“I met the cutest and nicest guy ever a few months ago! We’ve been dating for a few weeks, and everything is great… except, well… I have a question. He’s not a Christian. He says he’s totally open to God and religion, but he just doesn’t see the need at this point in his life. I’m not sure what to do. I really like him. Please help.”
We’ve received many emails and messages like this over the years. Navigating romance and relationships can be a really hard (and sometimes tricky) thing. As Christian women, how do we make decisions that ultimately place God at the center of our romantic pursuits? How do we date while keeping the truths of Scripture at the front of our priority list?
If a guy is really nice, but isn’t a Christian, is that a problem?
What if he’s really respectable and treats you right? Does “religion” really matter that much? What if you date him, but commit to ending the relationship if he doesn’t become a Christian by engagement? Is that okay?
These are all real questions that need real, Biblical answers. As I seek to answer these sensitive questions from a Biblical perspective, I want you to first know that I firmly believe that every person is created equal in God’s sight regardless of their religious background. One person isn’t more valuable than another. Answering the question of “should I breakup with my non-Christian boyfriend” has nothing to do with a person’s worthiness in God’s eyes, but everything to do with God’s plan for romance and marriage for a Christian. This post is written to help Christian women understand God’s design for dating and marriage.
As Christian women, our highest priority and commitment should be honoring God in everything we do.
And this includes who we date and how we date (1 Cor. 10:31).
As we think through this important topic, let’s begin by first asking this question: What is the purpose of a romantic relationship? “Throughout Scripture, godly romantic relationships are always paired with marriage in view. The Bible never portrays a picture of a pure, Christ-honoring romance without marriage in sight. Why? Because romance isn’t a standalone activity. It’s a gateway leading us to an end destination—marriage.
When it comes to dating a non-Christian, God’s Word offers some helpful wisdom. As John Piper wisely points out, ‘The key text is in 1 Corinthians 7:39 where it says that a woman is ‘free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.’ That little phrase ‘only in the Lord’ is added to an otherwise innocent marriage to say, ‘Don’t go outside of the Lord to marry.’” -Love Defined Book
Basically, this verse is a direct exhortation to marry someone who is in the Lord (i.e., a genuine Believer).
And since dating should lead to marriage, it wouldn’t be wise to date a someone who isn’t a Christian.
Here’s another key verse that addresses this issue: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14).
Unequally yoked is an ancient reference to two oxen being “unfit” to work as a team. That is essentially what this passage is saying to believers becoming “yoked” to unbelievers. You will not make a great team for God’s Kingdom. You will not be moving together in the same direction spiritually.
As I outlined in my book, Love Defined: God’s Vision for Lasting Love and Satisfying Relationships, here are 6 practical ways being unequally yoked will play out in your relationship with a non-Christian (read chapter 10 for more details).
- You aren’t on the same mission (see Matt. 28:19–20; Heb. 12:1–2).
- You can’t sek the Lord together (see Matt. 6:33; Luke 10:27).
- He can’t provide spiritual leadership (see Heb. 3:13; 10:24; Titus 1).
- You won’t share the same standards and convictions (see Rom. 8:7–8; Heb. 11:6).
- You won’t share the same worldview (see Rom. 12:2; 2 Tim. 3:16).
- You will face conflict in raising future kids (see Prov. 22:6; Josh. 24:15).
But — you might ask — marriage is one thing… but what about simply dating someone for the purpose of evangelism?
Isn’t dating a great opportunity to share the gospel? That’s a great question! Candice Watters from Boundless.org digs into this with some helpful wisdom and insight. She says:
“Since the purpose of dating is to find a spouse and since believers are not permitted to marry unbelievers, we must not deceive ourselves into thinking it’s OK to date—as long as we don’t marry—unbelievers. It’s simply too likely, and too common, that what begins as an innocent, friends-only, non-emotional, temporary form of relating, progresses into affections that long to be satisfied. You would not be the first to think it harmless, only to set yourself up for either a heart-wrenching breakup or faith-wrecking disobedience.”
But what about the girl who dates the non-Christian boyfriend and he actually becomes a Christian in the end! Isn’t that worth it?
Although I have seen this happen on occasion, is this truly the wisest approach? Is it wise to build your entire future on such a slippery and uncertain path? Rather than choosing the path that God explicitly advises us against (then hoping for the best), we should heed God’s wisdom and choose to do things God’s way from the beginning.
Lastly, and most importantly, we need to talk about the Biblical calling to love others selflessly.
1 Cor. 16:14 says, “Let all that you do be done in love.” John 13:35 says, “by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” And Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
As Christians, our greatest witness for Christ will be lived out in the way we genuinely and selflessly love other people. And this isn’t a romantic love we’re talking about. It’s a love that places the care for another above your own. A love that is willing to make a hard choice for the good of another. A love that is willing to lay down your own desires to serve someone else.
As a Christian woman, if you’re committed to obeying God’s Word by only marrying a Believer, then what happens if your non-Christian boyfriend never becomes a Christian? What kind of testimony and witness will it be to him when you end the relationship months down a long-invested road because He didn’t become a Christian? He will probably feel anger in his heart toward you and wonder why you weren’t honest with him from the beginning. He might wonder why you would even string him along if you knew things couldn’t last forever. And worst of all, your breakup could have the potential to put a bad taste in his mouth toward “Christian” women.
Loving your non-Christian boyfriend as Christ calls you to will require honesty sooner rather than later.
Heeding the counsel of Scripture would have advised you to date a Believer from the beginning, but if you’re already in the relationship, it’s much better (and more loving) to be honest now than to wait. He deserves to know the truth.
As hard as this is for me to share, I say this because I love you. Based on Scripture and God’s plan for romance and marriage, I don’t believe it would be wise for a Christian woman to stay in a relationship with a non-Christian boyfriend. For your sake or for his. I believe the most Christ-honoring and genuine step you could take as this point, is to graciously end the relationship. A long conversation will probably be required. He deserves to hear why you’re ending it.
You might consider sharing transparently why you should have never entered the relationship in the first place. You could share about your Biblical beliefs regarding marriage and dating. You could share how your desire to honor God and obey His Word must come first in your life.
Since I don’t know your situation personally, I encourage you to seek counsel from a godly woman in your community.
Don’t walk this hard path alone. Having someone there to support you through prayer, accountability, and wise counsel is hugely important. Especially when emotions are high.
Sister, I love you and care for you. I only want what’s best for you. God cares for you even more than you realize and has a good plan for love and romance. As hard as this decision is, trust that God’s ways are better than your ways. His ways are higher than your ways. Although things might seem bleak and grey right now, I am confident that God will bless you for your obedience. Your faithfulness to Him will be worth it in the end.
In closing, I want to tell you about a free new resource we created at Girl Defined called, “The Christian Girl’s Breakup Survival Guide.” This instant downloadable PDF is available for free to every person who is a part of our Patreon Family of supporters. To learn more, click here.