In conversations with unmarried Christians, a common and passionate topic is dating or marrying non-believers. Is it biblical? Can it work?
In the Cornell Marriage Advice Project, a research team did in-depth interviews with more than 700 people aged 65 and older, who were married for an average of 43 years. When gerontologist Karl Pillemer asked them to tell him the secret to a happy marriage, they poured their hearts out. They said that “marriage is hard. It takes spirit and resilience. It is something that you work at and get better at, but it is never completed.” One of their insights was to marry someone with similar values about religion, money, child rearing, how you want to spend your time, and the importance of careers. They said some differences can work, but if you have real differences in core values you’re not likely to last very long.
There’s a big difference between enjoying someone’s company, even caring deeply for them, and being compatible for life. You can overlook the “elephant in the room” for awhile but eventually differences in core values are impossible to ignore as they shape our lives and even our personalities.
I believe conversations about core values should be had early in a relationship. It’s not a conversation about which church to go to; it’s a conversation about lifestyle, and priorities, and relationships.
If Faith Were a Horse – A Dating Conversation
He asked, “What are you skeptical about?”
“I need to know how you see God in your life” she answered.
“What do you want to know?” He offered, “I go to church.”
“It’s not about church. It’s about a world-view.” She decided to plunge in, “Do you want God’s purpose for your life more than any other definition of success? Do you trust Him to love you and provide for you and does that trust lead you to follow Him in the decisions you make in business and your personal life?”
He looked puzzled.
“It’s like this, “ she offered an analogy, “Let’s say faith was a horse, and I had a horse and loved it. The perspective I had from riding the horse changed the way I looked at life, at the world and my purpose. I rode it every day and it gave my life meaning and joy. But if you didn’t have a horse of your own and you didn’t want one, our perspectives on almost every part of life would be different. It would make it impossible for us to align our priorities and to share life.”
“Are you asking me if I have a horse?” He asked.
“I’m telling you- I have a horse- a faith in God and a relationship with Him that is more important than any other relationship I have in my life. It permeates my life. It is the air that I breathe, the compass by which I set my sails. I don’t want to make a move without Him, and if you don’t live the same way, it would be impossible to partner in life.” She took a breath.
“I get it”, he said. “You like horses,…you like faith!”
“I don’t just like faith”, she corrected him. “I am a horsewoman.”
From “One Single Purpose – Trusting God with My Life, a Single Woman’s Journey of Faith” copyright 2012