Listen to the November 1, 2013 Viewpoint on Mormonism podcast that aired November 1, 2013 titled Should I date a Mormon?
By Eric Johnson
One of the common questions we are asked by Christians deals with the issue of whether or not a Christian can/should date a Mormon. Not long ago I received an email from a college-aged girl who says she is a Christian. In part, she said (spelling intact),
My boyfriend is mormon and i am christian and i am trying to witness my christian faith but do not have all the answers . . . Any advice or help you can give would be much appreciated! Just to clarify: I am NOT at ALL being persuaded by the mormon faith. But am trying to share my CHRISTIAN faith, but they have a lot of “justifications” and i do not have all the answers and want to represent God well.
Here is my response to her:
Thanks for writing me. Yes, I have studied Mormonism since the early 1980s, much longer than you have been alive!!! 🙂 I am happy to answer your email.
First of all, I’m going to lay it all out on the line. I don’t want you to take anything I say personal or as an attack, but if I were your father, this is what I would say. And I guarantee you are not going to like it. (How’s that for a start?) I’ll just come out and say in the very beginning that I think it is not very wise for you to be dating a Mormon, or anyone outside your faith, for that matter. In our book Answering Mormons’ Questions, we have a chapter titled “Why Won’t You Allow Your Daughter to Date a Mormon?” I won’t quote the whole chapter here, but here’s part of what we say:
Many local LDS congregations host weekend dances and other social events to which their young people are encouraged to invite nonmember friends. Nonmembers often end up becoming attracted to the wholesome Latter-day Saints. Over the years we have counseled a number of young people who have become involved in relationships with Mormons of the opposite sex. Typically, these Christians are encouraged to participate in the missionary lessons and join the LDS Church if they hope to take their relationships to the next level. In other words, they are pressured to convert to Mormonism.
The Christians usually recognize the falsehoods of Mormonism, but they desperately want to continue their relationships and don’t know how to do so unless they become Mormons.
Christian researcher Sandra Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Ministry believes the problem is especially prevalent with those attending college. She said,
“I often get calls from Christian parents who are deeply concerned about their son or daughter because they have started to date a Mormon at college and have gotten involved in the LDS college social group,” she said. “Often the person has joined the LDS Church without even telling the parents, informing them on their next school break. By that time, the person is often in a serious relationship that will lead to a temple wedding, which the [non-LDS] parents will not be allowed to witness.”
In our experience, far too many Christians reject their faith in order to pursue romantic relationships with Mormons. “Mixed faith” marriages are a recipe for disaster, both for the couple and their children. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul wrote, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” While Paul was not specifically talking about dating and marriage in this passage, he could have easily been referencing the lack of wisdom in such situations, especially since he had addressed the problems of mixed marriages earlier in 1 Corinthians 7:12–15. One problem that often arises is a religious stalemate in the marriage. When children come along, the couple has to determine a strategy for church attendance. Often this results in a compromise with the children dividing their attendance between two different churches that profess major doctrinal differences.
For children, this can be especially confusing. If dating is considered a possible precursor to marriage, then it makes sense to set the standards high at these beginning levels. Of course, it’s not a given that a dating couple will eventually marry. However, is it more likely that a person will marry someone he or she has never dated? The answer is obvious, as dating is certainly the first step in a possible long-term relationship. The dynamics of a dating relationship between a boy and a girl creates a very dangerous situation for a believer if he or she has chosen to date someone of another faith. A relationship with another human should never mean more than a relationship with God.
In addition, “missionary dating” is neither biblical nor ethical and should not be practiced by faithful Christians. While the Bible does say that believers should be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16), using romantic attachment in an attempt to change the faith of those they’re dating is certainly a wrong application of this passage. The end does not justify the means. Christians who emotionally manipulate Mormons for the purpose of conversion place their integrity in a precarious situation. Why should the Mormon seriously consider following the Bible when the Christian obviously is not heeding its admonition?
Well, that’s a lot of information, but as it said, you’re really dancing on dangerous ground by dating someone whose idea of God, Jesus, and salvation is quite different from yours. In addition, think about what you’re asking each other. You have the missionaries come over and try to convince you. You ask me (or someone like me) to try to convince him. If we’re going to make this relationship right, one of you has to change their religion. Unfortunately, that sounds pretty selfish, especially for the one (or both) of you who says to him/herself, “I am not going to convert, but I’ll do everything possible to get him to convert.” If so, voila, you get to keep the relationship.
I don’t know you personally, __________, but just based on what you what written, you sound like a very nice girl. Here is what I hear you saying in your post: “I sort of know that this is dangerous territory for me to be in, and I really like my boyfriend. However, while I would never join, maybe I can help him become a Christian.” And that sounds admirable. However, I believe both you and your boyfriend each have selfish motivations, as you hope to convert the other for the sake of your relationship. (Remember, I warned you that you might not like this, but I am pretending you were my daughter, and I want only the best for you.)
As hard as it will be to do, ______________, I am going to suggest that you break up this relationship. Years of wisdom and experience gives me the ability to tell you this, with all gentleness and respect. You can’t please God as a couple when your belief systems are so radically different from each other. Trust me, I have heard many, many stories like yours. How often does our advice get followed? Not all the time. How many people end up converting to the other person’s faith? Sometimes. Which faith is usually the winner? Honestly, it is Mormonism. For every person who “converts” to Christianity, we see about (estimated) 4 or 5 convert to Mormonism. That’s unofficial, but I’m sure it’s pretty accurate in the overall scheme of things.
I’m going to give you some homework. One, please watch the three YouTube videos I list below. My daughter (Carissa) and I felt so strongly about this issue that we produced these for young people like you. These videos will take less than half an hour to watch and I think can be helpful. Check them out at the bottom of this article.
In addition, if I were you, I would study up on the teachings of Mormonism, especially if you decide to continue in this relationship and receive a visit with the missionaries. For starters, go onto our website (www.mrm.org) and look around. Go to the sections on God, Jesus, and Salvation and look through some of the articles. Our books can be helpful too. We have Mormonism 101 (Baker, 2000) and Answering Mormons’ Questions (Kregel, 2013). These are written from an Evangelical Christian point of view. And there are lots of videos out there. For instance, here’s one I encourage you to watch.
Please notice the headline on my article: “Should” a Christian date a Mormon? It’s not “Can.” Of course, a Christian can (i.e. possibly) date anyone. But if the real question is “should,” I think the answer is straightforward. If you care about your relationship with God, then do what you can to stay out of relationships that will tempt you to possibly compromise your faith.