Depending on the church you come from, you may have heard many sermons or been to seminars on dating and relationships; or it may be something that was never quite broached by your leadership. However, it is safe to say that most leaders would tell you to only look to date or be in a relationship with someone of the same faith. But what if you like someone who isn't a Christian? What's the harm of being in a relationship with someone from a different religion? If we both loved each other shouldn't that be enough? Does the bible really prohibit this?
I offer some of my thoughts on this subject below:
1. UNEQUALLY YOKED
This scripture is often used against the idea of being together with a non-Christian. But what does it mean and how is it relevant?
A yoke is a wooden bar that joins two animals (normally oxen) to each other and to the burden (or weight) they pull. An “unequal yoke” happens when a team has one stronger ox and one weaker, or one taller and one shorter. The weaker or shorter ox would walk more slowly than the taller, stronger one, causing the load to be pulled around in circles. Sometimes, if two animals with different temperaments are paired together they too will struggle to work well with each other. When animals are unequally yoked, they cannot perform the task set before them. Instead of helping each other and working together, they end up being at odds with one another.
In agriculture, no farmer will put two mismatched animals together. To do so is simply unwise and impractical. Similarly, there is weight to what the scripture is saying here. Two people with different values, beliefs and mindsets will find it difficult to be in close relationship with one another. While we celebrate differences as friends, but it is different when it comes to a romantic relationship.
A relationship should really be growing, journeying and working together. Imagined if you dated or married a non Christian and they have little affinity or interest in the things of God. When you have a really powerful encounter with God or heard a sermon that impacted you greatly, the first thing you would want to do is share with you loved one! But it ends with them either not quite interested or being able to understand it and they just shrug it off.
Maybe you are trying to make God a priority in your life, and you want to honour Him in all that you do. So you want to attend church regularly, you want to tithe, you want to serve, you want to go on missions, you want to practice abstinence before marriage - and your partner is labelling you a "religious nut" or telling you that you do not have to take this Jesus stuff "so seriously".
Would you want to get married and do everything together except go to church? You want to be at church but your spouse prefers being at home and insists you go alone. You have children and want them to grow and be involved in church but your partner thinks it is a waste of time and they should invest more in school or other activities.
See what I am getting at?
As a pastor, I will never tell people what they can or cannot do. I will simply tell them what I believe the word of God says and that by making certain choices you will end up with certain set of consequences. It is the principle of reaping and sowing, you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). Who you choose to date or marry will affect your life in a very significant way.
"But what if my partner is actually really supportive?" He or she may be supportive, but are they with you on this journey? Can they share experiences with you? Can they help you grow in God? Can they pray for you? Can they encourage you in your faith? Will they spur you on? Will they give you advice based on the word of God and not just their own opinions?
"I will introduce him/her to the gospel through our relationship." A very noble approach - but how sure can you be that their faith is their own and not just something they are committing to so they can be close to you? What if your relationship does not go the distance - will their faith be genuine enough to last?
"I am strong enough to not let anyone influence my faith and belief in God." A very dangerous declaration - one bordering on pride, and we know what the bible says about pride. The bible tells of people who taught no relationship could cause them to fall (think Samson and King David) and we know what happened to them, so we should not be too arrogant to believe otherwise.
2. SEEK THE WAY OF WISDOM
The bible talks a whole lot of wisdom. Wisdom is biblical, as it is godly. We can avoid many pitfalls and heartaches in life if we simply choose to live according to God's wisdom instead of our own preferences and feelings (Adam and Eve anyone?). The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart: do we truly trust and believe in God in all aspects of our lives?
3. SAY NO TO GOOD, SO YOU CAN SAY YES TO GOD.
A guy or girl may be cute, they could be nice, they could be sweet, they could be really cool, they could be all that you want - but do they help you draw closer to God or do you find them leading you away from Him? There are things in life that may be good, but that does not necessarily mean it is of God.
I believe with all of my heart that God wants us to be happy and have the right kind of partner - but at the same time there is nothing more precious in this life and the next than our relationship with God (I am so sure of this).
It is completely OK and normal to want to be in a relationship - God created us for relationship! But I am reminded of His original plan in the garden... where it is relationship between man and woman as well as with God, all together.
Search for the right things in a person, and trust God to bring you the right one. :)
But ultimately, the choice is yours alone to make, no one can make decisions for you - just as no one can alter the consequences that will result.