on dating and relationships.

It’s always very interesting to me when people accuse me of being judgemental. Now, I’ll admit it – I can be sometimes, but I think I do an “okay” job of living a non-legalistic life and I try very hard to be understanding of each person’s particular season of life, by the grace and power of God…
But the other day, a non-believer referred to me as “judgmental” and it was, I believe, very out of context. So to my single Christian friends… this is for you.

A secular relative and I were talking about a guy she’d wanted to set me up on a date with before I met my now-boyfriend (who for the record, is a believer and follower of Christ), and I mistakenly stated that I didn’t believe that I was called to what I like to jokingly refer to as “missionary dating” (or others, “flirt to convert”). Now, it’s no mistake that I don’t feel called to it. My mistake was saying it to someone who doesn’t understand what I mean. So let me explain it…
It has been my experience that in an intimate relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, etc) one person is bound to go the way of the other. Successful relationships just seem to have one person with a personality just slightly more influential than the other. As still a fairly new Christian, I’m pretty confident a non-Christian man is not for me. It would be a major test of my faith and obedience, and give great opportunity for God’s glory, but it would also really be flirting with fire. Not to say that a man who doesn’t follow Christ couldn’t try to be respectful of my beliefs, but if he himself did not believe, he won’t understand my beliefs and I didn’t want to be tempted to stray.
When I was single, I acknowledged my weaknesses within this kind of relationship and I avoided the opportunities presented by the enemy to settle for a less-than-Godly man and potentially slip into my old ways. The deepest desires of my heart are easily preyed upon by the enemy within an intimate relationship, and I wasn’t about to give him any headway. I knew God offered a hopeful and prosperous future and I cling to that to this day. I trusted that He’d bring me a man who understood and appreciated that my love of Christ would always be more than my love for him.
“Missionary dating” takes this a little bit further, and sort of implies that a man or woman would date a non-untitled believer in order to save them. That’s definitely not for me. I will do what I can when God delivers me to speak His truth to those who will listen, but I’m not going to rack up non-Christian boyfriends, risking my own obedience and allowing myself to be tempted. What good would I be doing for the kingdom dating a guy who doesn’t want to or isn’t ready to hear the truth? I could potentially fall myself, or worse, turn him away from it all together. It’s trying to go around saving people on your own time and your own agenda using a romantic relationship. Not Gods.

Now, something else I need to make clear. I was saved AFTER I entered into a relationship with a Christian man. There is no doubt in my mind, even today, that my ex-boyfriend was delivered to speak truth into my life, set an example, and be the catalyst that, for lack of a better phrase, kicked me in the tail. When I heard his testimony and what God had done to change his life, I hung on every word. I was deeply moved and inspired to allow God to begin that work in me. However, when asked, he was very honest that “yes, Sam wasn’t a Christian when we started seeing each other, but we probably wouldn’t have been together at all had she not been ready to hear the truth when she met me.” (that’s paraphrasing but you get the idea). My ex-boyfriend isn’t who saved me. His story opened up my eyes, sure – he’d been in a pit just like I’d been praying to get out of and it offered me hope and showed me the way.
For the entire year we were together, we knew that we’d been brought together by divine intervention, and by divine intervention, we were separated. He was called to that relationship for a season, as was I, and then called down other roads. That I can see. That is a calling, even if just a seasonal one. God had fingerprints all over the beginning of that relationship – it wasn’t like he dated me to save me. He met me and began it by the gospel with me and it developed into a romantic relationship.

So, the conversation my relative and I are having – I drop this line about missionary dating. Had I said this to my one of my best friends, they’d totally get it. They DO totally get it, and we’d probably laugh a little. We laugh at a lot of stuff. Laughter is joyful and we like it. But I said it to my non-Christian relatives and she says, “That’s really judgemental, Sam. To say that you wouldn’t date a guy just because he isn’t like you…” To which I respond still, no it is not. It’s actually Biblically wise (but I’ll get to that in a second).
This is why I say this post is for my single Christian readers out there. This world tempts to you settle for less than what God has for you. People, even family, will try to make you believe it’s okay to do whatever you want or they look down upon you for not having multiple relationships and tons of experience before you get married and/or by your mid-20’s. And here are the best three reasons I have for why you should hold out for a Godly man or woman:
#1 – The world will tell you “dating” is fine. You can date whoever, whenever, and however you want. Believe me when I tell you from experience, it’s worthless. The world says it helps you discover what you do and don’t want in a significant other, but truthfully, as Christians, it’s not up to us. God knows what we NEED. You don’t have to know what you don’t like in a spouse if you believe God’s going to bring you the perfect one for you. Just wait for perfect. Don’t settle for less than that.
#2 – Like my relative mentioned, the world is going to tell you it’s “judgemental” not to even consider dating someone who doesn’t believe like you. But if dating is the gateway to marriage, and you want a Godly marriage because you are a Godly person, shouldn’t you wait for a Godly person to marry? And if you are Godly, you’ll most likely want to raise your children up to know the Lord…and you’ll want a Godly spouse to help you do that. Why waste time dating someone who won’t practice marriage and/or parenting the way you would want, they way God commands? It breeds huge conflict in relationships to have deep spiritual differences in a relationship like this. I’ve seen a friend living it, and a woman live 30 years in a marriage this way. I commend their efforts and devotion, but at the same time, it’s hard to watch them struggle.
And last by certainly not least, #3 – God literally says not to date non-believers. It’s as simple as that; and the following scripture is why I said it is actually Biblically wise to hold out for a Godly spouse. In the Message, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 is translated as, “Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership our of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple. But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God Himself put it this way: ‘I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people. So leave corruption and compromise; leave it for good,’ says God. ‘Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for Myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to Me.'”

Friends, let God write your love story and hold tight to truth when this world comes against you and judges you. Waiting for the man or woman God has called you to is not “being judgemental” at all, and you can know in your heart that God rejoices over you every day that you are obedient to His will and not your own or anyone else’s.
You know, maybe handle the situation a little more gracefully than I did, but don’t give in or let it get you down. God’s got someone and something absolutely amazing in store for you – better than anything you could ever imagine. I am praying for you all; enjoy this season of your life because God has you hear for a reason. Let Him call you from it when He’s ready, don’t rush it. It’ll be so much sweeter in His timing.

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*Note: this post does not encourage being truthfully judgemental of another person’s particular set of beliefs or lack-there-of. It is written as encouragement to those who follow Christ and are patiently waiting for the man or woman they know and believe God has intended them for. We as Christians are called to love everyone the way that we have first been loved by God and I support and encourage that, not just as a command, but as a lifestyle. It does not say “don’t be friends with people who aren’t Christians” or “hate atheists” or anything of the sort. I have left no lines to be read between, so please don’t search for them.

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