What does the Bible say about believers dating unbelievers?
As you know, there are some Christians who believe that any dating is inappropriate. It seems to me that one has trouble defending this view from Scripture. I think it is true that our young people date too young, and that many dating situations are unwise in that they create unnecessary temptations and, even if nothing wrong takes place, a couple’s actions may give the appearance of evil. Many of the dating and personal relationship safeguards of years gone by seem to have been cast aside.
Assuming that dating is appropriate under certain conditions, the next question is, “Does the Bible forbid dating an unbeliever?” I think we can all agree that the Bible forbids the Christian from marrying an unbeliever. This appears to be clearly indicated in 1 Corinthians 7:39. The principle stated in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 would seem to apply to marriage as well, and some might see it as applying to dating. I suspect that this would be an inferential conclusion, and thus would have to be considered a matter of personal conviction, rather than as a clear biblical prohibition.
One could certainly ask, “If a Christian cannot marry an unbeliever, why would they ever date one?” That is a good question! I think one can have a friendship relationship with an unbeliever of the opposite sex, without entering into a dating relationship. Within the context of a friendship relationship, the Gospel can surely be shared.
I would raise another set of standards, which are given to us in the Book of Proverbs. The Proverbs speak of those with whom we should associate (i.e., the wise). They also have much to say about those with whom we should not associate. For example, we should not associate with one who is a gossip (20:19), or with one who is given to anger (22:24), or with one who is given to change (24:21). For more study on this check out lesson 12 on choosing a godly mate in our series on the book of Proverbs on our web site.
It seems to me that one should not date anyone whom Proverbs tells us not to associate with, and that one should consider dating only those who possess the qualities of a good friend (or of a potential life’s mate).This would not only exclude unbelievers, but it would also exclude many who profess to be believers as well. Proverbs sets a very high standard for those with whom we should associate as friends, and surely this standard should not be lowered for those whom one would date.