The other day I heard a new phrase that sent a shiver down my spine. The phrase “missionary dating” and its concept is not new, nor is the idea restricted to dating relationships. It’s just new to me. Missionary dating is a term used by Christians to describe a person of faith dating a person with differing beliefs, for the purpose of influencing that person to convert to Christianity. I want to talk about the dangers of missionary dating.
My concern with this philosophy is several-fold and the ramifications, HUGE! The term “missions” is now, more than ever, personal justification for connections outside of God’s boundaries; whether business, friendships, love or any other kind of association.
Before committing to any kind of relationship where two, or more, people must
agree on one course action and that course of action would have spiritual implications, ask yourself:
What is my motive for this relationship? Is it a self-centered pursuit, rather than a godly one?
- A romance pursued because of a physical attraction is exactly that, non-spiritual, purely physical.
- A business partnership with someone deemed to be an expert, at what they do, but without Christ-like character, likely has more to do with a desire to prosper in some way, rather than an opportunity to have a kingdom impact.
- An opportunity presented to show-case God given gifts and talents, in an environment that invites a compromise of values, likely has everything to do with exalting ones-self, instead of glorifying God.
Here are some misguided thoughts, that can be a red flag, accompanying the pursuit of self-interests:
- If he or she just spends a bit of time with me, I can be a good influence in his/her life.
- I know what they are doing is unethical, but I will convince them that there is a better way.
- If they like me, they’ll like Jesus.
Friend, Satan wants to deceive us into thinking that what we say, or do, is going to be the thing that prompts another person to choose Jesus. This philosophy wrongfully places us in the position of “being” God, to others. The Word of God, and His Holy Spirit, convicts others of their need for Him.
Additionally, there is at best a 50% chance that you will have the influence. More likely, than not, your attempt will backfire. Have you ever been around someone who swears a lot? Have you noticed how quickly their words creep into your thoughts and spoken word? When you are around someone who is super negative, have you found yourself feeling down, before long?
It is dangerous to place yourself in a position where you are tempted to depart from God’s will. Countless stories exist of prominent Christian figures falling into terrible sin. I know of a young Christian fellow who determined missionary dating was a wise choice. He recently converted to Buddhism, the faith of his girlfriend. Many have abandoned their faith because of the influence of others.
To form an intentional bond with an non-believer is not only dangerous, but counter-will to God’s instructions. Paul likened these kinds of relationships to a partnership between Christ and the devil. Paul said, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Instead come out and be separated.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-17.
We were commissioned to go out into the world to share the good news – about Jesus. Early missionaries had very strict boundaries. They did not form personal alliances with non-believers. They made huge sacrifices. With little, or no personal gain. Friend, if you want to be a missionary, it would be wise to establish boundaries first.
By the way: The Bible gives us advice for forming good connections. God’s idea, for Christians, is forming partnerships with someone who will help you fight against sin. When God is at the center of a relationship, the relationship is sacred and protected and everyone wins.
Onward in the Peace of God, my friend.
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