How should a Christian respond if asked on a date by a non-Christian? I believe that God only wants His followers to date other believers, so I decided when I was young that I would only date others like me. In high school, I learned that it is very easy to develop romantic feelings for non-believers despite my best intentions. I do not want to go through that type of situation again, so I have been trying to limit my time with non-Christian young men while in college. However, a couple weeks ago I was asked on a date by a non-Christian. I did not know he was interested in me. I was taken off guard and didn’t know how to respond. I felt very uncomfortable saying, “Sorry, I won’t spend time with you because you aren’t a Christian.” Instead, I made up a lame excuse and left.
I’m sure that was not the best way to handle the situation. It certainly wasn’t honest. What do you think is the most sensitive and loving way to explain that you only date other Christians?
As you’ve discovered, it’s not easy to obey God’s commands. Your own heart betrays you, isolating yourself is impractical, and temptation comes when you’re not looking for it. We know from Scripture that we’re supposed to be “in the world, but not of it,” to be salt and light to unbelievers, and to share the good news of the Gospel with those who haven’t heard it. But doing this faithfully is hard! I’m glad you wrote because you’ve asked two really good questions: how can you turn down a date with an unbeliever, and more importantly, how can you obey God’s commands in a fallen world?
It’s precisely because we are so easily tempted that God gives us His commands. They are a gift. He remembers that we are flesh and that our fight against our sin nature will continue until we are perfected in heaven. For this reason, He tells us how to live on earth so that we may flourish. It is good to meditate on this truth regularly.
In order to follow through on your desire to date and marry a believer, you must love Christ above all else. He must be more valuable to you than any human relationship — He must be your greatest treasure. Then, rooted in His love and empowered by the Holy Spirit, you will not only have the ability to obey His commands, you will also be able to do so — including saying no to a date with an unbeliever — in ways that testify to your faith.
So what to do in this specific situation you’ve raised? In short, you should reply “No, thank you.” Said with a smile, those three little words are powerful for guarding you from all sorts of undesirable situations — “Want to save 10 percent today by opening a store credit card?” “Let’s watch this racy movie!” “Can I interest you in this new miracle cure for acne, weight loss, hair growth, etc.?” “Want to catch dinner?” A simple, firm but kind “No, thank you” will serve you well in answer to all manner of propositions.
But sometimes it’s necessary to say more than that. I agree it’s not a good idea to say, “Sorry, I won’t spend time with you because you aren’t a Christian.” But you can certainly say, “As a Christian, I’m committed to dating only those who share my faith.” A response like this may cause a young man to stop and think, and may open his eyes to the Gospel.
There should be real distinctions in your behavior if you have been set free as a slave of sin to live as a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:16-18). Paul told Titus to urge the believers in Crete to “… devote themselves to good works” (Titus 3:14). Jesus said,
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
You should be living in a way that the unbelievers in your life know you are a Christian; or at least that there’s something different about you. Such living is evidence of saving faith that “adorns the doctrine of God” (Titus 2:10). That means that our faith lived out in good works makes the Gospel more attractive to unbelievers. If you know a man well enough that he’s asking you out on a date, he should already be aware that there’s something different about you. It may be the light of Christ in you that’s attracting him to you. If this guy is only an acquaintance who impulsively asked you out, the simple reply at the start of my answer is best. But if not, this is a great opportunity to tell him what makes that difference.
Whatever you say, either “No, thank you,” or “As a Christian, I can only date other Christians,” dishonesty is never in order. Let your words be true both in what you say when you turn him down, but also in standing by your decision, even if he persists (James 5:12, Psalm 15:4, see also Genesis 39). Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and courage, that you may be faithful to the One who said,
And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8)
Copyright 2015 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.