Tuesday, December 28, 2021

An Open Letter To Women Who Are Missionary Dating


Hello there,

You probably don't know me, but I hope you'll heed the advice in this letter. I'd like to spare you some years (or decades) of pain. This is a sobering letter, but I pray it's also life-changing.

There's a man that you love who isn't everything you want him to be. That's not a surprise -- nobody's perfect.

You're a Christian and he's not. It's a big deal, but is it a deal-breaker?

So far your religious differences haven't hindered your relationship. His "shortcomings" haven't changed the way you feel about him. It's a little awkward sometimes to be sure, but you think this issue will take care of itself along the way. You believe that as long as you love one another it will all work out. You think you can still get married and live a happy life. In fact, you believe it's quite possible that once you're married he'll see the light and believe in Jesus. Why wouldn't he? Well...

Many women have been in your shoes and have thought that the men they loved would change.

Very rarely does it happen.

As a man who has lived for awhile, I've observed these situations. As a man who has pastored for awhile, I have counseled some of the women who end up in these situations. Would you allow me to walk you through the two scenarios in front of you?

Scenario 1: He Won't Change

Why not? Here are three reasons.

He has a sin nature

It might be possible that you've not accepted the fact that your man loves his sin. He's a sinner with sinful habits and a spiritual condition that has not yet been remedied. Scripture says he can't please God, his soul is blind, and he's a child of wrath. As a result of this willful rebellion against God, Jesus has told us such men are subject to eternity in hell.

It's possible (and I hope) that you've considered these realities, though, and you're hopeful to see him change. Excuse me for being glib, but in a sense you've taken the "flirt to convert" approach, thinking that if you develop a relationship with him, he'll hear you out about the gospel. In your particular context, it seems like chances are good that he'll eventually believe. But consider what Scripture says on this approach.

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,

“I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty. 
2 Corinthians 6:14-18

The marital union is the most "bound together" you could ever be with another human being. If the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of God's Spirit, instructed the church not to get mixed up with unbelievers -- that is, not to have their worship dictated by the ways of the world -- how much more pertinent and urgent is it that individual Christians build their homes on the gospel alone?

"What has a believer in common with an unbeliever?" Paul asks. It's a rhetorical question with the obvious answer being, "Aside from our human nature, nothing." A Christian's priorities, desires, practices, and affections are to be wholly different from those of the lost. It's critical that you grasp and embrace this reality. You're called to have cares that are radically different than his; in fact, your cares are irreconcilably different from his if he's never born again.

With all this in mind, your pursuit of an unbelieving man with the intention of entering into marriage with him is sinful. This is an obedience issue. Forsaking all others, choose God's calling on your life to separate from the world and be clean for His sake.

God designed him to lead you

It's very important that you learn something now if you haven't learned it yet: Men don't want women to tell them what to do.

"Really? It's not the Stone Age. You can't really mean all men, can you?"

Yes, all men. Boys don't mind women leading them (in fact, they need it), but men reject it. Men had mothers direct them when they were young; they're not looking for another mother. Unbelieving men still bear the image of God and thereby reflect God's design in many ways. This is one of those ways. Your man sees you as a partner, not an instructor.

Scripture says that a man is the head of a woman. This is God's good design. The Lord created men to lead and women to help. One of the results of the fall is that men and women will experience conflict in living out these roles.

As a Christian woman, you must see that it's not your role to lead your man. It's important that you get that. He can and should learn from you, which means you can and should teach him things; however, your role in his life isn't to be his leader -- and he knows that.

Even when you try talking to him about his desperate need for conversion to Christ through the gospel (Are you doing that?), you're fighting an uphill battle. Notice that when Priscilla corrected Apollos, she was doing so with her husband. Without Aquila, she many not have had Apollos's ear. Are you counting on God to make an exception to His design in your case? I'm not saying it's impossible; however, you should not bank on it. God does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man in the church. He also hasn't designed the wife to be the pastor of the husband at home.

So, if you end up marrying a non-Christian man, what will be the outcome when you say to him on Saturday night, "Let's go to church in the morning"? It's highly probable that he'll tell you to have fun with that while he opts to sleep in and play golf with the boys. You may not be as persuasive as you think you are.

It's also possible that he's much more compliant now than he will be after you tie the knot. Once you're bound together, he naturally won't be as concerned with indulging you in the arena of your religious preferences. Why would he? Remember that sin nature problem?

Of course there's a chance that once you're married you'll ask him to go to church with you and he will actually tag along. But will he want to go? No. Will he have godly motivations for going? No. Will he actually worship? No. Will he attend with you consistently? No. Will he help you shepherd your children in the faith? No.

Is this what you want? (No.)

God may not have chosen him

Scripture says that some people were chosen before the world to be called by the Spirit and justified by faith in the gospel. These people were foreknown by God alone and will certainly be glorified with Him in the future. God chooses people out of the overflow of His love and grace, and because of that, they come to saving faith in Christ.

Scripture also says that God's choosing of these individuals to salvation was according to His own good pleasure, not yours. The Lord didn't look to the future and consider what you would desire in your flesh in order to make His decision about who would be saved. 

What does this mean?

First, if you are indeed a believer in Jesus Christ, it means that God chose to bestow abundant grace on you by causing you to be born again to a living hope. Praise His name!

It also means that the unsaved man you want to be with may not have been chosen by God to be saved. There's no way for you to know if God will save him. It's possible that one day God will equally yoke what is now unequal, but it's impossible to know for sure. Your responsibility is to act based on what is known, not on what might be

Wives of unsaved husbands know this reality all too well. Day in and day out, they pray for their husbands, weep for their husbands, and seek to influence their husbands. At the same time, they're sharing meals with their husbands, sleeping with their husbands, and raising children with their husbands. This mixed bag of emotions takes its toll on the whole family. You don't have to be in this situation. Choose to act based on what is certain today, not what might be tomorrow.

Scenario 2: God Will Save Him

If this happens, it will be in spite of your disobedience, not because of it.

God is always able but only sometimes willing to draw a straight line with a crooked stick. There are times when He will use the means of disobedience to bring about the good result we desire. This is a function of His special grace, though, not His ordinary means

If God chooses to work a miracle in your man's life by delivering him from his sin, that is certainly worthy of rejoicing. But if you choose to disobey your Creator by binding yourself to an unbeliever in marriage, expect discipline. Don't expect a miracle.

I hope this letter has helped you think through some things. I don't want to scare you or be totally negative; however, I want to be realistic and sound the alarm about what your future holds. Who you decide to marry is critically important and it's intended to be irreversible. Will you commit to thinking about this more and consulting with godly people in your local church? Have them instruct you from Scripture on the issue and be ready to follow the Lord in it.

God bless you in your journey.

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