Christians Dating Non-Christians
If you've been in the church for a reasonable amount of time, you've probably encountered a few common arguments against Christians dating non-Christians:
1) The standard command "do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers," (2 Cor. 6:14) with the ensuing explanation (for those of us not raised on a 1st century farm) about oxen, wood harnesses, and how mismatched animals affect plowing efficiency.
2) The usual practical arguments - Would you attend church alone? Would you pray in the home? Would your kids be able to sufficiently feast on The Jesus Storybook Bible?
3) Stories of marriages where a Christian is struggling being married to a non-Christian.
4) No. Just no. Stop it. I'll smack you. God doesn't want it. No.
All these arguments are legitimate. The Bible may not speak a word about dating (which is more of a modern construct) but since dating is preparation for marriage, and Christians are clearly instructed not to marry non-Christians, the principle applies.
But these arguments aren't that effective because the issue is rarely about what the mind is thinking.
It's about what the heart wants.
Dating is not a rational endeavor, like choosing a sensible Internet service provider or gym. Dating is emotional, spiritual, and relational, so purely rational arguments against dating a non-Christian are often dismissed like Donny from The Big Lebowski.
There are some understandable (and common) reasons for wanting to date a non-Christian:
1) You may have had a bad experience with a Christian and the non-Christian treats you better.
2) You may not be getting any interest from Christians but are a hot commodity outside the church.
3) The non-Christian might just be hotter. Or more fun. Or hotter. Probably hotter.
Whatever the scenario, one of these is most often the underlying heart motivation for dating a non-Christian. And it has been said that the mind justifies what the heart wants. To this there is no end.
"But God uses all things for the good!"
Yes, and he also uses unemployment, cancer, and world wars for the good of those who call upon his name.
“But God can convert them! You must not be aware of how hard I am praying for that.”
Yes, and God can do that without you dating them.
"But the relationship is not that serious!"
Show me a dating relationship that doesn't produce some level of attachment and I'll show you a meditation technique that will enable you to control the weather.
These rebuttals are easy to offer from the outside, but from the inside the belief that your situation is unique is so powerful. You're convinced that your dating situation is the exception that proves the rule.
But your heart is scamming your head. You can give reason after reason for your decision, but you need to be honest with yourself. So there are some questions you must ask:
What is the most important thing about me? Do I care if my spouse shares my faith? You can fool others, but not yourself.
What is missing in my relationship with Christ that is being met by dating a non-Christian? The need is legitimate, but the other person will only be a Band-aid on a dam leak.
This may sound harsh, but if you are pursuing marriage to a non-Christian you must be willing to accept
1) that your faith in Christ is not the most important thing to you
2) that this relationship will not be shared on the deepest, most intimate level.
No heart wants either of these options, and it is foolish to pretend that one of these two things will not happen if the relationship continues (or starts).
But it's not foolish to have errant desires and attractions in and of themselves. We cannot suppress these instincts. However, it is foolish to not listen to the wisdom of others, those who can help you see the big picture, and instead to act on your heart's misguided solutions to the problem. Wisdom from others helps us gain perspective when our hearts are tested and our minds are conflicted.
And, unfortunately, when it comes to the heart tests like this we frequently fail them. But this doesn’t stop God's forgiveness.
For as many times as God demands marital purity there are many more instances where he continues to love and protect his people who have eyes for greener grass on the other side. The gospel really does make us whole and God really is all-sufficient, but patience is the key to experiencing this. Christianity is not just a set of beliefs - it is a complete identity change. Being satisfied in Christ alone is absolutely our deepest need, and replacing the peace he offers with something or someone else (even if they are a Christian) puts heavy chains on our faith.
There isn't a single heart which knows Christ that wants that.