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Missionary Dating: A Nonbeliever's Perspective

By Godlessgrrl --

Missionary dating is a term used in evangelical Christian circles to describe a tactic certain believers use to win new converts.
It involves a believer becoming romantically involved with a nonbeliever, with conversion of the nonbeliever being a priority goal for the believer. A quick Google search of the term returns well over 100,000 hits on the subject. Peruse a sampling of them, and you'll find that the majority of sites addressing the topic are Christian sites discussing why missionary dating is a bad idea... for Christians.

Interestingly enough, I have yet to come across a page or site that has anything to say about the impact of missionary dating on its non-Christian victims. There's plenty out there about the damage missionary dating can do to Christians who do it (it can cause backsliding, violation of one's own convictions, doubts, stress, and so on), but nothing on what it's like for someone on the receiving end. No word or thought anywhere, no suggestion that any Christian has ever paused for a moment to consider how a nonbeliever might feel, or what they might think, when they discover that their loved one has been dating for Jesus.

If religion matters to you that much, you need to do nonbelievers a favor and stay the hell away from us. So I'm here to tell you what it feels like, from a nonbeliever's point of view.

It feels like shit to find out that you're little more than a potential notch on someone's conversion belt. When it comes from an itinerant street preacher or a pair of missionaries knocking on your door, it's annoying. But when it comes from the person with whom you're romantically involved, it's emotionally devastating. It's a deep betrayal of your feelings, your self, and your spirituality.

To be missionary dated means that your Christian partner thinks there is something fundamentally wrong with you on a spiritual level. It means that they have viewed you as flawed and in need of repair from the moment you met. It means that they are arrogant enough to believe not only that you are in need of fixing, but that they have just the cure for what ails your supposed spiritual deficiencies.

To be missionary dated means that your Christian partner does not believe that you know your own spiritual needs better than they do. It means that they do not believe you have the capacity to make your own decisions about your own spirituality. It means that they do not respect you as a human being in your own right.

To be missionary dated means that your Christian partner was not honest with you about their relationship priorities. It means that they do not think you are worth their honesty. It means that they placed their religious needs over your need for honesty.

To be missionary dated means that your Christian partner's love was conditional, contingent on your becoming what they wanted you to be. It means that they never fully loved you, because they were unable or unwilling to accept you for who you are, where you are in life. It means that making you adhere to their ideas of religious orthodoxy was more important to them than actually loving you.

Missionary dating is cruel, unloving, self-serving, and shows a deep lack of respect for others.

I don't actually take issue with people refusing to date or marry anyone who doesn't share their faith (or lack thereof). There was a time in my life when I refused to marry anyone who wasn't Christian; now, I'd refuse to date or marry anyone who is a Christian. Personal relationships are the one area where it's acceptable to carry prejudices like that. You have to live with the other person, after all, and if you aren't happy with your partner, that can send the quality of your life down the toilet.

But if religion matters to you that much, you need to do nonbelievers a favor and stay the hell away from us. Don't get romantically involved. Don't date us, don't marry us. Trying to get us to convert isn't justification for the pain and betrayal we will inevitably feel when the truth comes out, and we understand the depth of your selfishness and lack of religious integrity. Avoid missionary dating, and everyone wins.