Dating… does the word strike anxiety or anticipation in your heart? With all the tech connectivity, it seems that it’s just made dating more complicated, confusing and frustrating than ever before. What measures can we employ to date the Godly way? That is the essence of this post.
I have started a 7-day plan by Ben Stuart on dating in the Modern Age; a plan I am totally enjoying. I am determining through God’s eyes his purpose this year in my life, and how he offers guiding principles to help me determine who and how to date.
What is dating? I am not talking about the numerical dating that strings your mind to a series of numbers. I am talking about the dating that strikes you as an interaction between a man and a woman. Dating as defined by the dictionary means to go out with (someone in whom one is romantically or sexually interested). Dating offers the opportunity to comprehend what the other’s wants, needs and desires are and aligns individual purposes which include shared dreams, beliefs, ideals and values.
Dating, followed by courtship, is supposed to lead to a happy marriage. But marriage cannot be happy if it is not built on the right foundation. Most couples have no idea that the foundation of a successful marriage begins long before the wedding day. In addition, a direct by-product of the wrong foundation is that most people have no idea how to select the right mate.
Just what is dating? A sampling of opinions reveals a variety of definitions, with seemingly no two alike. In the simplest form, a date is merely a set time agreed upon by two people to engage in an activity. The most commonly recognized definition is “an appointment for a specified time; especially a social engagement between two persons of opposite sex” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).
Romance is cool. God designed it. It is a huge desire of most people’s hearts to have a wonderful marriage, but it seems that few attain it. God made male & female, and said it was very good. He designed romantic desires with their fulfillment in marriage.
Countless millions of shattered families began with wrong dating habits. These habits made proper courtship impossible. And the results have been tragic. The almost universal effects of modern dating demonstrate widespread ignorance, even on the most basic points of right dating. Almost no one understands the real purpose of dating or of the courtship that can ensue. The next step, achieving a happy marriage, then also becomes impossible. There is a right way to date! What is it? And there are right and wrong people to date. How can you know the difference? It is time to unlearn the wrong principles, acquired from society—and to learn and apply God’s true principles, leading to happy marriages and families!
Most people dream of having an amazing marriage, but few realize that dream. Clearly, it is not easy. How many people do you know with marriages you would wish for yourself? It’s a serious business, yet too few people do much to prepare themselves to have a successful marriage. People typically do all the things that hurt their chances of that happening, i.e., have sex, rush into things, etc. Dating can help prepare you for marriage and help you get better at choosing someone right for you. It can help you before you’re ready to get married in learning to deal responsibly with romantic feelings.
Today marked the fourth day of the seven day plan which questioned “Who to Date?” A multi-million dollar question which I seek to expound in this post…
When people are asked the kind of people they would like to date, they begin to list a set of characteristics. “Tall, but not too tall. Sensitive, but strong. Confident, but also caring. Handsome but funny. And a good job with solid income.” Some people even go to the extent of asking interview questions such as “What are you bringing to the table in this relationship?” even on their first date.
The problem with starting with a list of characteristics is that it creates an expectation no one can possibly meet. We try to customize our orders to get not what God thinks is best for us but what we think is best for ourselves. We endanger ourselves by adopting a consumer mentality rather than a companion mentality.
Why do young people date? Who started this custom anyway? Should they date or not? Who should decide? At what age should young people date? Questions, questions, and more questions can be asked. What does the Bible say about dating, if anything? To whom can young people turn for answers than can be depended upon? These are questions parents should help their children decide about; and, or, people of wisdom, experience, and a good knowledge of Scripture teaching.
The Bible has very little to say about “dating” because people in ancient times didn’t really date. Marriages were usually contracted by the fathers of the parties involved or representatives of the fathers. The servant of Abraham went to the people of the city of Haran and brought back a wife for Isaac. Isaac did not see her until the night he married her. Marriages were typically arranged for the parties involved. This made them no less binding. God still commanded husbands and wives to love one another and submit to one another’s needs and interests.
Though people in Bible times didn’t really date, there are some biblical principles that should govern our dating activities today. First of all, people who date should not have sex until they marry. While it is normal and natural to be attracted to someone of the opposite sex, we are called by God to keep those urges under control until we commit to someone in marriage. The New Testament clearly teaches that sex outside of marriage is sinful. Dating, then, for Christians, is not about sex. Since that is true, Christians who date will want to choose activities in public places where conversations and healthy activities can be carried on without becoming involved in too much intimacy. Keep the lust in check and the touching to a minimum. Going out in groups is a good thing to consider. Since dating may eventually lead to marriage, we probably should not begin dating too early or date one person too long, unless we are ready to commit to a lifetime relationship.
Next, since the Scriptures teach us that it is important to form our primary relationships with people who will help us spiritually, we should date people who want to do the will of God. Since we eventually marry someone we date, we should not date those who lack Christian values. When we go out with someone, we should engage in lots of conversation and get to know what kind of person our date is. It would be good to observe this person in church, in various acts of service, at work, and in various social situations to see how this person conducts himself/herself and how this person treats other people. Having done these things over a period of time, we are in a better position to decide whether this person would make a suitable companion for life. We should ask, “Will this person help me walk with God?” “Will this person be the kind of parent I want for my children?”
Since the whole of Christian life is governed by God’s will, we should choose the right kind of activities for our dating. We should avoid the kinds of places where ungodly things are the norm. We need not be in seedy nightclubs or in bars or in decidedly vulgar movies. Instead, good dates might be to sporting events, high quality movies, a nice dinner, a good concert, a church activity, a museum, or a service activity. Do the kinds of things that you, as a Christian, feel good about doing.
It is also good to be friends with lots of different people. When Christian singles date, however, they do so with several basic principles in mind. They know that dating is not about sex. They work to maintain their purity, saving sex for marriage. They seek relationships with people who will support them in their walk with God. They seek activities through which they can both get to know their date and act in a way that is pleasing to God. So, happy dating! Just remember to take Jesus along with you everywhere you go!
There is a temptation to be impatient and feel a great urgency for relationships that we must fight against. The purpose of dating is to make an informed decision on marriage, so before you date you must be sure that you are within a realistic time frame for the relationship to move towards marriage. Waiting in faith is one of the greatest acts of worship, and we must fight the urge to take control by trusting God with patience.
Dating is certainly an avenue of getting better acquainted with the opposite sex. It also provides opportunity to have enjoyable occasions together. In a sense, dating is not only a way of growing up, but an indication that one is growing up. A good purpose for dating is that it helps to adjust to a man-woman world and helps to prepare for marriage itself.
Most often in relationships, we try to customize our order to get what we think is best for ourselves. In dating, we are looking for a person to love, not a product to consume. So our selection process can’t be rooted in transient characteristics like looks, charm, or wealth because these characteristics fade over time. If your marriage is built on surface characteristics, you have no hope together of a lasting future.
In dating, you are not constructing a robot from human parts to fit your needs. Rather, you are leveraging your life to build up the other person for the glory of God. The person you choose to marry should thus have an anchor point of love and morality outside of what you offer so your marriage can stay strong even when you are at your weakest. You want someone whose faithfulness to you is not anchored in the shifting sands of circumstance.
Now, are you going to find all this out about a person on date one? Of course not! Anybody can bluff their way through a one-hour interview. But what you want to see is someone who is striving to do beautiful things for beautiful reasons.
You want someone who is actively pursuing the Lord with a level of intensity compatible to yours. You want to stand at the altar together and promise to be faithful to each other without wondering if both of you are sincere.
You want to live out your years with someone who is not only faithful to God but also a good fit for you. Your personal convictions and beliefs about God matter in your relationship.
Being socially compatible matters. The majority of your marriage will not be spent having sex but hanging out together. You should find your mate interesting. You should have life and career goal that point in compatible directions. Some compromise is essential. But too much, and you may both end up frustrated because you are unable to fulfill your mission in life.
The Bible recognizes value in physical attraction. It is a factor in building a relationship- but it does not determine if you should be with someone. Obviously this is because we all age and external beauty or health fades. So be smart! It is much easier to contemplate these issues before the wedding.
Considering all these points will help you discern whether or not God has ordained a relationship for you.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your Thursday!