Thinking with You
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Dating a Non-Christian

I’ve heard of lot of older girls mulling over this dilemma – should I or shouldn’t I consider the possibility of dating and marrying a non-Christian?  It’s a legitimate question, and a real issue.  It’s certainly not a decision to make lightly, and is a move that deserves a lot of deep thought, prayer, and wise counsel.  Here are my thoughts on it.

If something happened to the people of the earth and you alone were stuck on a deserted island with the only living male left on the planet, chances are that the two of you would ‘get together’ and assume some sort of partnership, most likely involving sex in order to provide each other with comfort and companionship, and to keep the human race going (or at least produce some more labourers to help you dig wells, build cabins and get coconuts off trees).  What if the man was a non-Christian?  Potentially, you’d be more concerned about the survival of humanity than about his doctrine.  So there’s that.

But that’s pretty unlikely.  However, as you well know, it seems like there aren’t any single Christian guys over 30 left on the planet.  So – should you expand your horizons?  Here are some questions to ponder, and my own take on the answers:

1.    How badly do you want to get married? 

Remember, you can get married anytime until you die.  Maybe you’ll meet Mr Right at the age of 60.  But probably, you want your own biological kids.  So, the clock is ticking.  Again, how badly do you want your own biological kids, and what cost are you willing to pay to get them? 

And where kids are involved, there are no guarantees.  You don’t know when menopause will hit you – it could be tomorrow, or it could be at age 59.  You could marry a non-Christian and then find out that you can’t have kids, or he can’t.  Or you could have kids, and then he might leave you – and you end up as a single mum.  Could you cope with that, and with the ensuing effects on the kids?  You’ve got to think about what you want your family life to look like.  You might have kids, and then they die in a car crash.  (Did I just say that?  But it could happen.)

Or you may indeed get the kids you’ve always wanted, but you might be miserable for the next 50 years.  And your kids might end up hating you for giving them a spiritually divided and unhappy family, should that be the result.  You just don’t know.  It’s a huge gamble! (Marriage is a huge risk anyway, even if you do marry a Christian.  But the more security you can get, the better.)

My opinion:

Unless you live in North Korea and can’t get out of the country, my preference would be to keep on moving until you do find a Christian.  There are 7 billion people in the world, half of them men, and Christianity is arguably the biggest religion on the planet.  So – your chances are good.  Like I said in my last blog, move churches, move cities, move countries – there are Christian guys out there.  Move to regional areas where there are more men than women.  (It’s a numbers game!)

That said, you do need to take into account the huge emotional toll that would occur if you move to a new place.  Maybe you would be better off with a non-Christian if you could stay in your current community, near your own family, rather than marrying a Christian and living the rest of your life being lonely, out in the boondocks.  It all depends on you and your temperament, people group, history, skills, etc. etc. 

But – the way the world is going, it’s likely that our religious freedoms are going to dry up pretty soon.  So if you are a committed Christian, it will be pretty hard to navigate that if you aren’t with someone who is ‘on the same team’.  You might be compelled to give up your faith, or you might be obliged to break the relationship.  Tough questions.

2.    Whose authority is he under?

This is a key question.  If this guy doesn’t follow Jesus, who does he follow?  Everyone believes something, and everyone is on a spiritual journey.  I mean, he might be a ‘non-Christian’, but what is he?  Every man is under an authority, and by marrying him, you will move under this authority as well.  There’s a lot more categories to spirituality than just ‘non-Christian’.  Is he a practicing or non-practicing Muslim, Jew, Catholic, agnostic, atheist, new-age dabbler, Buddhist, Hindu, astrologist…?  What has he been in the past?  What type of family does he come from?  What is his cultural heritage?  Has he had any spiritual experiences?

If he is a classic white Aussie from a typical non-religious Aussie family, chances are that he hasn’t had much spiritual input, but places his trust in his own dad, a mentor, a favourite sportsperson, a political group, or his close-knit group of peers.  In that case, you better do a decent analysis of that person or group.  Because their beliefs will be his beliefs.

Why do beliefs matter anyway?  Well, they impact everything.  What a man believes about the big existential questions:

-       who am I?

-       why am I here?

-       what’s wrong with the world?

will impact every decision he makes.  This includes: how he spends his money and time.  How he relates to his boss and his work.  How he treats you and the kids.  What he thinks about infidelity, divorce, discipline, marital roles, civilian duties, recreation.   And so on.  You’ve got to remember that life is hard, and it gets more messy the older you get.  So, how will this man respond to and lead your family through the following possible events?

·      illness and disease

·      infertility

·      miscarriage

·      in-law dramas

·      problems with the kids (eg. rebellion, drug use, teen pregnancy, school failure)

·      loss of job

·      loss of income

·      bereavement

·      infidelity

·      change of government

·      bad neighbours

·      being betrayed or mistreated by boss, peers, etc.

·      being invaded/war/conscription

·      and so on.

As a woman and a wife, you are (scarily) under his leadership as these events unfold throughout the span of a lifetime.  The kind of man he is will majorly impact the way you and your family get through these issues.  

When a conflict of views arises, you may need to acquiesce to his opinion, in order to save the marriage relationship.  This is fine when it’s just choosing where to eat dinner (KFC or Red Rooster??) but when it comes to something serious, it’s pretty intense.  I’ll leave it to your imagination.

If what he wants you to do, and what you think God wants you to do, are opposed - well, who will you submit to? Either you submit to your husband and feel awful that you weren’t able to do God’s best plan for you, or you submit to God and diss your husband. And you can’t just say, ‘Oh well, he can do what he wants and I’ll do what I want.’ That’s a marriage-killer right there.

My Opinion:

It’s definitely best to marry someone who has at least been brought up with a Judeo-Christian foundation.  So, someone from a conservative family in a Western country.  Someone whose Grandma took them to Sunday School.  Someone who at least has a Bible somewhere in the house.  Someone who believes in rights for women and children, helping the poor, and forgiveness (all that good stuff that Jesus introduced).

If you haven’t studied history, anthropology, sociology, or world politics, and haven’t travelled much, you may not realise that there are whole massive chunks of the world that have entirely opposing belief systems to you.  And I mean, totally different – particularly when it comes to gender roles, raising kids, spending money, and all those big things. 

So, if you experiment with dating a man with ‘no’ faith (although everyone has faith in something), or a man from a different religion, you better be studying your butt off every night researching the history of that belief system and how it plays out in marriage.  You better be hanging out with lots of girls and couples in that belief system and watching how it works, and decide if you can submit to it and handle it.  You better be spending lots of time with his family and learning about the family dynamics, how wives and children are treated, and so on.  Because sister – it’s very unlikely that he’ll be changing for you.  You will be the one who has to adapt.  Can you handle it?

Stay tuned for part 2.  Feel free to send through further questions for me on this topic! x