Dating a Non-Christian
Grubs become butterflies not because of what they do or deserve but by an act of God. For them to imagine they had made themselves better than grubs would insult God, who did it all. Nevertheless, for them to regard themselves as still grubs would also insult God. Moreover, it would be a perversion for a butterfly to consider mating with a grub.
Likewise, for any of us to consider ourselves more worthy of God’s grace than the vilest non-Christian is such an insult to God as to expose ourselves to God’s judgment (see Luke 18:10-14). Our union with Christ, however, so transforms us as to render it spiritually perverse to contemplate a union with anyone who has not yet been transformed.
Suppose you are an animal lover who discovered a near-dead feral animal stricken with diseases and other afflictions it had picked up from other feral animals. You rescue the animal, going to great expense and anxiously nursing it to health. Then, as the only way of keeping it safe from being reinfected, you adopt it as your own. Even though you love all animals, you would not want it running off and again mixing with creatures just as disease-ridden as it had previously been.
In contrast to committing oneself to staying in love, falling in love tends to be something outside our control. Devoted Christians can therefore find themselves in love with non-Christians. Some, unaware that Scripture addresses this matter, have even deliberately exposed themselves to this in the hope of winning someone to the Lord. If ever the saying ‘The path to hell is paved with good intentions’ were true, it applies to this tragedy.
It is not fair to anyone to add the extreme emotional pressure of romance to seeking to lead someone to Christ. Whether intentional or not, it is taking manipulation and emotional blackmail to new lows. Not only does the non-Christian feel pressured to falsely claim to be a Christian, emotions could be surging so high that not even the supposed convert can be sure how genuine the commitment to Christ is and whether he/she is likely to stand the test of time or is being artificially buoyed by the initial euphoria of romantic love. And the original Christian, too, is likely to be so blind-drunk on the emotional high as to be unable to discern how genuine the supposed convert is. As confirmed by the parable of the sower (Scriptures), many seem to start their walk with God gallantly, only to fall away. That danger never vanishes, but the longer a person has been committed to Christ and the less it is linked to a relationship, the more likely it is to last.
‘Do not be misled,’ says Scripture, ‘bad company corrupts good character’ (Related Scriptures). No matter how strong you are, choose the wrong friend, and you’ll be corrupted. Not everyone believes that. That’s why Scripture prefaces this warning with the words, Do not be misled, or, as some versions put it, ‘deceived’. A careful look at the context reveals that ‘bad company’ is not necessarily people we would normally think of as being ‘bad,’ but people whose belief about Jesus is faulty, even though they might claim to be Christian and live moral lives.
A prime example is Solomon. Not even all his wisdom could keep him from ruining his life because he chose to befriend women who, though religious, believed the wrong things about God (Scriptures).
Since the Bible insists you have little chance if you choose ungodly people as close friends, you must choose between God and wrong friendships. You will not have both for long. When choosing close friends, especially where there is a chance of romantic involvement, remember this simple fact: a person either belongs to God or to the devil. There is no middle ground.
To have sex with a non-Christian is to defile Christ. Scripture is emphatic that sex makes two people one. A born-again Christian is spiritually united to Christ and anyone not a Christian is spiritually united to the devil. To marry a non-Christian is therefore to try to make Christ one with the devil (Scriptures).
A spiritually mixed marriage is a hideous perversion. It is the profanity of trying to unite that which must never be united – trying to unite that which belongs to the Holy One to that which belongs to the Evil One; trying to make holiness (that’s what we are through our union with Jesus) one with evil (that’s the basic nature of the nicest non-Christian).
Whoever is born of God becomes a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Someone commented that those who have been born again are virtually a new species. There is a lot of truth in that thought, and this puts sexual union with a non-Christian almost on the level of bestiality. When 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, ‘Do not be yoked together with unbelievers,’ Paul had in mind an Old Testament law:
Deuteronomy 22:10 Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.
Linking side by side two different species of different height and gait, and making them pull together, would be an act of cruelty. Interestingly, in Old Testament thinking, an ox is a clean animal (able to be used in the service of God) and a donkey is unclean. In the back of Paul’s mind might also have been another Scripture:
Leviticus 19:19 . . . Do not mate different kinds of animals. . . .
We have not yet considered exceptional circumstances in which a Christian could end up innocently married to a non-Christian. Just as there is an enormous difference between being murdered and committing suicide, so there is a vast difference between being raped and having consensual sex outside of marriage. Likewise, for a Christian to knowingly marry a non-Christian is totally different to two non-Christians marrying and afterwards one of them discovering Christ. In both cases, a Christian might end up married to a non-Christian – like someone who is murdered might end up as dead as someone who kills himself – but the circumstances are entirely different.
A Christian ending up married to a non-Christian because he/she becomes a Christian after marriage is not even a case of a Christian marrying a non-Christian – they were both non-Christians when they married. This very situation occurred frequently in the early Church, since vast numbers never had the chance to hear the Gospel until later in life. So the New Testament specifically addresses this situation and, not surprisingly, God treats it as differently as he regards rape as totally different to consensual sin. It would be ridiculous to expect God’s perfect morality to be so crude that he disregards circumstances and heart attitudes.
For God’s compassion on those who innocently end up married to non-Christians, study this:
1 Corinthians 7:13-14 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
Contrast this with God’s people who deliberately married those who did not belong to the true God: Ezra was so appalled to discover that Jews had married non-Jews that two chapters are devoted to describing the seriousness of the offence and all of those who had done this were compelled to divorce and lose their children (Scriptures).
People who become Christians after they are married have God’s blessing because they did not deliberately enter a spiritually perverse marriage. They were both non-Christians when they married. They can expect spiritual protection from their unchristian partner. But Christians who sin by marrying non-Christians are in grave danger. By disregarding God’s warning about relationships, they throw away their right to divine protection, unless they thoroughly repent, which involves genuinely regretting that they married. Never imagine you can fool God by deciding beforehand to ‘enjoy’ both sin and God’s forgiveness by ‘repenting’ after your deliberate sin.
For help if you are already married to a non-Christian, see A Spiritually Mixed Marriage.
Marrying a Non-Christian
A Christian who married a non-Christian bares her heart with the wisdom of hindsight
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