(The Root) —
"My question is rather complicated. I'm dating a very nice girl now, but she refuses to go to church with me. My mom and grandparents are all leaders in our church, and I'm running out of excuses for her. She says she's not a churchgoer and doesn't want to be a hypocrite and go for my sake. Is she wrong?" —R.L.J.
Your question isn't really so complicated at all. No, the very nice woman you are dating is not wrong for not wanting to go to church, whether it's with you or anyone else or on her own. Faith is a very personal issue, and she is entitled to practice it — if she has one — however she sees fit, just as you are. Attending church and, by proxy, praising God is something that should be done for yourself or for your God, not to make the family of the man you're dating happy.
While this particular woman's actions are not wrong, I do wonder if the two of you are compatible. Dating is when you're supposed to be figuring that out — and it seems that being with a woman who goes to church, and what your family thinks about her, are a big deal to you.
The woman you are dating doesn't do what your family likes. If pleasing your family is important to you, as it seems to be, then you'd be better suited to finding a "church girl" – maybe there's one at the church you attend? — who would be happy to go with you regularly and would not feel that she was being a hypocrite.
If the woman you are dating is someone you really like, I'd suggest that you try a different approach that might make her more receptive to attending church with you, or at the very least will keep her in your life.
If you want her to go to church with you because it's an experience that you would like to have with her, then say that. But I'm not even sure that's the case here. It's curious to me that despite the length of your query, you never said, "I want her to go to church."
Your question was all about what your family members expect of a woman they've never met. Conversely, she has never met them, and she is not even your girlfriend. With no commitment to them or you, for that matter, why should she be motivated by what they want? You're asking a lot from a woman you haven't offered any semblance of a title.
It's nice that your family is heavily involved in the church to the point where they have assumed leadership positions. But as an adult, you don't need to make excuses for anyone you choose to date. You're pressuring your date to do something she doesn't want to do because you don't want to stand up to your family. That's your problem to deal with, not hers.
If you're not willing to stand up for who and what you want and you're willing to put your family's happiness above your own, then go find a woman who will impress your mom and grandparents by showing up on Sunday mornings. However, if the woman you're dating makes you happy, then tell your family that they won't be seeing her at church because she doesn't attend — no additional made-up excuses necessary.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.