This letter was from a high school student – and this is fourth (and last, for now) in a short series of reruns of old columns which I wrote many years ago, as the fictional Professor Theophilus, in an online magazine for Christian college students.  Several people have been kind enough to say that my Ask Theophilus columns kept them sane in those days.



I have two girl friends whom I met only a week ago. They claim to be Christian, and I believe them -- I know for a fact that they attend and are active at church.  My problem lies in the fact that they do not behave or talk in godly ways.  I am often left feeling very uncomfortable around them because their behavior is at odds with mine.  They know I see things differently, and they know what they do bothers me, but I try my best to be polite and kind.  Would I be a snob to discontinue my friendship with them because of how I feel about their behavior?  Should I even consider not being their friend?



It's all right to drop one-week acquaintances who make you uncomfortable.  If they had been long-time friends, some explanation might be necessary, but that's not the case.  You don't have to make an announcement; you just avoid seeing them socially.  Of course, we all struggle with temptation to sin, so it would certainly be hypocritical if we insisted on associating only with perfect people.  However, that doesn't mean that you have to put up with anything from anybody.  There is no obligation to continue in that special relationship called "friends."

Breaking up confuses a lot of young Christians, because Christian social life is based on love -- and isn't love supposed to be forever?  It all depends on which kind of love you mean.  Some loves are forever:  God's love for His people, the love of His people for Him,  and their brotherly love for each other.  Other loves are at least lifelong:  Kinship, marriage and a few other relationships, usually based on vows.

But most bonds aren't like that. Business partners, whose relationship is based on profit, don't have to do business until death.  Roommates, whose relationship is based on convenience, don't have to share rent until death.  What is your relationship with the two girls?  I'd call it being pals -- the kind of friendship based on mutual liking.  But it isn't a sin to stop liking.

One thing to remember:  Even if you do stop having friend-love for someone, you have to go on having neighbor-love.  You have to continue being honest, fair and kind to him; you have to continue desiring good for him and you have to keep from seeking revenge or spreading gossip.  Even if he acts like a rat!  By divine standards, we're often pretty ratty.  That's why we need God's mercy.