In "The UnGuide to Dating," a he said/she said look at adult dating relationships, authors Camerin Courtney and Todd Hertz discuss why the temptations – and dangers – of dating non-Christians are very real. ...

“But This Is Different!”

Todd:  Nobody consciously thinks, "Boy, I reckon I’m gonna look for a non-Christian to date today." Instead, the temptation to lower our standards sneaks up on us quietly. And the temptation can be brought on for a variety of reasons. For my friend Amber, for instance, it was watching her best friend and younger sister get married (both to wonderful Christian husbands) and start families. She doubted God’s plan for her and began dating more aggressively to hurry up her own trip to the altar. So when Steve asked her out, her attraction to him – and the idea that he could be her husband someday – far outweighed the serious effect of his beliefs on her faith journey.

Temptation to date a non-Christian can take many forms. Maybe she has looser standards for sexual activity than Christian women. Maybe you just really like her. Or maybe you just see no Christian options. If non-Christians are showing interest when Christians either aren’t or aren’t around, it can be hard to resist. I mean, if you’re getting no results in your search, it seems sensible to drop the one stipulation that’s narrowing your potential pool, right?

This rationalization is exacerbated by lots of easy excuses that remind me of the secular dating book "He’s Just Not That Into You." The book features letters from women in awful dating relationships using various excuses to explain that their misbehaving boyfriends really do care for them. “But my situation is different,” they say. And one by one, the authors shoot down the letters, explaining, “Nope, he’s just not that into you.”

When it comes to dating non-Christians, we also often tell ourselves, “But this is different!” For each excuse though, it seems like the Bible has a response, saying, “Nope, that relationship’s just not right for you.” Some examples of these excuses:

“But we love each other.” My friend Dan married a non-Christian several years ago. They love each other very much, but Dan quickly realized many hardships would stem from the fact that his wife will never really understand his faith.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul warns believers by writing, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?” (6:14). Paul doesn’t say love can’t exist between a believer and a nonbeliever, but what Paul observes is that a believer and a nonbeliever cannot ever really understand each other. How can we expect a person who walks with Christ to be understood by someone who doesn’t even know him?

Dan knows this too well. Not only will his wife not share in eternal life, but their differences trickle down to practical matters as well. When facing a problem, they can’t rely on prayer together. When Dan is busy volunteering at his church, his wife is less than understanding. In addition, many arguments have started over the amount of Dan’s annual tithes. She just doesn’t understand the most important thing in his life.

“But he respects my faith.” A committed Baptist, my high school friend Jessica had heard the “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” verse in 2 Corinthians dozens of times. But when she began dating Dominick, a non-Christian, she told friends it was OK because he believed in a higher power and was very interested in the supernatural. She argued that his interest and respect for people with devout beliefs was good enough to combat 2 Corinthians 6’s warnings that they’d have no common ground.