Missionary Dating?

I was listening to the radio a few days ago and the radio host threw out the term, missionary dating.

Say What? I hadn’t heard this term. I must live under a rock at times.

The loose definition: Missionary dating is a phrase used in a Christian context to describe when a person of one religion dates a person with differing beliefs for the purpose of changing that person’s beliefs or religion.”

Synonymous phrases include “dating for Jesus” or “flirt to convert.” The concept of missionary dating is sometimes used to cover for or justify to one’s self, family, or religious community, romantic interest in a non-Christian if the relationship might otherwise be frowned upon.

I didn’t know that there was a term for dating a non-believer. This led me to think and ponder the question, are there believing Christians who are purposefully setting out to date an unbeliever with the idea that they will lead them to Christ?

You might guess I struggle with the concept of “missionary dating.” And it’s not like I don’t understand why young people want to embrace this idea.

I was once one of them.

When I met my husband, I knew he was an atheist. He was up front about his belief system and I was too. I had faith, weak faith, but I still believed in Jesus. But I was in love and convinced that if and when we married it would only be a short number of months before my man would “get it” and become saved.

That was over 20 years ago. My man remains an unbeliever.

So,you can see my skepticism with missionary dating.

I know this post will be unpopular with young people. This “old fashioned” message of adherence to 2 Corinthians 6:14 just doesn’t feel right. After all, don’t we serve an all-powerful God who can save anyone?

Yes we do!

But the journey is arduous and will demand more of you than you can imagine.

Today, I love my husband with a full heart. We are happy and thriving but the long and lonely years were not what my Heavenly Daddy wanted for me.

Thankfully, the Lord has brought me through the struggle but He did so that I may share the truth of what it’s really like to live unequally yoked. The biggest lesson I have learned in this is that God’s Word is indeed perfect and His commands are for our benefit and not to keep us from joy.

If you are dating an unbeliever and want an honest conversation about where you are and about your future, I would love to talk to you. I will not condemn. I will not judge. I will love on you like Jesus and share only what He has taught me.

If you are a mom or a youth worker with teens and pre-teens, I would count it a privilege to talk with your kids about dating. Just give me a shout out. My daughter and I teach a workshop on this very topic. It’s fun and filled with truth and inspiration that our Great God has a spouse chosen for your son or daughter.(email me)

Before I sign off today, take heart. God’s Word proves true and is all about living a joyful and happy life on this earth. We need only believe it and trust God to make it happen. That’s a promise.

Be embraced by the King this day. Hugs, Lynn


And for more encouragement for your marriage, visit me daily at spirituallyunequalmarriage.com. Hugs, Lynn

Lynn Donovan

Lynn Donovan would likely hug your neck the first time you meet and skip the small talk to ask, “How are you today, down in your heart?” As a writer and speaker, she shares from her heart the myths women believe about love and marriage and then points them to the freedom that is theirs through living in the truth and relationship with Christ. It is her passion to encourage women to thrive in their marriage and discover their purpose. Married to her husband, Mike, for more than 18 years, they love, live and now thrive in a spiritually mismatched home. They reside in Temecula, California with their teen daughter, and neurotic but comical dog, Peanut. Lynn loves to laugh, enjoys a strong cup of coffee and Fantasy Football and not necessarily in that order. You can join her daily at her blog where she shares the zany yet meaningful stories of marriage challenges, truths, and triumphs in her life. She invites you to share her view from her front row seat to an amazing journey; life lived for Christ. To learn more about Lynn visit her blog at www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com or follow her on Twitter @LynnDonovan.

More Posts - Website


  1. Lynn,

    We’ve made the “missionary dating” comment a time or two while raising our teenagers. It’s one we know well. Thankfully, our oldest only tried this once. She later broke up with him after he told her that the Bible just didn’t seem real to him. She said, “I’ll be your friend while you’re figuring this all out. I’ll be your girlfriend when you BELIEVE.”

    I was proud of her.

    Love you girl!

    • LOL! What a great way to say it! Wow, Joanne, smart girl you have there. You did a great job with her! I find that very inspiring. 🙂

    • Oh Joanne,

      I can see you and your daughter both speaking to this topic with hundreds, thousands of girls. I’m praying for this. You are an amazing mom. Love you so much. Lynn

  2. I’ve never heard the term missionary dating either, but I tried to instill the importance of dating spiritually equally yoked into my daughters. The joke around my house when a new fellow arrived was “Better be nice; Mama will pray you right out of my life.” After 6 months of dating, my future son-in-law said: “I’m so glad I made your cut list.” Today, they teach marriage classes at their church.

  3. The more I read about things like this then the more I think the communities that plan marriages have it right 😉 There is just soooo much for young people to get tricked and trapped into that you can end up worrying about letting them out the front door.

    I have learned from my own experiences that I can change no person but myself – and I have to make those changes and allow God to mold me. Although God can and does use my life to touch others, I have not direct input into the how, when, why or who. 😀

    • Hi Kathryn,

      Right there with you…. I was so arrogant that “I” could save my husband. our only hope is Jesus… Hugging you.

  4. Never heard this term before – but I’m not crazy about it either. My husband and I were both unsaved when we married, and I came to Christ first, so I have a BIT of an idea of how hard it can be, but it’s nothing compared to going into marriage “knowing.” Great post.

    • Joanne,

      Thanks my friend. Hey, have I ever thanked you for your faithful readership. You always stop in, share your wisdom and encouragement and love. THANK YOU…

  5. Great post and great comments!

    • Neen…

      I KNOW you and I have a burning passion on this subject. I’m excited to see all that God brings about in the young women we have the opportunity to chat with. Hugs.

    • Hugs

  6. Hello. I’m currently in a relationship with a wonderful young man who doesn’t believe in God. I know what I need to do, but I would love to get some words of encouragement from someone who is familiar with my situation. Thank you so much for this website and all of your honestly and love.

    • Hi Naomi,

      Your sweet heart for the Lord is evident and I would love to talk with you and pray with you. I will be home tomorrow. Write me and let me know what time is a good time to call you. Love you my sister, Lynn

  7. I have never heard of this term either. Are we under the same rock?

    I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. I know for myself, being married to a wonderful Christian man, but one who didn’t want to pursue Christ in the way I did — IT WAS DIFFICULT. I felt unequally yoked even though he was a Christian. After 20 years he is finally moving forward and we are walking together.

    I pray you will see your heart’s desire and your husband’s heart will be softened Lynn.

    Thank you for sharing with us.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *