Some years ago, I knew a young couple. They spent hours and hours together but swore that they were not dating. This went on for many months. All of the sudden they were engaged and later married. But according to them, they had not been dating. They were just spending time together as friends. Fortunately for them, they were both saved and living for God. Their marriage turned out to be a tremendous blessing and they remain married and serving God faithfully.
Let me begin this by saying that the definition of dating is "to do an activity with someone you might be romantically interested in." In the above mentioned case, one of the parties was romantically interested, the other swore that they were not, but time proved them wrong. And frankly, everyone except the one who was in denial knew they were dating too.
Don't be hanging out with a person of the opposite sex, whether alone or in a group, several days or evenings a week and not call it dating. It is. You're only fooling yourself.
What is missionary dating?
Missionary dating is simply a term used to describe being unequally yoked with an unbeliever in a romantic type relationship under the guise of desiring that unbeliever's salvation. Seriously, again, you are only fooling yourself if you think that you are going to win this person to the Lord by dating them. One thing you might want to ask yourself is, how many people have I won to the Lord in my lifetime? If you don't have a string of people that you have directly affected that ended in salvations, then your heart is lying to you.
I knew a young lady who was highly involved in youth group. Her dad was a deacon. She started bringing "a friend" from school to youth group. He seemed to fit in real well but he made no bones about being unsaved. In a few weeks, it came out that they were dating, then engaged. She married him and within two years she was in trouble. He was drinking, cheating on her and beating on her. When the kids came along, it reached a real crisis and she left him, eventually divorced him and walked completely away from the Lord. She had been warned, pleaded with, prayed for and cried over but she refused to listen. Her heart had already become too invested in this guy and he trumped the Lord.
Another young lady was in a similar situation. She had walked away from God totally. Then she met a young man and became highly involved. The Lord convicted her of her need of Him and she made a new profession of faith. She wrote me to inquire about what I thought about her dating this young man. I offered to meet with her so we could discuss it but she never followed up. She knew what I would say. She simply said that she would have to pray about it. She ended up marrying the guy and as far as I know, things are okay between them, so far, but she is not loving and serving God. She may have some semblance of religion, but in her heart she knows that she is not in good standing in God's Kingdom.
I could go on and on with more stories, but I think you get the idea.
Why is missionary dating dangerous?
The biggest reason that missionary dating is dangerous is because it's the total reverse of God's Word. It's completely backwards! It's the opposite of God's design for finding a mate. In fact, it's disobedience to his Word.
Those that missionary date say that they are hopeful that the one they are with will accept the Lord and become a Christian. The Bible says the opposite. It says that "bad company corrupts good manners." This is never more true than in a missionary dating situation.
Sometimes the unbeliever will pretend to get religion or may even think that they are pleasing God because they are attending church but they usually attend to please the person they are romantically involved with, not because they are passionate about loving and serving God. There is no spiritual transformation. They are still dead in their sin and in the "off-limits" category. Seriously, do we want to give someone the idea that they are serving God when they are still bound for hell? Is that love?
Once they are married, that all goes away which is evidence that it was never there in the first place. By then it's too late and the Christian is faced with serving in two opposing relationships. It's a life of misery spiritually and can also be misery emotionally and physically. It is not worth the small amount of pleasure it may produce in the beginning.
The correct order-God's established order- is to wait until a man or woman is saved and faithfully serving God before dating. You can't fish in the unbeliever pond and expect to get a good catch! If you do get a catch and have any regard for God's Word at all, you will end up wanting that person's salvation simply to satisfy your fleshly desire. How selfish is that? What is of the flesh is flesh, what is of the Spirit is Spirit. If a person is not secure in God, if God is not their everything, then they have nothing to bring into a relationship except needs that they will expect another human being to meet. This ends up in unrealistic expectations in a relationship, a sure killer.
Christian, can you honestly say that your deepest desire for your unsaved companion is for them to truly be saved? Was your intention from the very beginning to be a witness to them and see them saved or did the idea of wanting them saved offer you some justification for spending so much alone time with them? Why this person? Did the Lord lay them on your heart before you started to befriend them on a more intimate level? Had you been eagerly seeking the Lord for their salvation before you initiated or agreed to a deeper relationship? If not, then you need to examine your motives. Do you want them to be saved because you have such a passion for souls or so that you can be with them and with God?
When you spend a lot of time with a person of the opposite sex, that is dating. You are doing it because there is a romantic, fleshy attraction at least on your part. To say you are not dating and then spend hour upon hour alone with that person is only deceiving yourself. While you're investing your time, you are also giving away your heart and soon you will be desiring what God's word says is "forbidden fruit." Either way you have already bought some heartache because no matter how it ends up, it is going to hurt. Get out now if this is you. Better yet, just obey God in the beginning and allow Him to bless you.
The person may be the nicest person you know. They might be nicer than any Christian you know. The fact of the matter is that they are of the Kingdom of Darkness and you are from the Kingdom of light. Their father is the devil and yours is the Lord. What fellowship can darkness have with light? There is no fellowship between the devil and the Lord. They are mortal enemies. So what fellowship can you have with a sinner? Fellowship is defined as "properly, what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship (partnership, community)." It speaks of the intimate bond of fellowship between believers (people of like faith).
That doesn't mean that you should not witness to them and care for them. How else will they get saved? But if the witnessing and care is a result of an already present and growing romantic, fleshly affection then you, dear brother or sister in Christ, are out of line and out of the will of God.
Excuses I hear:
"He/She goes to church. They just aren't saved yet." God's requirement is not that they attend church. It's that they are redeemed, washed in the Blood of Christ, born of the Spirit and living to serve Him. How will you ever be able to truly follow the Lord's plan for your lives when so divided in focus, purpose, and belief? It's impossible. Something, or someone, will have to give along the way and scripture and experience reveals that it is usually the Christian. It was disobedience to get into this relationship in the first place, which is a heart issue that should have been dealt with. It's only going to get worse the deeper you go into the relationship and you will soon find yourself far from God.
"I prayed about it and God told me that it's okay." You might have thrown some words heavenward, but you weren't listening. God will never tell you something contrary to His Word. And you really didn't pray. Prayer involves taking something to God desiring His honest opinion and desire not just wanting Him to approve of what your desires are. And seriously, do you expect me to believe that you took what you knew was disobedience to the Lord and He said "Oh, you're the exception to my Word. You're special and so spiritually strong that you can handle this? I will allow and even bless this, just for you?" Don't make God a respecter of persons. He isn't. You are flesh and blood like everyone else that this commandment applies to.
"There's just no Christian guys around. I may never get married otherwise! I don't want to be alone all my life." First of all, you are never alone if the Holy Spirit resides in you. Secondly, Christ is all in all. If you are lonely, it is only because you have not allowed Christ to be all that He wants to be. If Christ is not the one meeting ALL of your needs, then you really are not ready for a relationship. He can be so BIG in your life that it just seems that there isn't any room for anything or anyone else. You are complete in Christ! I wish singles would believe and embrace this! The world gives the impression that finding that "perfect soulmate" is the end-all of lonliness and trouble but the Bible speaks of the conflict that comes with marriage. Yes, it says that marriage brings this on! In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul writes:
32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned
about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is
married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife,
34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and
spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how
she may please her husband. 35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a
restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.
Furthermore, scripture does not support the idea of a soulmate-that one person. Plato came up with that idea. But...once you are married, that person, whoever it is, is your "one". So it had better be the right one.
Listen single Christians! Don't ambush your future by allowing fleshy passions to rule your heart! Submit your heart, body and future to God. Trust God to bring you a mate at the right time and place. Do you really think He can't orchestrate you meeting the right person? Seriously, He can and will if you will just focus on Him.