Two rings on top of a book

Dating and Marriage

When it comes to matters of the heart, many of us ignore the Church. We think, wrongly, that who we date is of no consequence. Then one morning we awake in love with someone the Church says we cannot marry. Instead of accepting that we may have fallen in love with the wrong person, we get angry at the Church.

We believe would not date someone we could not marry. We think of all sorts of ‘tests’ of our affection. Are we attracted to someone? Do we share the same sense of humor? Do we both want children? Sometimes we even consider financial priorities and education.

Those things are important in any relationship, but they are not ‘deal breakers’ in love. The one issue that matters most is the one issue rarely considered until it is too late. Only after we fall in love and have decided to marry, do we finally consider faith.

We call the priest to schedule the wedding only to find out the wedding cannot take place. We have fallen in love with someone who is not a Christian. Too often, instead of taking responsibility for not asking the right questions ‘early enough’ to matter, we leave the priest’s office angry and the Church.

Brethren, our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return—I speak as to children—widen your hearts also. Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said.

2nd Corinthians 6.11-16

In today’s reading from Saint Paul, we are warned about falling in love with the wrong person. Saint Paul is clear. “Do not be mismated with unbelievers.” While it isn’t impossible to remain together, it is impossible to be on the same path with someone who has a different destination.

This is why I love the Greek word for spouse, σύζυγος, which means ‘the one to whom I am yoked’. Imagine the strong wooden yoke that connects two oxen. It is not possible for the oxen to be on different paths. One goes where the other, normally stronger one, goes.

The alternative to going along with the other is that the yoke breaks so each can go their own way. There is no other option. Either both go the same way or the yoke breaks. This is why Saint Paul warned against being mismated. He didn’t want us to be headed in the wrong direction.

One solution to this problem is to never date someone you could not marry. Instead of waiting until marriage talks to discuss faith, talk about faith first. Looks fade. Money comes and goes. Education goes out of style. Faith is forever because God is forever.

The other solution is to acknowledge the Church isn’t against us. The Church is rooting for us. We just need to make sure we are wanting to go where the Church wants us to go. As Saint Paul also said, “You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.” We can also break the yoke that binds us to the Church if we aren’t headed in the same direction.

When we make our faith in Christ the most important test of our relationships, then we can properly assess the dating situation. Just don’t wait too long. As the saying goes, “The heart gets what the heart wants.” If your heart wants heaven, then don’t give it anything else.

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