Dating a Non-Christian Part 2
In my last post I discussed a couple of thoughts about the pros and cons of dating a non-Christian. Being an older Christian woman is very tough in this secular climate. There just aren’t that many single Christian guys around. (And the ones that are around typically go for the younger Christian girls!) So you might be feeling a bit desperate, and might be starting to cast your eyes over the non-Christian guys in your vicinity. But are you playing with fire?
Here are a few more things for you to ponder and pray about, when it comes to dating a non-Christian.
1. What does the Bible say about it?
Well, it says quite a lot. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 we read Paul warning the Corinthian church (which was a bit loose): Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
Now, Paul makes a good point here. In using the ‘yoke’ symbolism, he’s referring to the ancient agricultural practice of ‘yoking’ two oxen together with a big wooden bar, so that they could plow the fields in sync. If you put two oxen together that are of different shapes, sizes, strengths, or attitudes, you wouldn’t have a very successful team. (Further reading and pic here.)
He’s actually referring not only to marriage, but to business partnerships as well, which is interesting. I mean, I would guess that a lot of Christians enter business relationships with non-Christians. Does that usually work out? I don’t know. What I do know is that a business partnership is not often life-long, nor do you have to be physically and emotionally intimate with your business partner, raise kids together, visit each other’s sick grandma, or go to each other’s high school reunions. Marriage is way more intense than business! So if you’re seriously considering a particular non-Christian, first ask yourself, ‘Would I enter a life-long business partnership with this guy?’ If the answer is no, you better do some serious thinking!
All throughout the Old Testament we see situations where the Israelites moved around the place and settled in or near foreign lands. And repeatedly, God told them not to intermarry with the other cultures. Why? Mainly, because the other cultures followed different gods, and He knew that as soon as marriages and kids started happening, eventually at least some of the people would turn away to the other gods. This happened with King Solomon – the wisest man who ever lived – when he started marrying women from pagan cultures. (As you do, when you want 700 wives!) Eventually, and blind Freddy could have seen this coming, his wives turned his heart away from the Lord. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (1 Kings 11:4) So that was not a good ending for old King Sol.
About 500 years earlier, when Joshua (Moses’ 2IC) was about to die, he gathered the Israelites together and gave them this warning:
Therefore watch yourselves carefully, that you love the LORD your God. For if you turn away and cling to the rest of these nations that remain among you, and if you intermarry and associate with them, know for sure that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become for you a snare and a trap, a scourge for your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land that the LORD your God has given you… (Joshua 23:11-13). Hm, do you think this is happening in your nation right now?
We’re not as strong as we think we are, you see. Our ‘Christian’ nation of Australia is really ‘Christian’ no longer. This also applies to those of you reading this in places like the US, UK and New Zealand. Why? Because people have turned their hearts away from the Lord, mainly because of the spread of other belief systems and ideologies that have permeated our culture in various ways. Regardless of your political persuasion, I think it’s pretty obvious that there’s a lot of ‘pagan’ behaviour going on in our technically Judeo-Christian nations. We need to be praying!
It’s already hard enough holding on to Christian convictions in this secular age. We already have to be counter-cultural. Now, do you really think you could manage to be counter-cultural in your own home? And besides, who sets the culture of the home? The man, the woman, the kids? Who’s the one setting the culture, and opposing it? Who wants two opposing cultures under one roof, anyway? That sounds exhausting and not peaceful at all. Something’s gotta give.
Take a moment to read this interesting article from a Baptist minister about dating a non-Christian. (Basically, he says don’t do it.) here
For those of you who are currently dating or engaged to a non-Christian, or planning to, or who feel affronted by this post so far…my heart does go out to you. It’s a jungle out there, and at the end of the day you just want someone to care for you, be good to you, protect you and provide for you. I get it. There’s no law in your country (I hope) against marrying a non-Christian. It’s a decision you have to make for yourself. But you really have to weigh it up, because it will have a major impact on the rest of your life, and I do mean major.
A note here to single mums - if you have young children to support, and literally are desperate for a good man to marry you simply to give you protection and provision, then I understand if you are willing to consider non-Christian men. I’m not saying it’s ideal, or that it’s a great solution long-term, but I acknowledge that in many cases, marriage is not so much about love and compatibility as it is about general protection and sharing of assets for the sake of raising children. That said, if you are in a country like Australia where we have an amazing welfare system, perhaps you can manage to live a very thrifty lifestyle while raising your children alone, hopefully with the support and leadership of your church community and the men within it. During this time you can be continually seeking the Lord to bring you a Godly man at the right time (as all single women should be doing). You don’t want to ruin the rest of your life by marrying a man who is not right for you, just for the sake of 10-15 years of provision.
2. Will marrying a non-Christian man affect our children’s faith?
Absolutely. Let me boil down the psychology for you. ‘Mum’ is seen as the nurturer; the go-to for the early years; the one to set the foundational culture and atmosphere in the home while Dad brings home the bacon. But because ‘Dad’ is the one the kids typically see as ‘out there in the big wide world’, his behaviours and preferences are seen as more ‘adult’ than Mum’s. So when kids start to grow up, they want to branch out and explore the world, and taste and see the kind of life that their Dad has. If Dad only attends church to keep Mum happy, or only goes during the kids’ early years, they will develop the perception that church is just a children’s activity – nice for when you’re little, but not something you continue as you become a real adult. This particularly applies to boys, who are typically more adventurous than girls, and are keen to leave behind the trappings of childhood and seek out more masculine activities and ‘men’s only business’.
Statistically, this was proven in a large Swiss study released in 2000. Basically, the results overwhelmingly showed that the Dads’ church attendance had a major impact on the kids’ decisions to continue attending, whereas it didn’t matter so much whether or not Mum attended. You can read an article about it here.
If you marry a man who isn’t a Christian, don’t expect him to be super keen to take the family to church every Sunday. Most men work very hard during the week and want to guard their weekends for family time and personal hobbies, as well as some much-needed down time. Usually, only men who are truly committed to the Lord will sacrifice a quarter of their weekend for church. So think realistically about how that might play out in the long term for your family.
And here’s a concerning thought – what if he is strongly committed to another faith, or becomes a disciple of another faith during your marriage? Are you okay with your husband going to and taking your children along to the Mosque, Synagogue or New Moon Yoga Meditations and Crystal Chakras? Eek!
3. Well, how do I know if he’s really a Christian?
This is such an important question, and lots of girls have been caught out. Some guys are quite keen on Christian or ‘church’ girls because they tend to be a bit more old-fashioned, into cooking and cleaning and submission, and are more likely to be virgins (although unfortunately this is changing.) So a man might pursue you and try to convince you that he ‘believes in God’ and ‘love is the main thing’ or something like that. But when it comes to the crunch, this is not the kind of guy who is going to put his life on the line for Christ. Here are some strategies to figure out where he’s at with God. No one can know the heart of man, sure, but ‘from the heart the mouth speaks’ – so, in a way, you can. LOL.
a. Pentecostal girls: use the phrase ‘born-again’ around him and see how he reacts. Can he describe himself as a born-again Christian, or does this language freak him out?
b. Ask him about his conversion experience. It should have detail. Ask him about how his life has changed since.
c. Has he been baptised and does he regularly take communion? What does he think about these?
d. Watch his behaviour. Is he kind, forgiving, self-controlled, humble? Does he give to the poor? Or does he bitch about his boss? Does he backstab his neighbours?
e. How does he talk about Jesus? As a friend, master, spiritual guru, good teacher, cool iconic figure…does he talk about Jesus at all?
f. See if he is a regular church-goer and is known in his church community. If he doesn’t seem to go anywhere or have a home church, that’s a red flag. If he doesn’t know the Pastor’s name, that’s a red flag. If he takes you to ‘his’ church, and doesn’t know anyone there, that’s a red flag.
g. If he pushes you for sex before marriage, he’s not committed enough. Get out of there!
h. Does he have a relationship with Jesus, or is he just religious? A religious person trusts in their own good deeds to save them. A true Christian knows that he is a sinner in need of a Saviour (Jesus), and that only faith in Jesus can save. A true Christian can bow their knee to Jesus and say that ‘Jesus is Lord’.
i. Does he have any knowledge of Christendom? Eg. famous preachers, churches, church history, recent Christian events, major Christian artists, and so on. I mean, if he has no idea what ‘Hillsong’ is…I’d be concerned.
j. Can you talk about things like ‘the Holy Spirit’, ‘the cross’ and ‘salvation’ without him getting uncomfortable?
k. Sneak a look at his Bible. Does he have a Bible? Is it worn, underlined, and readily at hand? Or is it a fresh, still-in-the-box, Old King James leather-bound version stuck on the top shelf? These are clues, girls, clues…
l. Drop a couple of scriptures and see what he does with them. Or if he asks you what you’ve been reading, you could say, ‘Oh, I’m really getting into Paul’s epistles at the moment’…and see how he responds.
m. If you’re over 30, wear a WWJD band one night and see if he says anything.
n. Listen to your gut. Deep down, you know whether he’s legit or not. Be honest with yourself!
4. Won’t he eventually convert, once he sees how amazing my faith in Jesus is?
Statistically and anecdotally, I would say no. You absolutely cannot bank on this. I would suggest that if a Christian man married a non-Christian woman, there would be more chance of a conversion taking place. Why? Because marriage is not an equal partnership. It’s a system with a headship – that’s the husband. And the head sets the course of the system. Just think, whenever a company wants to change the culture, it changes the CEO – because culture comes down from the top. It’s the same in marriage.
5. What if I don’t care anymore, and I just want someone to help carry the groceries and have sex with me?
Well – good luck to you, sister. I get it. Life is tough and being an older single totally sucks. It is lonely and it is hard. If you find a lovely, kind, supportive and financially viable single man who wants to marry you, who isn’t a Christian…who am I to stop you? But go in with your eyes wide open. It’s a big risk. How important is your faith? If it’s a massive part of your life and lifestyle, then marrying a non-Christian might put you in a pretty lonely marriage, with two people doing their own thing and living parallel lives. Are you ok with that for the next FIFTY YEARS?
Now, I know there are so many Christian guys out there who are absolute deadbeats, narcissists, or players. They have major unresolved issues and are lacking maturity in a whole variety of ways. These guys have a lot of growing to do. And by the same token, there are tons of non-Christian guys who are awesome, lovely, kind, great at their job, humble, generous, and great with kids. So a guy just being ‘Christian’ certainly doesn’t guarantee a happy marriage.
The reason I’m writing all this is just so you really have a good, hard think about this. It’s massively important. Only you can decide what you can live with. There’s no way to know ahead of time how things will play out. So be aware, be wise, be prayerful, and don’t be desperate! LOVE YOU xx