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Dating an Unbeliever

by Peter Stone  
11/05/2008 / Dating

"Hey Barry, you did well tonight," I said after Discipleship Class had concluded. The others had adjourned to the kitchen.

The young man glowed. "Thanks Pastor. When Michael admitted that he doubted his salvation, I thought my testimony might reassure him."

"And so it did. We all saw your heart for Jesus shining through as you told us about your amazing conversion."

Barry fell silent for a moment, and then said, "Pastor John, I met this girl."

"Okay," I said, wondering where this was going.

"And I really like her, and she likes me too."

"I'm sensing a 'but' in there somewhere."

"But, she's not a Christian yet."

"Don't even think about it," I said.

"What? Why not?"

"The Bible says quite plainly that believers should not be joined or yoked together with unbelievers."

Barry fiddled with his iPhone. "Does that passage specifically mention marriage?"

"No, but it doesn't need to. The example is taken from yoking pairs of animals together to draw a farmer's plough. For the team to function properly they had to be the same type of animal, normally oxen. If an ox and donkey were yoked together, the result was disastrous. The passage refers to any joining together of believers and unbelievers, such as a business partnership, and of course, the ultimate example of two people living and working side by side: marriage."

"But Pastor, I've never met a girl like her before, I'm totally smitten."

"I don't doubt you feel a very strong physical, mental and emotional connection with her, but the most important part, the spiritual connection, is missing. Barry, you have a promising future in Christ, but take a moment to think what it means to date an unbeliever. Your life is founded on Christ and the Bible's teachings - her life is not. How can you approach an issue or problem from the same perspective? You want to make decisions that please God, but she'll make decisions in pursuit of her personal happiness. If you were to marry, think of your children. How can you raise them in the way of the Lord if she disagrees with you and teaches them otherwise?"

Barry smiled disarmingly. "Actually, I'm going to bring her to Youth Group and Church and witness to her. She'll get saved before you know it. That's one reason I decided to date her--I love her so much that I'm going to use our relationship to lead her to the Lord."

I sighed. How many times had I heard that before? "Have you asked her to church yet?"

"Ah, um, yes."

"And her answer was?"

"She wasn't interested--but it's just a matter of time."

"Barry, this is one of the oldest tricks in the book. On many occasions, I have seen Christians date unbelievers, expecting to lead them to the Lord. Now admittedly, sometimes it happens, but it's the exception, not the rule. Normally the believer becomes so busy trying to please their unbelieving partner that they take their eyes off Jesus. They stop attending church, skip the Bible and prayer, and soon find themselves sleeping with their partner outside of marriage."

"That'll never happen to me!" Barry declared.

"Really? You have no common ground upon which to convince her otherwise. Sleeping together outside of marriage is natural for unbelievers--they do not agree with or understand the Biblical reasons for abstinence. Even if you make a strong stance initially, arguments such as 'We're getting married one day, so why wait?' and manipulative physical contact will slowly erode your defences. Barry, believers need to build their relationships upon Christ, with Him at the centre. Reading the Bible with your partner, praying together, and serving Jesus side by side while complimenting each other's ministries is such a wonderful, fulfilling experience. You miss all of this by dating an unbeliever. Instead of focusing on Jesus, you'll find yourselves focusing on each other, romantic euphoria, and physical attraction."

Barry nodded thoughtfully. "Thanks, I'll pray about it and let you know how I go."

As the young man rose to his feet and headed for the door, I wondered what his future would be. Would he follow God's Word and reach his full potential in Christ, or would he do what I had seen so many do in this situation--leave the church and move in with his girlfriend?


2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV) Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


Peter Stone, a Bible College Graduate, has an international marriage and two children. Suffers from epilepsy and otosclerosis. He teaches Sunday school and plays the piano in church.

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