Religious Compatibilty

A few years ago, some friends of mine had decided that I needed to start dating again (I think I had been single for a couple of years, with a few flings here and there), and introduced me to a number of potential girlfriends. Unfortunately, my friends weren’t Christian, and neither were these girls.

It was the first time I’d really had to confront the question of dating a non-Christian. After converting to Christianity, I had generally accepted that you shouldn’t date a non-Christian, but I had never considered the matter theologically. Beyond the facts of being told not to date a non-Christian, were there other reasons why we shouldn’t? Practical, rather than philosophical reasons?

There are, of course. No long term relationship will work without religious congruity. This was no clearer than in the consideration of having children.

Let’s say you’re Christian, and you date a non-Christian. You get serious, you get married, and kids come along. Important questions arise about how to raise them, what to teach them, questions of morality, what institutions will be involved in their education…

You can’t just take them to church on Sunday morning, because the two of you disagree on more than just denomination, you disagree on core beliefs. You can’t ground morality in the concept of sin and forgiveness. When those awkward teenage years come, you can’t talk about sex in the context of the Bible and explain chastity Biblically, because your mate may (and probably will) disagree with you. Even if they do agree, their reasoning will be different.

At the least, it’d be mixed messages and signals to the kid, leaving them with an ambiguous and likely shifting set of moral instructions. At the worst, they might reject both for lack of a firm foundation. Of course, that’s their choice, and you’d love them anyways, but it goes beyond the kid’s formation.

Such disagreements will cause strain on your relationship with your partner. Even before all this happens, the kids and the education and whatnot, you won’t be able to discuss a variety of topics. When a crisis happens, you won’t be able to pray with your mate about it. You won’t be able to worship together, and if you do, it will always be on your mind that you’re not worshiping the same god. You will know, provided you’re an orthodox Christian, that your mate won’t be in heaven when you get there.

It just doesn’t work in the long run. Being friends with unbelievers is one thing, and I think it’s important and invaluable. A lot of my friends aren’t Christian, and that’s totally OK. But when I looked down the road of dating a non-Christian, it just didn’t seem feasible.

To my mind, you can only truly love when you have been truly loved, and the only One who truly and unconditionally loves is Jesus. If they don’t know him, they can never really know me. I don’t want to be with someone who not only doesn’t, but seriously cannot, know me.

Why would you want to live your life that way?