So many times I see believers dating unbelievers and it breaks my heart. They are clueless about all the issues that are lying in wait to trip them up if they allow this relationship to continue. They are not acting from a basis of faith but of feelings.
- “But I love him.”
- “But he really understands me.”
- “But he makes me feel so special.”
- “But I know I can bring him to the Lord, he comes to church/bible study with me now.”
Every one of these responses, and all the other ones we can think of come out of what I want and not out of what God wants. Sometimes we are so afraid of waiting on God’s timing that, like Sarai with Hagar, we jump ahead of God’s plan and force one of our own making. And, like the disaster that was Sarai’s, we allow ourselves to be sucked into a relationship that will bring us sorrow and grief; maybe not today or tomorrow, but in the years ahead in a marriage that is not centered on God.
I heard a wonderful word picture many years ago. I meet a friend at a train station in Chicago and we have a sweet time of catching up. I mention that I am traveling to Seattle, WA. Her response is, “Wow! That is great! I am going to Miami, FL, let us go together!!!” Of course we laugh at the idea of traveling together while going in opposite points of the US map, but this is pretty much the same as what happens with an unequally yoked couple. One is traveling towards eternity with God and has a goal in life to surrender their life to His will. The other is traveling toward hell with a goal of seeking his/her own best interests and desires, surrendered to their own will. You are traveling in opposite directions – where is the unity of spirit, where is the unity of purpose, where is the unity of heart that can keep you together while still following God’s plan?
Marriage is difficult in the best of times. Taking two very different people, no matter how much they love each other, and having them learn to live sacrificially and selflessly day in and day out takes a lifetime of work and resting in God’s grace and power. Trying to do this when only one spouse is trusting in the Lord can become almost impossible.
Of course you may say, “Oh I have known a number of Christians who have married unbelievers and they are doing just great!” Well, I would have to say I have never seen it. Either the Christian spends their entire life living in compromise from the call and commands of Christ or they are living in (possibly silent) suffering, knowing that the deepest love of their life is something they can never share with their spouse. There is no in between!
The time to make those uncompromising decisions is BEFORE you begin to date. It is much easier to say NO when an unbeliever asks you for a date than to cut it off after you have been dating for awhile. The problem arises when the decisions we make are not based on conviction from scripture but on the borrowed convictions of others. Too often we make promises in youth groups or churches because everyone around us is making them. There is a big ceremony or something of the kind where public proclamations are made and we jump on the bandwagon. The trouble is that we have never really sought God about this; we have just done what we think others expect of us. When our lives change and we leave the people who held us to the promise, we begin to forget why we chose what we did. Compromise soon sets in and we forget the commitments we made in our youth.
When we are single and unattached, this is the time for us to search the scriptures to find out what GOD declares to be our purpose as women and later, if He has it planned for us, as wives. We need to determine what the scriptures teach us as far as issues of working outside the home, education for our children, number of children, birth control or not, etc. All of these issues are not decided willy-nilly; what I want today or what sounds like fun. These are issues that are addressed in scripture, either directly or by principle and they are issues that should be explored prior to the consideration of marriage (or even dating, since marriage could result).
Of course there will be times when we are either saved after marriage or we do not really get serious with the Lord until after marriage. Then we will have some difficult situations ahead of us and hopefully some deep and honest communication with our husbands, but we can trust that God will give us the grace we need to walk in obedience to Him and submission to our husbands. For the most part, however, the time for building convictions and visions for our lives is before we become yoked with another.