As senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, I often have faith-based questions brought to my attention from people from all walks of life. Here is one that came my way — and my response to this parent, in the hope that it may be helpful to others who may be experiencing the same issue or know someone in this predicament.
Question: “My son is dating someone who is not of our faith. She’s lovely — but I’m worried she’ll lead him away from the religion he was born into and has practiced all his life. What is your advice?”
Answer: When young people connect with a “special someone,” many make their choice based on physical attractiveness alone. Of course, some young people do probe a little further into the other person’s character and personality. But few dive deeply into the third level — which is a consideration of spiritual compatibility. This is far more important than body shape, eye color, hairstyle, or sense of humor.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
The Bible illustrates the point that Christians should not be bound together with non-believers in any deep relationship or significant enterprise that has a spiritual component. Scripture teaches that nothing is deeper or more spiritual than marriage, which is the eventual destination for all dating relationships. In other words, spiritual compatibility must be considered at the onset of any romantic relationship.
If your son is a Christian, he needs to understand that God wants him to find a girl who is also a Christian. Christians should marry Christians (1 Corinthians 7:39). When he finds a girl who shares his foundation of faith as it relates to Jesus Christ, the Bible, and core doctrinal beliefs — he is setting himself up for a positive relationship in which the most important pieces of a shared life fit together for God’s glory and blessing.
When dating relationships turn into marriage relationships, hundreds of life-changing questions rise to the surface: Who is the leader here? Should we have children? If so, how many? Where will our family attend church? Will we be active and involved? Should we go into debt for a home or a car? Will the mom stay at home, or will she work? Each one of these common questions has a spiritual component attached to it, which is why shared Christian values are absolutely critical in relationships today.
It may feel awkward to initiate this conversation with your son, but now is the time. Don’t wait until the relationship has advanced to the point of a serious commitment or even an engagement. Speak from the heart — and communicate with love. Be sure to keep the focus on spiritual compatibility. This isn’t a personal attack on your son or the young woman he cares about. This is about following the truth of Scripture — and embracing God’s best.
Pastor Ryan Day is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he has served for 18 years. He is a regular contributor to LifeZette.