By Pst. Mark Ambundo
Many young Christians usually have very good reasons why they feel like dating or getting married to a non-believer should be okay. Some have reasons such as, “We love each other, and there is nothing that our love cannot conquer!” or, “My partner does not share my faith but (s)he does not mind it. In fact, (s)he supports it. What’s more, I have become a better Christian ever since I hooked up with him/her!”
It appears that most believers do not see how radically different they are from the non-believer. The intention here is not to be prejudicial and demonize the non-believers. This is a house-keeping issue and we must get it right.
The Bible, in 1st John 2:9-11, paints a picture of believers as being in the light and non-believers as being still in darkness. Light, meaning that Christians are spiritually awakened, and darkness, meaning that non-believers are spiritually dead, as seen in Ephesians 2:1-5. That makes a big difference. Imagine, also, what Jesus says in the beatitudes. “Be happy when you are persecuted.” (Matthew 5:3-12) The world does not work like that. In terms of the value system we are called into, we are completely different. Where Jesus says to lose our lives here on earth, that is, give our hopes and dreams over to Him and let Him guide them (Mark 8:34-38), then we will gain eternity, the world tells us to gain the whole world right now! We are called to be very different, to be comfortable with being misfits in the world (John 17:14-16), because we are pilgrims on a journey, we are passing by (1st Peter 2:11). Therefore, there is a problem when we want to settle here and tell ourselves that this is it. This is not it!
In terms of the value system we are called into, we are completely different.
It is obvious, then, that our chances of disobeying God when we lack an understanding of how completely different we are from non-believers are very high. 2nd Corinthians 6:14-18 talks about the unequal yoke between believers and non-believers. So if we go ahead to get yoked to an unbeliever we will be disobeying and therefore sinning blatantly. This is, in fact, an obedience issue. It is interesting that many times, we Christians consider an issue as bad because a command was given by God rather than having the notion that God gave the command because that issue is bad. There are consequences to being unequally yoked to an unbeliever which God, by giving this command, is trying to protect us from.
The best picture we have in the Bible is when God tells the Israelites not to intermarry with other nations because if they did so, they would be led astray. See Deuteronomy 7:2-6, Joshua 23:11-13, and Judges 3:5-8. They, nevertheless, disobeyed and they were indeed led into the worship of other gods, many times over. Christ is always pushed out of our lives. In 1st Corinthians 15:33, the Bible tells us that bad company corrupts good morals. You see, sin, unlike righteousness, is contagious. We may think that we may be able to stand firm in our faith and that we will be fine, but if God says that we will be led astray, we will undoubtedly be led astray.
But what about missionary dating? Can we not use dating to bring others into the faith? Help God a little? Sadly, there is nothing like missionary dating. Do not even try to engage in it. You will be usurping the role of the Holy Spirit in converting a non-believer into a believer. God has given mechanisms which lead to a non-believer coming over to the faith, that is the preaching of the gospel and the non-believer sitting under that kind of teaching. Missionary dating is not one of these mechanisms. In marriage it is different. The believing wife/husband is asked to behave in a way that can influence their non-believing significant other over time (1st Peter 3:1-2), but that stands on the promise of God. Before you get married, however, you are not tied to your girlfriend/boyfriend by anything or anyone. You can walk away from the relationship. Anything to do with missionary dating is ungodly and it is a sinful pattern of living.
Sadly, there is nothing like missionary dating.
If you are, perhaps, married to a non-believer, we are not implying that being unequally yoked to your unbelieving husband/wife is the unforgivable sin. God does forgive. What we hope to do is help those who are not married in order to spare them the consequences; the pain and the suffering that comes from such a choice.