Dating is tricky and very complicated. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration. There are so many ways to meet someone these days: online, through an app, by speed dating, being set up on a blind date, and more. From there, though, you are talking to a complete stranger. Many people gauge dating potential by physical looks, charming character, or a great sense of humor. But what about the person’s religion? Does that have any effect on your dating decisions?
For the longest time, I didn’t care about religion and dating. It did not have that big of an effect on me. My mom had always stressed to me that dating someone who shared the same religious beliefs as me would help the relationship. I always thought that my mom wanted me to find a nice, cute, Lutheran boy because it would just make life easier—he wouldn’t have to take the time to go through catechism classes and such to become an official member of the Lutheran church. Now, I understand what she really meant.
Dating a Non-Christian
I dated two people who were not Christian; one was Jewish, and the other was atheist. I was never really open with my religion when I was in these relationships, because the guys never made their feelings on it clear, and I did not want to “stir the pot.” I tried to be understanding and accepting; however, this made for some disagreements. Religion often influences your values and aspects of life and shows who you are as a person. Therefore, one of the reasons both relationships ended was religion.
I started caring when one boyfriend blatantly started insulting my religion. I became personally offended, because Christianity is how I grew up. It formed me to be the person that I am today.
What the Bible Says
It can be tricky to date someone who is not the same religion as you. In 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks about having an unbelieving wife or husband:
To the rest I say (I [Paul], not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? (7:12-16).
Being married to an unbeliever provides you with opportunities to witness your faith to that person in words and actions, which can lead your spouse to faith in the one true God. There is no guarantee of this, however, and if the unbeliever chooses to leave, that is on that person. So was it unfair for me to break up with someone based on his religion and beliefs? Or should I have just focused on the superficial features of this sinful world and the relationship?
Paul also says to the Corinthians, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14–15). Paul is clearly saying that a Christian should marry a Christian—but if one becomes a believer of Jesus after marriage, then they should stay married. As Christians, we enter dating knowing our end goal for the relationship is marriage. If you choose to date someone who does not share your beliefs, you two need to have a conversation about faith. You need to be firm with your significant other that this relationship will end in either marriage or a breakup, and if you are not on the same page about religion, it will certainly be the latter.
Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Verses 10–31 of this chapter talk about an excellent wife who, in fear of and praise for God, is strong and cares for her husband, family, and community. She works hard in her business of selling linen garments. She is generous to others while still providing for her family. Her husband and others praise her for her work. She has charm and beauty, but she relies on her faith in God for strength. She knows He is almighty and powerful. She believes.
Dating a Christian
Now, I am dating a Christian. I never saw it coming. I have known him since I was a child. We have gone to the same church all our lives; we went to Sunday School and confirmation together—we even stood next to each other during our Confirmation questioning! God works in mysterious ways, but something great always comes from His work.
After dating a Lutheran man, I can say how much I value a Christian relationship. Our values are very similar and, more important, we put God first. I am thankful that I can praise the Lord with a man who understands and shares those beliefs with me. My mother was right all along.
Discover more about God's plan for your life in this book by Pastor Jeff Leininger.