I can’t remember now how many Yahoo! and Google search results I dug into to find the answers I was looking for. No matter how I phrased the search terms “dating a non-Christian” or “marrying someone with different religious beliefs,” it only resulted in disastrous findings and this ubiquitous Scripture verse:
“Do not be unequally yoked with non-believers” (2 Cor 6:14 ESV) is the Scripture verse I grew up knowing.
The gist: It will never work romantically with someone who has different beliefs. One will compromise and not be true to him or herself. The other will never truly know their mate, because he or she doesn’t understand or relate to the other’s spiritual side. Oh, and my latest favorite, “How can he be your soulmate when he doesn’t care about your soul?”
It’s the question that nags me to this day, even though I have been married to my sweetheart for almost four months. I am a born-again Christian, and his viewpoints are more aligned with an Agnostic – he questions the deity of Jesus Christ. I searched for answers and realized that if I’m going through this myself, surely my own experience will benefit others.
First of all, I have yet to complete all of these steps. I am honestly worried I will never be able to find a church that won’t make me feel guilty for not having a Christian husband by my side. This post will serve as a reminder of the goals I need to reach to make my marriage work. I’m hoping as a result it will encourage someone else.
Secondly, this isn’t very simple. Marriage takes work, and if you are going to enter into a relationship where your spiritual beliefs do not align, there’s a heavy, additional layer of work involved. It will not be easy, and it will require a lot of faith and determination, as well as support from your spouse and family.
With that said, here are four ways to successfully manage a relationship with someone with different religious beliefs:
1) Lock in to a support system: Not just within your family or your spouse’s family, but get plugged in with like-minded Christians. Encourage group dates with your significant other. This will keep you grounded and show your loved one other examples of great Christians.
2) Bolster own spiritual walk: This step is most important. Continue to grow in your spiritual walk and be an example to your loved one. There’s no need to be a missionary to him or her. But it’s important to maintain your relationship with God even if your loved one disagrees. Have daily devotionals, attend church. Pray more. Worry less.
3) Communicate: Of course this is key to any good relationship, but especially so when you are with someone who doesn’t understand your spiritual needs. Don’t be afraid to communicate your spiritual ideas and dreams. Talk out problems, even if you cannot pray over them together.
4) Remember why you are together: A friend once told me that you can’t expect to find every perfect quality you ever wanted in a spouse. Why deny love when it is there and it is real? Of course, for most people like myself, not having the same spiritual beliefs are a non-negotiable.
I am very blessed, but I also have a long way to go. I think if my own relationship with God were stronger, I probably wouldn’t have begun a relationship with my fiancé. That’s a really tough thing to swallow, but it’s true.
Also, my fiancé is an incredibly open and loving human being. If those two elements are not a part of your marriage, these tips may not work.
This is the case whether or not your spouse is a Christian. Always take a step back and assess your own spiritual walk before entering a serious relationship.
The reason why I took a chance with my fiancé is that he is willing to overcome any obstacle to make our relationship work. Along every step I prayed for answers and sought spiritual guidance from my loved ones and realized this was the best (and most difficult) decision I have ever made.
Image credit: Superfem