Having been asked this question by a number of Christian young people I would like to consider five brief points which I hope will give a clear and helpful answer.
1 – Your attitude towards relationships
Before considering any relationship you should think about your attitude and motivation. As a teenager, those around you will probably be dating, having numerous casual relationships. What is their motivation? – it could be pleasure, self-fulfilment, sense of belonging, seeking satisfaction, feeling needed, fulfilling desires or a multitude of other reasons. Often relationships are short term and lack commitment.
From a Christian perspective, you should be avoiding these sinful attitudes – consider the effect such short-term, casual relationships might have on you and on the other person involved. As a Christian you should not be seeking short-term fulfilment in such relationships, but rather long-term fulfilment through knowing God. Any earthly relationship should be seeking to glorify God and have a long-term view towards marriage.
2 – Should a Christian go out with a non-Christian?
The Bible gives very clear teaching on this subject in 2 Corinthians,
The believer has spiritual light, the unbeliever is in spiritual darkness. The believer is righteous in God’s sight, the unbeliever is unrighteous. Imagine oxen ploughing, joined with a yoke, if they are not equally yoked – if one is much bigger or stronger – then they will not pull together, there will be friction between them, the ploughing will be a mess. This is the picture God uses of the believer and unbeliever in a relationship – they will pull in different directions, with different priorities. The believer should be putting God first, seeking to serve Him and bring Him glory. The unbeliever will have different priorities which may well end up drawing the believer away from God.
A good question to ask when considering a relationship is, will spending time with this person be drawing you closer to or away from the Lord?
3 – What if you’re unsure whether someone is a believer?
This was asked alongside the main question. I just want to give a few practical pointers, the first of which is key:
- Do not enter into a relationship if you’re unsure where someone stands before God.
- Wait until you are sure.
- Pray about the situation, pray for the other person.
- Get to know the person as a friend.
- Seek counsel from Christians who you trust.
4 – Marriage is a picture of Christ and His Church.
If you are following the Biblical pathway set out above then any relationship should be looking forward to a possible marriage. In Ephesians 5:22-23 Paul writes about marriage as a beautiful picture of Christ and His Church. This relationship is only between Christ and believers and this is reflected in marriage between Christians.
There is teaching in these verses which is worth considering for both young men and women.
- Women: The husband is the spiritual head of a family and should be leading the family in worship – can an unbelieving husband be the spiritual head of a believing wife?
- Men: As a husband you will be the spiritual head of a family. Are you ready for this responsibility? Is your future wife in agreement with you in spiritual matters? Will she be teaching any children you are blessed with as you would desire spiritually?
5 – Fulfilment in Christ.
Ultimately, whether single, in a relationship or married we need to remember that real fulfilment is in Christ. It is not found in any human relationships. We are taught seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. God has promised that if we are His children then He will supply all our needs, including a spouse if that is His will for us.
We should be seeking to know that we are right with God before we start thinking of other relationships. Then, in our relationships our priorities should be God first, others second, myself last.