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Q&A: Can a Christian date a non-Christian? Your guide to what it means to be equally yoked—and why it matters!

Q&A: Can a Christian Date a Non-Christian? Your Guide to What it Means to be Equally Yoked—and Why it Matters!

Dating


One of the questions I’m asked more frequently than any other is this: “As a Christian, is it okay to date a non-Christian?


My friend Hanna and I talked all about this in a podcast episode just a few months ago. Aside from being an amazing friend, Hanna is also the author of the new book, The College Girl’s Survival Guide. Hanna and I talked through so many questions I get from women each and every week about Christian relationships. Things like “Is it OK for Christians to online date?” and “Are you really supposed to wait until you get married to have sex?” And of course, “What does it mean to be equally yoked? And why does it matter?”


The thing is, we don’t hear a lot of practical dating advice about this in the church. If you’re like me, you hear the same Bible verses repeated without a good idea of what to do with them today. For instance, “unequally yoked.”


What does that even mean? What does it look like to be unequally yoked? Why is it bad? And if it is so bad, how can I avoid it?


The verse that started it all

The verse we’re talking about, the verse I get so many questions about, is 2 Corinthians 6:14. The NIV translation says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”


On the podcast, Hanna talked about it so perfectly, so I want to share with you her exact words.


She said, “Because I’m a total word nerd, I read the verse in other translations of the Bible. Some say, ‘Don’t be yoked together with unbelievers,’ while others say, ‘Don’t be teamed up with non-believers.’ 1 and 2 Corinthians are letters Paul wrote to correct behavior. So that means there were believers who maybe didn’t grow up in Christian culture, and they were marrying non-believers. Paul is saying ‘Don’t do it!’ Does this person pursue God in the same manner you are? You need to find someone on the same page as you.”


Friend, isn’t that background information so helpful? I know I would have appreciated this simple explanation SO MUCH when I was dating. But I probably also would have thought, “Okay, so Paul told Christians we need to be on the same page about our faith. That sounds good… but why? Is that really necessary?”


WHY DOES IT MATTER?

The longer I’ve been married, the more I understand why it’s important to be with someone who loves Jesus like I do. I truly believe that when Paul wrote the letter to the Corinthians, it was less like laying down the law and more like showing concern for a dear friend. He knew that when two people make a giant promise to stay together forever, they should have the same picture in their heads of what they want their life together to look like.


Friend, I believe deep down that our shared love for Jesus has made such a difference in my marriage with Carl! Whether you call it “compatible” or “equally yoked,” I believe we get to be our best selves when we walk together toward the same faith and dreams. (Carl and I talk about this a lot in this episode of my podcast!)


I can remember the feeling of dating someone who just wasn’t quite right for me. It felt like one of us was always compromising, like we weren’t in step with each other’s lives. Then one day I realized what was wrong: We weren’t headed in the same direction.


I wanted to be pursuing Jesus. I wanted to have His fingerprints all over my life. I had a clear direction—kind of like I was on a road headed straight north.


And maybe the guy I was dating was a Christian too, but he believed pretty casually. He didn’t want Jesus to be a big deal in his everyday life. It’s like he was heading east.


How would my story have ended with him? At best, we would have gone northeast, in a direction neither of us wanted to go.


Friend, close your eyes and imagine for a moment that you’re headed exactly where you want to go. For me, this meant I was spending time with Jesus, getting to know God better, living my best life with my girlfriends—and diving into writing and speaking and talking with all of you whenever I got a chance!


Now imagine you’re headed toward your own best life, including the relationship with Jesus that you want to have. And then you look to the side and see someone is keeping pace with you, doing the same things. When you’re walking in the same direction, you get to say, “Hey, maybe we could do this together!”


That is being equally yoked.

Of course, I don’t believe we need to find someone who is exactly like us in every single way. We don’t need to love the same roadside diner or have the same favorite city along the way. But when I looked at Carl’s life while we were dating, I could see that when it came to the important things, we were on the same page. We wanted the same things out of life. We were headed in the same direction. I knew that if I hopped in the car with him, I’d end up pretty close to where I wanted to go (and I wouldn’t have to fight with him along the way to get there).


Friend, if you are anything like me, you’re thinking, “Great! It’s nice to know what to look for in the guy I marry, but how do I find him? Where do I meet guys who are headed in the same direction as me? Where are all the guys traveling north?”


You are so not alone if you’re asking those questions! In fact, if this is you, I have a new course with your name on it. Click here to check out my newest resource, Double Your Dating Prospects.


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Q&A: Can a Christian Date a Non-Christian? Your Guide to What it Means to be Equally Yoked—and Why it Matters!

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Add a Comment
  1. Jess says:

    This is so encouraging! I recently ended a relationship because we were “unequally yoked” or however you want to phrase it and everything in this post is what I felt about being with him. He was a good friend and fun to be with, but we were never going to be on the path in the same direction. Thank you!

  2. cici says:

    Thanks so much for writing this, Stephanie. I ended my almost 2 year relationship this past weekend because of this very reason. I (still) love him so much, but he said he wouldn’t ever be able to constrict his mind to only believing in the Christian faith or in Jesus, and wouldn’t ever be able to raise children to believe that way either. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done to leave, but at that moment I knew I had to go. It’s so encouraging to read this now and know that I’ve made the right decision for my future, even though it feels like I’ve just completely wrecked the life I am so used to knowing. Looking forward to more wisdom from you in the future 🙂

  3. Nosipho Z says:

    Oh wow ???? I heard this word in my vision and this morning I went to look it up. The relavence in my life, how could it impact my life and my future goals. Everything was spot on, it’s as if you wrote it for me. Thank you so much for an eye opening. Appreciated.

  4. Lydia says:

    What should you do if you are married and find out that the person has ceased believing?

    • Kel says:

      Sorry to hear that Lydia.

      I think firstly pray for them and also pray for direction on how God wants you to support your spouse. As a spouse I think we have a responsibility to constantly be lifting our spouse up in prayer. I would have faith that since they once believed they will believe again. Maybe it’s something to talk about with them what is it that made them stop believing, and what is it that made them believe in the first place and how did they get from where they first believe to where they don’t. Maybe remind them of scriptures that might be related to why they say they don’t believe anymore. Also let your spouse see your continued faith.

    • Lizzie says:

      Lydia, I’m so sorry. I think you should be an example and continue to practice your faith. Maybe, talk to him about it and get to the root of the issue. You could remind him of certain scriptures that might resonate with him and talk him through what God has blessed him with and what He has done for him. Have a blessed day/night! May God bless you and your family. Remember that God loves you!

  5. Gracefully Broken says:

    Wow! I don’t know how I got to this page,but there is no doubt in my mind now it was God’s will for me to find it.I have recently been contemplating about this very thing. Which direction to go with a big decision to make…..After reading this..it’s very clear.Thank you!

  6. Anonymo says:

    Thank you for sharing this post! It has been helpful in giving an idea of what equally yoked looks like. But what if two people are both Christians but are different denominations? What if one is Baptist and the other is Muslim or Catholic? Can different denominations marry under Christianity?

    • Lizzie says:

      My mother says that you can compromise on many topics in a relationship but religion isn’t one of them. When a man and woman are married, they are one flesh. I think that what my mother means is that a relationship can not work if the two do not share the same beliefs and denominations.

      • Andrea says:

        Im on an unebenlly yoked marraige of 22 yrs and let me tell you your example is spot on it is like were traveling in different directions. My husband is a believer but we were.raised.different. he barely went to church as a kid where I grew up in it. Hes more old southern baptist and im more church of God or bapticostal as i call it. We dont think the same or have the same out looks about several things in life and it has made our marriage extremely hard. If we both werent so stubborn we would have gotten divorced years ago but it is the inevitable outcome for our future. Unevenly yoked does matter young ladies and I pray if anyone is struggling with this question they’ll heed my advice and save themselves from some very heartache.
        God bless
        Andrea

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