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Dating and Marrying Unbelievers
This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.
Why does the Assemblies of God oppose the practice of dating unbelievers and marrying non Christians?
The standards of the Assemblies of God are the teachings of Scripture. The Bible explicitly prohibits a believer from entering into any serious relationship or marriage with a non-believer. One of the first references to this is found in Deuteronomy 7:3, 4. Here the children of Israel were admonished not to marry the children of Canaan because "they would turn your sons away from following me, to serve other gods." Also after the exile of Israel, Nehemiah pointed out to the remnant (the surviving children of Israel) that the great King Solomon was led astray by his relationship with women who served other gods (Nehemiah 13:26, 27).
It is not only the Old Testament that teaches against this but also the New Testament. Paul says emphatically that believers are only to marry "in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 7:39), in other words to marry only another believer. He goes on to show that it is utterly contrary to Christs teachings to be involved in a serious relationship with unbelievers. Though Paul does not explicitly mention the topics of dating and marriage in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, it clearly has meaning for such relationships. In this passage Paul points out that we should not be united with, or bound to persons who are contrary to Christ. Throughout Pauls practical admonitions are echoes of Old Testament passages calling on Israelites to be separated from outsiders who did not recognize the God of Israel (Leviticus 26:12; Isaiah 52:11, Ezekiel 20:32-34).
Not only should Christians avoid dating and marrying non-Christians, 1 Corinthians 5:9-12 would seem to indicate they also should not become involved with people who say they are Christians but do not live godly lives. The underlying principle here is two fold. First, we belong to God and are called to glorify Him in every aspect of our lives (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Secondly, wrong relationships can produce wrong behaviors, wrong standards, and wrong values (1 Corinthians 15:33). Recognizing this truth the Assemblies of God opposes the practice of dating or marrying unbelievers.
The church also expresses concern about a practice of some Christians who date non-believers so as to try to lead them to faith in Christ. In its ideal form the goal may seem pure, but such practice is biblically flawed and presents the Christian with certain risks. At stake are the Christians personal testimony as well as his/her own physical and spiritual well-being. Many who have involved themselves in such dating practices have unexpectedly found themselves caught in an unhealthy relationship, one without God at the core. Some have even chosen to marry unbelievers thinking they can win their partner later in marriage. Although there have been instances where unbelieving spouses have been won to the Lord, many Christian spouses have either been restricted in their faith or tragically fallen away from Christ as a result. Clearly the biblical rule of 2 Corinthians 6:14 forbidding yoking with non-believers suggests that dating to evangelize is not a practice for committed Christians. The biblical imperative for all Christians is to date only those who are likewise committed to Christ.
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.