Should you date a man – or stay with a boyfriend – who doesn’t believe in God? Or maybe he’s a “non Christian” (a man who says he believes but doesn’t live in faith). These nine dating tips for Christian women will help you handle your relationship with a non Christian man who doesn’t believe in God.
First, here’s some excellent dating advice from a Christian psychologist and author of the Boundaries series of books: “If you do not allow yourself to rush into falling for someone that you have not become friends with first, you will be more sure when you let yourself go to the next step,” writes Dr Henry Cloud in In Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships. “Certainly you might find yourself having all sorts of feelings. Enjoy them. But do not believe them. Only believe your experience of getting to know a person and seeing if you can share at a deep level. See if you find that he or she is a person of the kind of character you would trust as a friend. And as important as all of that, see if that person is a person that you would like spending time with if there were no romance at all. That is the one true measure of a friend, a person with whom you like to spend time, having no regard to how you are spending it. “Hanging out” is fulfilling in and of itself. And that, long-term, requires character, and in the deepest of friendships, shared values as well. You would want your best friends to be honest, faithful, deep, spiritual, responsible, connecting, growing, loving, and the like. Make sure that those qualities are also present in the person you are falling in love with.”
I wrote this article for a reader who asked if she should date a man who doesn’t share her faith. He’s not quite a non Christian; in fact he’s more of a “non Christian” who believes in God but doesn’t actually follow Jesus. She’s struggling with how his beliefs are affecting her and their relationship. Here’s her story:
“I’ve been dating this guy for over a year,” she said on Should You Date Someone Who Has Different Religious Beliefs? “He claims to be Catholic and I’m scared because I am a Christian. We have talked about marriage and moving at a slow place. But he believes I am wrong for putting God before him! I told him I would put him (my boyfriend) first before anyone but I will never give my soul up for him or anyone. He thinks I’m wrong and that he’s not willing to marry me because of what I said. Should I keep this relationship going? Or should I move on?”
She is a Christian woman with a strong relationship with Jesus, and yet she’s already letting her boyfriend (a “non Christian” or someone who believes in God but doesn’t follow Jesus) confuse and distract her. Dating someone who doesn’t believe in God will crush her, tamp her spirit, and lead her away from Christ. Her boyfriend may never change, and may weaken or even destroy her faith.
I’d give her that advice because of what she said:
- This dating relationship is scaring her
- Her boyfriend doesn’t want her to hold on to her beliefs
- Her boyfriend is actually pulling her away from God, instead of encouraging her to get closer
- Her boyfriend isn’t willing to marry her because she is a Christian woman with a faith in God
- She didn’t say anything about loving her boyfriend
I believe this reader already believes in her heart and spirit that she doesn’t want to continue dating someone who doesn’t believe in God. She’s a Christian woman looking for advice that she already knows. She needs outside confirmation and affirmation about dating a non Christian man — and this is completely natural.
We do this all the time, even if the problem isn’t that we’re Christian women dating someone who doesn’t believe in God. We struggle with questions and God often whispers guidance to us…yet we have trouble following His voice. For this reader, the most important question of her life and faith right now is if she should be in a relationship with someone who believes in God, but doesn’t share her depth of faith. Maybe you’re facing a similar situation.
When You’re Dating a Non Christian Man Who Doesn’t Believe in God…
My reader’s boyfriend does believe in God. He may be a “non Christian” Catholic who goes to church but doesn’t know Jesus. So, my reader isn’t dating “outside her faith” as such. His faith is different than hers, and there’s nothing wrong with being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share your exact same spiritual beliefs.
Unless, of course, your boyfriend’s lack of faith pulls you away from your relationship with Jesus.
1. Decide how important your faith is to you
O, the deep deep love freedom grace healing power forgiveness light life depth of Jesus! I’d choose my faith – my relationship with God, Son, and Holy Spirit – over any of my relationships, any day of the week. I’m home when I’m connected to Him. I’m alive when I lift my eyes up to the Heavens. I’m joyful and peaceful when I see Jesus’ face in my mind’s eye. I love God with all my heart and soul…and I am so grateful for Jesus.
My husband Bruce was raised Catholic; I was raised Christian (mostly at an Apostolic Church, but my mom has schizophrenia so we moved around a lot and none of the foster homes I was in took me to church). I’m grateful that Bruce questioned his Catholic faith and the idea of “non Christian” versus Christian long before we got married.
As a Christian woman I never enjoyed dating dating someone who didn’t believe in God or “non Christian” believers who didn’t follow Jesus. But I dated many non Christian men. I always felt more comfortable in relationships with men who were Christian. I thought marriage would be easier if I married within my faith (and I was right!. As a Christian woman I believed dating and marrying a non Christian or “non Christian” man would pull me away from God.
2. Ask how your Christian faith fits into marriage to a non Christian
A few questions to consider:
- Is your boyfriend a “non Christian” man who claims to believe in God but doesn’t follow Jesus, or a non Christian man who doesn’t believe in God?
- Do you want to attend church as a couple?
- If your boyfriend is of a different faith, where will you get married? Who will marry you?
- What would your relationship be like if your boyfriend believed in God?
- Are you planning to raise your children as part of your faith, your husband’s faith, or no faith at all?
- What do your parents and friends say about dating dating someone who doesn’t believe in God?
- What tips would you yourself give Christian women dating non Christian men?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is your relationship with God? (1 is “faith part of my life, but not too important” and 10 is “faith is my whole life, and I feel lost when I picture myself separated from God”).
On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is your relationship with the “non Christian” man you’re dating? (1 is “I have reservations, concerns, fears, or anxieties about my relationship” and 10 is “I love dating this guy so much, I can’t picture life without him – even if he doesn’t believe in God”).
Take time to really pray over and think about these questions. I can’t tell you if you should be in a relationship with a non Christian man outside your faith – and neither can your parents, friends, pastors, or anyone. You are a Christian woman dating a man who doesn’t believe in God; this is a decision you need to prayerfully and carefully make on your own.
3. Listen to God’s still small voice – or watch for his His thunder bolts!
I don’t mean that if you don’t listen to what God is trying to tell you, He’ll send thunderbolts your way. What I mean is that God doesn’t always speak in a still small voice. Sometimes He hits us over the head with His will, sometimes the Holy Spirit shouts at us, and sometimes Jesus shows up roaring like a lion. God speaks in a dozen different ways throughout your day – and a million different ways throughout your life.
Sometimes God speaks through people. Sometimes Jesus even uses Christian writers and relationship bloggers to give you tips for dating someone who doesn’t believe in God. And sometimes the Holy Spirit talks quietly and nudges softly to your spirit alone, in only a voice you can hear. You as a Christian woman are blessed with a variety of ways to listen to God’s will for your life, relationship and future marriage.
Stay connected to Him. Pray. You don’t need to desperately search for His will. You ARE His will. Just being you is His will for your life. Let go of the idea that God has one perfect will for your life, and you have to hunt and search to find it. Take a deep breath, and listen. Look. Pay attention to how you feel, what people are telling you, and which opportunities feel right to you. God will bless your decisions – especially if you take time to listen to His guidance when you’re deciding if you should have a relationship with someone outside your faith.
4. Trust your God-given instincts
My reader said she’s scared. Fear is one of the most important warning signs of bad relationships! If you don’t feel right or good about your relationship – even if you’re dating someone who believes in God – then you need to slow down. Pay attention to your instincts, because they’re telling you Something Important.
You are a smart Christian woman. When you don’t feel right about a relationship, you are picking up on important subconscious clues that something is wrong. This is God! This is one of the ways He is speaking to you.
Feeling fear doesn’t necessarily mean you should end a relationship, though. It may mean you need to change something about how you’re dating someone who doesn’t believe in God (eg, are you moving too fast?). Or, perhaps you need to think about what it means to be a “Christian woman.” You might want to consider what you and your non Christian boyfriend talk about (eg, do you tend to argue about religion or spirituality? is your faith in God causing problems in your relationship?).
5. Put your brain to work
What is your logical, rational mind telling you about dating someone who doesn’t believe in God? You were given free will, not a robot’s manual. You were given a beautiful, mysterious, complicated brain that God expects you to use! You were given wisdom in the form of Scripture, other people, books, pastors, sermons, Christian blogs, spiritual writers, your parents. What would you tell a Christian woman who asks, “should I date dating someone who doesn’t believe in God?”
Take a step away from your relationship. Look past your natural longing to love and be loved. Would you advise your sister to date your boyfriend – or any guy outside her faith? Would you tell your best friend that it doesn’t matter if she has a relationship with someone who doesn’t believe in God?
One of the best ways to figure out what you really think about dating someone who doesn’t believe in God is to write in a journal. Answer the questions I ask below. Talk to God. Ask Him what He thinks about you having a relationship outside your faith. Maybe you could even ask Him to speak to your boyfriend, to draw him closer, or even to help him believe.
6. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance
Do you and your boyfriend pray together? That is one of the most important ways a Christian woman can decide if she should date a non Christian or “non Christian” man. Praying can be one of the most intimate, close things you can do in a relationship. Your prayers as a couple can strengthen your relationship with each other, and with God.
Not praying together is one of the downsides of being in a relationship with a non Christian man. Praying is unity and connection for believers; not praying is walls and obstacles. You’re a Christian woman; even if your boyfriend is Catholic or “non Christian” he’s still not on the same spiritual plane as you. This will be a constant source of friction and conflict. And so it should be! Jesus told us not to be yoked with unbelievers not because Jesus was a farmer, but because it’s actually harmful to us to marry men who don’t share our faith.
7. Consider your boyfriend’s spiritual growth
If your boyfriend believes in God but still calls himself a “non Christian”, how is he growing in his faith? If he’s not a believer, is he willing to talk about faith, spirituality, spiritual growth, and God?
Here’s a wise insight from Matt Chandler, author of The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption.
“What you are looking for is seriousness about growth in the person’s faith,” he says 10 Questions on Dating with Matt Chandler. “And so I think the church really serves and helps Christian singles consider marriage and consider dating. Within the covenant community of faith, there should be those around a person that can speak of their reputation and whether they are serious about growing in the Lord and putting sin to death in their life. And that’s what you are looking for. Is there seriousness in your boyfriend to grow in his relationship and understanding with the Lord?”
Matt adds that he has sadly found that single Christian women (and men) hit an area of desperation. They may be committed to dating someone who doesn’t believe in God, but they don’t look at the spiritual growth of their boyfriends. A Christian woman who wants to be in a relationship may ignore the signs that her “Christian” boyfriend isn’t a strong believer or doesn’t believe in God at all. He may even be a non Christian — and not just a Catholic “non Christian man.” A Christian woman who really wants to be in a relationship may date and marry outside her faith because she deeply and desperately wants to be loved.
“Many Christians will say, ‘Yeah, [my boyfriend] is a Christian, he comes to church,’” says Matt. “And really what they’re saying is this guy comes to church a couple of times a month, but outside of attending a service, he doesn’t have a real seriousness about growing in his understanding of the Lord, growing in his understanding of the Bible, being a prayerful person, no vivication or mortification that can be spotted, and no one who really knows them enough to speak to the growth in their character.”
8. Stay focused on your growth as a Christian woman
I always, always encourage Christian women to get emotionally and spiritually healthy – whether they’re dating non Christian men or married to men who believe in God even more than they do. The key to a strong, healthy marriage is to grow in your faith. Then, you’ll be better able to make good decisions about all aspects of your life.
Don’t let your boyfriend or husband’s spiritual beliefs separate you from God. It’s temptingly easy for a Christian woman to prioritize a man (“non Christian” or Christian) over the Father, but it’s unhealthy and damaging. Stay strong in your faith by listening to Christian podcasts about God, reading books about Christian marriages, and learning how to navigate relationships with people who don’t believe in God. Even if you’re married to a man who refuses to believe in God, commit yourself to daily learning. Walk with your Creator, your Father, your comfort and shelter. Accept His love and healing, His joy and peace. Rest in the knowledge that you are fearfully and wonderfully made! God has a purpose for you.
God also has a purpose for your relationship, even if you’re dating someone who doesn’t believe in God. This doesn’t mean you have to marry the non Christian man you’re dating or even stay in an unhealthy or unhappy marriage. It just means that there is a reason you are here today, and God will redeem the mistakes and heal the wounds.
Are you struggling to talk about spirituality with your boyfriend? Read 4 Natural Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Boyfriend.
9. Remember that faith alone doesn’t guarantee a happy marriage
On the Focus on the Family website, Carol Heffernan gave great advice for married Christian couples:
“It’s easy to think that only ‘other people’ get divorced,” writes Carol on God’s Design for Marriage.
“That your own marriage is somehow immune to heartache, infidelity and fights over who gets the house, the car, the dog. After all, how many of us would walk down the aisle if we believed our relationships would end up in divorce court? The truth is, no relationship comes with a lifetime guarantee. Even men and women who grew up in stable homes, who attend church and consider themselves Christians, who promise “until death do us part,” can have it all fall apart.”
As a Christian woman, growing stronger in your walk with God may be to date someone who not only believes in God, but encourages you to prioritize God above all else. Instead of dating men you think may believe in God (“non Christians”), listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Help for Christian Women Dating Someone Who Doesn’t Believe in God
As a Christian woman dating a “non Christian” man, you might want to read Is Love Powerful Enough to Save Your Relationship?
In The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not about Who You Marry, But Why?, Gary Thomas What if you stopped looking for a “soul mate” and started looking for a “sole mate”—someone who will live out with you the great purpose of God? What if dating isn’t about finding “the one” but making a wise choice so you can better serve the One who loves you most? What if God didn’t design relationships to make you happy but to make you holy?
In The Sacred Search, Gary Thomas will transform the way you look at romantic relationships. Whether you are single, dating, or engaged, Gary’s unique perspective on dating will prepare you for a satisfying, spiritually enriching marriage even before you walk down the aisle. As Gary reminds us, a good marriage is not something you find—it’s something you make.
In You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Francis Chan joins together with his wife Lisa to address the question many couples wonder at the altar, such as how do we have a great marriage? Setting aside typical topics on marriage, Francis and Lisa dive into Scripture to understand what it means to have a relationship that satisfies the deepest parts of our souls.
In the same way Crazy Love changed the way we saw our personal relationship with God, You and Me Forever will radically shift the way we see your marriage. “Jesus was right,” says Frances. “We have it all backwards. The way to have a great marriage is by not focusing on marriage. It’s by focusing on God.” Whether you are single, dating or married, You and Me Forever will help you discover the adventure that you were made for and learn how to thrive in it. And, 100% of the net profits from this book will go towards thousands of orphaned children and exploited women around the world.
Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below! Are you a Christian woman dating someone who doesn’t believe in God? What tips or advice would you give other Christians?