I am in a relationship with a Christian lady (though she is not born again), but I'm still praying for her salvation and have a burning love for her. Is the burning love for her an indication of God's will and that God would save her, or am I simply attracted to her?
Thanks for your question. There's a lot to think about here, so let me try to bring some Scripture to bear.
First things first. Your question indicates that the woman you're in a relationship with is a "Christian lady," but that she is not "born again." I realize that people in a number of different cultures (including some here in the U.S.) might identify themselves as "Christian" in some way even though they have not been "born again," but the Bible teaches us that such a self-identification is incorrect. As a purely biblical matter, if we are not "born again," we are not followers of Christ ("Christians") as the Bible defines that term. You said in your question that you are still praying for this woman's salvation, so it seems like you know this, but just in case — and for the benefit of others who might read this — let's clarify.
In John 3:3, Jesus tells a ruler of the Jews: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." So what does it mean to be born again? We will be born again — given new life in Christ — if we repent of our sins and believe the Gospel of Christ: that there is a perfectly holy God who created the world and all that is in it (including mankind) by His word and for His glory (Genesis 1-2); that we as human beings have sinned against this perfectly holy God, and therefore we deserve and are under His just condemnation (Genesis 3; Romans 3, Ephesians 2:1-3); that God, because of His great love and mercy, sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life and die on the cross as a substitute, to atone for the sins of all those who would repent of their sins and believe in Him, and to restore those who believe in Him to eternal fellowship with God (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4-9; Acts 4:12); and that God raised Jesus from the dead, to make clear to the world that Jesus is God's Son, and that all He said about himself and the Gospel is true (Luke 24:1-12; Acts 3:12-21).
Now to the heart of your question. If you are clear that this woman is not a believer (not a follower of Jesus as the Bible defines that term) then it is not God's will that you pursue her as a wife — at least not now. The Bible is clear that believers are only to marry other believers. In 1 Corinthians 7:39, Paul instructs that marriages of believers are to be "only in the Lord" — that is, only to other Christians. Also, Ephesians 5:22-33, the fullest explanation we have in the Bible of what a godly, biblical marriage is, makes clear that what God calls us to in marriage — to bring God glory by intentionally reflecting the way Christ has loved the church and the way the church responds to the leadership of Christ — can only be carried out by people who are themselves in Christ.
Your question also mentioned that you have developed really strong affection for this woman. I don't doubt it. Theological truths and biblical prohibitions don't automatically inoculate believers from attraction to and affection for nonbelievers — especially when they get involved in a close romantic relationship. Even so, you cannot assume that because you feel strongly for this woman, God will save her. And it seems even clearer that you should not use such an assumption as grounds to marry her before you are fully convinced the Lord has saved her. Remember, the way God almost always communicates His will to His people is not with mystical signs or emotions in the pits of our stomachs, but through His Word in Scripture. And God will never "tell" us, through some feeling or sign, to do something that clearly contradicts His Word.
I know this answer may be a little difficult to swallow. I will pray that the Lord will give you wisdom and faithfulness to His Word as you think through how to proceed.
Copyright 2013 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.