Jackie Hill Perry, a Bible teacher, author, rapper and former lesbian, recently warned single Christians against dating non-believers.
She joined her husband, Preston Perry, for a podcast posted last week, sharing dating advice for single Christians. The married couple agreed it is "dangerous" to be unequally yoked and urged singles to wait on God.
The author of Gay Girl Good God recounted that after leaving the lesbian lifestyle, she went through a "lonely" season of singleness before meeting her husband in March 2014.
She recalled how she once had different motives for being in a dating relationship, with many of these motivations not coming from a God-centered mindset.
"In the beginning of my Christian faith, where I felt like because of the world that I had just come out of ... homosexuality, … that I was supposed to get with a guy to make me become more straight. So that's one part," Jackie Perry said.
"But, there's also this loneliness piece, which is in the world. I was always talking to somebody, I always had somebody to text, always had somebody to come over; and so, it was uncomfortable for me to come to Jesus and just be without anybody to talk to."
Before meeting her husband, Perry said she had a phone conversation with a man in which he asked if she would be willing to have premarital sex.
Perry said she told him that she no longer wanted to date him because her Christian faith instructs her to wait until marriage to have sex.
"I think [people like that] always think that if they stay around long enough, I'll eventually give in. But to me, it clicked. I was like, 'Oh, this just isn't going to work because the fact that purity in the sense of abstaining from sexual sin … doesn't even make sense to you means that your mind is not renewed. And I don't have time to convince you about why the Lord is Lord of your body. I don't got energy for that,'" Perry recounted.
Before meeting his wife, Preston Perry said he also experienced dating partners unwilling to follow the traditional biblical standard of abstaining from sex until marriage.
"The first relationship that I got in, as a Christian, she was a Christian. Well, I thought she was. She was a churchgoer. And then she decided that 'Oh, this church thing isn't good for me.' And so she went back into the world," he explained.
"And then, a second relationship I got in [was] with a girl who wasn't a Christian. And that didn't work out because we couldn't stay pure. And I eventually had to break up with her because I wanted to be holy. It was hard because I really liked her."
Jackie Perry said that being single is not easy and leads many Christians to rush ahead of God and "settle" for dating non-Christians.
She believes this can often lead to unhealthy marriages in which couples fight over their beliefs and if they should raise their children in the Christian faith.
"A lot of singles are just like: 'You know what? I don't have time to wait on a man or a woman who is a Christian, so let me go ahead and open up my world to non-Christians because I'll have more options,'" she said.
Preston Perry cited an aunt and uncle in which the aunt was a believer, but the uncle was not. According to Preston, God saved his unbelieving uncle later in the marriage.
"My aunt stayed with my uncle for years, and [she] just prayed for his salvation. But typically, when I saw that happen, they both started off as unbelievers. One became a Christian and prayed that God would save their significant other," he detailed.
"I think for a Christian to intentionally choose someone who doesn't know Jesus because of whatever reason, I think you're probably not weighing ... all of the spiritual implications and all of the difficulties that that might bring."
While sometimes God can save an unbelieving partner, the Perrys agreed that it is better for a Christian to be equally yoked by dating someone who is already a Christian.
"I think it's dangerous when you get into a relationship with someone and you're unequally yoked with them because it's going to create a whole different set of problems. … Because when it's time to pray, when it's time to fast about something serious, you having security in his hustle ... that can't sustain you when the stuff hits the fan. You're going to want to be with somebody who knows Jesus," Preston Perry advised.
"I just think that it's dangerous to have faith that God is going to come along and save them. And if He doesn't do it on your time, and if He doesn't do it at all, then you're stuck with somebody who can hold you down spiritually."
Jackie Perry believes that "it is some crazy faith to get with somebody in the hopes that they will one day become Christian when there is no promise from God that that may or may not happen."
"But why not have that same faith that if God can save them, then God can actually provide you someone that's already saved?" she added.
Patience with God is key for those who are single, according to the Perrys, because "it is ridiculous how important" it is "who you marry."
"The person that God has for you may be out there in the world and is saved, but our impatience is actually not leaving any room for that person to come along because we're busying ourselves with people that aren't good for us," Jackie Perry said.
"God has somebody that He has uniquely designed that will be perfect for you. But our lack of patience, we want to date someone who checks off all of these boxes except following Jesus. And just like, 'nah, be patient bro," Preston Perry said.
"I think we [tend] to feel as if the season we're in is punishment and not protection. And so, I think we have to be reminded that: 'No, God really is good by His very nature, good and sovereign and kind and that He's with me, that I'm not alone in my singleness.'"