Q: My boyfriend is “spiritual but not religious,” meaning he believes in all the principles of being a Christian, but doesn’t want to be tied to one religion. I consider him more respectful and honest than most of the Christian guys that I grew up with, and my parents really like him. He goes to church with us most weekends, and if he wants to do something with me that he deems questionable, he always asks me first. If I am in a relationship with a guy who is not a Christian, but he is being drawn closer to God through me, is there anything wrong with that?

It sounds like your bf has some good things going for him: your parents like him, he’s honest, he respects your boundaries, and he treats you well. Those are all good things, so I don’t blame you for wondering, Why wouldn’t God want me to be with someone like that?

So let’s break it down for a minute. There are a whole lot of nice guys in this world who aren’t Christians, sis. As a matter of fact, some of the nicest, most respectful guys I knew in high school weren’t Christians at all. BUT, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to date them. The Bible is clear on this subject. First Corinthians 6:14-18 (New Living Translation) says,

“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers…. How can light live with darkness? …How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? …For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: ‘I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.'”

I would say “teaming up” would definitely define a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. So, yes, if you want the black and white answer, if you’ve given your life to Christ, then it is wrong for you to date an unbeliever, even if he is “being drawn closer to God” through you. That doesn’t mean you can’t still point your guy friend toward God, but he needs to come to God on His own, not because he thinks it will get him closer to you. Make sense? “Missionary dating” (going out with someone in the hopes that they’ll become a Christian at some point down the road) is one of the big no-no’s in dating. Not only does the Bible warn against it, but it’s also just too hard for us girls not to let our emotions get so involved that we can’t bring ourselves to walk away if the guy doesn’t become a Christian.

Just for clarification, it is not possible for anyone to “believe all the principles of being a Christian” and yet not be “tied to one religion.” The Bible makes it clear that there is only one way to God, and that’s through Jesus Christ. Either your bf believes that, or he doesn’t. Being “open” to spirituality just doesn’t cut it. My advice, sis, is to break things off now, before you fall even harder for your crush. Encourage him to keep going to church, and to find a guy mentor who can help him learn more about God and true (non-religious) Christianity. Then turn your focus to your own heart. Strengthen your relationship with the Lord and continue to wait patiently for a guy who will be the whole package–faith and all.

Love,