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Is he a Hindu hottie, but you're a Catholic cutie? Not sure what to get your friend for her Bat Mitzvah? Wondering about Wicca? Pastor Paul answers all your religion and spirituality questions. Send them to

And make sure to check out previous Pastor Pauls!

  • Check out the transcript from Pastor Paul's first Yahoo chat.

  • Dear Pastor Paul,
    I like this girl a lot, but she isn't a Christian. I was wondering if it's right to go out with someone who isn't Christian when I am?


    Dear Kim,

    I don't know if going out with the girl who is not Christian is right or wrong for you. But you might ask yourself: Does it bother you that she is not Christian, and do you want her to change? If the answer is yes, you should probably not go out with her unless you are clear that this is an evangelization effort--which seems a little manipulative.

    A person's religious conviction is basic to the reasons you pick a girlfriend or boyfriend. Would you pick a girl who did not have the kind of face you wanted in hopes that she would get plastic surgery? No, of course not. If, on the other hand, you admire the faith that this girl does practice and think that it might enrich the Christian faith that you hold, you should ask her out.

  • Talk with other teens about dating.

  • Dear Pastor Paul,

    My boyfriend and I have very divergent religious views. He was raised Baptist in Latin America, and I was raised in Canada with no religious instruction. When we're not discussing religion, we get along very well, but conversations about faith spring up all the time and often end in a discussion about how he sees no future for us because I don't believe what he believes. Is there a way to come to some common ground on this issue? I'd like to ask him not to talk to me about religion at all, but since it's such an important focus in his life I want to share that with him in the ways that I can. Obviously, we aren't the only people to have encountered this problem. How do you make it work?

    This is going to be tough. You have very different religious outlooks, and while you may be happy to live with the difference, he will not.

    You say that these conversations spring up all the time and are unexpected, which means he is thinking about it even more than he is letting you know. It is a real problem for him. You have two choices: The first requires your boyfriend to soften in his beliefs enough to permit your differences of faith. The second is for you to open yourself to the possibility of a conversion experience to the faith of your boyfriend.

    Your boyfriend says he doesn't see a future for you two unless you start to believe what he believes, and you say that you would rather he not talk about religion at all. Interfaith dating (and that is what you are doing) requires a lot of flexibility on both sides, and, unfortunately, I am not sure if your relationship is flexible enough.

    With more conversation and time, things might work out. But there may come a time when this relationship is not right for you.

  • Read more about interfaith dating.

  • Dear Pastor Paul,
    I'm a sophomore in high school who was very strong in Christian beliefs until about a year ago. I met a very wonderful Muslim guy who is now my best friend. Since meeting him, I've been more confused than ever. I don't feel connected to God anymore, I don't feel His love, and I certainly don't feel a need for Him in my life. I've been questioning everything--from the importance of my religion to the reality of it. Any suggestions?



    Frankly, I don't see the connection between meeting your wonderful Muslim guy and not feeling connected to God.

    Many people go through a period of questioning and disconnection from their faith during adolescence. That may be what is going on for you right now. Are you still praying? Are you still going to church? It is important for you to have a supportive Christian community to help you through this difficult period.

    Instead of blaming your Muslim friend for losing your faith--use him as a resource. Most Muslims have a very strong faith in God (Allah), and Islam locates its roots in the Patriarch Abraham, as do Jews and Christians. God does love you, and while you may not feel connected to God right now, God feels connected to you.

    Hopefully, you and your best friend can both grow in each of your faiths as you grow older.

    Dear Pastor Paul,
    I come from a pretty strict Orthodox Jewish home, but I'm dating a guy who's Reform. His parents invited me to go to their synagogue with them one Saturday morning. I want to go, but my parents won't let me. They don't want me praying in a congregation that has mixed seating. How can I convince them to let me go?


    It is not going to be easy to convince your parents. They hold religious convictions (such as the separation of women and men during worship) that are not shared by the Jewish Reform movement. Often there is as much disagreement between branches of a religion as between different religions. This is the case between Orthodox Judaism and Reform Judaism.

    You may try to appeal on the precept of appropriately accepting hospitality offered by your boyfriend's family. Hospitality is very important in the Jewish religion, and it may be one way for your parents to look at this a different way. Another idea is to promise to have a really good conversation with your parents after returning from the service to talk about how you experienced the Reform synagogue in contrast to your Orthodox one. Hopefully, your parents will take advantage of this rare opportunity to have an open and frank conversation with their teenage daughter--an all too rare occurrence during the teenage years.

    If your parents ultimately say no, then you should honor their wishes while you are under their roof. You may also be grateful that they are not forbidding you to date this boy given their beliefs.

  • Learn more about Orthodox Judaism.

  • Pastor Paul has worked with young people in the Twin Cities, Seattle, Sao Paulo, and New York City. He currently is a chaplain at Columbia University in New York City.