I originally planned to write on a completely different subject this week. But today’s events altered my plans. Flirt to Convert v. Missionary Dating? Where is the line? Is one tactic acceptable, while the other is not? Are neither acceptable? Or are both okay?
Let us start with my definitions of each term:
Flirt to Convert: a tactic involving two single people. One person is Christian. The other is not. Christian uses flirtatious banter (including lengthy chats, lots of smiling, perhaps giggling, etc) to become acquainted with Non-Christian. Interactions may be casual and light-hearted, but Christian’s aim is always to drive Non-Christian toward a relationship with Jesus Christ. Relationship does not become deep and intimate. Dating is a no-go.
Missionary Dating: also a tactic involving two single people. One person is Christian. The other is not. (Sounds the same so far, right? Here comes the difference.) Christian wants to date Non-Christian, but knows that the Bible says something negative about the subject. (Something about Christians and Non-Christians can’t share egg yolks …) Christian chooses to date Non-Christian despite their difference in faith, with the declared intent to win over Non-Christian for Christ. Common sentiment expressed by Christian would be “Maybe if we date for a while, he will see Jesus in me, and then he will get saved!”
Personally, I believe that the Flirt to Convert approach is completely okay. I tend to be rather flirtatious by nature. What I consider friendliness, others deem flirting. I have accepted this phenomena and moved on with life, okay with the fact that others call me a flirt. I feel as if charming a man into conversation about Jesus is not such a terrible usage of my flirtatious personality.
Missionary Dating, on the other hand, rests on my “Don’t ever do it” List. First of all, it almost never works. Sure, there is an exception to every rule. Some Christian, somewhere dated a Non-Christian and the Non-Christian got saved afterward. As a general rule, however, this does not happen and I am therefore opposed to the practice of Missionary Dating. I refuse to marry a man who is not Christian. If I were to date a man who is not Christian, I would either be leading him on or headed down a path that goes against my convictions.
Summation: According to the Cat Lady, Flirt to Convert is on the safe list and Missionary Dating is not.
However, my current predicament causes me to doubt all previous beliefs regarding this issue. You see, tonight I will attend a “Coffee Encounter” with a man who is not Christian and who has made clear that he is interested in me. I call it a Coffee Encounter only because I am in denial and refuse to refer to it as a date. He invited me out to dinner. I counter-offered, “Let’s meet somewhere for coffee instead.”
Typically speaking, I would have already told this man that I am not interested in any kind of romantic relationship. However, our conversations have been quite sporadic. Today, he passed me in his truck while I was walking to church and so he called me. It’s not like we talk often or run across each other daily. Usually, we stumble into each other completely at random, I invite him to church, he says he’ll go “someday”, and then we move on. With this completely informal, unpredictable form of acquaintanceship I have not been sure how to tell him I do not want to date him. I only want to be his friend and see him develop a personal relationship with Christ.
After a texting session which included questions from him about why I want him to go to church and comments from me about how we should talk about some of this in person… Now I have a Coffee Date – I mean, Encounter – with him after church tonight.
I suddenly feel as if Operation Flirt to Convert morphed into Missionary Dating. And I’m not comfortable with that. Those of you reading who are Christian, I covet your prayers tonight. I do not want to hurt this man. I do not want to be a bad witness to him. But I also do not want to date him or continue to lead him on. Please pray that things go well. And let me know, what are your thoughts on Flirt to Convert v. Missionary Dating? Those of you who are not Christian, how would you feel if a Christian were going through this debate specifically over his/her relationship with you? Do you think this is all petty or do you understand why it seems like such a big deal to someone like me? How would you want the Christian to proceed? Would you feel betrayed by a Christian who used either tactic on you?