To gear up for the Real Marriage 2014 live event on February 21-22, Pastor Mark and Grace Driscoll are answering your dating and marriage questions here on Resurgence. To submit your own question, post it on Twitter and tag it #RM2014.
How do I know the man that the Lord wants me to marry? Is it OK to date an atheist if I speak of God to him?
First of all, your desire to marry the right man is a very good thing.
Statistically speaking, you will almost certainly get married to someone at some point in your life, and it is the next biggest decision you will ever make, second only to your decision to follow Jesus.
Your choice about whom to marry will not only affect your life, but also the lives of your children and their children for generations to come.
Three guiding questions.
Before we discuss the type of person a Christian should or should not date, it is important to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any sins and idols guiding your desires so that you can repent. In this way, you can then be open to what God has, which is always best.
A few questions are worth pondering here:
1. How is your relationship with Jesus?
Is that relationship strong, maturing and growing, and is it your first priority above all other relationships? Do you need to wait to date someone until a time when your relationship with Jesus is stronger? Is your goal to meet someone with whom you can grow in your relationship with Jesus?
2. Are you believing cultural lies?
Are you taking your cues not from Scripture, the Holy Spirit and godly friends, but from magazines, talk shows, the media, pornography and godless acquaintances? Are you feeding sinful thoughts and desires that need to be repented of fully before you are fit for any serious relationship?
3. Do you accept that marriage is for holiness before happiness?
Gary Thomas articulates this truth well in his book Sacred Marriage. People who believe that marriage is meant to complete them or make them happy are invariably depressed in marriage. Why? Because when two sinners marry, there will be struggles and pain. Marriage does have happiness, but it is first meant for our sanctification and holiness. Those who understand this truth are in a much better theological frame of mind to marry, as they will be able to lovingly serve their spouse and think more about we than me.
For a Christian, the ultimate objective when dating is to find a spouse. If the guy you’re interested in is not marriage material, then he’s not dating material either.
So the question really is, “Is it OK to marry an atheist—or any non-Christian, for that matter?”