Can “Missionary Dating” Lead to a Good Marriage?

Dating PixabayFirst off, we need to establish that Marriage Missions isn’t a dating web site. But we do believe that God has lead us to better prepare those who are “single, yet preparing.” We’re talking about singles who hope to meet that “special someone” to marry someday. For that reason we don’t want to ignore the subject of “missionary dating.” It’s often looked upon as a viable option for some Christians when he or she is “drawn” to someone who isn’t a Follower of Christ.

What is Missionary Dating?

“Missionary dating is a phrase used in a Christian context to describe when a person of one religion dates a person with differing beliefs for the purpose of changing that person’s beliefs or religion.” (definition given by Wikipedia.org)

And here’s something bloggist, Alexandra Foley, wrote as a definition:

“Simply put, ‘missionary dating’ is dating with the hopes of turning a promising frog into a virtual prince. As the word implies, it can have a religious purpose in mind, though it needn’t be primarily religious. And granted, probably every man and woman who dates has to some degree a ‘missionary’ impulse —a desire to convert or eliminate blemishes we perceive in our companion —so isolating it as a separate category may be a moot point.

“Still, it appears to me that the phenomenon is real enough to stand on its own. The big question, of course, is whether missionary dating actually works.”

Does Missionary Dating Work?

That’s a good question to a very controversial topic, since the Bible is very specific about not being “yoked with an unbeliever.” (We address this issue in the Single Yet Preparing topic. And for those who are already married, you can read articles in the Spiritual Matters topic, which addresses being unequally yoked in marriage.)

Does this mean that a Christian shouldn’t even date someone who isn’t a Christian —especially when he or she might be led to become a follower of Christ? Wouldn’t that lead to a “good” or an “equally yoked” marriage if they ever got to that point in their relationship?

Those are good questions; but they’re certainly not ones that are easy to answer. And they’re certainly not ones we’re able to answer without some help.

Articles to Help

To help you we’re suppling links below to several articles on this issue praying that as you read them, the Holy Spirit will give you wisdom. We encourage you to read all of them, because they each make different points that are important for you to consider.

This first link contains several different articles within it that are posted on the Hoe Koon Siong web site. They include something written by J.J. in which he states very emphatically:

“For every person you can show me who did this successfully, I can show you ten people who are married to non-believers and are miserable. It’s a really bad idea and it’s wrong.”

To learn more of J.J.’s of reasoning, as well as the reasoning of several other authors, please read:

SHOULD CHRISTIANS DATE NON-CHRISTIANS?

Lessons Learned

Kris Swiatocho (the Director of Singles Network Ministry) has been on many dates where her main purpose has been to win the guy to Christ. But she learned some things that changed her original views on this type of dating. You might find the points she makes, interesting to read. Even though this is mostly written to women, much of it pertains to men as well, if they are missionary dating. I especially appreciate a point she brings out at the end of this Crosswalk.com article. She wrote:

“NOTE: Men, take extra caution. In general, males feel the need to rescue women. What is better than to meet a woman who needs you to lead her? However, God’s Word is the same for us all: be equally yoked.”

This is a really good point, because many men feel protective of women. But when this is your perspective, you need to be careful. It can sometimes backfire on you in a negative way.

To learn more, please read this Crosswalk.com article:

MISSIONARY DATING: On a Mission to Get Him Saved

Who Influences Who?

Annagail Lynes, learned about this type of dating the hard way. She started to date a guy who wasn’t a believer thinking that she would influence him for Christ. But the reverse happened. He influenced her and she “slid deeper into the world” until they finally broke up.

To learn what she has to say about this, please click onto the Faithwriters.com link below to read:

MISSIONARY DATING

Some people date others with a missionary goal. The following article, written in question and answer form, gives suggestions on what you should do if you’re concerned about his or her relationship with God. Please read the following Christiananswers.net article:

WHAT DOES GOD THINK OF MISSIONARY DATING?

There is also a narrative, written by J. Buziszewski, that brings out additional points concerning missionary dating. Please read this Boundless.org article:

MISSIONARY DATING

And finally, for a twist on the meaning of missionary dating, please read what Sharon wrote, who now sees it in an entirely different light. We pray you will as well, as you read:

REDEFINING MISSIONARY DATING

The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not comprehend it.
(John 1:5 NASB)

Seek the Lord’s guidance on this issue. I hope you will listen to what God tells you to do as it pertains to missionary dating. May He bless you abundantly as you live your life God’s way!

This article is written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International

Print Post

Filed under: Single Yet Preparing

Leave a Reply to Cindy Wright Cancel reply

Please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.

We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.

Comments

6 responses to “Can “Missionary Dating” Lead to a Good Marriage?

  1. (UNITED STATES)  Hello, I am currently in a relationship that is going on its seventh year with a non-Christian. I was raised in a strong Christian household, but had lost my way shortly before I began to date the individual I am currently with. However, in the past few months I have felt that something was missing and have redeticated my life to God. Now, I find myself in an extremely difficult position with my relationship with God and my signigicant other. I love him so very much and do not want to be without him, but realize that there are many things in our lives that a Christian would not participate in. It is very hard for me to just leave, because I feel as if I am already married to him and want him to experience all the Jesus has to offer. I am so confused and not sure what to do… Help!

    1. (USA)  1st of all, welcome back to the family of Christ, Tina. I am however sorry to hear theat your boyfriend is not walking with Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are told that if one is in Christ they are a new person, and that old things have gone away. The transformation Christ plays on our lives replaces those old things with new things. I am in no way tellling you to leave your boyfriend, but I am reminding you that to give your life to Christ means exactly what Matthew 10:37 tells us. We are to be willing to give up even our mother and father (and you could include boyfriend with that) to be worthy of Christ.

      I know this may sound like a one sided thought but there is a verse that swings in favor of your current relationship, Psalm 37:4. God knows your desire to be with the one you are currently with, but at the same time God should now be your main priority in life, and if God separates you two, it was for a reason. But most of all seek for His answer.

      1. (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)  Dear sister, I understand your case, and I am glad you made the right decision to rededicate your life to the Lord Jesus Christ. I also was in such a situation. I was in a relationship with a backslider and indeed, I backslid as well. Then he dumped me and I was back in the “broken-hearted-born again-singles” not searching at all.

        Then, less than a month later came this young, charming, handsome guy “out of the blue” and let me tell you sister, I was MORE THAN WILLING TO GIVE IT A TRY! And for a try, I gave it a try for some weeks! But guess what? The guy is just not saved!!! Oooh dear, that was such a tough thing to swallow! How can this so charming guy, who seems to have a bright future and ABOVE ALL, whom I have these strange feelings for, after I have made up my mind that I won’t date until I get rid of my previous boyfriend … not be A SAVED guy??? That chocked me… a lot. I could stay awake late in the night just staring at his pics… I could not believe my eyes. But on the other hand, there was Christ, and all his offers, promises, his precious life he gave away for me… The decision was hard to take.

        I was almost ready to go on a missionary date with him as well, but i gave him one condition:’ No sex included in our relationship until marriage.’ But the guy could not agree coz he could just not handle it. I hoped his interest in me would be strong enough to give it a try, but NOT. Thats hurt me a lot. But I was so determined and still (coz we are still in touch somehow), that I just say a big NO, with a lot of tears of course.

        But you know what? I was so hurt to see such a handsome, charming, young guy who is not saved… that He inspired me one to do thing: pray for his salvation. Not for my sake, but for but for Christ’s. I must acknowledge that I struggled a lot to come to that point where I can pray for him, not for my sake but for God’s, through Christ… and let the PERFECT will of God be done in my life.

        I understand that for your case, it may be harder but my aim is to just encourage you to follow God’s ways, for they are the best… I am sure if we are faithful, someday we will come back on this very page and post our Praises and thanksgiving unto God. Hope this helped you dear. Keep Strong. The reward is awaiting. Please, read ROMANS 8:4-15.

  2. (NIGERIA)  I am currently dating a guy who is from another sect. He has promised to have a thorough check of the truths I let him see in the world. I broke up with him. But he has requested for time to study the truths I have shown him (he says he is willing to change). Am I impatient for breaking up? Or foolish for still waiting for him to finish the project he has at hand (end of this month) so he can look through the scriptures?

    1. Dear Nna, I can’t TELL you what to do, nor do I necessarily have the “right” answer for you, concerning this issue. I encourage you to pray about what I advise, as to whether this is really God’s leading or my own take on what you should do (and not God’s). But “breaking up” with this guy, if it was leading to romantic feelings that you shouldn’t give to someone you are unequally yoked to, is probably a good thing.

      That doesn’t mean that you can’t be supportive in helping him discover and process God’s “truths” AS LONG AS you can accomplish guarding your heart as you spend time with him and NOT cross the line in being romantically involved with him, until and unless he shows that he embraces that which you know to be biblically true (especially concerning salvation).

      Putting your romantic relationship aside and instead spending time talking as two people who are seeking to know truth, is not “missionary dating.” Missionary dating is spending time dating someone, allowing your hearts to entangle together, thinking the natural progression will be that he or she will eventually come to a saving knowledge of Christ, as a result. That is dangerous and shaky in its premise because when it comes to “falling in love” it often happens that lines get blurred. It’s where we often hear it said, “but I/we didn’t mean to fall in love, but it happened.” If you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to become romantically entangled with someone you shouldn’t, it obviously can’t happen (or if it starts, you can more easily squelch it by not continuing to feed it) . When God puts out a warning NOT to allow ourselves to become unequally yoked, we’d better heed His warning because the consequences can be deadly.

      And by “unequally yoked” it doesn’t just mean “saved” and “unsaved.” Pastor Tommy Nelson brings up a good point to keep in mind on this issue. He said, “There has to be a theological unity. You and your future husband, you and your future wife, have to be on the same page on who God is, because He is your reference point for how you act, for how you perceive the universe, for how you perceive man, children, everything is your perception of God. They don’t simply have to be a Christian, but they have to line up on the major particulars.

      “If you are an evangelical, and you see it in a certain way, and you marry a charismatic, you’re going to have some struggles, but major league, if you marry a non-believer, you do not even interpret the universe the same — marriage or morality.”

      You may not be thinking marriage at this point, but you still need to guard your heart, “in case” your relationship progresses that way. If you can’t talk with this guy about spiritual matters and guard your heart at the same time, then ask God if there is someone you can point him towards that can help him. I had someone do that with me once. This single guy was approached by a married woman who needed help, and even though she was a Christian, he recognized that with his being single and her being married, he needed to guard both of their hearts and asked me to step in and talk to her instead, so nothing inappropriate developed. I had GREAT respect for him afterward, because he recognized his and her vulnerability in that situation and found someone else to meet her need.

      I encourage you to do the same and pass this guy onto a male friend who might better answer his questions if you don’t think you can do so without putting yourself in a compromising situation. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I pray God gives you wisdom on this.

  3. First of all, I am greatly thankful to God for helping me find this website. It was just today in the church that I felt about trying to convert my boyfriend. I’m a 21 years old student from India. My boyfriend is a non-believer…orthodox Hindu. It all started a year back. We fell in love eventually, even though we knew of our religious differences and how they would stand in our way of pursuing a successful relationship….we knew …but never gave it a thought. At least I didn’t… I forgot Jesus when I felt a new feeling (love) blossoming in my heart. Now that I have crossed the line of caution and have fallen in love, I feel I should be ready to face any consequence, but I don’t want to do anything that is against Jesus (being unequally yoked).

    I’m a staunch Catholic Christian, so I sat and thought–I felt making him a believer will solve the problem won’t it? But he is very pessimistic; he is smarter than me…he knows life better than me even though he is just one year elder than me. I know nothing but Jesus Jesus Jesus…but….he wants to break it….he feels it will make our parents very unhappy. I too am frightened about upsetting them, it might even kill them. He is very stubborn. Of course he is right in his own way, his family is all dependent on him. He adores them; he doesn’t want to do anything that will upset them when he is the whole world to them. He is frightened of their rejection, but he is very selfless…he wants to do his duty as their son. If only he knew Jesus, he would be the perfect man; but I feel it’s wrong to give up. I feel selfish because I think I’m trying to convert him only because I want him in my life and not because I want him to see Jesus and feel him; but I feel I’m not so too…its very confusing….his stubborn attitude + love + his ignorance about the wrongfulness in leaving even without trying + me wanting to convert him. It’s all so much, but I trust in Christ…..it is his will that everyone should be saved isnt it? Just as another comment says I want to reach a point where I learn to pray for him, not for my sake but for his salvation sake, and let God decide my life. What should I do?