Teleios recently surveyed adolescents and millennials to evaluate dating attitudes and beliefs about the biblical purpose of marriage. The survey received 1,818 responses. Of these responses, the majority of participants were 35 or younger (93%), nonmarried (91%), female (75%), evangelical Christians (83%) from the United States (51%) and Europe (15%).
A majority of participants (69%) said the primary biblical purpose of marriage is to represent the relationship between Christ and the church while 42% noted it is for love between a man and a woman. Other participants selected producing children (14%) and to continue the human race and/or populate the world (14%).
Further, the majority of participants (74%) believed that marrying an unbeliever is not likely to fulfill God’s will in marriage. Accordingly, 35% stated that when one partner is not practicing their faith the relationship cannot demonstrate the union between Christ and the church. In contrast, 30% stated that it was possible for a marriage to an unbeliever to fulfill God’s will and that the more mature Christian partner could influence the unbelieving partner. Half of the participants (50%) stated they had never dated an unbeliever; and half (51%) indicated they believe a Christian should never become romantically involved with an unbeliever.
The majority of respondents (66%) who had dated a non-Christian said that their romantic relationship had been somewhat to very negative. Further, 25% indicated their own faith became worse in a romantic relationship with an unbeliever. In contrast, 40% of participants claimed their partner’s faith did not improve during the relationship, while only 5% stated that their companion became a Christian by faith in Christ. Further, a vast majority would not recommend Christians become romantically involved with an unbeliever (74%).
Dr. William C. Stewart, co-founder of Teleios, commented “The love, devotion, and deference between a believing husband and wife reflects the loving relationship between Christ and His church. The primary goal of Christian marriage is to attract unbelievers to the gospel. This is not possible by dating or marrying an unbeliever. Such relationships result in a negative, or at a minimum an unfulfilling, outcome. Christians should marry Christians!”
This survey indicates that evangelical adolescents and millennials generally believe a biblically based marriage is between a Christian man and woman which then may fulfill God’s will of the evangelical purpose of marriage as described by scripture (Ephesians 5:21-33). They also view a romantic relationship with an unbeliever as unfulfilling and do not recommend it to others.