I recently made a post addressing the question of whether or not Christians should have close friendships with non-Christians. So I thought I would go ahead and address the other major topic that often comes up: Dating & Marriage.
I think intimate relationships are very important, and faith DOES matter. After all, faith lays the foundation for your world-views, and world-views will control how you see and respond to the world, and that includes relationships.
But just like the friendship question, I think this too can have some factors that we need to consider. So what does the bible say about this?
Should Christians Date or Marry Non-Christians (or Unbelievers?) What Does the Bible Say?
To address this topic, I think we need to again classify things a bit. I think we can divide the issue into the following parameters to help us understand “Dating or Marriage”:
- Christians merely casually dating or going on a date with a non-Christian (or unbeliever)
- Christians who are heavily dating and/or considering marriage with a non-Christian (or unbeliever)
- Christians who are already married to a non-Christian (or unbeliever), and converted after the marriage.
Luckily, this is one topic the bible does address directly, and I think we can reason with the scriptures to see what we should do. So first let us view the bible verses that directly address this topic:
Bible Verses that Discuss Christians Dating or Marrying Non-Christians
First, I think for a historical perspective we should jump back into the Old Testament for a moment. Does the Old Testament have anything to say about marriages among God’s people and unbelievers? Yes indeed:
“Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. Deuteronomy 7:3
“An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat of it. Exodus 12:48
These scriptures tell us that quite clearly even in the Old Testament God is very protective and serious about His followers being involved with people who did not follow God.
The bible (and Jewish tradition) DOES allow for marriage between a believer and outsider, BUT only if the outsider converts first. Only then will the marriage be condoned by God. Otherwise, they were (and still are) commanded not to marry Non-Christians/Unbelievers.
Also, just let me point out what happens sometimes when a believer marries a non-believer: It can lead people astray. Look at Solomon, the bible says his wives turned him towards other false gods and idols. That was a big “no-no.” So even the wise King Solomon made some mistakes in this regard, and that lets us see what can happen in that situation.
Now, let us skip to the New Testament for a few verses that directly deal with this issue. Here is what the Apostle Paul tells us regarding this matter:
To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7: 12-16
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
I think it is pretty clear that Paul thinks Christians should limit association/closeness with unbelievers. At the same time, we see Paul recommending that those who are already married should stay married if they are happy.
Those are some great verses, and I think we can now address the main categories regarding dating and marrying between Christians and non-Christians one-at-a-time:
- Should a Christian go on a date with a person if they don’t know their faith?
- Should a Christian be seriously involved with and/or marry a person who rejects Christianity?
- Should a Christian who is already married leave an unbelieving spouse?
Is It Wrong for a Christian to Go On a Casual Date With an Unbeliever or Non-Christian?
I think that there is nothing wrong with a Christian going on friendly dates with people of other faiths (or no faith). This seems to fit in with the whole Christians being friends with non-Christian thing. I see nothing at all wrong with it.
At this very early stage of a relationship, things really aren’t serious and you may not even know what a person’s religious beliefs are. You may have just met someone or something, and want to know more about them. Perhaps they are a Christian. Perhaps a different faith. Perhaps they kinda believe in God, but aren’t sure. A date is a great way to find out!
Again, you may have just met a person and want to have a date to get to know more about them. I see no fault at all in this. Of course, when I say “date” I am not talking about a one night stand (obvious sin), nor am I talking about clubbing and partying with alcohol (could lead to the above sin). I am talking dinner, a movie, or something innocent along those lines.
So again, a casual date to get to know someone is perfectly fine. This way, you can determine if any attraction/feelings are there, what a person’s perspective on life is (their faith), and more. So on this I say go for it! Even if things do work out, you have at least gained a friend.
Should Christians Be Heavily Dating a Person Who Is Clearly Not a Christian?
After a few dates, a Christian will inevitably get to know a person’s beliefs, habits, and things like this. So this brings up an interesting question: What if the person is against Christianity? Should they continue to date them? Or should they slowly back off and just be friends?
Considering the scriptures above, I think 1 of 2 things needs to happen:
- The Christian should really sit down and discuss and compare their beliefs. If the other person is against Christianity, then I think it may be best to remain friends.
- Or, if the person is willing to follow God, then perhaps things can work out over time.
Why do I take such a seemingly “extreme” view on this? Well because the scriptures do. The scriptures make it clear not to be “yoked together” with people who are not interested in God’s will. We cannot think Paul is merely joking with us. That is a clear command.
Think about it: You are going to spend your whole life with this person. The divorce rate is high enough as it is (even among Christians). So would it be wise to go against God’s word and eventually get married or continue to heavily date those who are opposed to God’s will? I don’t think so. It doesn’t guarantee failure in a marriage, but I would dare say it increases the risk.
I mean that is the point of seriously dating: Marriage, sex and then family. So if the person is not interested in God’s will, you shouldn’t be interested in them (in terms of marriage). Why be yoked together with darkness?
So I think it would be wise to either get on the same page spiritually, or perhaps it would be best to simply be friends. Just consider for a moment the potential problems that can arise if a Christian dates a person who is not interested in God.
Disagreements will come up all the time: Things like sex, politics, and so forth can really create a division among people. A non-believer may try to get a believer to have premarital sex, or other things.
Plus, 1 of 3 things will HAVE to happen for the relationship to work:
- The Christian will have to be slack on their beliefs in order to make “peace” with the non-Christian (or lose the faith all-together).
- The non-Christian will have to be slack on their beliefs and put up with your Christian views (or convert to Christianity all-together).
- Both will remain firm in their beliefs, and probably disagree on a great many things. If this is true, you may be able to maintain a relationship, but it will be VERY difficult. It will probably eventually dissolve. In order for a marriage to last, both couples should be on the same page.
So I think that once a casual date or two starts to get more serious, people need to discuss these things and work them out early on. If they are able to get on the same page spiritually, then great. If not, I think a Christian should really consider the scriptures, and pray.
Remember, marriage is forever. It is a sacred union that God Himself ordained for the order of mankind. Marriage should be for life. If a person is strongly rejecting following God, is that someone you want to be with? Would you follow a man and not God?
So I think being friends may be a better option if 2 people cannot reconcile their religious beliefs to the point of satisfaction. I would certainly warn against rushing into a marriage, or having premarital sex.
What About Believers of Other Faiths (Jews, Muslims, etc.)?
If Christians are dating believers, but a believer of a different faith or denomination I think a marriage COULD work. However, I would warn that the farther apart the two are in beliefs, the harder it will be for them to maintain a marriage without one converting to the other faith.
For example, if there is a Baptist and a Methodist, I think they could easily stay married. If you have a Baptist and a Jehovah Witness, again it should work okay. If you have a Baptist and a Jew, then it may get much more difficult, however it could work.
In order for this to work, I think they would really have to just not discuss their differences, and instead just focus on the things they have in common (a belief in God). Or, one would have to convert to the other religion.
But overall, I think that the closer 2 people are in their beliefs, the better things will be. They will have less frustrations, and they will have a similar world-view.
What About Christians Who Convert After a Marriage? Should They Divorce Their Unbelieving Spouses?
If two non-Christians were married and eventually one converted, should the Christian leave the other non-Christian spouse? Mostly no. Paul addresses this in that scripture I provided above.
If the two people can live together in harmony and happiness, by all means PLEASE stay together. We have enough divorces these days, and enough homes are broken up over it. Paul says if they are happy they are made clean.
If, however, a person is really cruel, abusive, or something like that to the newly converted Christian, the Christian does NOT have to remain in the marriage. Paul clearly says that the Christian could leave in this circumstance. As Paul puts it “God has called us to peace.”
Let me stress that staying together at this point is HIGHLY recommended. Paul himself even says to do it. But if it just will not work, a divorce/separation could be a final option. Again, this is only in very extreme cases (mental abuse, physical abuse, etc.). Otherwise, the couples should work very hard to respect one another’s faith and views, and remain married. I would strongly recommend counseling or something like this to avoid divorce at all costs.
Will Christian & Non-Christian Marriage Combos Fail?
Not necessarily. I talk to several believers who are married to non-believers, and they maintain a successful marriage. They do have some problems or differences, but they are able to work it out. I think this is great.
On the flip side, I have known people who are religious, and married to unbelievers and their marriage has had very serious problems, some even ending in divorce. Each situation is different, and it all depends on the non-believers attitude/personality and exact views.
This all comes back to the world-view problem. A non-believer may not think it is such a big deal to look at porn, commit adultery, etc. I am not saying ALL non-believers are like this. But if they are not going by God’s morality code, whose are they following? See how that could create problems and divisions?
Again, I think that if this is known before-hand, two people should not enter into a marriage until they have this worked out. If they can respect each others views and love each other, a marriage may work (but it is more risky).
If they are already married, stay together at all costs. Only seek to separate in extreme circumstances.
What About Interracial Marriages? Should a White Christian Marry a Black Christian? What About Blue, Green, and Yellow Ones?
The whole entire article above is dealing with “religion,” and not “race.” I say race jokingly, because there is only 1 race: The human race. That is why I joking say, “Blue, Green, and Yellow” Christians.
The bible teaches we all came from 2 people (Adam and Eve). Therefore, we are all one people. All Christians are one body in Christ aren’t we? Sure are! The differences in skin color only arise from the variation within our genetic code (mostly melanin production). And no, that isn’t evidence of evolution! For information on why we have different skin colors, you can check out this article. It is nothing more than variation within a kind.
An important thing to note is the bible NEVER says anything against marrying people of different “race.” A dark skinned person is free to marry a light skinned, and everything in between.
In fact, Moses married an Ethiopian (which probably had much darker skin than him). Solomon married tons of women (probably one of each shade of skin, hehe).
To say that a light skinned person should not marry a darker skin person to me implies a very ungodly view of the world and people. If that were true, then my wife should divorce my pasty-white self during the winter because I get lighter, or she should divorce me in the summer the first time I get a nice tan. That is how ridiculous that view is. Or that is like saying blondes shouldn’t marry or date people with darker hair!
The only scriptures people ever try to use is the part in the Old Testament about “tribes mixing.” In this context, it is obviously talking about other religions. Furthermore, we aren’t in Israel in the tribes are we? Didn’t think so. God does not divide us based on skin color or “race.” God only divides us based on “righteous and unrighteous.” He judges on inward things, not outward appearances.
Although I will say this: There may be social discrimination if two people of distinct “races” marry. So be prepared for society to give you trouble at points in time. But that is their problem, not yours.
But that does sometimes hurt people (and any children they may have), so you should be aware of that. The good news is that hopefully racism is dying down with each new generation, until it is completely gone forever. I don’t think this is nearly as big of an issue as it was in the past (thank God).
Conclusion: Dating, Marriage, and God…Oh My!
I think it is clear that there is nothing wrong with a Christian going on a casual (and innocent) date with an individual to get to know them. Once they get to know them, however, I think it is best to stick with people of the same world-view/faith.
The couples should discuss faith very openly and deeply and make sure they are on the same page before jumping into a life-long marriage or having premarital sex. After all, sex makes babies ya know!
For those who are already married and converted to follow Christ, take Paul’s advice. Strive to stick with your spouse and love them, even if they don’t follow God. Only seek to separate as a last resort and in extreme circumstances only.