The Bible is clear that Christians should not have close friendships with non-Christians. But what does the Bible teach about dating and marriage? Should Christians date or marry an unbeliever? Is it a sin for a Christian to date a non-Christian?
According to the scriptures, 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.
So what does the Bible say about dating or marrying an unbeliever?
Should Christians Date or Marry Non-Christians (or Unbelievers?) What Does the Bible Say?
First, for a historical perspective, let’s look at the Old Testament for a moment. Does the Old Testament have anything to say about marriages among God’s people and unbelievers? Yes:
“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) did allow for marriage between a believer and outsider, but only if the outsider converted. Only then was the marriage condoned by God. Otherwise, they were (and still are) commanded not to marry non-Christians/unbelievers.
It is important to keep in mind that when a believer marries a non-believer, it can lead the Christian astray. Look at Solomon: the Bible says his wives turned him towards other false Gods and idols. So even the wise King Solomon made some mistakes in this regard, and it caused him to turn from God.
For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.
1 Kings 11:4
The scripture above should be a “wake-up call” to Christians who think they can marry someone and not be influenced by their beliefs or faith. The Bible says Solomon was the wisest man who had lived at that time, yet even he got swept up into idolatry.
The Bible has much more to say about this issue of Christians marrying non-Christians:
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
Given the above scriptures, God clearly wants Christians to limit association/closeness with unbelievers. It is a sin to enter a marriage with an unbeliever. At the same time, Paul teaches us that those who are already married to an unbeliever should stay married if they are happy.
In other words: If you are a Christian, you have no business dating an unbeliever, or entering into a marriage with a non-Christian. If you are already married, then don’t dissolve the marriage if your spouse is not a Christian, so long as the spouse is content to live with you.
Is It Wrong for a Christian to Go On a Casual Date With an Unbeliever or Non-Christian?
Of course, when you first meet someone, you may not know what their faith is. A simple casual date, perhaps with friends, would be okay. However, if the person is not a Christian, and you witness to them and they reject the gospel, you should not move forward with a romantic relationship. It would be best to seek out a Christian from the beginning, perhaps in a local church.
If you disobey God’s word, you are only bringing strife and trouble into your life. God’s ideal for marriage is for Christians to marry other Christians, and raise up Godly offspring in the faith. That is the Biblical ideal.
Why Christians Shouldn’t Be Dating a Person Who Is Not a Christian
After a few dates, a Christian will inevitably get to know a person’s beliefs, habits, and things like this. If the person is not a Christian, God’s word says you should not continue in the romantic relationship. You are going to spend your whole life with this person, and so you’d better get God’s advice on the matter. The divorce rate is high enough as it is (even among “alleged” Christians).
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
The Bible teaches there are two main divisions of people: The saved and the lost. If you are saved, you are a child of God. If you are not saved, you are a child of the devil. If you marry a non-believer, you’re going to get Satan as a father-in-law. That’s something you shouldn’t take lightly.
Disagreements will come up all the time: Things like sex, politics, what religion to raise your children in, how you’re going to spend your Sundays, and so forth. This can really create a division among married people. A non-believer may try to get a believer to have premarital sex, or other things during the dating phase as well.
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?
What About People of Other Faiths (Jews, Muslims, etc.)?
If a person is anything other than a Christian, they are considered unbelievers. It doesn’t matter which “God” they profess to believe in. If they do not accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, as God in Flesh, they reject Christianity and are unbelievers, as defined in the Bible.
Let me repeat it: If your spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend is not a Christian, they are unbelievers, and the scripture warns against close relationships–especially romantic ones.
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? 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 then they should stay together.
If, however, the unbeliever abandons the Christian spouse, the Christian does NOT have to remain in the marriage. Paul clearly says that the Christian is no longer in bondage in this circumstance. As Paul puts it “God has called us to peace.”
What About Interracial Marriages? Should a White Christian Marry a Black Christian?
The whole entire article above is dealing with “religion,” and not “race.” I say race jokingly, because there is only one race: The human race.
The Bible teaches we all came from two people (Adam and Eve), then subsequently from the family of Noah. Therefore, we are all one people. All Christians are one body in Christ aren’t we? 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, because it is already written in our genetic code.
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 means Zipporah may have had much darker skin than him). Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (probably one of each shade of skin). This was common (although highly frowned upon) with kings of his day, as marriages were often used as military or economical alliances.
To say that a light skinned person should not marry a darker skin person implies a misunderstanding of the Bible. 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. You wouldn’t want to marry another tribe surrounding the Israelites, because most all of them engaged in rampant idolatry.
Conclusion: Christians Should Not Seriously Date or Marry Non-Christians
God’s word declares that Christians should not have close relationships with unbeliever. This can hinder your walk with Christ, and cause conflict, or lead to much pain and grief down the line.
God’s word illustrates the ideal family: One Christian man and one Christian woman. They raise up Godly offspring, and train their children in the ways of God. This is God’s will for the family, and Christians should seek God’s will, not theirs.
If you are a Christian and you are struggling with dating an unbeliever, remember to wait patiently on the Lord. Don’t rush a relationship that isn’t according to His will. You will regret it down the line. Trust in God, and wait patiently for the right man or woman.