Answers to "Ask Mike" Questions
39. What does God think about dating those of different religions?
Most devoted Christian young people wrestle with this question during their dating years. I think a few comments will suffice.
As to dating different races, I have commented on that issue in another question. Prejudice of one sort or another usually clouds the issue on that question. There is really only one race -- the human race. Racial characteristics are genetic differences and that's all. Just as one's genetics may determine eye color, so also they determine one's skin color and so on.
The question of dating other religions is a bit tricky. One must first ask, "What do you mean by 'dating other religions?' " Should a Christian date a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, or Shinto? Should a Christian date someone who follows one of the cults: Mormonism, Adventism, Jehovah's Witness, Christian Science? Or is the question, "Should a Christian date someone of another denomination?"
These are really different issues!
In the Old Testament, God told Abraham he should not get a wife for Isaac from among the heathen (Genesis 24:5). When it came time for Jacob, Isaac's son, to marry, Isaac told him, "Do not marry a Canaanite woman" (from Genesis 28:1 NIV). At Mount Sinai, God told the Israelites, "Do not intermarry with them [the heathen]" (from Deuteronomy 7:3 NIV). Such instructions continue throughout much of the Old Testament. It was clear that God did not want his people to intermarry with those who worshiped false gods. In the New Testament, Paul told the early believers to "not be yoked together with unbelievers" (from 2 Corinthians 6:14). The protest is raised, "But I'm not interested in marriage, just dating."
Granted that marriage may not be the intent of a dating relationship, friendships and relationships formed while dating almost always lead to marriage. Since most Americans do not "arrange" marriages for their children, most young adults and adults "date" prior to marriage. With that in mind, I would propose that God forbids forming the kind of relationships (such as dating) with those of false religions. Second, it would follow that he would also forbid similar relationships with those who are members of cult groups. Third, while I do not think God forbids forming relationships with denominational Christians, it is often unwise to do so.
I do not think, therefore, that God would forbid a member of a Christian Church from dating a Baptist, it might cause one or both to make compromises that should not be made. If a dating relationship with a denominational Christian leads to contemplation of marriage, I would advise the following:
It is God's desire that his children should build lasting relationships with those who follow him. Too many relationships fail because the individuals were not agreed in advance. At the same time, the Great Commission tells us to take the gospel to everyone. Doing that means we involve ourselves with others, but we do not get entangled in permanent relationships which would keep us "from shaking the dust off our feet" when the gospel is rejected. I might also add that no believer needs to be judgmental, unkind, undiplomatic, or unkind when refusing to establish any relationship that would not honor God.
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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.