Dating is a culturally acknowledged convention during which marriage is being considered.If there’s no intention of marrying a partner it raises the issue of why an exclusive romantic relationship has been formed at all.
Most people know at least one person who did this for whom it all worked out brilliantly. But no one really talks about the marriages that began to resemble car crashes. How do we approach what’s a matter of great sensitivity? The New Testament applies the same standards to the new covenant people of God. The believer and the unbeliever don’t share the same spiritual status, they don’t share the same spiritual priorities and they don’t share the same spiritual destination.
Therefore what appears to be overwhelming compatibility in our twenties can become an occasion for disagreement and dissension in our forties. We need to help people to resist the temptations to wallow in self pity and to harbour bitterness and resentment when things don’t go as they’d choose.
Without being patronising, we ought to sympathise with friends in this situation.
It’s often the case that single women don’t think beyond the first five years of marriage. Compatibility is overplayed but wise Compatibility has some merits. You’ve got to be clear that this is the person you’d like to have a go at spending the rest of your life with.
When the implications of a mixed marriage are spelt out they find it emotionally distressing. But we need to help them appreciate the difficulties ‘ahead of the game’. It’s striking that in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul accepts taht a ‘mixed’ marriage could be so problematic that an unbeliever wants out. In a knee jerk reaction to the overly stringent standards that we look for in a prospective marriage partner, it’s been suggested that as long as the person is a Christian, of the opposite gender, unmarried and not a close relative then we should go for it. They may fit the four criteria but if you don’t actually like them all that much, the writing’s on the wall!