2 Corinthians 6:14 says “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Many Christians today may consider dating or marrying an unbeliever, since there are fewer dating options than ever due to the rise of third wave feminism. After all, you get along so well, and the only problem is that they are not a Christian, even though they are accepting of your faith.
Unfortunately, as a Christian this is disobedience. Dating or marrying an unbeliever is becoming unequally yoked with an unbeliever, and doing so is only setting the Christian up for great suffering and trials they are not prepared for and that can lead them away from God. Why? Because it may occur that a Christian may be physically compatible with an unbeliever, but a Christian can never be spiritually compatible with an unbeliever.
Although it may not seem like it, in truth, a Christian would be better off alone rather than being unequally yoked by being in a relationship with an unbeliever. Surely, I believe that if you are trusting God and following God’s path for your life, then God will certainly provide you a spouse. However, it may not be right away, and it may be much later than you expected. Perhaps God is still preparing you for your future spouse – or perhaps God is still preparing your future spouse for you.
Fear not though, because when your trust is in God, sooner or later God will provide you with someone, if that is His will for your life. I do sincerely believe that God did not intend for anyone to be alone, although it’s possible that if you are not following God’s will for your life, you may not be letting the Lord lead you to where you will meet them. Still, taking a shortcut by dating an unbeliever is going to only do more harm than good.
Moreover, this includes someone who calls themselves a Christian, but it is evident by their life that they are not a follower of Christ. This may be a scary thought, but beware not to be too judgmental, because people are not perfect, even Christians; however, it should be evident on at least some level, despite possible weaknesses of character as the Lord continues to work in their lives to transform them, that a person is a true follower of Christ.
The Bible tells us that “you will recognize them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:20). What fruits, you may ask? Galatians 5:22-23 tells us plainly: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” These fruits, or at least some of them, should be clearly evident in the lives of believers, because if they are not, then the Holy Spirit is not working in their hearts, in which case, it is unlikely they are saved.
It must be stated however that it will almost certainly be clearly indicated whether a person is a true follower of Christ when you are considering dating or marrying them. If a person is generally hateful, turbulent, impatient, harsh, malicious, overly arrogant, and angry, as well as not trusting in God, then they are not expressing the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Now, it must be considered that many of the fruits of the Spirit may not be always expressed, for they may not be entirely present in a Christian yet, especially a newer Christian who the Holy Spirit is only beginning to transform through the process of sanctification.
The problem of considering dating or marrying an unbeliever comes by a person trusting in their own heart rather than the heart of God who informs us about truth by the Holy Spirit. It may seem to someone that due to physical and emotional compatibility in a potential spouse that this could be the right person for them. However, if that person is an unbeliever, then they are spiritually incompatible. The truth is that humans are not only body or only spirit, but the Bible commands us that both should be evenly yoked.
Just as you would be unlikely to marry someone who is totally physically incompatible, likewise we are commanded not to marry someone who is spiritually incompatible. If you did, it could open up a door for Satan to enter your life and cause suffering, distraction, and he could use it as a wedge to drive you away from God.
A prime example is the case of a woman who was a true believer who I knew some years ago but who was dating a man who was a complete unbeliever. Due to the spiritual incompatibility, she suffered daily, but she was under the yoke of the man, and was unwilling to let go. He provided a home for her children from another relationship, and when she wanted to get a job so she could become self-sufficient and not homeless, he would get her fired so she would have no way to escape. While the cohabitational relationship was not entirely loveless (unless you are referring to true love which comes only from God), it did cause great suffering, and she was forced to either stay with him, or become homeless with her children on the streets.
Another example of physical compatibility but spiritual incompatibility is my own example. There is a girl at work with whom I like and it is clear there is an obvious physical compatibility. Unfortunately, it is also clear that there is a strong spiritual incompatibility, as she is not a Christian and leads the typical life of an unbeliever – going to the bars and getting drunk and living an immoral lifestyle. Being a coworker, I am happy to be friends, and do hope that God will present an opportunity to share the gospel with her. However, I have no right as a Christian to even consider dating this girl, because it would be disobedience. I do not like being alone, but I am forced to do so despite an opportunity, because it is what God commanded. I trust that God will provide me a proper girl who is a believer.
Moreover, when I say that I would like the opportunity to share the gospel with her, it is not because I think that somehow she would be dateable once she’s saved. Some people think that, but it is an error that only leads to suffering. That woman I mentioned earlier prays for her relationship daily hoping that he will come to know God, but it is unlikely to ever happen. Rather, the reason for me seeking to share the gospel with my coworker is because in my small group at church we were talking about evangelism and to pick one person in your life to pray for. I chose this one – but my feelings toward her are platonic, because I see no chance for any relationship since I am a devout Christian and she is an unbeliever.
The truth is that by not getting into a relationship with this girl, I am saving myself much headache and heartache. The devil would certainly use every opportunity to drive me into temptation and sin, and to try to drive a wedge between me and God. There is no real benefit to starting a relationship with a girl who is not a Christian, despite a clear and obvious physical and emotional compatibility. If I asked her out she would say yes and for some time it may be okay, but immediately the devil would start working his deceit and create problems that detract me from the path that God has planned for me.
For this reason, it is not permissible for a Christian to start any relationship with an unbeliever, because spiritual compatibility supersedes physical compatibility. Just because you physically operate on the same wavelength, like the same things, enjoy each other’s company, and are physically and emotionally attracted to one another, this in no way sets any precedent for allowing a relationship.
Rather, for any Christian there should be only one standard that precedes all others when considering a relationship: Are they a believer and follower of Christ? If not, then it is not permissible to date or marry them.