We all have a list of things we want in a partner–ambitious, respectful, caring, funny, smart–but for many women, their partner’s faith serves as a potential deal breaker.

Recently tennis star Serena Williams sat down with Sister 2 Sister magazine to talk about what she wants in a mate.

“I think it’s important when you marry to be evenly yoked,” Serena told Sister 2 Sister.

“I’ve been studying to be a Jehovah’s Witness, so I go to Kingdom Hall. I grew up a Witness and it’s what I know and we teach things that come from the Bible.”

The news marks a change for Serena who previously dated rapper Common for years, and more recently fellow tennis pro Grigor Dimitrov, neither of whom are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Setena’s religious requirement is certainly nothing new. Although I’ve dated across the faith spectrum (and continue to), my mother always preached that being “unequally yoked” is a definite no-no.

But what about you, Clutchettes and Gents? When it comes to dating, how important is your potential boo’s religion? 

  • ms_micia

    Hmmm. Well as a baptized Jehovah’s Witness I will say that we are in a unique position where it’s not just a mere suggestion that is overlooked as a “choice” when you chose not to marry “only in Lord”, it something that is definitely not supported. I feel that if you are serious about your faith it would be extremely difficult to coexist with someone who either didn’t share it or supported very strongly another faith entirely. It’s a very strained life to life. I applaud her, like Prince before her, for bringing glory to Jehovah publicly. And I’ll tell ya this (in my humble opinion) she has a much better chance at a long happy marriage and peaceful life by dating in the congregation exclusively. Go Serena! :)

  • BlueOceanBreezy

    Well, I do not practice any religion and am Agnostic. I don’t mind someone who is religious, but not someone who is deeply religious and would try to push their beliefs on me.

  • CurlySue

    As an Atheist, it’s more important that my partner be respectful of me and not push their faith, whatever it may be, on me. But I also know that I couldn’t date someone who was deeply religious because if we have children that would create nothing but strife.

  • http://ninasgoodthoughts.wordpress.com Ms. Write

    I concur. I’m an atheist–social suicide for a Black person–and the guy I’m dating isn’t doesn’t go to church, but he does believe in God. We’ve talked about getting married and raising children, and while he’s open to my ideas, I’d be concerned about children if we decided to become serious. I want to teach my children *how* to think, not *what*. So even though I’m no longer a Christian, I think “equally yoked” is a valid concept, at least in terms of sharing values and beliefs.

  • RamaniRose

    I’m dating a man that’s a Jehovah’s Witness however its behind his parents back because they don’t agree with dating outside the religion. We’ve talked about marraige before but the thing is for me to get married to him I will have to study to be a Jehovah’s Witness otherwise it will can’t happen. So its now a matter of converting for love which is something that I don’t mind doing.

  • Fa

    So so so important. My current boyfriend became a Muslim after studying it, which has enhanced our relationship tremendously. Sharing a faith brings a heightened element into it that I didn’t anticipate!

  • CurlySue

    @ Ms. Write: I feel exactly the same way. I’m not black but I am in an interracial relationship. The way I see it, there will be enough challenges for our future and our children’s future that to add another obstacle would be foolish. My boyfriend is like yours. He believes in God and identifies as a Christian but isn’t churchgoing and never really even speaks of religion. It’s a personal thing for him.

    Like you, I don’t want my children indoctrinated. I’d rather them grow up and decide for themselves. I believe I am with the right man for that. His parents are more religious than him but also very respectful and not the type to preach. I’m very grateful for that. My poor sister. Her in-laws are Haitian and in their 70s so EXTREMELY set in their ways. They love me but would probably try to perform an exorcism if they ever knew I was an atheist lol.

  • http://method2hermadness.blogspot.com girlformerlyknownasgrace

    Yea it is important for me. Faith is for me not just a set of beliefs but a lifestyle. It would be hard for me to date someone who would rather go to IHOP than go to church on Sunday. And how do you explain to your kids why one parent prays and the other doesnt? Certain things might beharder when you date someone outside your faith (if you are a practicing believer).

  • overseas_honeybee

    It definitely makes a difference for me. I am a Christian and I want to be with someone who shares the same beliefs and expresses their faith through their lifestyle and values.

  • http://ninasgoodthoughts.wordpress.com Ms. Write

    You’re right–there are enough challenges in any relationship. I think if you guys are committed to making it work, you can, but religion divides people more than anything.

    I want my children to decide for themselves, too. Hopefully they think critically and rely on real evidence, but I will have to respect their decisions. You’re fortunate to have a respectful man. My guy’s parents are ministers, so if they knew I didn’t believe, they’d probably do the same as your sister’s in-laws! Lol.

  • tmc

    Your belief is your life. If you can’t share that with the person you are to share your life with, then it’s not going to work.

  • tmc

    @ ms_micia: well said sister ;)

  • Mw

    What a wonderful comment! Jehovah is clearly granting you wisdom!

  • Candy 1

    I am married, but when I was single, it was a requirement that anyone I dated seriously had to share a my worldview and faith. I have never been religious (tithing, in love with pastors, only listening to Christian music, etc.), but I’m more so faithful. I go to church, read the bible, try to live a positive life, and pray. That’s all I used to want in a mate as far as faith.

  • kissa

    Girrrrl research the heck out of his religion before jumping the broom and research it on your own he may say things to convince you…Some religions oppress women or may put them in predicaments they don’t want themselves to be caught up in…Good luck on your decision..

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Never ever thought about it to become an issue. Religion is not a topic I explore, I keep things shallow and simple!

  • Blair

    I grew up a conservative Seventh Day Advensist and was taught that marrying outside the religion was a no-no and that you must be “equally-yoked” just as everyone so far has communicated. I am no longer Adventist, rather just spiritual and believe in God because I did not agree how religion does not compromise for culture and traditions, learned about the orginins of religion, i.e. religious imperialism and how it was and still enforce foreign ideas to a group, and how sexist and racist religion is.

    It is good to want to share the same faith as your partner, but the state of the Black church and how many men actually attend and are serious about their faith is limited. So my priority in a partner is to have some kind of positive if not leadership role in the community and be family oriented.

  • MissFLondon

    I’m an Atheist ho loves the Bible.

    I believe strongly that you must be “evenly yoked” or it will not work.

    There’s no point kidding yourself just because you like the man. Marriage is above all things a contract (or covenant, if you happen to be religious) misrepresenting yourself and your intentions at the offset is a breach of those terms.

  • Pseudonym

    I do agree with the idea that two partners in a couple must be “equally yoked,” however being of the same religion doesn’t guarantee a like-yokeness and being of different religions doesn’t necessarily mean an unequal yoking. It’s not in the book one reads but how one lives their life and what they value and how they actually apply their morals. THAT’s what should make up the yolk.

  • DTrent

    IMO, If she gets herself right with her God first THEN she can pursue a mate of the same faith. Studying is NOT the same as actually being a JW. People can study for years and never qualify to be a JW or have the privilege to bear the name. It takes time to gain accurate knowledge & have one’s own personal relationship with God. Bringing someone else into your life before you do that is a bit dicey.

  • Native Gear

    @kissa

    Then she might as well research Baptists, Lutherans, Mormons, and oh yeah, CATHOLICS while she’s at it. “Religion” itself isn’t the one that oppresses women, it is wicked “men” who misconstrue the Bible that does.

  • Tonton Michel

    It is only natural and makes sense that you seek out a partner that shares the same beliefs and values that you do. The thing is that you do not become set in what those things are till you are older and ready to settle down. I doubt Serena was a model Jehovah Witness back like……last week….but if she is ready to settle than she is probably taking a more critical eye to who she dates with the intentions of marrying.

  • Tkh

    Religion is defiantly a deal breaker for me. I am a devout Christian and I could not and would not date any man seriously if he was not the same. And not only would I not date or marry a nonbeliever there are even some restrictions I have on denominations…… Some denominations are just a no go…..

  • overseas_honeybee

    Two Christians can also be “unequally” yoked. Both can profess Christianity but can have two different views on the church, of how to express their faith and interpreting the Word. Some folks are at different places in their “walks” and allowing God to guide you and be present in your relationship is key.

    In Serena’s case … I agree with DTrent … she needs to allow her faith to be her primary focus right now. A relationship will come when in its time.

  • ah

    If you’re secretly dating someone who is a Jehovah’s Witness, the situation indicates that is very weak in his faith, and should focus on that before taking on the serious, lifelong responsibilities of being a Christian husband. Part of that responsibility is helping his spouse and children (if any) live by Bible standards by setting a good example and studying Bible principles with them.

    With that said, by all means, learn about Jehovah’s Witnesses and if you are inclined, become one of them. This is a life-changing decision and must be about you and your relationship with God first and foremost. Once you have that relationship firm, you will be able to choose a life-time mate that can be the loving and supportive companion that a marriage mate should be.

  • Precious

    I’ve been practicing Buddhism for several years and my bf is a Christian who doesn’t go to church.

    We respect each other’s beliefs and likes how I chant :)

    Now if we decided to marry, then that will be a serious topic to discuss.

  • sunday

    Serious Christian here, and only interested in other serious Christians. What I believe is an extremely important part of who I am, and for me it’s a deal breaker that we connect on that level or there’s no way they know who I truly am.

  • ms_micia

    Thank you. Also I want to say Thank you to commenter @Ah for saying what I didn’t know how to say. To say the least the decision to dedicate your life to Jehovah is a serious one and dating is something that is completely seen and approached differently then any other religion I’ve known. It is really a protection, from my own personal experience, and when a light is shown in our direction media wise it’s always an ackward tight rope to walk to comment on how and why we decide to do certain things like marry only within the congregation. But as @Ah said research for yourself, and not just “Google”, if you have a Witness friend, cousin or if you are visited or approached by one listen with an open ear if your really interested. I know me myself, I welcome skeptics and those who ask the hard questions, because I had them myself.

  • ms_micia

    Thank you. Also I want to say Thank you to commenter @Ah for saying what I didn’t know how to say. To say the least the decision to dedicate your life to Jehovah is a serious one and dating is something that is completely seen and approached differently then any other religion I’ve known. It is really a protection, from my own personal experience, and when a light is shown in our direction media wise it’s always an ackward tight rope to walk to comment on how and why we decide to do certain things like marry only within the congregation. But as @Ah said research for yourself, and not just “Google”. :)

  • ms_micia

    True facts.

  • Heboras

    Weird as this site turned over to be abbout everything else than topic?
    How nice that a women have strong values, and seek them allso in a housband.
    To be a coupple that are bouth in the same religion (now we are talking abbout Jehowas whittness) is a way to avoid religious conflicts. The Bible just teaches that this is the smart way to go. And is the bible correct? -Of this matter allso yes.
    This is not discriminating a religion, it´s just common sence, and a help to having a good marriage. -The bible have many of those.

  • http://none justin

    gee that makes your god more real does it..delusions,created by rulers,kings to mkae you subbmissive,and believe in fairytales and life after death so you fight there wars.tis the season of reason and science,the days of talking snakes,burning bushes,invisible bearded guys who need money
    and other utter rubbish are dying out with science!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pokervane Mark Fraser

    It actually would be better that her partner be a JW because for one member of a relationship to be in a destructive cult and another not is a recipe for heartbreak.

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