“I am a young person and my parents don’t want me to date any person who is not a member of the Protestant Reformed Church. I will obey my parents who I know want the best for me. There is in Scripture, however, the verse that says to marry in the Lord. (I Cor. 7:39). Isn’t it alright then to date in the Lord, even though the person may not be from the Protestant Reformed Churches?”
We can be thankful for parents such as yours, who are deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of their sons and daughters. Godly parents know the importance of acquiring a life’s mate with whom there is agreement on the fundamental truths of God’s Word. Because these truths, these principles, are the foundation on which we live and establish our homes, harmony in this sphere is of the highest priority. “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) Couples take strife and pain into their marriage if in their courtship they refuse to reckon with this premise.
It is a priceless gift of God’s grace to us, that we as churches hold fast to the inspired Word of God, “which is profitable for sound doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (II Tim. 3:16) Let us humbly thank Him daily for this inheritance.
All the members of our churches experience God’s covenant faithfulness when our youth marry and remain with the church. And now I caution you especially as a young person, never give ear to the philosophy of the deceivers who advocate that membership in the church of your fancy is pleasing to God.
Now your question – “Isn’t it alright to date in the Lord, even though the person may not be from the Protestant Reformed Churches?” Yes, I believe one can date in the Lord someone from another denomination. This is possible when a young man or woman has in mind and heart to seek a godly mate, one who aspires to the same goals and principles. It seems to me our own churches should be the prime territory to “spy out” as the saying goes.
Although I do not advise anyone to disobey his or her parents in these matters, yet personally I believe one may date someone, and that very discreetly, from another denomination. When so dating you must, and I repeat you must, with unflinching determination have in mind not to leave our churches for a husband or a wife.
Consequently, your date should soon be informed just why your church relationship is so important to you, and that for the Biblical truths she maintains. This means, of course, that you yourself understand and are knowledgeable concerning the doctrines of our Protestant Reformed Churches. For how can we teach other, if we are not able to clearly define what we believe and love?
I experienced this while serving as elder in Hope Protestant Reformed Church. A young man (formerly a Baptist) came to us to make confession of faith with our congregation. He was planning to marry the daughter of a fellow elder. When being questioned by the elders, he voluntarily stated that he would join our churches even if for some reason their marriage plans were canceled. This young lady and her parents also, had done their “homework” well.
It is most unlikely that all courtships end as conciliatory as this, but certainly you may and must pray for a similar blessing. Of course, if your friend is continually antagonistic to your presentation, you are morally obligated to end this relationship, in order to have a clear conscience as regards your profession of faith.
In conclusion, and to all our young people, may I take this opportunity to say, that to “marry in the Lord” does not simply mean to marry someone who attends a church. It means much more. It is to marry a person who loves God and desires to worship Him in spirit and in truth, and in a church that holds to His revealed Word.
So, you have my answer to your question. I pray that you may agree with my opinion. Our young people occupy a most important place in our churches, for they are our future strength. They must presently take our place as fathers and mothers, elders and deacons. So, prepare yourselves, by God’s grace, even with marriages in the Lord, for the glorious task that awaits you.