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What do you think about dating someone who doesn’t KNOW Jesus?
Like the background music on this video? The intro to all of my videos is by my friend Ragnar and the music played during my Ask Joy answer is by the super talented husband and wife duo, The Woodlands. So grateful for uber talented friends.
2012 Update: My friend Renea wrote a great post on the same topic…CLICK HERE
Don't leave just yet. Besides these articles, sometimes I send out extra special stuff. Don't miss out. Sign up here.
Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.
Val – A+ is such a compliment. I asked Renae if she thought Richard would be proud. She said yes. (-:
RK – Thank you! It’s a tough thing to navigate through realistically. I think it really comes down to an issue of what WE believe, not what THEY believe. What WE believe should determine who WE choose to marry.
Joy- I agree with you 100% on your answer. It’s actually something I’m wresting through. I do believing “dating” is fine, getting to know someone, finding out their beliefs, if they haven’t heard or understand the Good News, pray for an opportunity to share it-keeping their thoughts and hearts at the front of your mind. Then knowing and praying for wisdom if it’s something to move forward in continuing to “date” or keep it as friends. And I 100% believe, scripture and what is says about marriage- just like your answer. Well done, Joy. =)
Maybe I’m too rigid or close-minded, but I don’t even want to date someone who doesn’t love Jesus! I mean, what if I start falling for them (aahh, he’s 6’4, a football player, great family, cooks homemade Italian, owns his own business and solved world hunger, but doesn’t have a relationship or desire for Jesus) and then begin justifying or, even worse, losing my footing or faith because the rose-colored glasses make everything look so pretty. Maybe it could be looked at like an opportunity to disciple or be an example of Christ’s love, but I can do that with myriads of others that I didn’t want to date.
Close-minded or guarding my heart?
Melissa – I don’t see you as close minded at all! You are being wise and making decisions based on what you know about yourself.
I would encourage you to watch the video again and listen very closely to what I am saying because I know it can easily be taken the wrong way.
I am first of all saying that there is a tactful way to find out if someone loves Jesus. I am also saying that we must not be blinded by people who state they are a “Christian” just so we can have some box to check off. We must truly get to know people.
The only thing we can be certain of is what scripture says, is in regards to marriage. And if someone is unsure about that, then I am stating that they need to figure out what it is they believe.
My heart in this video is to challenge people’s belief system and motives. And to also challenge people who assume that if someone is in a church they “know” Jesus and if they are in a coffee shop they don’t “know” Jesus. In both scenarios, if you are interested in someone, it is up to YOU to find out where they stand and what is important to YOU based off of your own belief system.
RK – The Blogs I Follow link is a bit finicky. It’s working now.
Melissa – re: “losing your faith” – If someone is going to walk away from their faith, that is their choice. I am 110% behind making wise decisions and not putting ourselves into unhealthy scenarios, but I think if someone is going to make a decision to not ask a person out or talk to them based on a fear of a projected possible loss of their faith, then that is a pretty big jump in my opinion.
I believe one needs to honestly evaluate what they believe, and then function out of freedom, not fear.
I am not saying this is what you are doing — I think we actually agree, I just want to clear things up because I think you may have misinterpreted what my challenge was. Thanks for your great comment. It helped me clarify!
I think you’re right, but I think here’s were it breaks down for some people. Christian dates non-Christian. Christian falls in love with non-Christian, then begins to love him/her even more then God to the point of disobedience.
I say this because I married a non-believer. Sure had I never dated him I wouldn’t have wanted to (and follow through) disobey God. BUT how does someone devoted to God marry a non-believer?
The answer is they don’t. They can’t.
Which is why Joy’s answer is spot on. You love the Lord & you go out with someone who doesn’t the chasm between you is evident.
My appologies if that’s unclear. Bottom line I’m just trying to say never take your eyes off God things will work out just fine. No matter who you date.
I absolutely agreed with Melissa’s response. Ultimately this is an issue of how and why you guard your heart. Dating is for the purpose of marriage. If we purpose to marry someone who knows the Lord then “logically” we should not date someone who does not know the Lord. I think it is perfectly okay to get to know people of all different walks and faiths. We are supposed to live in community. However, dating is a different story. To allow our hearts to become romantically attached to another person who doesn’t know Jesus or have an interest in knowing Him will usually mean that our ability to be rational and logical gets clouded over.
Hate to be a stick in the mud, but I am going to wholeheartedly disagree. I made this mistake. And the funny little short at the end with Walter? Yea. That happened to me.
My husband exaggerated his belief in God and pursuit of Jesus because he thought it would impress me or at least sway me enough that we could qualify as “equally yoked” enough to be married. He wanted to marry me. He said what he needed to say to sway me. And I liked him enough (worldly attraction) that I glossed over the doubts I had about just how “equal” our yoking would be given that his supposed-faith was not as big of a part of his life as it was mine.
This is one of the biggest regrets of my life.
Within a year of us being married he developed a deep hostility to Christianity and Jesus. I have spent the last 7 years fearful to even speak the name of Jesus in my own home. :'( In 8 years he has probably gone to church with me twice. I have no spiritual connection with him at all. And at the moment we are separated and considering divorce.
I know this could happen with someone who has been a Christian all their life, or someone who had a stronger commitment. Or I could have been the one to fall away. Those are all possibilities. But I think God’s instruction is based in wisdom and is a good guideline. We shouldn’t date someone we aren’t free to marry. So if we know right off the bat we wouldn’t be equally yoked, the fact that they love Thai food and walks in the park too…well for someone looking for a mate, it might just be easy to gloss over the important stuff and elevate the unimportant stuff. Like I did. :'(
Brooke – Thank you for sharing — I am so sorry to hear what happened to you. I think you state clearly (which I may not have done) my point. You are honest about the fact that, who you date long term, is a reflection of what you believe.
Alecia & Anon – Again, like Melissa I don’t disagree with either one of you. And I ask that you read my other comments and Brookes’s comment specifically.
I am simply calling people to take a look at their own belief system as they start to date. There is a difference between asking someone out to get to know them and then blatantly disobeying and entering into a long term relationship with someone who is rejecting Christ.
Did both of you listen to the end of my video? My prayer as I answer questions is to not let my own story create the advice I give people. I would encourage you to also not let your own stories keep you from letting people function in the freedom they have in Christ.
Please don’t get caught up on the “freedom” I am giving based off of things scripture doesn’t say, and neglect what I am saying about what scripture clearly DOES state.
I hope you hear my heart.
Anon – I would also ask you if the people in your Christian community had hesitations about you marrying this person? You don’t have to answer, but my point is that deceit happens, and you can’t control that so you shouldn’t shame yourself. But if you disobeyed the counsel given to you knowingly, that is far different than my proposal that it is OK to ask someone out on a first date to get to know them. I don’t think that’s a sin.
Looks like a debate might be in the making. good stuff to debate on for sure.
However- I think the line of “Dating” should be defined. Some people think that sitting and having coffee would be a date. I on the other hand love to sit and talk over coffee and beer with a non-believer, whether it be a guy or a girl. Getting to know someone and looking for opportunity to share the Gospel is what we are called at Christ Followers to do. Entering a long term relationship- would be for marriage, I believe. But “dating” or getting to know someone and what they believe, I don’t believe is a sin. It’s an opportunity to share Jesus’ love, especially if they don’t know of it, or understand it.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)
But with that comes guarding your heart, listening to God’s wisdom, knowing if you’re starting to have romantic feelings, or are finding yourself feeling more then friends towards the other, it’s time to put up some boundaries. Otherwise you’ll be hurting the other party in the long run, possibly getting in the way of what God is trying to do, and pursuing your own desires, rather then the desires God has for you.
I think Joy is pretty much right in this. People who will not “date” or sit over coffee with a non-believer because they don’t know Jesus as their personal savior will give Christians a bad rep. Also, being held accountable, letting people know what’s going on if your life, being transparent.
Just my thoughts. Look at your motives dating. Shelfish or God driven. If the person doesn’t drive you to want to know Christ better and grow in the Lord, perhaps not a good person to date? Just some questions to mull over, and things that have been brought to my attention.
A lot to cover in my response, but to answer your question, Joy — At the time, I was living in an extremely liberal, post-modern, hippie, new age community/town and I didn’t know many Christians. (I definitely knew NO Christians in my age group and particular subculture. I am not one to hang out at churchy functions — more of a coffeeshop artsy girl myself.) I guess that is why I stood out like a sore thumb, and at the time, my to-be-husband saw me as a sort of “light in the darkness.” He was living in a period of rebellion from the extremely religious background he was raised in. I was not raised in the church.
I DID disobey God, because even though there wasn’t anyone in my community that necessarily ‘counseled’ me against joining with this man, *I* knew deep down what scripture said, and chose to gloss over it’s importance and wisdom. I knowingly accepted that the person I would agree to marry had a very weak faith. Now, looking back, i don’t think he did this manipulatively. I just think people do that when they date (!!!!!) and really, that is my point…when you date — you naturally behave in ways that will highlight the good stuff and downplay the bad stuff. Not manipulatively, it’s just human nature. That is why I think it can be so dangerous if you are open to dating unbelievers. You may be swayed by your own desire for the person that you “lose your footing” (as melissa said, and I believe there is scripture for that but I can’t remember where at the moment, sorry).
There were many “guy friends” I had before I met my husband who liked me LIKE THAT but did not have any sense of respect for my faith. That’s because faith in God is something that baffles unbelievers.
RK is right, that what “dating” IS, needs to be defined. for me I would not (at the time, and should I find myself divorced in 6 months, will not) date someone without the clear intention of getting to know them better to see if I would want to join them in marriage. No casual dating for “fun” for me — especially in this day and age of hookups and serial-dating. Also, I know this isn’t ALWAYS the case, but trying to think realistically…sorry RK, but single guys are usually NOT interested in just hanging out with single girls over a beer to talk about life. They are wanting more. And no, I don’t mean sex necessarily…but if you were a married lady suddenly that scenario becomes undesirable [and inappropriate] because you’re taken. (Another thing I’ve experienced!)
I think dating involves emotions and romance, and so it’s like a minefield. I don’t at all think we, as Christians, should separate ourselves from friendships with male OR female unbelievers. But romantic involvement is totally different. There really isn’t any way around that, at least in my opinion.
I agree with you Joy, that I should not take my experience, and ask that everyone else’s decision should hinge on it… BUT it is an example. I thought myself strong. I am a generally logical person (not emotionally driven) but when my heart and romance got involved I was easily swayed. I wish I could remember that verse now. 🙂
One more thought. I definitely agree with Joy that church is not the ONLY place to “find” a Christian date. And meeting someone in a bar doesn’t mean they won’t be a Christian. But being where I am right now: possibly about to enter the single world again, reluctantly, with my tail between my legs…I will not be hoping to luck out and find a spouse randomly strolling around in the park and find by chance they’ll be a Christian too. Sorry — I know God can do amazing things, but He can do those amazing things no matter what. I am going to stick to dating Christians only. Probably through connections through mutual friends, and church activities. Who knows…maybe I’ll luck out and meet some cute guy at a coffeeshop. 🙂 It’s always possible.
Love the video. Joy, I’m always impressed.
Even if I were trying to be critical, I don’t think I can find anything to disagree with in what Joy is saying. I hear the admonition: Ask people out! If my eye is caught by the beautiful smile of a girl across the room during Sunday’s worship service? See if she has plans for lunch. If a waitress stirs the same feelings with an affectionate grin? Ask if she has a free evening sometime next week. I, for one, don’t think certain ‘criteria’ must be met in order for someone to ask someone else out. Additionally, we saw in the video (nicely done Walter; well played) that though someone might identify themselves as a ‘Christian,’ this doesn’t mean much. If it did, wouldn’t Christians be more united on such controversial issues as eternal security, gender roles, sexual orientation, etc?
I, personally, want someone that shares the value & belief system I’ve grown into and developed for the last 25 years; not someone that simply says ‘I love Jesus.’ The way I’ll, confidently, know this is having spent time dating, getting to know, discussing and doing life with someone for a period of time. Being equally yoked means more than just marrying someone who says ‘I believe.’ With this being true, let’s not presume we can know all this from asking someone, or their friend or their facebook profile, whether they’re a Christian.
In sum: Let’s walk confidently in adherence to the words of Scripture; which does give freedom to ask out that cute girl who always uses the elliptical machine in the back right corner of the gym. Who knows, maybe she’s listening to Piper podcasts in those little headphones of hers…
PS – I think it should also be said, I don’t think being “unequally yoked” necessarily refers to a Christian married to an unbeliever. I think it can also mean a notable imbalance in the maturity of two believers!
Oh and another point I wanted to make…I think there are a lot of things people don’t think about when dealing with this issue, that come along with joining yourself with an unbeliever.
1) When the other person is not a believer (or say they start doing something sinful and suddenly very conveniently they decide they aren’t sure if God exists) they can refuse the accountability of the church or fellow brothers & sisters. A lot of the conflict resolution ideas, books, counselors, seminars, that are effective for a Christian couple are not so effective when one spouse refuses God’s accountability and has no desire to honor or serve Him.
2) Not only will you be imbalanced and unable to develop any sort of spiritual relationship (on a relational level and sexual level AND intellectual level) what happens when you have kids? How will they be raised? How important is it to you to raise your children in the Christian faith?
3) The most painful thing I have struggled with is how contradictory worldly living is to the wisdom of God. I don’t have a specific verse to cite, but in many teachings of Christ and in many of the Proverbs we are taught about the wicked man and his ways. Christ taught if we are not FOR Him, we are against Him. Again, Joy is teaching here we need to judge for ourselves whether or not to connect with a person like this. I am only saying I highly recommend not taking this lightly. It is heartbreaking to know the person you share your bed, and life, and future with is the one who is actively against God and daily chooses to walk the path of the wicked. In the case of an unbeliever married to a Christian, this is not just an imbalance in carrying more weight of a yoke, which would be difficult in itself. It is the person you love going in the complete opposite direction. No progress can be made.
RK – Thank you for the clarification on “dating” I think that was much needed.
Anon – Powerful story – thank you for sharing. I agree and think your story and words of caution is something for those of us who believe to strongly pay attention to. I was answering the question at face value and would hope that the more people foster their belief and reverence for Christ, the other issues that you present will be tackled accordingly.
Brett – Thank you! You bring clarity to the logic I was trying to present. It is far more than finding a person who will simply say “I love Jesus”. Hope you find your Piper partner. (-:
“Also, I know this isn’t ALWAYS the case, but trying to think realistically…sorry RK, but single guys are usually NOT interested in just hanging out with single girls over a beer to talk about life. They are wanting more. And no, I don’t mean sex necessarily…but if you were a married lady suddenly that scenario becomes undesirable [and inappropriate] because you’re taken. (Another thing I’ve experienced!)”
Yeah, I agree- however I have experienced different. I’m in the midst of a situation similar to this right now. 2 things have happened, first, I’ve been able to grow in trusting God in the situation and know that he has full control on the situation. Second, I was able to share the Gospel with someone who has has had horrifying run ins with religion and Christians who would have not given this person the time of day. Also, going into getting to know this person- I’ve set boundaries and was straight up honest before I ever sat down alone. Said “my intention is as friends only and that’s it” – keeping my boundaries in tact and having people hold me accountable. I do believe Joy’s challenge as she said, is to cause us to look at our beliefs and what we feel is adequit for dating and marriage. I’ve been involved in ALL scenarios (and when I say, I mean ALL) dating, married, not married, Christians, not Christians. It’s been a long road for me to be able to learn where and what my boundaries are. I think the biggest thing, is to be honest and upfront with a person, and don’t pass up the opportunity to share the Good News with someone- and shut them out beceause they’re not someone who knows Jesus. Take time to get to know someone. Jesus did.
I say that all with love, and knowing every situation is not black and white. Also an opportunity to grow in the Lord.
PS- Joy- wish your comment thing was wider… I have no idea what I just wrote without posting it.
pps. i can’t spell to save my life. sorry for the misspellings (did i just spell misspelling wrong?) ironic, don’t ya think?
I would like to lovingly caution everyone who listens to this video. Please STOP and notice that dating is a loaded word. Yes, it can mean romance, flowers, and long term commitment, but it does not have to. I think that the way dating is used in this instance can be defined: Starting a friendship with someone to learn more about them including where they are spiritually, intellectually, and their views on the things that are important to you. I think if Joy had used different vernacular, like “hang out” or “visit,” it might have been “safer” so to speak. Notice, that she is not telling you how to date, hang out, or visit with someone. This will be different for each person. For instance, if you know that get swept off your feet easily, a group setting or community project may be a better option for you so you are in closer proximity to the person you are getting to know and it may protect you from over-romanticizing the conversations and time spent with the new friend in your life.
Awesome! This is ALL so awesome to hear/read. Thank you all for prompting, challenging, sharing and affirming!
Joy–I’d like to highlight these two parts of your previous posts:
“I believe one needs to honestly evaluate what they believe, and then function out of freedom, not fear.”
–So so true! I definitely find myself acting out of fear sometimes. It’s a good paradigm shift to think of freedom with God’s love as the foundation.
This line really stood out, and it did help clarify what point you were making in your video: “My heart in this video is to challenge people’s belief system and motives. And to also challenge people who assume that if someone is in a church they “know” Jesus and if they are in a coffee shop they don’t “know” Jesus.”
–It’s true that I am sometimes too quick to ‘check off a box’ or nix someone if they simply claim Christianity. There’s SO much more depth to this than a simple sentence one may use to identify themselves.
Anon-WOW. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. While I realize not to hinge my experience just as yours (as has been stated a couple places), it’s great to get insight from others’ lives. I pray God works all for the best as possible for you and your husband (Rom 8:28).
Thank you, also, for admitting that you did disobey God. It’s nice to see people that take responsibility for their actions.
Brooke: Amen! Keep your eyes on the Big Guy, seek Him as much as possible, and it’ll work out, right?! (At least the little theory I like to tell myself 🙂
RK: On a technical note, if you go to the bottom right corner of the comment box there’s two little diagonal lines the indicate the ability to widen the comment box. Just click, hold, and drag to expand the box size. It helps see all your posting.
Last comment, to end on a comical note/joke: A skeleton walks into a bar. It asks for a beer…..and a mop. Ha! It takes a second, but is cute after you think about it. 😀
i really appreciated your response to this one. it’s helpful for me to hear things like this which feel very different from my legalistic church background. i so value the ways you help me think through things i’ve never really considered on my own.
(and your intro on this one? LOVE!)
I appreciated this post because you seem to know, Joy, that Scripture doesn’t have all that much to say about “dating” (our relatively recent social construct). It has a lot to say about the company we keep and how to relate to other people though, both in the Old Testament and wisdom literature and in the New Testament, and particularly from the life and example of Jesus.
I think I like this post because Joy assumes that the writer is willing to take responsibility in how he/she relates to another human being in relationship. She’s not assuming that the writer is just looking for a casual hook up or one night stand; she’s assuming the development of an organic and natural relationship in which conversations about personal beliefs happen in natural time; not forced.
As long as you value your relationship with God above everything else, I think these things fall into place the way they ought. My own relationship with my husband began this way. It took some serious time to learn what the other person really believed. But if you take that time to slowly explore one another’s perspectives, those conversations become transformational in themselves.
Thanks for not taking a black-and-white stance on this, friend!
All – There is SO much goodness happening in this discussion. My prayer is that I never lead anyone astray but that I will point people towards the truth and freedom of Scripture. Thank you all for your thoughts, stories and wisdom. This has been a true sharpening experience for me.
I love that we can engage and challenge one another with civility and humility. A true desire of mine – so thank you!