So, Why Can’t I Date A Non-Christian?

Date

Our focus yesterday at Restoration City was on marriage, family and divorce as we studied Mark 10:1-16.  It’s a difficult passage that causes many of us to wrestle with some of the rawest areas of our hearts.  The message likely brought up some questions that many of us would rather avoid.  But that’s not how we grow.  So, I want to encourage you to engage the questions you have, press for answers, pray, think, discuss.  To help in that, I’m going to devote this week’s blog posts to answering some of the most common questions that came out of Sunday’s message.

So, let’s get started with, “Why can’t I date non-Christians?”  This question is interesting because it also frequently travels with a companion statement, “There’s no verse in the Bible that says I can’t date a non-Christian.”  If we sat down for coffee, here’s roughly how our conversation would go:

ME:  For the record, you’re right.  There’s not one single passage in the Bible about dating, yet alone dating non-Christians.  But there are several about who you should marry.  Let me give you the two that are most relevant to this question:

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. (1 Cor. 7:39)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6:14)

So, it seems pretty clear that if you’re a follower of Christ, God’s will is for you to marry another follower of Christ.  In the first passage, Paul is reminding widows that it’s okay for them to remarry but clarifying it should be “only in the Lord.”  In other words, it’s fine for a widow to get remarried but only to Christians.  It doesn’t make any sense to say your second marriage should be to a Christian but your first marriage can be to whoever.  The second passage makes a broader point about the fundamental incompatibility of Christians and non-Christians in marriage by warning Christians not to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers.”  Marrying a non-Christian is a formula for intense heartache and grief as you do your best to love Jesus in the face of your spouse’s apathy.  The Bible warns us to avoid the pain of heading to church while your spouse heads to the golf course or mall.

YOU: “Ok, fine.  I won’t marry him but what’s wrong with dating him?”

ME: Let me answer that question with two of my own:

Why is it so important to you to play with fire?

If you know the relationship isn’t going anywhere, what are you hoping to get out of it?  And why are you putting yourself in a position to fall in love with someone you’ll never marry?  By the way, it’s amazing how easily we forget about the “someone you’ll never marry part” when the “fall in love” part starts to happen.  You’re honestly just flirting with temptation.

How would your date feel if you told them there was no chance of you ever getting married?

If the answer is relieved, you’re already in trouble on a whole other front.  If the answer is disappointed, you’re being deceptive.  You’re not honoring God or the other person by leading them on when you know this is nothing more than a fling.

YOU: Ok, but I have a friend who dated this guy and he started coming to church and now he’s a Christian and they’re happily married.

ME: I also hear about people winning the lottery.  It’s still a really bad use of your money.

YOU: Don’t be a jerk.

ME:  Ok.  But just because it worked out well for someone is no guarantee that it’s going to work out well for you.  If anything, consider your friend’s story as the example that proves the rule not a reason to pitch the Bible’s wisdom out the window.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with befriending someone who isn’t a Christian (it’s actually a really good thing), inviting them to church, introducing them to your other friends and praying they follow Jesus.  If all of that happens, then, by all means, date them.  But it’s just not wise to make dating your first move.

Did I leave out any other questions you might have on this one?  If so, post them in the comments below and I’ll respond…or just share your thoughts.

Up next: So, what do I do if I’m stuck in a miserable marriage?

Finding “The One”

Last week, Laura and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary.  While that hardly qualifies me to start offering marriage advice, it does mean I have a thing or two to say about dating.  In fact, the one question I’ve gotten more than any other during that time has been some version of, “how did you know Laura was ‘the one’?”  Whether or not you agree that there is only one person God has designed you to marry (for the record, I do believe that), it’s still a good question.

And I have a simple answer.  It comes in the form of a question I asked myself before Laura and I even started dating.  I was hanging around the house one afternoon feeling sorry for myself that I wasn’t dating anyone when I had a thought I believe came from the Holy Spirit, “Who is the godliest girl you know and why are you not dating her?”

Wow.  Talk about a helpful and convicting question!  The answer wasn’t hard.  It was Laura – I had admired her character, love for the Lord and desire to serve for years.  What was hard was dealing with my own heart.  I wasn’t dating her because I was still caught in the extended adolescent phase that traps so many 20 and 30 somethings.  I loved Jesus but wasn’t sure I was ready for a really serious relationship.  I wasn’t sure I was ready to settle down with a godly woman.  I wasn’t sure I was ready to grow up and be a spiritual leader for Laura.

But I never could shake the question.  Ultimately, it made me take a look at my life, get things together and ask her out.

I hope you can’t shake the question either.  Who is the godliest person you know and why are you not dating them?  Yes, it might force you to do a little growing up.  But the rewards are so worth it.  Honestly, you owe it to yourself to ask the question!