: 【怎么办】明知不合适,却不懂分手 by 天风 (WeChat ID:  ccctspm_tianfeng)

Image Credit: Tobias Wahlqvist from Pixabay.
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