My firstborn child just turned 17. She’s standing on the edge of a future that will draw her out into this big world, and in so many ways I know that she can’t wait to get started. I’m excited to see where she goes, who she meets, and what God does in her young life in the future. Chances are good that she will fall in love with someone sooner rather than later.
I see so many women in our churches who struggle in their marriages to unbelievers, and it makes me somewhat fearful for my daughters. How does it happen that so many Christian women marry men who aren’t believers? In some cases, they were both lost at the time that they dated and married. But, so often it’s a different story: a Christian woman goes on one date with a man she knows she should never marry. And then before she knows it, she’s in love with him. Love clouds her judgment. She isn’t able to clearly see how spiritually incompatible the two of them are. And she marries him.
I want to make it clear that I’m not saying that a marriage between a Christian and a lost person can’t be a pleasant one. Of course it can be. But when the person you have committed your life to can’t understand the deepest part of who you are, the core of your very being, your love for and faith in Christ, then there are levels of intimacy that just aren’t available to you. The apostle Paul warned Christians not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers in marriage. Can that marriage still be fun? Yes. Can it be sweet and romantic? No doubt. But as the years march on, Christian women begin to see more and more reasons why Paul wrote what he did. They begin to feel the distance that is created by different worldviews, different belief systems, and different spiritual priorities. And then they wind up on Christian message boards and in their pastors’ offices, wondering why they can’t have the kind of marriage that they now realize they need and want.
If I could offer one piece of advice to women who are dating, it would be this: don’t go on even one date with a man you already know you shouldn’t marry. Every marriage begins with a first date. Feelings of flattery can quickly lead to feelings to infatuation which can quickly lead to feelings of love. And once a woman has fallen in love with a man, it becomes very difficult for her to resist the urge in her heart to stay with him and make a life with him. Disney princess movies may constantly tells girls to follow their hearts, but the Bible paints a very different picture. Scripture tells us that our hearts are liars. How much more clearly is this demonstrated than when blind love leads a godly Christian woman to marry someone outside of her faith? It happens all the time, and it all started with one date.
Admittedly, there are times when a first date is needed because you don’t know enough about the person to make a judgment call about your compatibility. But if you already know that he isn’t a professing Christian, if you already know that he claims to be a Christian but lives in a way that would suggest otherwise, if you have already seen traits and behaviors that are red flags shouting, “This is not the guy!” then don’t go out with him. Not even once. Protect your heart. Guard your future. Wait for someone who loves the Lord and then take your time getting to know him, asking God to help you clearly see if he is someone you should build a life with.
We live in a world that likes to paint dating as a risk-free endeavor. I would argue that such an attitude leaves Christian women vulnerable to the lies that their own hearts will tell them about how the wrong men will change into the right men with enough love and time. Every date has the potential to lead to a life-long commitment. It may sound dramatic, but ask the many women you know right now who are attending church alone each and every week–women who have no partner in the things of God.
If I could shout it from the rooftops, I would: If you already know he isn’t in love with Jesus, don’t date that guy!
My teenager has heard these words come out of my mouth so many times. One of these days she will fall in love. I hope that she will date wisely and carefully, never forgetting that every marriage begins with one very first date.