Unless you go to a Christian school where you only meet devout Christian teens, it is likely that you will have friends that are non-Christians. Yet, what do you do when you become attracted to one of those non-Christians? Should you consider missionary dating? What does the Bible say about dating non-believers, and how do you apply that in the world you live in?
What is Missionary Dating?
Most people consider it missionary dating when you date a non-believer thinking that you will "convert" him or her to Christianity. Some people also call it "evangelistic dating." While most people fall into missionary dating because they find someone they are attracted to and want to date, there are some people that seek out missionary dating opportunities in order to convert people to Christianity.
What Does the Bible Say?
There are two scriptures to which most people refer when they warn Christians about missionary dating:
2 Corinthians 6:14 - "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (NIV)
1 Corinthians 7:39 - "A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord." (NIV)
Meanwhile, others that support missionary dating refer to scriptures about witnessing and spreading the gospel:
Matthew 28:19-20 - "Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world." (CEV)
Jude 1:23 - "Rescue any who need to be saved, as you would rescue someone from a fire. Then with fear in your own hearts, have mercy on everyone who needs it." (CEV)
1 Peter 3:15 - "Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life. Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope." (CEV)
Arguments Against Missionary Dating
While there are a number of Bible verses warning Christians against marrying non-Christians, there are also some other major reasons to question missionary dating. One of the arguments against missionary dating is the possibility that the relationship could cause the Christian to backslide. Non-Christians do not always live by Biblical standards, so the dating relationship can be big on temptations for the Christian.
The different way of living and differing values can also be a difficult hurdle for interfaith couples. A non-Christian may think that pre-marital sex, drinking, smoking, and lying are all acceptable behaviors. Your values could be very different, causing a number of arguments. He or she may not understand that you need time to pray or read your Bible. They may not be willing to go to church. The difference in values can sometimes be a lot to overcome.
Another argument against missionary dating involves questioning the reasons for someone becoming a Christian. Did he or she do it because of a connection to God or to impress you? This question can sometimes cause a Christian to doubt the dating partner's faith.
Is It Ever Successful?
Missionary dating can work out in the end, but not as often as most teens would like to believe. While people who are "lukewarm" in their faith tend to see more success in dating or marrying non-believers, the situation is much more challenging if you are strong in your faith. However, there are couples that have overcome the hurdles and both people become stronger Christians.
Many of the scriptures seem to discourage marriages between a Christian and non-Christian, so some people feel that dating is not the same. So dating a non-Christian could also come down to your views of dating. Is it something you do casually or in the pursuit of marriage? That view will end up framing your view of missionary dating.
Whether you view missionary dating as acceptable or not acceptable, realize that it will be a challenge. While some Christian teens feel it is okay to date non-Christians, there will be larger hurdles of values and temptations to overcome than when Christians date fellow believers. These hurdles may, for some, not make missionary dating worth the effort. Yet others find that, if the efforts pay off in conversions, then the hurdles were well worth it.