Shutterstock.com

When you are looking for a future spouse or even just a date who shares your beliefs, church is a great place to start your search. There are, however, some drawbacks to trying to date someone from your church. There are also wonderful benefits. It is up to you to decide whether or not you should date within your church. Here are some pros and cons to consider as you decide.

Dating in church is one of the best ways to meet potential spouses who share your beliefs…

If you are dating someone from your church, it is all but guaranteed that they share your core beliefs.

There is always the possibility that you ended up latching on to one of the handful of hypocrites in the crowd, but more than likely, you are dating someone who shares your worldview and stands on the same side of serious issues as you. This can make things far more harmonious in a relationship. It also makes you two less likely to split up over decisions where compromise simply is not possible or in a crisis since you are both able to lean on your faith and use religion to prop each other up.

…but you can end up in an echo chamber.

Shared beliefs make a relationship more harmonious, but you need to be careful to avoid accidentally creating an echo chamber for yourself. If you only ever date people who agree with you on every issue, you will never expose yourself to different ways of thinking. This can leave you unable to understand the other side of an argument, or worse, leave you more likely to demonize or villainize those who think differently from you. It is understandable to want to spend the rest of your life with someone who agrees with you on hot button and deeply divisive issues, but if you immediately dismiss those who hold a different opinion purely because you disagree with them, you will miss out on both a potentially wonderful friend or partner and the opportunity to broaden your horizons by spending time with someone who holds different beliefs.

You can help each other grow in faith…

A relationship can bring out the best in each other, and partners who share the same faith can grow spiritually because they have someone with whom they can discuss their fears, doubts and questions. People are also more likely to do things when they have someone there to encourage them or who is also participating. If you have a habit of skipping church but your partner attends every week come hell or high water, you are more likely to tag along rather than finding an excuse to miss out. If your partner is a devoted reader of Scripture, you are more likely to crack open your old Bible as well.

…but it can put the focus of church on social and romantic issues, instead of faith.

One potential downside from dating within a church is that romantic pursuits can easily become all consuming. When this happens, you may end up losing track of what is most important in church. Church services become less about celebrating God , and more about holding hands with your significant other in the pews. This is not the purpose of church. If dating within your church means you are likely to end up focusing on earthly matters rather than God, you may need to look other places for a potential spouse.

You both expect a similar level of commitment…

People from the same church are more likely to have similar expectations about how they want a relationship to progress. Someone who is perfectly happy taking part in the hookup culture, after all, is unlikely to attend a church that emphasizes the importance of remaining chaste until marriage. On the flip side, someone who is uncomfortable with doing anything more than kissing before you are both wearing rings is less likely to attend a church that takes a more liberal view on premarital sex. This can help both of you avoid either pressure from your partner or misunderstandings where it seems like one person is rushing and the other is dragging their feet.

…but pressure from the congregation can make you rush into marriage.

People love to celebrate engagements and marriages. They are far more exciting than two people who just started dating. This is especially true in churches. Some congregations see dating as flirting with temptation while engagements and marriages are godly declarations of commitment. Even those congregations that are perfectly comfortable with young people dating may start asking a couple that has been dating for some time about when they are going to get married. This can add social pressure to a relationship and cause two people to rush into a marriage before they are ready. After they are married, they will then likely face the same issue about having children.

As part of the same congregation, you already share a social circle…

Introducing your new significant other to your friends can be nerve racking. After all, what if they do not like your new partner? What if your partner does not like your friends? Feuding within social circles can make everyone uncomfortable. It can also be difficult, sometimes, to mesh your partner’s social circle with yours. When you are dating someone from within the same church, you two are almost guaranteed to have at least some crossover between your social circles.