During his sermon Sunday, megachurch Pastor Craig Groeschel of the multi-campus Life.Church shared five "red flags" Christians should watch out for when dating.
The first red flag, the pastor said, is when the person a Christian is dating is not consistently pursuing Jesus.
Groeschel clarified that this doesn't mean they need to be "perfect," but that they are "on a journey to get to know Jesus and be conformed to His image."
"A lot of people here are kind of cultural Christians. And just because someone tells you, 'I guess I'm a Christian, and I go to church on Christmas and Easter,' doesn't mean that they're a committed follower of Jesus," he warned.
Groeschel said when dating someone who may or may not be a practicing believer, a Christian should pay attention to where their main focus lies.
"If you meet someone, and you're getting to know them, and you spend some time in intimate conversation with them if you don't hear about Jesus, or you don't hear about their faith, or you don't hear about God, or you don't hear about their involvement in the Church, or you don't hear about their ministry within the first hour of talking to them, I would suggest to you that is actually a red flag," Groeschel said.
"And that seems incredibly extreme. ... But, you have to remember that people talk about first what they value most. … So, if you have to ask, 'hey, what are your spiritual beliefs? Are you a Christian? Do you ever attend church anywhere?' if you have to ask that after an extended conversation, chances are this person is not a committed follower of Jesus."
Groeschel cited 2 Corinthians 6:14, which says, "do not be yoked together with unbelievers." He rejected the idea that such standards are limiting.
"God is not limiting you. He's loving you. He's protecting you. He wants you to share your most treasured gift with someone else who believes that Jesus is their most treasured gift," Groeschel said.
When a Christian dates someone who is not passionate about God, Groeschel said, "it's going to be so much more difficult for him or her to love you in the way that God intended."
"I promise you, what you believe spiritually will impact every area of your life more than anything else about your life," Groeschel preached.
"Who are your friends and how do you treat people, and how do you forgive those who hurt you? And what do you do with temptation? And is divorce an option in your relationship? Or is that off the table because you have a different spiritual foundation? What do you stand for? What do you stand against? What is your divine purpose in life? Why do you exist? If you have a different spiritual foundation, How can you walk in the same direction when you have different values?"
Groeschel said the second red flag to look out for is if a believer's devout Christian family, friends and other loved ones disapprove of their dating relationship.
"When those around you that you really trust, who have a good spiritual foundation and have your best interests at heart, when they don't like the person you're with, and all of them don't like the person you're with, listen," Groeschel said. "Proverbs 27:9 says this: 'the heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume.' And in this instance, you want to listen to those who love you."
A third red flag is if people aren't experiencing "healthy conflict" with the person they're dating, according to Groeschel.
"This is not saying that you won't fight. You will fight with the person you're dating, and you will fight with the person you're married to. … It's not if you fight, but it's how you fight that really, really matters," Groeschel said.
"Healthy couples tend to fight fair. Unhealthy couples fight dirty. And we could say that healthy couples fight for resolution: 'we want things to work out.' And unhealthy couples fight for victory: 'I want to win. I want to be right. And you're wrong.'"
Red flag No. 4, Groeschel said, is if someone is "consistently worried" that they cannot trust the person they are dating.
"Maybe he's always sliding up into girls' DMs, or she's always snapping old boyfriends, or he's liking every bikini pic of everybody that's not you ..., or he's looking at the waitresses whenever he goes to a place. There may be a reason. And if there's a reason, you need to pay attention to that. That is a red flag," Groeschel said.
"Or it could be that you're the problem. It could be that you're overly possessive or too insecure. And you're looking for reasons to trust when they're not really there."
The final and "most important" red flag, Groeschel said, is if a Christian is not growing spiritually alongside the person they are dating.
"It's a warning when the person you're dating is leading you away from Jesus instead of closer to Jesus. It's a red flag when you're spending time with someone, and spiritually, you're not as vibrant as you were before you started spending time with that person," Groeschel said.
"A good question to ask yourself at checkpoints during the relationship — a month in, two months, three months in, 12 months in — are we growing closer to Jesus? Am I spiritually stronger today than I was before?"
Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: email@example.com.