The question of dating often comes up in Christian circles. Young Christians want to know what the Bible teaches on the subject of dating. Is it OK for a Christian to date? Is it OK for a Christian to date an unbeliever (a.k.a. “missionary dating”)? These are good questions, but there is no verse that provides clear answers. The Bible was written in a time and culture that did not have an equivalent to modern “dating”. So it does not address the issue of dating. So we have to deduce from Scriptural principles a biblical position on the modern practice of “dating”.
The question about dating non-Christians is really a question about the purpose of dating. That is the way that I think is the most responsible way of framing the issue. Is it wrong to go on a date with a non-Christian? I would say no, but with an important clarification. Ask yourself: “Why am I interested in dating this particular person who is a non-Christian?” Are you actively looking for a relationship with the right person that you hope will lead to marriage? If so, then dating a non-Christian is wrong. We are called to be “equally yoked” which means (among other things) that we must marry in the faith. If not, then the question you must ask now is this: “For a single person, what is the purpose of being in a romantic relationship?” Some Christians will say that dating is just practice, or just fun, or not meant to be serious, or whatever. But I think that is treating the human heart and body (yours and the other person’s) too cavalierly. We are meant to glorify God with our bodies and our hearts. We are meant to relate to the opposite sex in holiness and purity. Obviously that necessitates a different standard of behavior when relating to our mothers, sisters, other female family members, and women not related to us.
What I’m getting at is this: dating a non-Christian (which is something that should not end in marriage unless both happen to become believers before marriage) will most likely end in heartache which is a bad witness to the world of God’s love for us. So in the final analysis, my answer is No, Christians should not date non-Christians.
Matters of the heart are very serious and powerful. Love is a choice, but the heart sometimes cannot be controlled. If someone claims to have control over their heart emotions, then I wonder if their heart is a little cold in the love department.
I am so thankful that I had godly men who were older and wiser than I during my high school & college years to guide me away from dating non-Christians and to a more biblical view on dating. Our culture’s practice of serial dating so often leads to serial monogamy (i.e., divorce over and over again). Relationships are potent. They can be powerfully good or powerfully destructive. And we haven’t even mentioned the topic of sex!
So when does a relationship make the transition from casual dating to boyfriend-girlfriend. The short answer is this happens when both people “turn their keys”. How does this usually happen? On a lighter note, it seems to me it usually plays out this way :-)
Girl: “So, boy, we’ve been on 6 dates in the last 2 months. I guess that makes me your girlfriend?
Boy: “Huh? Oh? So you wanna make it official? I didn’t really know how you felt about me, girl.”
Girl: “Well, you know, like, I want to, you know, be your girlfriend…but only if that’s what you want. Because I’m happy where we’re at, you know. But if you want to be boyfriend-girlfriend, I’d like that too. I mean, we’re kinda that now, right? So are we?
Boy: “Uh, yeah, I guess. Cool.”
Girl: “Cool!” [kiss] “Excuse me, I gotta call my friends and tell them you’re my boyfriend now!”
Boy: (to himself) “What just happened? What did I agree to? What am I getting myself into?”