You’ve met someone special, and they’re also a Christian. That’s all great, but there’s just one issue that you’re unsure about in this budding romance. They’re part of a different Christian denomination than you.
So, is a person’s denomination that big of a deal? Will God approve of me being with someone from a different denomination? Could our denominational beliefs cause trouble between us in the future? Are different denominations a dealbreaker when it comes to dating?
The short answer to all of those questions is “maybe.” It depends on their beliefs and your own.
Denominations might be a new concept for you. Then again, maybe you’ve heard of them before but don’t exactly understand the purpose behind their existence. Below, we’ll shed some light on this topic and help you answer the above questions about dating someone from a different denomination.
What Are Denominations?
Denominations are normally associated with Protestant churches. It’s a unique term birthed out of the different groups that formed over the course of time in the Protestant branch of Christendom. Kind of like the isle numbers at your local grocery store, denominations help people identify some of the church’s beliefs without even visiting the location.
For instance, you might see a church with Baptist in the name (Heavenbound Baptist Church). That’s an indication that the church takes a particular stance on baptism. Baptists practice full immersion of new Christians into the water, but not every Christian denomination follows this practice for baptism. If full immersion into water is an important part of your theological beliefs, you would know this is a place that is sympathetic to that belief.
However, all denominations have a few primary beliefs in common, and there are two worth noting now. Every denomination affirms that God is one Being but three Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); this assertion about God is called Trinitarianism. Secondly, all denominations affirm that accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf is the only way to a right-standing relationship with God; this is the foundational basis for the Christian faith.
Ultimately, denominations all agree on Who Christians are saved by and how they go to heaven. However, they help people that are seeking a church to attend readily identify some of the less important but still important theological beliefs of that congregation.
Purpose of Denominations
The purpose of denominations is to easily identify the secondary beliefs of a church. Like the Baptist example in the above section, secondary beliefs are important theological distinctions held by the churches of that denomination.
However, adherence or non-adherence to these beliefs does not affect the salvation of a person. No Protestant denomination would say, “You must believe everything we believe, or you won’t get into heaven.” But they would all unanimously say, “You must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.”
All Protestant denominations would still consider people of other Protestant denominations to be Christians and part of their family in Christ.
The major differences come to doctrinal issues about church polity, the people that comprise the clergy, qualifications for positions, etc. These are all the types of issues that might divide a congregation into different groups with others that think the same way. When a circumstance like this occurs, it’s the formula for a denominational split.
Now that you understand how denominations can form, we must consider the matter of heretical denominations.
There are definitely denominations that are dealbreakers for dating. We hesitate to even label the following list of “churches” as denominations because they are heretical in their beliefs about God. Denominations are a term for Christian churches, but because of their heretical beliefs, these offshoots are technically not Christian at all.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism)
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- The Unification Church
- Oneness Pentecostalism
- Universal Unitarianism
There is a unified standard for orthodox beliefs among Protestants. The orthodox denominations within Protestant Christianity hold to the original teaching of the Nicene Creed (Trinitarianism) and that salvation from sin’s grip is by grace through faith in Christ’s atoning death and resurrection on our behalf (not our own works). Each of the faiths above violates one or both of those conditions in their beliefs or practices.
That list doesn’t cover all the heretical movements that claim to be Christian, but it certainly covers most of the heretical pie chart. If your date is attached to one of those, with the strongest possible desire, we suggest severing the romantic relationship immediately. You should not fellowship with any of these faith movements because they serve a fundamentally different God than the One revealed within the pages of the Christian Bible.
Decision about Denominations
Now that you understand a bit more about denominations, let’s answer those initial questions with some clarity. We just pointed out that heretical denominations are dangerous to your spiritual health, and you shouldn’t be dating anyone who claims to be part of those movements. However, we also learned that denominations deal with secondary issues not impacting a person’s salvation or standing as a Christian.
So, ultimately, your decision about dating someone from another non-heretical denomination is exactly that: your decision.
You must decide if the theological beliefs of your partner will be a dealbreaker for you, personally. As you both grow and mature in the Christian faith, these issues will eventually need to be reconciled in some way. The way in which it’s reconciled doesn’t have to be through a breakup, but some sort of theological decision will need to be reached together.
Nevertheless, although there is much to think about concerning this topic, it’s important for us to leave you with a clear answer about it. As a Christian, you are called to only date other Christians (1Cor 7:39). Persons of a heretical denomination are not Christians, but persons of another denomination are Christians.