Yesterday, Lynn wrote a great post about Missionary Dating at the Internet Cafe. She and I have talked about this frequently because we want to be clear that walking willingly into a mismatched marriage is not God's will for our lives.
So I'd like to add to this topic from the sense of the heart and spirit. Here at S.U.M. we talk about our struggles in our mismatched marriages and how to trust God to help us thrive in them. But today I want to talk to those who are knowingly dating or considering dating and unbeliever. Here are some things I truly want you to think about.
- If you are reading this blog, you are more than likely pursuing a relationship with Jesus. Your faith is important to you. And you’ve probably experienced that unspoken connection to other believers that is so unique to the body of Christ. You can't share that kind of connection with an unbeliever. You can't share the essence of who you are with that person because they just won't get it. Maybe this doesn't sound like a big deal to you right now, but it will be.
Right from the Garden of Eden God intended for us to have this connection, for the two to become one. One in spirit. We can't be one in spirit with a person who isn't a believer. This is our greatest heartbreak in a mismatched marriage. We cannot share the very core of who we are with that person.
- Think ahead. Imagine that you wind up marrying this person, thinking he or she will surely come to faith at some point. Are you willing to wait 10, 20, or 30 years? Are you willing to deal with the constant struggle and prayer for this person to come to faith even if it doesn't happen until the very end of their life? Or not at all? Can you live with that possibility?
This may seem harsh but it is a reality we deal with in a mismatched marriage. We have a role to play to be a sacred influence to our unbelieving spouse but it's not easy. As women we do not have a spiritual leader to walk with and have his protection over us. We are a lone warrior fighting against the enemy's persistent determination to keep our unbelieving spouse from coming to know Jesus. We fight every day.
- Think ahead even more. Do you want children? If so, then you want them to know Jesus and have an eternity secure with Him. What if your spouse is opposed to you taking them to church? Opposed to you sharing your faith with them because they feel it's all misconceptions or not even true? Children bring a whole new dynamic to a marriage. Children change perspectives and priorities. Often for women, children bring us back to a fervent faith in our desire to raise our children to know God. That's not the case with an unbelieving spouse and they may very well oppose you, especially if they are of another faith and belief system.
- Don’t even go there. Maybe you think you can “lightly date,” but don’t fool yourself. We’ve heard in movies that the heart chooses whom it will love. Well, that’s partly true. Love is a choice, but why put yourself in a position where you may fall in love with an unbeliever? That will only cause you and that other person unnecessary pain. Spend time with friends. Save dating for it’s true intent—to get to know someone you’d like to get to know better in the sense of building a love relationship with the goal of marriage. Don’t let yourself get sideswiped by your heart or the enemy.
My intention here is not to make anyone feel condemned but to bring out the truth. For those of us walking the path of being spiritually mismatched, we do experience God's power working in our lives and marriages. Our situations have forced us in many ways to be more intentional about our faith and our marriages. We work hard to make our marriages work.
But it is not a path we would recommend you take. Quite the opposite because we know intimately the heartache and that obedience to God is best path, no matter what decision we face. We know this because that means we are following God's will and His will is always best. Always.
So if you are in this place, not married to an unbeliever but dating or even considering marrying one, step back. Pray. Seek God honestly about what you are doing. Be willing to do whatever He asks you to do because you know that His plan for you is always for good (Rom. 8:28). Trust Him with your future.
Praying and believing,