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Dating Someone from a Different Denomination?

Different Denomination“If we have children, we’re going to raise them Baptist, right?”

That’s how a conversation began after church one Sunday. Morris and I  had been dating for a few months, and decided that we’d take our relationship to the next level by going to church together.

We went to his church at 8 AM and my church at 10 AM.  But our churches were different denominations.  And when Morris asked that question, I realized that I was a bit concerned about being a Baptist.

• Did they believe in the Holy Spirit?
• Would I have to wear a church suit and matching hat?
• What about freedom from legalism?

I didn’t tell Morris this, but I was also harboring a bit of Baptist baggage.

My Baptist Baggage

Baptist Baggage

Image: Flickr CC/Parmiter Antiques

You see, my granddad was a Baptist Pastor for 47 years. But my parents  left their Baptist church in the early 1980s, because they were becoming more charismatic. And when they started speaking in tongues, baptizing in Jesus’ name, and casting out demons…the church they were attending was no longer a good fit for them.

There was a lot of emotional pain and hurt feelings when they left. I was only four. But I do remember the sense of losing my friends, and my parents’ inability to explain why.

Fast forward 24 years, I’m dating this amazing man who is Baptist. I mean really really Baptist. (Morris went to a Baptist college, Baylor University, and he is a third-generation Baptist.)

And I…I only saw Baptist as legalistic folks that lived to find fault in the theology of others. I also thought everyone was a Sister Usher with white stockings, nurse’s shoes, and white gloves just waiting to give me the stink eye if I so much as thought about nodding off in church.

I Thought Non-Denominationals Had it All Figured Out

You see, I was going to a non-denominational church and I was sure we had everything figured out. We had: extensive community outreach, a diverse congregation, a relaxed dress code, and, most importantly, we believed in the freedom of the Holy Spirit!

And, Morris was asking me…would I raise our children to be Baptist?

I said yes.

But internally, I was struggling with the issue of going back into a denomination for three reasons:

  1.  being in a denomination just flies in the face of everything I believe about a unified body of believers.
  2. how would we teach our children to pursue an authentic relationship with Christ?
  3. And third,  he’s Baptist and I’m non-denominational…what about being unequally yoked?

A Change in Perspective

Surprises in HeavevAt lunch one day, a friend said something that changed my perspective. I was explaining that I was dating this guy. I really liked him, but I was worried that we weren’t on the same page with our faith.

One of my friends, Richard, turns to me and says “You know, Simone, none of us have this faith thing all figured out. And I think when we get to heaven, we’re going to be surprised who we see there.”

Now, theoretically, I already knew this.

But, to hear that there are likely gaps in my faith and that I could stand to learn from other people/denominations was simply mind boggling.

From that moment on, I fully embraced the idea that a non-denominational church is NOT the standard.

Jesus is.

Caution: Men Don’t Demonstrate Their Faith the Same

I talked to my prayer partner, Ann, and she explained that being equally yoked is not about outward “performance” i.e. speaking in tongues, sitting on a church pew, etc.

Men sometimes just aren’t as demonstrative with their faith.

That’s when I realized that me and Morris were equally yoked. Even though we didn’t have the same understanding of Scripture, we were both equally committed to growing in our faith.

Moriss’ Side of the Story

Morris told me last week that raising our future children Baptist was a “non-negotiable” for him. He explained that it is one thing for us to be different denominations, but he didn’t want our children to grow up confused. It was also really important for him to have a black-male role model, and he just didn’t find that at my church.

In hind sight, I realize that Morris was many steps ahead of me in planning for our future family and it’s scary to think I could have derailed what God was trying to do in our lives.

The Importance of Hearing God

So, to answer the question “Should you date outside your denomination?”

Yes, if God says so.

The most important thing is learning to hear the voice of God. Go where he tells you to go, and do what he tells you to do. My faith has grown by leaps and bounds since I joined Morris’ church, I’ve gained life-long friends and mentors, and my questions were answered.

For example, a few months after I joined, a series entitled “What Baptist Believe” started. Deep down, I think it was preached just for my benefit:-).

Dating Questions to Ask Yourself

When dating, I want to encourage you to ask these questions:

  • Do I trust him to hear from the Lord and obey?
  • Will I follow him?

Regardless of a different denomination, if a man hears the Lord and obeys…he will not steer you or your future family wrong. Second, we as women must be willing to follow whomever God has for us. There can only be one leader in a household, just like there is only one Captain of a ship.

And, if you cannot trust a man enough to follow him…he is probably not the one for you.

Okay, we’ve covered A LOT  of ground in this post. What are your thoughts on dating someone from a different denomination? 

Love, Simone

ps: Be back in two weeks! I plan to share how we met.

16 Comments

  1. Awesome! Where were u when I got married? This information would have saved me a lot of heartache many years ago.

    Keep the good information coming.

    • Simone

      September 5, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Bwhahaha! Nan, I busted out laughing when I read your comment:-). The thing is you are on the other side, and I’m praying that many more of us WILL reach the 30 plus-year mark like you and your awesome hubby. Honestly, though, this topic was SO hard for me to write about. I’m praying we can save someone else from heartache. Thank you SO much for the encouragement. Love, Simone

  2. Patricia Reddick

    September 5, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Dear Simone you have to know that you know without a shadow of a doubt that it is God. Because scripture is very clear on marrying “unequally yoked.” I read a testimony where this young woman said God told her to marry an unsaved man. She got so much negativity from family and friends. But, she went forward in obedience to God and shortly following their wedding, her husband received Christ as his Lord and Savior.

    • Simone

      September 6, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Hey Patricia! What you said is soooooooooo key “you have to know, that you know…WITHOUT a shadow of a doubt that it is God.” Hearing God and being obedient is the bottom line. For example, I almost didn’t obey God. He’d been telling me for three months to “go to Morris’ church.” Before Morris posed that question about how we’d raise our children. But, I was scared to leave my church for a guy that I was “only” dating. So, I kept trying to negotiate with Him…i.e. I’ll join if we get engaged etc.

      I’ve heard testimonies like you’ve mentioned before, but they are SO rare. Like you said, scripture is clear on being unequally yoked to unbelievers. I wrote about that here: The Problem with Being Unequally Yoked (Side note, being an unbeliever–a buddhist, athiest, etc.–is totally different than someone that believes Jesus is the Son of God and his shed blood is the only way to be redeemed from sin, but they go to church on Saturday nights…perhaps a Seventh Day Adventists. That’s what I’m referring to when I say a different denomination.)

      That’s why we must practice hearing God on EVERYTHING i.e. parking, where to go, what to say…so when the big questions of life like “who to marry” come along we’ve built up that muscle and can be 100 percent certain that it is Him speaking.

      Thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts, Patrica! Such a good reminder. Blessings…Simone

  3. Hey Simone! I agree that loyalty to ones denomination shouldn’t override hearing from the Lord directly on this question. Funny enough… although my dad was a Presbyterian pastor, then turned non-denominational, it never occurred to me to limit my selection by denomination of the men I dated. Maybe my sense of urgency was a little too high, LOL… but, if a man exemplified a love for Jesus, that was enough for me 🙂
    In fact, when I met the love of my life, he was raised Methodist but recently “saved”, and was “visiting” several different churches and denominations. I was surprised by his objectivity in seeing the true heart behind the teachings in each church. What spoke louder to me was the Holy Spirit in our ear setting us apart for one another… we are now 4 kids and about 18 years into this marriage, and committed to the Father’s will for our family and one another… our denomination is secondary!

    • Simone

      September 8, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      I LOVE this, Linda–> “loyalty to ones denomination shouldn’t override hearing from the Lord directly on this question.” Thank you for sharing how y’all navigated faith when you first met…it’s awesome that you knew IMMEDIATELY that you both were seeking Him. And I think that’s why His love just radiates from your beautiful family.

      I got a kick out of reading about your sense of urgency…I think that’s something we ALL face. (Side note: I even had a timeline for when I would get married and have my first kid. Of course, nothing happened according to my time line). Your story of how God DIVINELY connected y’all was is another example of why hearing God is the most important thing.

  4. Simone! I love this. I found my nugget in one of your comments, “[t]hat’s why we must practice hearing God on EVERYTHING i.e. parking, where to go, what to say…so when the big questions of life like “who to marry” come along we’ve built up that muscle and can be 100 percent certain that it is Him speaking.” AMEN!
    I grew up, and am still, part of the grand ol’ Church of God In Christ, but one thing I’ve learned as I’ve grown in my walk with Christ is the importance of having a relationship with Him – spirituality over religion.
    Also, hi!

    • Simone

      September 9, 2015 at 1:33 am

      Jessica!!! Omigoodness, so good to hear from you.

      Amen to this –> “One thing I’ve learned as I’ve grown in my walk with Christ is the importance of having a relationship with Him – spirituality over religion.” A relationship with Christ trumps religion every single time. When I read your comment, it made me think about ALL relationships. Good relationships requiring talking & listening from both parties. The same is true when growing in our walk with Christ…we must be willing to listen.

      (Random Side Note: I agree with you COGIC is grand! I’m not sure if I ever told you this, but my mom’s parents helped start the first COGIC church in their small town in Texas and it is still there sixty-five years later!)

  5. Simone, I totally understand your hesitancy is writing about a topic with the potential for so much controversy. You handled it with a lot of grace and transparency. For me personally, I’ve never been one to be too concerned about denomination. I’ve been a member of a COGIC church and a non denominational church (I’ve only held memberships at two churches in my life). As you can imagine, the differences were night and day for so many reasons. Both churches were instrumental in developing my faith. I’ve learned that it’s not the denomination, but the word of God and the community that matters. For that reason, I really don’t concern myself with denominations any more. Right now, I’m looking for a new church home here in Memphis and I have my eye on a Presbyterian church because I like the community outreach and various services times they offer. So the long answer to your question is that I could care less what denomination a man I date belongs to. I’d just be happy he’s in a church that teaches the gospel. I’m more concerned about his heart for God and the overall calling on his life. Because if I’m supposed to be the one to help him reach that calling, I want to make sure it lines up with mine. Loved this post!
    Faith Simone recently posted…I’ma Give You a Piece of My Mind…(Then I’m going to need that back)My Profile

    • Simone

      September 16, 2015 at 1:33 am

      Wow! Faith, I think that’s awesome you’ve only had two church memberships in your whole life. You must have had a REALLY tight-knit church community…even as you went to a REALLY large church (I can’t imagine what it was like when you moved!). I was a basket-case when I left my church to join Morris’s and I had only been there a few years, but then again I DO tend to get rather attached. That’s the whole thing right here–>both helped you develop your faith!

      And I LOVE that you are ALREADY thinking about the calling God has on his life. YAASSSS (insert praise wave)! Because what you said is so true, there is a mission that God has for y’all to accomplish together. Me and Morris are still trying to figure out what our combined mission is, but we know it will at least include an Astronauts in Training Writer’s Enclave. No joke! It combines his love of science with my love for writing, and he’s going to write about it in a few weeks here.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Faith!

  6. Thank you for sharing your testimony! I admit it makes me UNCOMFORTABLE to think of dating and marrying someone of a denomination as I am nondenominational! HOWEVER I know it is about the Father’s leading and His plan. I know He gives us people to help us become who He called us to be and fulfill our purposes. That can easily include people from other denominations! Still that will take GRACE for me 😉
    Nicole M recently posted…Lord Help My UnbeliefMy Profile

    • Simone

      September 21, 2015 at 9:15 pm

      Thank YOU for reading! I totally get your discomfort, Nicole.
      For me, it was like “I’m pretty sure I’m right on this whole denominational thing.” But the Lord told me to go to Morris’ church while we were dating…we were not even engaged! I was in negotiations with God for three months over that…but He was faithful to comfort my heart. All that to say, He will give you GRACE for whatever is needed.

      I read your blog posts and I know how you are earnestly seeking Him. I can’t WAIT to see what He does! Sis, it is going to be beyond your wildest dreams.

  7. Wow, I love this post, Simone! Thanks for sharing. I think what you said about listening to God’s voice in regards to dating is so important. I like to think that I would be open to dating someone outside of my denominaton (which is Pentecostal). I think what would be challenging for me is dealing with some of the differences in beliefs. For example, in my experiences, a lot of Pentcostals believe that you should never drink alcohol while I have been to churches of other denominations where drinking in moderation is okay. For me, everyone’s relationship with God is their own and they must seek God for guidance. So, I am not as bothered by the drinking thing as my parents are. I think they would be cut off guard if my future husband takes a drink in moderation. I think denominations can sometimes turn into contests of “who is the holiest?” And that’s just not right. Anywho, I feel like I am rambling in this comment. In the end, with everything else, I will trust God with my dating life.
    Monica afrotasticlady recently posted…When Grief Drops: A Post for “Circling The Story”My Profile

    • Simone

      January 30, 2016 at 11:44 pm

      Monica! You are absolutely not rambling. So glad we get to ‘chat’ about this topic.

      That whole ‘my denomination is better than yours’ is a tactic of the oppressor, because it keeps the body of Christ SO divided. And I’m glad to hear you are open to whomever God has for you. I promise you if you are seeking Him, He’ll give you the grace to handle what’s ahead…if your husband is Pentecostal or non-Pentecostal. For example, me and Morris differ on speaking tongues with and without interpretation. But in the end, we both believe in Jesus Christ and Him crucified and that the only way to be reconciled to God the Father is through the repentance of sins. Another example, my parents were totally against drinking (and a host of other things) for the longest time…but in recent years they’ve really taken hold to freedom in Christ. And even have a glass of wine themselves on occasion. The twelve-year old me, probably would have fainted had she seen this happen:-).

      I think the Lord dealt with my heart (as I said in the post) because I was sort of one of those judgmental people. But God is the judge and He looks at the heart, not the denomination. Hope this helps!Please know that I am praying for you as you seek God for your dating life. I really mean that. Love, Simone

  8. Wow, thanks for sharing those great examples of your parents and your husband. That’s so awesome that you have seen that the important belief that you and your husband have is your belief in salvation. I definitely agree with you- God is truly the judge. We get ourselves in trouble when we judge. And thank you for the prayers. I appreciate it. Fortunately, dating/marriage is not in my view right now. But when God does bring my future husband along, I pray that I am open to him, regardless of his denomination.
    Monica afrotasticlady recently posted…When Grief Drops: A Post for “Circling The Story”My Profile

    • Simone

      February 1, 2016 at 4:02 pm

      Sure thing, Monica! Happy to share those examples…it’s awesome how God’s timing gives us new perspective. I’m glad to hear you are focusing on this season of your life. That is an awesome place to be!

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