This post helps us begin to think about what dating is. It’s not something that always needs to lead to marriage, or marriage at any cost. Rather it’s something that can honour God, help us become more Christ-like, and help a couple discern if marriage is a good idea for them.
(The following extract is taken from page 29-32 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free here)
So let’s start by unpacking what we think dating is.
First up, dating is not the most important thing. You might not feel ready or even interested in dating yet. You’re not alone!
I genuinely don’t want to settle down yet. I know that as a nice Christian girl I’m not supposed to say that, but I like being single.
For anyone who is interested in dating, it’s about spending time with someone you’re attracted to and you enjoy being with. For some people, it’s also about finding that connection.
I’m an intuitive person; I trust my gut 90% of the time! So nothing gets me more excited than a spark; that instant and mutual attraction to someone is amazing. Whilst I totally believe it can develop over time, I don’t think anyone can ignore that chemical reaction
One Eye On Marriage
The goal of godly dating is Christian maturity and good marriage, not marriage from the start or marriage at any cost
We do believe that dating is about marriage potential to some degree. Whether you’re meeting over a milkshake, cuddling through a movie or climbing Kilimanjaro together, dating has a long-term focus: to see whether this relationship has what it takes to go the distance.
The moment you are sure that it doesn’t, it’s probably time to stop being romantically involved. This is not the same as only dating someone you are convinced you can marry from the moment you clap eyes on them! The goal of godly dating is Christian maturity and good marriage, not marriage from the start or marriage at any cost.
But there’s something else about dating that we should mention. It’s not biblical.
No Chapters On Dating
For this reason, some Christians don’t date at all, or will only consider marrying close friends, skipping the whole dating stage. Mark believes that, on the whole, dating people you don’t know is ‘overrated and filled with too many pitfalls. You’re better off going out with your mates.’
But before you think we’ve conned you into reading about dating when we’re going to say God hates it, we’re not.
Dating isn’t biblical in the same way that preaching with a microphone, texting, or driving a car aren’t biblical: it didn’t exist before the twentieth century. Dating is a contemporary practice that the church in the West has bought into. So if it’s not in the Bible, should it be in our lives?
Weighing Up Our Options
There have been voices in recent years calling for Christians to avoid any relationship that isn’t destined to end in marriage. On the surface this sounds wise. As people who believe in the sacred covenant of marriage, we should avoid relationships that demand little in the way of commitment.
But we think that tying yourself to a no-dating rule will pose more problems than it solves. Taken to an extreme, there are Christians who have felt an obligation to marry the first person they liked and were ‘kind of dating’, even if they said they weren’t.
In rejecting dating but still wanting to find someone to marry, we can find ourselves in a kind of no man’s land before marriage, with no clear boundaries for what we can or can’t expect from the other person in this new relationship.
The Bible doesn’t talk about the internet or globalisation, and while these things carry the potential for incredible evil, Christians are constantly trying to transform them and use them for God’s glory.
What interests God is not just dating, but who we are when we date, and who we become
Using the Bible
So why can’t we transform our Western dating culture, using the biblical principles for relationships and for marriage, the ultimate romantic relationship?
What interests God is not just dating, but who we are when we date, and who we become.
What kind of person are you working on becoming, whether you’re in a relationship or not?
If you’re a man, how do you grow in the characteristics needed to be a godly boyfriend, confident in himself, worthy of respect, a selfless protector, and generous encourager? If you’re a woman, how do you grow in the characteristics needed to be a godly girlfriend, sure of herself and her calling, truly selfless and trustworthy?
If society says that dating is all about what you can get, we say that it is all about what you can give
How do we accept, and even appreciate, being single (for a short time or perhaps long-term) without growing hard-hearted? (Read What The Bible Actually Says About Singleness)
This is where our ideas about dating fly in the face of the culture around us. If society says that dating is all about what you can get, we say that it is all about what you can give.
When we just look to our own interests, we lose sight of who we’re trying to become. If we’re trying to become more like Jesus, then we need to date in a way that demonstrates his radical, revolutionary commitment to putting others before himself. (Read One Great Dating Tip From Ruth and Boaz. Really?)
Imagin If we saw dating as something that can be, and is, used by God. Something that in and of itself can teach us to be more Christ-like, can be enjoyed, and help us discern if we want to commit to the person we are dating and build a marriage together.
Dating is more than just fun, or just a step to marriage, it is something that can be used by God and bless us, even though there is no guarantee it will be simple or easy (Read Lots Of Dates Vs. Selective Dates: Which Is Really Better?).
How would you define dating? Comments welcomed below