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Dating in the church gone wrong

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BY: KEZIA ROYER-BURKETT

I grew up going to church every Sunday with my family; it was just what we did. I always thought I would marry someone from the same faith as me but as time goes on it’s starting to look very bleak. I have experienced more negative situations dating guys I have met at church than anywhere else. My parents always asked when I start dating a guy “Is he Christian?” I used to feel guilty saying no when I began to venture outside of dating guys at church. But now I care less about religion but more about how the guy lives his life, I like to see if his said beliefs match his actions. Anyone can go to church on Sunday, it doesn’t mean they are a good person. 

At the age of fourteen, my parents decided to attend a new church, and the head pastor of the church was a woman. As a young girl growing up in the church, I had never seen a woman as the head of the church, and I was in awe of what appeared to be extraordinary progressive leadership. 

At the age of sixteen, I volunteered at the church’s summer camp as a camp leader. That summer I met this guy that helped with the accounting at the church and we instantly connected. He took me on my first real date ever. As a girl growing up, I always dreamed of meeting the man of my dreams at a young age, and we would grow up together like the movie Love and Basketball. We would meet in my first year of high school, grade nine and date all throughout my high school years, go to prom together like I saw on tv and possibly go to the same post-secondary school. The guy and I officially became boyfriend and girlfriend a couple of weeks after meeting as my parents surprisingly agreed to the relationship. He was such a nice guy, he volunteered at church and attended bible study. He genuinely loved the Lord and motivated me to strengthen my relationship with God.

People at church started to learn about our relationship and it even got back to the head pastor which was a bit shocking because it was a 5,000 member church. The guy that I had fallen hopelessly in love with, was being mentored to become a pastor so the pastors at the church kept a close eye on his activities etc. The age gap of us dating really rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, he was five years older than me but over eighteen and I was sixteen, so before our relationship could really start it faced a lot of opposition. We decided to keep our relationship private, we didn’t sit together at church, and I didn’t share the details of my relationship with people. My first real relationship was a secret, but I was ok with it because I figured it wouldn’t be like this forever. I was almost eighteen and then we could make our relationship public.

To make a long story short the guy I was dating was forced to break up with me as per the pastor’s instructions because they said we were not spiritually compatible. I was now seventeen and heartbroken, who was I going to go to prom with? How could someone else decide who should and shouldn’t date?  The guy was encouraged to date and marry another girl from the church, someone they had asked to mentor me.  So basically my boyfriend married my mentor, and I was left single and confused.

My ex’s marriage lasted about five years maximum, he was unhappy.  He didn’t want to be married to that woman, he did it for the church, and ended up stuck in a position.  He was asked to leave the church because of the divorce and remarried and is living happily with his new growing family.

I share all of this to ask, is it the church’s position to determine who people date and marry?  Should anyone, even religious leaders have more influence over your life than your conscience? The irony of this story is that the pastor is divorced herself and giving ultimatum style advice to members of her church and landing them in failing marriages.

Have you ever experienced dating drama at church? Or any other religious institution? If so, please share your stories with me and I will share them through the column.   

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hello, so ill tell you never give up on dating inside the church, dating outside the church is 100% scenario for diaster, If you will is for God, his will is for you, or for self it will not end well.
    how will u raise your children? how will agree on things if your foundation is different? how will your household grow to fear the the Lord if the Man is not of the Lord, this may be hard to accept but stats show when the father is faithful the childrens chances of being faithful is Staggering higher than vice-versa

    but i would suggest you ‘adjust’ what your current understanding of dating in the church means.

    Does your ‘dating’ partner chase after the Lord, does she show a repentant heart, does he take ownership for his flaws and submit them to the Lord? Does he treat his family well? He is paitence kind and enduring? Is your partners biggest concern for you how you and your relation to the Lord is? Does he sarcfice his time and energy to make sure you feel loved by the Lord and are cherished image bearer of God? Is he slow to anger with you and with others?

    as it relates to the church and the pastor i will agree it is not the churhes decision to decide who and who not to marry, but they are allowed to guide both of you and ask both of the hard questions.

    by question for you is why were you dating so long? and were you both sexually active during the relationship? 5 years is both a long time to ‘decide’ if we are compatible enough to spend the rest of our lives together?

  2. I don’t believe there should be any such thing as dating in the church, if you ask pray and seek God he will answer you and he will send you a husband whether that person is in your church or not. God has your husband for you your exact match, all you have to do though is live righteously, be patient and wait upon him. God is about righteousness so if your living right, he won’t hesitate to send you that husband or that wife. He doesn’t want anyone to be alone, or lonely, he cares about every area of our lives. But prayer is important because through prayer you will see what he has for you and you won’t marry the wrong person. No one in church should pick and choose for you , that’s why it’s important to hear from God and know what he is saying. If they are a man or woman of God , God can show someone who your husband is but that’s a different story and you still have to keep praying.

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