Dating is something I try to keep at a minimum. I’m interested in being in a relationship and getting married and having kids (at some point) like most people, but dating is not a priority for me. Honestly, I don’t think Christians as a whole should be so obsessed with dating and finding “the one.” I’ve had friends in their mid-to-late twenties and early thirties tell me they need to marry someone pronto because their “biological clock is ticking.” I get you’re in a hurry, but really. Rushing into a relationship is not going to give you the happy marriage you want. It might be great on the front end, but over time, it’s going to cause more harm than good.
Now, that’s not to say I haven’t been interested in anyone. I’ve been interested in a few people this year, but I’m hesitant to start anything unless I know that person really well. I need to trust them to some extent – it doesn’t have to be complete trust at the start, but I have to think they are trustworthy enough to gain and keep my full trust. Which takes a while. I can count on one hand the people who have my complete trust. Because how can you really know someone’s values if you haven’t known them for an extended period of time?
I think, for the most part, there is a lot of gray area in dating – in terms of values you both HAVE to hold for the relationship to work. For me, there is really only one value that must exist for the both of us: belief in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. This is why I’m slow to say yes to people I don’t know well who ask me out. This is why I won’t allow myself to pursue anything with non-believers.
You may have heard the verse a lot of Christians throw around when it comes to dating:
“Do not be mismatched [“yoked together,” NIV] with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NRSV).
What this is saying is essentially that believers should date believers, and non-believers should date non-believers, etc. I agree with this wholeheartedly. If you are a follower of Christ, your significant other should also be a Christ follower. There is no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Why is this so important? Well, if Christ is at the center of your world, it will significantly impact every decision you make. It will impact how you want to raise your kids. It will impact how you spend and manage your finances. It will impact your view of work, and it may even impact where you work (especially if you feel called to ministry). These are major issues for a couple that plans to get married because they are decisions that need to be made together. Dating a non-believer if you are a believer will make these decisions that much harder.
I think, though, we are over-defining what it means to be “equally yoked.”
This doesn’t mean we have to believe exactly the same thing about absolutely everything regarding our faith. Does it really matter if one person believes the world was created in seven 24 hour days, while the other believes one “day” could be a longer period of time? Does it really matter if someone believes the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and another believes Scripture is divinely inspired but that human writers made mistakes in some things that were written? Does it matter if one believes in a 6,000 year old world and another believes in a world that is millions of years old? Does it matter if one is nondenominational and the other is Episcopalian? Does it matter if one believes in infant baptism and the other believes in adult baptism?
In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think these are the things we should be using to choose who we date. They are less important beliefs, supplementary to the bigger, more important belief that Jesus is our Savior, the Son of God who died for our sins. Would it be nice if our significant other believed the smaller things? Sure. But, at least for me, they aren’t going to make or break a relationship.
Christians, let’s stop being so nit picky with our “requirements” for who we date, and let’s stop worrying so much about what it means to be equally yoked. As long as we have the same core belief, the rest will fall into place.