‘Dating can be better than it is’. This idea and belief has driven me, my thinking and what I do for nearly 10 years. I still think that dating is meant to be enjoyable, but we also need to be intentional and think about our attitudes and approaches. Not to take the fun out of it, but so we can work through the hard times and make the good times more frequent and long-lasting.
I’ve been researching, writing, teaching, and preaching about dating in one way or another since 2009. I delivered a talk recently to a group of young adults about relationships. Because I’ve done it so many times, and do it so often, I can forget that many people are hearing teaching on dating for the first time.
I was talking about how God wants to bless our relationships and be involved as we date. He wants it to be fun, respectful, fulfilling, and if it goes wrong he is still involved and interested. It was great to see them getting excited and knowing God is relevant and cares about dating.
God wants to transform the way we see and approach dating
Someone the other day asked me why I do this stuff. Why I deliver these talks and do the work I do. My mind was taken back to what I wrote in one of the introductory pages of the book I co-wrote, The Dating Dilemma.
Back then I thought, and still do think, that God wants to transform the way we see and approach dating. So we can do it in a way that can bring real and authentic connections with others. The book I wrote, and the work I do, is all about that.
I still think it’s amazing that I get to be part of what God is doing in this area.
(The following extract is taken from page 32-33 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free here)
Throughout history, Christians have always stood out in the way they treat other people: whether it was Jesus treating women with respect, or the early church treating slaves with dignity, God has always asked his people to live lives radically different from the society around them.
His desire for us to be selfless in our love and committed in our relationships is unchanging. No shift in culture will ever change it.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:3–5)
It’s because we seek to be Christ-like in our relationships that the church teaches how to be a selfless parent, husband, wife, neighbour, son, daughter, boss, employee, friend. It’s time to add ‘Christ-like boy/girlfriend’ to that list too.
What concerns us with the ‘Christian dating’ we’re seeing is the lack of guidelines. Do you feel this too?
Well, we’re seeking to change that! At the heart of this book is our desire to see you approach dating from a God-perspective that will change everything: how you feel about dating, how you date and even where your dating leads.
This is a biblical approach to dating that we can celebrate
It’s a bold claim, but did you notice that we didn’t promise that you’ll get married or be dating within the month? No-one can promise anyone that their special someone is just around the corner. It’s an empty promise. It might already ring hollow for you.
So we’re not promising that.
What we are promising is to help you be credible, intentional and selfless in your attitude and actions. We believe this is a biblical approach to dating that we can celebrate and practice in the twenty-first century. (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving.)
As we said, this is a book about dating, not marriage. We want to help you value dating in and of itself. It is linked to marriage, but we can glorify God and grow as people through our dating experiences. We’re going to explore together what dating God’s way could look like for you.
Often when we go through hard times in life (at home, work or university), we are quick to see how God can use it to bring us closer to him and to grow us as a person. So why would this not be the same with challenges we face in dating relationships?
Imagine if we all reminded each other that dating differently is better
Why would God not want to help us learn more about ourselves and him through these key relationships in our lives? Should we just say, ‘Next time will be different’, and never reflect on what went wrong? (Read 2 Strategies for Surviving The Changing World Of Dating.)
I learnt a long time ago that God is doing a lot of amazing things to transform our society’s dating culture. I’m not the only one doing it, but I’m grateful to be part of it.
Imagine if we all reminded each other that dating differently is better and encouraged each other to date well, and this doesn’t take the fun out of it. Rather, it can create relationships we all crave. God’s love, grace, and purposes can have a real impact. I still believe that. (Read Why I Told Joshua Harris To Redeem Rather Than Reject Dating)
Have you ever thought about how God could transform our dating culture? Comments welcomed below