One of the most important decisions every person will make is choosing a life partner, a spouse who will be reliable, responsible and, yes, romantic over the long haul. No pressure!
But there’s even more pressure for people devoted to their Christian faith who want a spouse equally devoted to his or her Christian faith. If you’ve dated much, you know it’s not easy finding someone like-minded, well-matched, and in sync with your spiritual beliefs.
Let’s say you’ve started dating someone new, and the two of you are compatible in almost every way. You like the same food, music, and movies. Your career goals complement each other’s, and you laugh at the same things. Everything looks positive.
Except for one thing: You and your partner have different spiritual beliefs. Uh-oh. Now what?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to that question, and there’s no blanket solution for every situation. But for many Christians, matters of spirituality and religion are extremely important. Their beliefs help define who they are and how they live their lives.
If you are deeply spiritual and the person you’re dating has little or no spiritual interest, the two of you are bound to encounter a barrier that separates you. If you do, you will frequently experience frustration. Whether you are currently in a relationship or hope to be in the future, this is a critical issue to clarify for yourself. Let us present four tips to help you think through your own circumstances:
Christian dating tip #1: Make spiritual compatibility a top priority. Two thousand years before eHarmony identified 29 dimensions of compatibility, St. Paul wrote about this very same principle. He said, “Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war” (2 Corinthians 6:14). For people of faith, those are bold, plain-spoken words to live by.
Christian dating tip #2: Be honest with yourself. For many people, religious beliefs shape what they value, the way they relate to others, and how they respond to life’s challenges. What people believe in can’t help but influence their goals—and limit what they are willing to do to reach them. In other words, spirituality is a signpost at all the most important crossroads in life. For instance, if you plan to start a family, consider that the arrival of children prompts a whole host of faith-based decisions: the traditions you will pass down, the rituals you will observe, the values you will instill. It is wise to have your eyes wide open to the implications of facing all of life’s ups and downs with a partner who may not share your deepest beliefs.
Christian dating tip #3: Establish your boundaries—and hold them. There isn’t a single set of criteria for what it takes to be “spiritually compatible.” For some it is enough to know their partner believes in God. Others may feel it is necessary to be with someone from the same faith, or even within the same denomination. It will help to know clearly where you stand on the subject, as you size up the potential of a new relationship. Ask yourself: To what degree must my partner and I share similar beliefs? How much room for differences I am comfortable with?
Christian dating tip #4: Don’t be afraid to use your veto power. If you honestly conclude that the spiritual distance between you and your partner is too great to overcome, then say so now. It’s possible that your Christian beliefs could influence the other person over time—but don’t count on it. Keeping your faith sometimes means having the courage to say no to a compromise you can’t stand behind in the long run.
The purpose of all faith is to live with wisdom, honesty, and grace. Apply those qualities to your search for a lasting relationship—and have the courage to honor your deeply held convictions.