When it comes to finding that special someone with whom you could spend the rest of your days, compatibility will take you a long way. Sure, chemistry plays its initial role in sparking interest; Commonality may have a part in continuing a relationship onto the next level…but compatibility…this is where relationships are firmly established or reluctantly crumble. Compatibility is what makes dating search engines like EHarmony wildly popular and marginally successful.
With the devastation of the TomKat debacle, questions have been recently raised as to if compatibility is enough. Religion played such a huge role in the dissolution of that marriage that it begs our attention to the issue. Recently, Pat Robertson also weighed in on the discussion when he advised his listener to dump his Muslim girlfriend. “There will be constant struggle and strife. Walk Away!” Robertson pleaded.
Can one’s faith really have that heavy of an impact on one’s relationships? That is the real question. As long as there’s chemistry, some level of commonality, and great compatibility, isn’t that enough to make a marriage last?
Scripture says, “No!”
Amos 3:3 asks us, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?”
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 instructs us, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”
And over and over again in the Old Testament, God warned Israel not to marry foreign spouses as they would bring with them the false religions to which they were accustomed, and in the end pollute the sincerity of Israel’s faith in the one true God, Yahweh.
There are three main reasons why as Christian women who desire to be Christ-followers, we should not be in a relationship with an unbeliever.*
First and foremost, Scripture warns against it.
Really, we could stop the conversation right at this point because if Scripture says it, it’s important enough for us to do it. 1 John 5 reminds us that if we love God, we will keep His commandments; we will take into account those guidelines given to us by God Himself and obey them (1 John 5:2-3). John also reminds us the reason why God has these guidelines: “We are writing these things so that your joy may be complete,” (1 John 1:4). God wants us to be happy (John 10:10). He wants us to have fun in this life, and the next, and He wants to save us the heartache and frustration a marriage to a nonbeliever would cause. His commands aren’t arbitrary. They always serve a purpose.
Secondly, you won’t approach situations from the same vantage point.
Marriage has plenty of challenges. My parents are coming up on their 50th wedding anniversary and I have heard them say countless times, “Marriage is hard work.” (And this coming from two people who believe the same things about God and His Word!) And as similar as my parents’ belief systems are, they themselves are vastly different. While those differences enable them to approach a problem or situation from a different perspective, their starting point is the same. Their core values line up in a way that enhances and beautifies their differences. But if your core values – the faith that you have, what you think about God and His Word – are in competition with each other, how can the basic problems of life be solved (the way you raise children, how you invest your money, the people with whom you build relationships).
Lastly, you don’t have the eternal things in common.
Let me let you in on a little secret that could revolutionize your life if you applied it: Eternity is where it’s at! What do I mean by that? I mean…this life…this one you’re living right now…it’s not about now; it’s about eternity. The goals you have…the ones for which you live…the ones that drive you out of bed in the morning…unless they’re eternally-focused, they’re inconsequential. The choices you make every moment of every day can either distract you or inspire you to live with eternity in view. Eternity is where it’s at! Paul reminds us this in one of my favorite passages. Second Corinthians 4:17 and 18 says, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” This eternal perspective is why Paul could boldly say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). When it comes to a marriage relationship, eternal perspectives play a big part. If one spouse is eternally-focused and one is earthly-focused, the motivation behind their decisions is going to differ immensely. Their end goals are literally worlds apart.
So, what does religion have to do with compatibility? I think it is safe to say…a LOT!
* When I suggest that Christians should not be in a relationship with nonbelievers, I am not suggesting that a married couple should divorce like Tom and Katie Cruise. Scripture is clear about the role of the believing wife in that situation (1 Peter 3). For more on the topic of divorce, click here for Why Marriage Matters, and here for Is Divorce the New Black.