Monday, October 31, 2011

Is It Ever Okay To Date An Unbeliever?

Recently I have been asked by a few young people if it is okay to date unbelievers. To be honest I wish young people wouldn't play the dating game at all, at least not until they are old enough to be serious about dating. Affairs of the heart are the most troublesome and dangerous things to deal with for an immature heart, and I don't use the word immature in a negative sense. Adolescents are in a growing stage and it is rapid growth so that their feelings are often in conflict. The emotions have not yet developed discipline and maturity so it is easy to fall in and out of love. In the end, dating at this age only introduces our youth to the idea that relationships are disposable.

I don't mean to be a prude about it. What should have been the best years of my youth were spent writing poetry while I fell in and out of love, but I also know what it did to me. There were not any good lessons that came out of it and even the poetry was bad.

However, if our youth are going to ignore the sage advice of experience then they at least need to listen to God's Word on the matter of seeking a life partner. Believers should not be entangling their hearts with unbelievers. The Word is clear on the subject so it should not even be a question for us. In Paul's letter to the Corinthians he is talking to them about marriage and what happens when one spouse is a believer and the other isn't. He says that the believer should remain in the situation he was in when he accepted Jesus, as long as the non-believing spouse is willing to remain in the marriage. He also speaks about widows and he says this:

A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:39)

She is free to marry whoever she wants as long as he is a believer. Good for widows but maybe it doesn't apply to teens dating, right? Well, Paul expanded on this in his second letter to the Corinthians where he makes it crystal clear:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)

It's hard to ignore this passage even though our heart is attracted to what is not good for us. It's hard to haul the emotions back in once we have let them out. We start coming up with all kinds of reasons why God wouldn't mind and why this one case is an exception, but it's all a lie we tell ourselves to fool ourselves. That's how most sin and disobedience wins its way into our hearts. You need to understand that this was not and is not the opinion of a man but comes from the loving heart of God. It is not something new. He has always felt this way about his children, not wanting them to get involved in situations that would take them away from him:

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

We say that we love God, that Jesus is our all but do you love him enough to make him a priority over the infatuations of your heart? I'm not saying it is easy because we all want to love and to be loved but when we are young we need to make God the object of our affection until we have gained the maturity to be wise in this important matter. It is simple, if you are not old enough to marry you are not old enough to date because dating is about finding a life partner not someone to "fool around" with. Jesus did not save us so that we could entangle ourselves in sin again.

The Old Testament reveals God's heart on the matter of believers and unbelievers and Paul quotes from Isaiah, Ezekiel and Samuel:

“Therefore come out from them 
   and be separate, 
            says the Lord. 
Touch no unclean thing, 
   and I will receive you.” 
“I will be a Father to you, 
   and you will be my sons and daughters, 
            says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

God's will in this matter is clear. Your obedience is the only thing in question now.

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