So yesterday I had another one of those “you really shouldn’t date him” conversations with one of my friends. You know the kind–your friend likes a guy who isn’t a Christian, and even though she knows she can’t marry him, she still sees potential for change so she wants to date him.
Whenever we see our friends do this, the reaction is always the same. We always act mildly scandalized by the idea, pondering the seeming absurdity with an ever so subtle self-righteousness: “I just don’t understand why she would even consider dating someone who isn’t a Christian! I mean, a non-Christian wouldn’t be able to understand the very core of me if he doesn’t know Christ!”
And thus our friend is swiftly cast off into the “back-sliding Christian” pile.
Now I have to be honest, I have definitely said those words myself. I have acted shocked and appalled when one of my friends dated a non-Christian because to me, it seems so simple. Scripture is clear!
But if that’s the case, then why does it happen so often?
One of the reasons Christians fall into missionary dating so easily is because of the very attitude displayed above. Our inability to comprehend a deep emotional connection with a non-Christian reveals our shallow perception of human relationships, as well as a dangerous naiveté.
Let me explain what I mean. Whenever I think about the idea of dating a non-Christian, I think something along the lines of, “No way! He would probably cuss all the time and want to have sex with me and he wouldn’t understand my heart or my drive at all.”
Well newsflash: not all non-Christians are like that! You can be non-Christian and still have high moral principles, a desire to seek truth and knowledge, and an ability to challenge others intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
That said, when we deny the possibility that we could have any sort of emotional, intellectual or spiritual connection with a non-Christian, then we let our guard down and set ourselves up to fall. We allow our hearts to become intimate in ways that are not wise because we have created a false sense of security. And slowly but surely, without even realizing it, we find ourselves connected with a non-Christian in a way we never expected…or even knew was possible.
And because of our past stereotypes about non-Christians, stereotypes in which we believed that most non-Christians are shallow or unable to be spiritually engaged, we think that our case is an exception: “I know he’s not a Christian, but this is different. He shows so much potential!” Plus, you might have a better relationship with him than you’ve even had with other Christians, which encourages you to rationalize it all the more.
For that reason, we should be wary of thinking about Christians and non-Christians in categories of deep and shallow, moral and immoral, or spiritual and non-spiritual. The only difference between us is that Christians have been saved by the grace of God, which means that many non-Christians can be more intellectual, philosophical, emotionally attentive, or spiritually challenging than Christians.
And with that in mind, we should never be so complacent or arrogant as to think that we are immune to the temptation of dating a non-Christian. The reason Scripture warns us against it is not because non-Christians are jerks, or because the relationship will be totally unhealthy. On the contrary, there are a lot of great non-Christians out there!
The reason Scripture warns against it is because you are ultimately centering yourself on something other than Christ. Being a Christian means that Christ is at the center of every part of your life, and this will be difficult if not impossible if you actively choose to marry someone who is opposed to Christ. You will instead be settling for a false idol.
So be humble, and be guarded. Being friends with non-Christians is a wonderful thing, but when it comes to members of the opposite sex, use caution. You may not be quite as strong as you think.
And keep that in mind the next time your friend dates a non-Christians. Perhaps shock and horror is not the best help for them, or your own ego.