In our modern world it’s difficult enough as it is to find a suitable spouse without adding in the factor of faith. When you add in the element of wanting to be equally yoked to someone of not only the same faith, but a similar maturity level within the faith the pool of possibilities shrinks. When you then add in the factor of your age (let’s face it, the pool dries up even more after 30, especially within the church community) it’s a wonder to me, that anyone finds a spouse at all.
I have had friends, both in their 20s and 30s who have struggled to find someone that they wish to spend their lives with. Many of them have tried different methods of finding other singles to connect with, but they just can’t seem to find someone within the church. I’m not sure if it’s just my location or if it’s something to do with our changing societal attitudes toward religion and the Christian church, but it seems to me that there are less and less solid Christian men available.
At my church, we have some single Christian men, but the vast majority of men at our church are married and attend with their wives and families. The few single men we do have are mostly in their early 20s or are older and in their 50s. I’m not claiming to know everyone at my church, but based on the extensive effort we have put into fostering a co-ed singles group (and coming up with only 1-2 regular male attendees), I believe that it’s safe to say that single Christian men are just not as plentiful as single Christian women. My intention with this post is not to analyze why that is, but I just wanted to be clear that I completely understand the competitiveness of the Christian dating pool.
Now then, many of my single Christian friends have tended to go the route of online dating and a few have been successful in meeting someone. I’ve referenced my previous experiences with online dating and I would not personally recommend it, but there are some people that it works for, so I’ll leave that decision up to you if online dating is something that you’d like to explore or not.
The other option that I’ve seen my friends take is to question whether they really need to date someone of the same faith at all. And this is what I truly wanted to address with this post. Having similar religious beliefs is one of the top things that indicates compatibility level in a couple. At least it should be, especially as a Christian.
The bible states that marriage is a covenant with God that you will be with only this one person for the rest of your life. For the rest of your life, you will have to make decisions about everything together. What to eat, where to live, and how to worship your heavenly Father. If you choose to be with someone who does not share the same faith or the same level of faith that you do, you are likely opening yourself up to a lifetime of struggle and frustration. It’s noble to want to help someone come to know Christ, but you really shouldn’t date and certainly shouldn’t marry that person, because what if they ultimately decide that they don’t want to know Him? You’ve made a covenant with God and with this other person to be with them forever, so you can’t turn your back on them.
1 Corinthians 7:12-13 “If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her… If a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, then she must not divorce him.”
In 1 Corinthians 7:12 Paul states that “if any brother has a wife who is not a believer and is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her,” and then in verse 13 goes on to say “if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, then she must not divorce him.”
Differing beliefs are not a reason to divorce your spouse, as long as the non-believer is willing to remain in the marriage. So compatible beliefs are essential to not only successful dating relationships, but also to successful marriages.
Ephesians 5:25-28 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by washing the water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
If you look outside of the faith, this type of partner will be impossible to find. How can someone who does not know Christ and have a real relationship with Him have any idea how to love you as Christ loved? Without any frame of reference, a non-believer would have a very difficult time figuring out how to love his wife as Christ loved the church. This feat is hard enough for those who DO have a relationship with Christ, but if your partner has never experienced the love of Christ, which is a truly unique type of love that we can’t experience in any other way than THROUGH Christ, himself, then how can he understand how to love as Christ loves?
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
In 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Paul reminds us that we are not of this world and should not commit ourselves to those who live “of the world.” In order to decrease the risk that you will stray away from God, you should seek to be with someone who will help to foster your relationship with Him. And the other person should also have a relationship with God that you can encourage and help to foster as well. Paul reminds us that we are not like non-believers, just like God is not like idols and light is not like darkness. We are each a “temple of the living God” and we should treat ourselves as such by being in romantic relationships (in Genesis it talks about how when two are joined in marriage, they become one) with those who share similar beliefs.
If you are already a believer and choose to join in marriage with someone who is not, you run the risk of compromising your relationship with God. Not that God will turn away from you because your spouse does not follow Him, but the temptation to please your spouse may outweigh your relationship with God and tempt you away from Him.
I had a friend who experienced this in her marriage. She married at a young age and her husband was not interested in the faith. She drew away from the church as he repeatedly did not want to attend church and had no interest in exploring a relationship with Christ, so he did not encourage her to do so. She wanted to bond with him, so she eventually stopped going to church. She did return to church a few years later and began fostering her previously neglected relationship with Christ. She began spending more time at church, in bible study, attending small groups and he continued to have no interest. She was changing for the better and it was becoming obvious. He eventually decided that he did not want to be married to her anymore and, while not the main reason, her new found faith did play a factor in his decision.
The danger of being unequally yoked is too great to compromise yourself in order to find or please a spouse.
While these are only a few of the things that you should look for in a potential spouse when you’re out exploring the proverbial “fish in the sea” it’s important to keep in mind your priorities of what you want in a spouse. A deep faith should be one of the top things on your list. If it’s not, then I’d encourage you to take some time and pray that God will help to guide your priorities to be in line with what He has planned for you. I, personally, put deep value in my relationship with God and don’t want anything to get in the way of me knowing God and having my hope and faith placed in Him alone. As you go out into the world of dating, just remember that you are not of this world, you are only in the world and God has so many wonderful things planned for you. Find someone who will help to foster your relationship with Christ and encourage you to grow closer to Christ. Someone who will sacrifice themselves to help you know Christ more. That would be a show of true love.