By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
As a single Christian, whether you’ve been married before or are navigating finding your other half for the first time, we can run into a lot of imperfect fits. Although God has called us to be fishers of men as we make disciples, the mantra of “there’s a lot of fish in the sea” can provide discouragement when we go fishing for a potential spouse.
Luckily and unluckily, many of those fish take themselves out of the running if they match any of the ten criteria below. Although the pool will shrink, this can help you to narrow those who can help you in your walk with Christ, opposed to hindering it.
1. Those Who Hop from Relationship to Relationship
My grandma says, “You will kiss a lot of frogs,” but if a person you want to date kisses a different one every month, that may show that they have their heart more on earthly relationships than the things above.
If they date and drop frequently, not only does this foretell what could happen to you, but it could reveal the inner condition of their hearts. They may have placed dating on an idol pedestal (Leviticus 26:1). You will never meet those expectations, because they want a relationship to fill the God-shaped hole in their lives. We can never come close to taking up that space, so we shouldn’t try to.
2. The Non-Christian
Although Hollywood can portray romance stories in which the woman or man changes the significant other in the story, this does not apply in the real world, or in the case of Christian dating. Because of our sinful natures, people do not change unless the power of Christ transforms them.
If someone does not know Jesus as their personal Savior, we cannot provide that salvation ourselves through flirting and dating. Only Jesus can provide salvation and can change a heart (John 14:6). Yes, Christians can plant seeds, but only God can morph a heart from stone to flesh.
Even if we want to “missionary date”, i.e. dating a nonbeliever with the hopes they convert, we may do more harm than good. If the relationship does not bode well, they may have a distorted picture of Christianity, and this could turn them away from the faith more, if it didn’t already cause you to turn away from yours.
3. They’re not Interested in Marriage
As Christians, we date to marry.
Granted, we don’t plan to marry them after the first date, but we should date with the intentions to enter in a marriage. If they want to “have a good time” but don’t want to have a good time with a ring on their finger, you should probably bid them goodbye for now.
4. They Want Very Different Things
You may want many kids, or none, or to just adopt. The person you plan to date may fall somewhere along that spectrum. But, as you discuss, if you realize you and him or her have different expectations, and neither wants to budge, you will need to move on.
Better you discover which non-negotiables they have early than several years into a marriage.
5. They Hate Their Parents
Maybe they don’t hate their parents, but how a man or woman treats their family says a lot about how they will treat you in the future when you become part of their family.
Often one of the greatest tests of character can come from how one deals with family members. We know, after all, how to push each other’s buttons and hurt each other in the worst ways. But God has called us to love all people, even our families (Matthew 19:19).
6. They Love Their Parents a Little Too Much
When God calls us to marry, we have to leave our families and cleave to our spouses (Genesis 2:24).
If a man or woman seems stuck to their family, to the point where they will not move locations or, even, their father’s house, that could signal a warning sign. After all, the purpose of dating to marry is that you plan to form your own family, traditions, etc. (Granted, their parents may be of failing health, and that would stand as an exception to this rule).
7. They’re Floundering in Their Walk Right Now
Similar to the first point, you do not want to end up in a relationship where they will unequally yoke you (2 Corinthians 4:16).
Maybe this will only last a season, but the stress of a potential marriage will provide more obstacles in their walk opposed to helping them. Marriages, as many married couples have attested, often bring out the worst of us instead of the best. If you yoke during a difficult time, you could prolong that floundering.
8. The Steal Your Girl (Or Guy) Christian
The Bible warns against adultery, and adultery can happen outside of a marriage, even if a man looks at a woman lustfully (Matthew 5:28). If a man or woman wants to snag you, while you are in a long-term relationship, even if you are not yet married, and they try to sabotage your relationship, that waves a major red flag.
Say they end up in a relationship with you down the road. Past habits could determine future ones, and they may run after someone else once they get bored with you. Best to avoid this Christian.
9. Addictive Personalities
As with many of the items on this list, exceptions do exist. But if the person you plan to date has a past with an addiction to something (pornography, alcohol, drugs, etc.) enter cautiously. They may be looking for a relationship or marriage to fill a void which only God can.
10. They Push Boundaries
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to help each other avoid temptation (Matthew 26:41). If either member of a dating relationship takes things farther than you want them to go, you will want to take a step back and avoid dating this Christian altogether.
A wife and husband should lift each other up in Christ, not cause each other to stumble. If, in a dating relationship, before you enter the long-term commitment of marriage, you find that someone ignores boundaries or does not mind going beyond what Scripture mandates outside of marriage, you need to say goodbye to that relationship. Not only is this not a healthy relationship, but it can lead to a very painful marriage and/or divorce down the road.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog, which receives 63,000+ monthly hits. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) just released. Find out more about her here.
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