Posts Tagged ‘unequal yoke’

God & Dating

I think it’s good that we talk frankly in the church about sex and dating. Because apart from parents teaching these things (and I certainly hope that you are!) the only places young people learn about these things are from school, friends and Hollywood, none of which are really trusted conduits of Christian values.

Besides, with today’s TV and internet it has never before in history been easier to get involved in sexual immorality. And so the need to speak out is all the more urgent.

Now, Scripture doesn’t talk about dating. It tells us that some marriages were arranged and some weren’t. All it talks about is “betrothal” – which is more like what we call engagement – but a bit more serious. We don’t really know what courting rituals were involved in any of this, and no specific instructions are given. So we will look at some things Scripture says about different topics that relate to what we call dating.

Only date fellow believers

Scripture teaches that we are only to marry Christians. And since dating is a form of courtship for marriage and is a serious relationship, this certainly applies here too.

Paul tells the widow who is considering remarrying, “She is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” – 1 Corinthians 7:39, that is to another believer.

Paul also says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-15. Although he isn’t just talking about marriage, this does pertain to marriage and by extension to dating.

To be married to an unbeliever is to yoke yourself together in the most intimate way possible with someone who does not share your faith; your deepest life values. It is to be “unequally yoked.”

It is to partner yourself with or to become one with someone who is, spiritually speaking, on the other side. Paul asks, “what fellowship has light with darkness?” And this is true even if they aren’t openly hostile to your faith.

Indeed the difference is so great between the Christian and the unbeliever that in 1 Corinthians 7:12 – Paul classifies these marriages as something less than ‘what God has joined together.’ And they are governed by different rules than Jesus’ teaching on Christian marriage.

The danger for you in all this is that they will pull you away from your faith. This concern is expressed in Deuteronomy 7:3-4 – “You shall not intermarry with them (that is, those outside the faith of Israel), giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods.” The issue is that they will be a stumbling block for you.

Even short of open disapproval of your faith, you know, if they are ‘tolerant of your faith they will most likely put implicit pressure on you to tone things down; to be lukewarm, as opposed to full devotion and commitment to Jesus. And they will not be particularly interested in giving you encouragement in your Christian faith

So, if you take your faith seriously, you are signing up for a life of disappointment. Think of two oxen yoked together who are trying to go in different directions. It won’t be pleasant.

Here are just a few examples from married life:

  • When there is a life crisis and you need to look to Scripture for help, will they encourage you in this? Not likely.
  • When there is a question of where to send extra money will they like it that you want to give it to mission work? Probably not.
  • When there is a death in the family will they be able to comfort you with Christian hope? They will not.
  • When you are struggling with temptation will they be able to give you wise Christian counsel? They will not.

And perhaps most seriously, how will you raise your children? Whose values will be taught? One of the purposes of marriage, according to Malachi 2:15, is to raise godly children.

Will your unbelieving spouse consent to this? And if they say they will, will they change their mind later? And what will it mean to the child to see that one of their parents doesn’t accept Christian faith?

These tensions are real, and at least in part, they are why such relationships don’t last as long. The divorce rate for mixed-religion marriages is three times higher than the average. (The Washington Post, June 10, 2010)

In terms of dating the fundamental question is – Do you value your faith more than any potential relationship? Another way to put it is – Do you love God more than any person who has caught your attention? If you don’t, you have already begun the journey away from your Christian faith.

Look for someone with real faith and commitment. I don’t mean the rationalizing that we so often do – he went to church once; or she said her family used to be Christian. I mean someone who is a solid Christian, who will be able to encourage you in your Christian faith and walk with you in this for a lifetime. Pray for someone like this and trust God for an answer

A word of advise here. To put this teaching into practice, you have to make the decision up front. If you allow yourself to get emotionally involved with an unbeliever, it’s going to be really hard.

Maintain your sexual purity

We talked about this last week, so just a bit of a reminder. Yes, premarital sex is sexual immorality, even if our society doesn’t think so or all your friends don’t think so.

And like all sexual immorality we are to flee from it, not run to it and embrace it as the world does. Paul says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his/her own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5.

Speaking of lust, let’s talk for a minute about making out. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Is this not being sexually active outside of marriage, which Jesus forbids?
  • If we are not even to look at another with lust (Matthew 5:27-28) can this possibly be acceptable?
  • Is this an expression of the fruit of the Spirit of “self-control” as Paul talks about in Galatians 5:23? Or is this an expression of “the passion of lust” as Paul talks about in 1 Thessalonians 4:5?

Receive these words from 2 Timothy 2:22, “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

Choose someone according to the values of the kingdom of God

– not the values of the world. Who does the world exalt? Those with power, status and wealth; those who make you feel good; those who look good. I will just focus in two examples.

Look for true love – that is, according to the Biblical definition. The world portrays love in a distorted way. And we often get caught up in this. But love is not lust, and love is not emotion, although it involves this. And so much dating is about these two things.

But emotion and sexual attraction can fade. And in the world this means it’s time to move on. Just this week I saw a celebrity that said she was getting divorced because it wasn’t fun anymore.

But scripturally love is fundamentally commitment to someone; to their well being; caring for them whether you feel like it or not, whether they turn you on or not – Matthew 5:44-47.

And so if you date you need to think:

  • Is this someone I can love for the rest of my life?
  • And is this someone who will love me for the rest of my life?

Even after the romance fades? Even when the ‘honeymoon’ is over and you are both acting more like your true selves with each other?

Find someone with true beauty. The world emphasizes outward beauty. The kingdom of God emphasizes the inner beauty of godly character.

Peter says this to women, “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4.

So gentlemen, listen up. Outward beauty by itself is useless. Proverbs 11:22 says, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” It’s a waste and it’s not what you want.

And also outward beauty fades with age.  Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Ladies we could say the same for men. Their handsomeness, physical strength and yes, their hair is fleeting over time.

Both men and women need to look for the true beauty of a godly heart that fears the Lord, and not get caught up in the glamour culture that we live in that worships outward beauty. And in turn you need to focus on being beautiful within, and not outward beauty.


Having said all this about dating, let me end by saying that you are perfectly fine if you don’t date. You have to remember that Jesus was single and so was the apostle Paul. And remaining single for life is always an option. And it can free you up to have more time to serve the Lord – 1 Corinthians 7. You can be both fulfilled and faithful to God without marriage.

But even short of this, you don’t need to feel pressured to date, just because everyone else seems to be dating. It is fine to wait until you are older; to wait until you are ready; to wait until there is someone you truly want to date, for all the right reasons.

William Higgins

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