Flirt to convert
Is it ok to date non-Christians?
A few days ago a friend asked me for my thoughts on dating non-Christians. Having quickly repeated the conventional wisdom that “flirt to convert” was stupid; he went on to push me further. The conversation that followed was truly one of those Proverbs 27:17 ‘iron sharpens iron’ moments and so I thought I’d share our conclusions:
The Silence of Scripture
The first thing we need to recognise is that the idea of dating is foreign to the Bible. The closest thing appears to be betrothal e.g. “Mary had been betrothed to Joseph” (Matt. 1:18), which although not exactly the same was similar to being engaged. In Biblical times you were either married, betrothed or an adulterer, it was pretty simple. And to be honest, I’m somewhat tempted to leave the discussion there.
But to say that dating is wrong (let alone dating a non-Christian) on the basis that the Bible doesn’t mention it, is just bad logic. You might as well argue that brushing your teeth is wrong!
So where does that leave us?
The Sufficiency of Scripture
It really comes down to what is known as the sufficiency of Scripture. That is, even though dating is a new phenomenon, it would be ignorant to suggest that the Bible has nothing to say on the topic. In the same way, even though the Bible doesn’t speak directly about driving a car, Biblical wisdom still demands we obey the road rules and treat others with love and respect.
So what does Scripture tell us? Here are a few biblical principles to keep in mind before starting your next relationship:
- A righteous man is cautious in friendship (Pro. 12:26). How will this relationship affect you? Will it be a force for good or evil in your life & relationship with God?
- Flee from sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18). How likely is this relationship to lead toward sexual immorality? Will both of you strive for sexual purity or only one of you? What are your strategies for avoiding temptation?
- Do not be yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14). The Bible explicitly tells us not to marry non-Christians, but naturally the objection comes up, ‘I know, but we’re just dating’! For what reason are you dating? Where is your relationship going? On what grounds do you justify starting a relationship that you know must end?
- It is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Cor. 7:9). How soon are you realistically able to get married? One year? Two Years? Ten years? Can you remain purposeful and pure until then?
The Bible never tells us outright not to date non-Christians, but I hope it’s clear from these principles that I think it would be a colossal mistake to do so. I believe the overwhelming majority of Biblical wisdom pushes us in the direction of intentional Christian dating with a view to marriage. The exact outworking of that model is up to you!