Over the past six months, I have been confronted with the heart-wrenching news that three of my Christian friends are dating non-Christians / unbelievers. I have previously proclaimed my disgust here — for these are not simple-minded, young, baby believers who are committing this outright, public sin. These are well-seasoned and mature believers, servants and leaders in the church, and furthermore, children of parents who are leaders, elders, deacons in their respective churches.I bring this topic up again because studying the Gospel according to Matthew for class over the past month has been personally convicting, and hitting really close to home — too much to be comfortable actually. I mourn because I fear that my friends’ spirits may not be poor enough to update me about their situation, nor humble enough to ask for my prayers. I write this because I am pleading with the Lord to have mercy and soften their hearts; I do not know what to do but to seek His kingdom and His righteousness by prayer and by His Word.I certainly am in no way any better than them, and I write this not from some holy pedestal, but with an understanding that I could very well be one of them. When rightly tempted at the right time with the right temptation, I could easily see myself succumbing and falling just like them — to forfeit the biblical commands and my moral convictions and satisfy my need for friendship, companionship, love and sexual pleasure. If it were not for the grace of God and the Holy Spirit that has worked within me undeservedly, I would be even worse of a sinner than them — with my sins publicly displayed, I would easily be expelled from Southern Seminary or any other liberal theological institution for that matter.But blessed be the name of the Lord; I am doing better than I deserve because of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to me. And ’tis all because His forbearance with my impatient, deceitful heart.
13 ???You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.14 ???You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.Matthew 5:13-16
What God has brought to my mind today is that this pandemic makes it harder and harder for the world to know that we are children of God. Unbelievers cannot tell the difference between Christians living in the Kingdom of Heaven and themselves who live in the kingdom of earth. This is especially apparent when a Christian dates / courts / pursues an unbeliever for the goal of marriage. Do we not know that such is clearly sin according to God’s word? Why do we act like God’s command is unclear, when Scripture is explicitly plain here? When this happens, our distinctive flavor as salt of the world is not retained; there is no longer a distinction between Jesus disciples and Satan’s disciples.”The more we sense and accept our difference from the world, the greater our influence will be. The more we allow the secular society to affect us, morally and spiritually, the more we loose our saltiness” (Doriani, 45; emphasis mine). Why, oh why, do we not want to be salt of the earth?Further, it is like hiding our light under a table. Even while in this continual, unrepentant sin, these unequally yoked believers know very well that the light of a true disciple of Jesus Christ cannot and should not be hidden. We must quit hiding our light, and let it shine for the unbelieving to see. “When they see our light, they will realize that there must be a source for our goodness, and conclude that God is that source. They will praise God for his work in us” (Doriani, 46). Why, oh why, do we hide our light?The unbelieving will not praise God when they figure out that we as Christians are actively living in sin by dating / courting them; it is not a testimony to the Light of the World Himself who justifies and sanctifies if they do not see the sanctifying work of Christ in us. Unfortunately, these brothers/sisters are hoping that the unbelievers don’t figure it out!More can be said, but I’ll let the secular media speak for what we already know. The Wall Street Journal recently posted on their website an article titled, A Match Made on Earth: When Christians date outside the fold. Boundless picked this up and provides some commentary on this secular editorial about the dating behavior of self-proclaimed Christians:
how could a person be at peace in a relationship where he or she fears for his or her partner’s eternal soul? So what is driving our tendency to even consider dating outside the fold? The article identifies one of the reasons — desperation…
And I whole-heartedly agree: when we get desperate (and I can certainly tell you that I have and do experience this desperation), we jettison our theology, and compromise our doxology. We no longer trust God to provide a spouse for us within His flock, but trust ourselves in finding our own spouse and no longer praise God for His providence. “The moral of the story is never underestimate the negative influence of an unbelieving spouse. God is infinitely wiser than we are and His command to only marry (and by inference, only date) other believers is for both our benefit and His glory” (Carolyn McCulley, emphasis mine). We thus bend God’s rules for kingdom living to our advantage and to our own liking — all in dire hopes that we could reach out during the relationship and convert our unbelieving girlfriend / boyfriend before wedding day. The setup for a lifetime of heartache and headache is put in place as we subject God to our own judgments and preferences.Who do you think you are really dating? And who do you think you are becoming by dating them?