22 August, 2013

Should Christians Date Un-Believers?

"He's the nicest guy I've met in ages. It's not as if I ever meet anyone - and who knows, he might become a Christian."
I've had this discussion several times over the past couple of weeks. Should Christians go out with or date a non-Christian? It's the age old problem of having a Christian girlfriend or boyfriend that doesn't believe. The question is, "Is dating nonbelievers an option for Christians?" Shouldn't we be equally yoked with someone who believes in Christ?
Well here's a few thoughts and what the Bible has to say about this subject.
Let me be clear that there is nothing inherently wrong with dating a non-Christian. There are many stories of Christians going out with non-Christians who ended up giving their life to God and the two go on to get married and live happily ever after. But let's be totally honest. There are also an abundance of stories that run contrary to that fairy tale love story, and the end result is a story of great heartache and eventual splitting of partners either before or after marriage. I've counseled with countless young ladies over the years who found themselves pregnant and alone, and the story is always the same... "he said he'd love me forever." That's not to say that everyone who dates a non-believer is going to end up pregnant, but the heartbreak is just as real when the breakup occurs, whether it be before or after marriage.

Society puts so much pressure on young people. All around you, you see other people drifting in and out of casual relationships, everyone else is having all the fun and you end up wondering if you'll end up alone and so you wonder why you don't try it yourself! To make things trickier still, some non-Christians have higher morals, and are more faithful and understanding
than their fellow Christians. It's a real dilemma! And at times, it does seem unfair of God to restrict us to the few that are Christian in the real sense. Trying to find someone with whom you click, who you find attractive and who you know loves the Lord - can be so difficult that staying on Gods side of the fence can seem like too much to ask of anyone!

We find ourselves wondering, "Should I ask that non- Christian guy out at work? Should I be less fussy?"  
In the end it distracts from the real meaning of Christian life. Not to mention hours wasted barking up the wrong trees! And it leaves us wondering if we should we consider dating a non-Christian partner outside the church when one inside seems so elusive?

So... What does the Bible say about all of this?
1) The bible says guard your heart above all.

2) We can see with Jesus as our model that as Christians we are limited in the things we can do. We have to sacrifice many things that the rest of the world does not, and one of those things is the vast choice of people with whom we can have a husband/wife relationship.

3) The Bible clearly states that marrying a nonbeliever is to be avoided. (do not be yoked with unbelievers or non Christians.) However, if you find this dogmatic, consider the sensitive way it addresses people who are already in a relationship with a nonbeliever. Far from consigning them both to hell it offers constructive advice and says that the Christians' faith actually sanctifies the nonbeliever in the relationship.  That is NOT to be taken to mean that dating a non-Christian is a good idea.

4) Be careful who you get together with as bad company corrupts good character. A great question to ask yourself with any relationship is "how will this person help me to grow spiritually?"  That begs the question, "Can a non-Christian partner help you spiritually?" I don't think so!

5) The Bible tells us that few will enter the kingdom of heaven which is important because it follows that the number of potential partners
available to us will be equally few. It is therefore to be expected that meeting compatible people is difficult.

There are some other aspects of this to consider. For instance:
A mature Christian woman dating a spiritually immature man...
This may or may not worry you but consider the fact that the bible says the man should be the spiritual leader in a relationship. Spiritual maturity simply does not come overnight leaving it highly unlikely that a
new Christian man could lead a mature Christian woman.
Another thing is that when the Bible speaks of being unequally yoked, it is not simply talking about do you both go to the same church. As we all know, not everyone who goes to church is a Christian.
When you go out with a non-Christian or a weak Christian, you may discover that you have opposite views on certain societal issues. You may have an issue that you are passionate about, such as abortion or same sex marriages, that your partner may not consider issues at all! Such differences will lead to strong contention and dissention in your home.

Another key issue is that of what commitment means.  Commitment to them a non or weak believer may not be anywhere near what commitment means to you. This will give them an unfair advantage (in their mind) in a relationship as they can break certain rules that you can't, which can lead you to feel pressured to break those "rules" in order to hold their interest. This really happens! It's much better when both parties have the same
rulebook. For example, when it comes to an issue like no sex before
marriage, if one partner is willing to break the rules, you are in trouble. I promise you that it will take both of you to say 'no'. When one is
indifferent, temptation will be hard to resist!

Is the person you're dating someone you'd like to marry?
Being able to talk about your deepest emotions, hopes and fears in the light of God is something most Christians would want from a life-long partner. Can you have this kind of relationship with an unbeliever?
Most Christians agree that in the end something is missing. It can be like talking to someone who "isn't home" for want of a less arrogant sounding description. Consider what you want.

Let's be fair... It is true that many non-Christians have good relationships (though they could never be as fulfilling as a right relationship
in which both partners included God.) With one believer and one nonbeliever the scales are uneven and liable to tip.

Let's summarize
1) Does the person you're interested in have the spiritual Spiritual maturity you need? (especially important for women)
2) In a relationship with a non-Christian you may be tempted to compromise your beliefs in order to stay appealing.

3) Falling in love is easy. In a romantic relationship it may be difficult to escape a relationship with an unbeliever if it turns out to be wrong.

4) Consider carefully whether short term gain is worth giving yourself to what could be the wrong person.

5) While there can be nothing wrong with dating a non-Christian, you never know when a casual date will turn into a lifelong love.

6) If you don't want to end up marrying a non-Christian, don't date one.

(The preceding is an adaptation from an article that appeared in Fusion 101 in 2004)

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