Dating as a missionary? : Some thoughts on relationships for missionaries
One of the biggest problems that many have as they are single when they become a missionary. At some point, they would like to get married but what are the rules for dating for missionaries? The very concept of it creates quite a few problems in and of itself.
Of course, you could wait until you was married to go to the mission field and that is best in most cases. Personally, I am not a fan of people going to the mission field and then marrying a local. There will always be that nagging question of their motive in ministry. It just presents many problems.
However, let’s face it: missionaries will be attracted to other single people that they do life with. In most cases, that would be local women in the field they serve. If Tom is a missionary in the Philippines, he will likely consider dating a Filipino at some point. If Shawn is serving in Kenya, he will likely consider a Kenyan. As problematic as it is, it does not change the reality of it happening.
Why missionaries shouldn’t be dating locals
As I said, it is problematic in most cases. People on the mission field assume that you came to the field in search of a woman. People back home think you are there because of a woman now. The vision of the great commission takes a backseat to everyone zooming in on the elephant in the room: white missionary is dating local convert. (Is she is not even saved, you have a even bigger problem)
You will also have to worry about complex problems that others would not have to face. Relationships is at a emotional level and when you mix emotions and cultures, you have a pending disaster on your hands in most cases. Relationships are hard no matter what but they are even harder when you add different cultural expectations into the mix.
This can become a spiritual issue. Will you proclaim the gospel faithfully if it could cause issues within your relationship? It is important that you understand that with relationships come the fear of man in many ways. This is even more true if her family is known in the community. Image is everything in some cultures.
I choose to remain single
As a rule, I try and remain out of romantic entanglements with women where I am serving. It just is asking for trouble in most cases. If people have a problem with me, I want it to be for what I preach and my position on moral issues, not some silly things some woman said about me.
It is not like I have taken some oath of being single for life. I do want to get married someday and I plan to do so. However, I know that dating local women as a missionary just does not work. It is like playing with fire and expecting not to get burn.
I want the gospel to be what gets me in trouble, not women. Simple as that.