One of the hardest questions single believers will face is whether or not they should date a non-believer. It is not an easily answered question, and as with all relationships, the human aspects of the heart weigh heavily on the decision.
The Bible actually addresses this very subject, 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?” Though dating is not marriage, it is the precursor of marriage and in mature relationships rests on the back of the mind. Any dating relationship neglecting to think about marriage really has very shallow intents, and in many ways is a waste of time for both parties, but that is another discussion for another time. But the concept of “teaming up” is important to recognize. Your future spouse should be your best teammate, but if your teammate isn’t even playing the same sport as you, chances are your team will fall apart.
Not all unbelievers are bad people whatsoever, nor are they beyond finding a relationship with God, but that is not your job in dating them. So many people have convinced themselves in “missionary dating” where they hope that in dating a non-believer they will have an influence on that person and they will come to faith. Though this has seen success in some cases, it is rarely the norm. Jesus did not call His followers to go and date the unsaved, but He did call them to befriend and minister to them. This can all be done outside of a romantic relationship and if anything adding romance to the equation would only take away from the intent to bring the person into a relationship with Christ.
A simple answer of, “don’t do it” does not take away the desire in the heart. Often times it can even be a tool of temptation against a believer to compromise their beliefs and go for what they can see and what is easily accessible. We live in an instant gratification seeking world, and to have a tangible and easy relationship at hand can often be extremely hard to give up.
In a moment of a personal story firsthand, I found myself in this exact spot with a man I honestly had come to love. We never had dated, rather, had been close friends for many years. Each time I thought something would begin, it seemed an obstacle arose and I eventually gave up and moved on, for it was not a relationship where God had planted the seed to endure. I was about to move across the country to Minnesota when I was asked to dinner by this friend. Being a very blonde girl at heart, I thought it was just dinner and not a date, but I was very wrong. He and I are both mature adults and both in a season of life where marriage is more of the intent of relationships than just summer crushes, and he implied his desire to marry. More closely, what a good wife and mother I would be. I was sitting there with literally everything a girl wants to hear of how lovely, smart, kind, and wonderful she is and all but a ring offered with a horrendous catch in hand. I knew he didn’t love God, and I knew God didn’t want this for me.
The real root of it all is if someone does not love God first and most, they cannot love you properly. God is love, so if a person does not know the Highest form of love, they cannot know how to love truly and fully. CS Lewis said, “To love you as I should, I must worship God as Creator. When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”
What Lewis was getting at was that in order to love to the highest expression of love and love correctly, we must love through Christ. If the person you are considering does not even believe in God, he does not know that love. You cannot share what you do not have, so lacking that most important aspect will only lead to heartache, disappointment, and downfall.
This is not to say that a Christian man will be perfect, he is still a human, but he will have that accountability backing him. He will know that as a husband he is called to love his wife as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5) which means even to the point of death loving her.
How my story ended was I went back to my car and screamed at God. I sobbed all the way home and threw a little fit. Real mature, eh? But the fleshy parts of me had wanted to be with him so badly, it was a literal battle between my spirit and flesh. I prayed and as He is prone to doing, God answered in the Word. My Bible literally opened to 2 Corinthians 6 and I read the verse that contained my answer so clearly. It took time, prayer, and the Holy Spirit to help my flesh let go of what it wanted to cling to, for I did love him, just not through God. God is gracious and I can firsthand attest that He will help when we ask.
In choosing to not “team up” with a non-believer, we sacrifice to God. What we sacrifice begins as the desires of the flesh and the instant gratification that comes from having something right away, but what we gain is worth far more. What we gain is protection from a sliding door path of eventual frustration, heartache, and feeling unfulfilled. What we gain is time back for not wasting time on our own follies. What we gain is looking to God to lead us in the right path for our lives. The man of your dreams may not come the day after you sacrifice the relationship with a non-believer, but God will. God will direct your path and make it straight, even when you don’t understand (Proverbs 3:5-6). God will not leave you disappointed, “Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23), and He will bless you ahead.
What if you have already found yourself on the flip side of this instant relationship and very burned? There is hope for you too, just like there is hope for me. For God promises perhaps the greatest promise of the Bible, Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Take it to God and wait for an answer. He will give you the best route, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:17.
He will not disappoint you, and He will bless you for trusting Him over your own flesh. It won’t be easy, but in the end it will be worth it.
By: Cally Logan