Much of dating is a secular activity that the church has taken up. It has evolved with time so there is not much in Scripture that gives us direction on what it should look like. We can draw general principles, but the modern dating that we do is not talked about in the Bible. Much of dating is figuring out what it means to date well.
Part of being a Christian means coming into the knowledge that the things we do matter – whether it be doing school, learning a sport, or dating someone. Each of these things can and should be done to the glory of God.
Unfortunately, we can easily say this, but many of us do not live it out. We are constantly living in cognitive dissonance between our beliefs about dating and our practice. We believe that we should date wisely, but we flirt with people who are not Christians. We say that sex is for marriage, but we make out excessively on the couch after visitation. We say that the goal of dating is to discern marriage, but once we start dating, the wedding is already being planned. What are we missing here? Why does our theology look so different from our orthopraxy?
In light of the desire for everything to glorify God, I would suggest you ask yourself these six questions before you decide to enter into a dating relationship.
Are they a Christian (and not just in name only)?
The first and most important of all questions: is the person you are considering to date a Christian? We date to discern for marriage, but no discernment is needed to figure out whether you should marry a non-Christian … the answer is no. God’s word says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor 6:14).
To take this a step further, is the Christianity of the person you are considering something they tout externally but are resisting in their heart? When we consider dating as discernment for marriage, we need to be yoked with a believer, not a nominal Christian. Going to church does not guarantee they are committed to God. Having a Bible verse in their bio is not necessarily evidence of genuine faith. Being a Christian Ministries major does not mean they have a Christ-exalting theology.
So before becoming tied up to another person, emotionally, socially, and physically, strongly consider their walk with the Lord.
Could you see yourself (and them) being married in two years?
The reason why I ask this question is not to give black and white rules for everyone to follow. My heart is only to help lessen the pain that comes from dating for excessive amounts of time. Remember: dating is for the purpose of discernment about marriage. So, what if you “discern” and decide that they are the person you want to marry…but you are a sophomore in college with no job or car? Do you string them along with you for the next two or three years? This not only opens more time for the temptation to physical sin but also creates space for gradually becoming more intimately tied together. The Bible uses the term, “becoming one flesh” to describe what happens at marriage. There is a problem when this one-flesh-ness begins before marriage, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
Part of honoring marriage from a Christian perspective is to keep the marriage things in marriage. This gets muddy the longer two people have been dating. So consider whether you could see yourself getting married soon before you begin an exclusive relationship with someone else.
Do you like them?
It might seem like an odd question, but it’s worth saying. If you do not like the person, don’t date them. It is simple. Sometimes in Christian culture, we think that just because someone is a Christian, we must date them. This is not true. If you do not enjoy their company, find them attractive, and or don’t care for them—just don’t date. You wouldn’t want to marry someone you don’t like, so why date someone in whom you are not interested? It doesn’t make you more holy. It is not an honorable thing to do.
Do they get along with your friends?
There are exceptions to this question, I will say that right off the bat. The underlying idea here is that we choose our friends for a reason, whether it be their personality, humor, convictions, proximity, interests, etc. If someone you like does not get along with, or care to get along with, the people you have chosen as your closest friends, perhaps you should reconsider whether to date. Dating is not only a two-person ordeal, but rather it includes both your circle and theirs, including family. A couple that dates in isolation will not last long. And if they do, they will leave a wake of dead friendships behind them.
Do you see qualities in them that you would like to have in yourself?
There is a well-known verse from Corinthians that states: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). On the flip side, good company promotes good character. It is common knowledge that you become like those with whom you spend time, both in small ways, like in your mannerisms and vocabulary, and in big ways, such as politics and theology. When you consider the person you are thinking of dating, would you like to have their character as your own? Do you see good qualities in them that you would like to see in yourself? As you grow closer, you will also grow to be more alike, for better or worse.
Is your relationship with the Lord solid?
How are we to glorify God in dating if His glory is not our goal in life? Who are we to look at our potential significant other and their relationship with God when ours is shaky at best? Before getting involved with another person, submit yourself to the Lord. Relationships, especially at the beginning, can cause a lot of anxiety and unsteadiness. Not to say that Christians will do it right every time, but when we humble ourselves before the Lord and trust him with our desires, he will be our Rock and our hope amid the highs and lows of any relationship.
Dating can be a complex endeavor, but that does not mean it is impossible to do as a Christian. We must press on in a spirit of desiring to glorify God in everything we do – dating included. From my perspective, many of the problems of dating can be readily avoided if we were to just pause and think wisely from the start. The goal is not to make a rigid list of rules to follow; nor is it to look down on couples who have decided to do it differently. The goal is to surrender our hearts to the Lord before we give it to anyone else.
Categories: Student Life