Part 2 of this post continues to explore what redeeming dating looks like. I long for Christian dating cultures to be known as the place where people thrive. That in this important area of romance, that often brings confusion and pain, God can intervene and help us to build mutually fulfilling and amazing God-centred relationships, as we pursue redemption over rejection.
In Part 1 of this post, I shared a bit of the conversation I had with Joshua Harris on ‘kissing dating goodbye’ verses redeeming dating for God’s glory and our benefit.
All of my research, experience, study, supporting others, and teaching leads me to believe that our church’s dating cultures can be redeemed by God. And many people, including Joshua Harris, are now thinking about how we can transform it rather than why we might reject it.
Many churches and Christians seem to have adopted this view over the past few years, and I want to keep exploring what this change may look like.
(The following extract is taken from page 51-52 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free here)
Good dating begins with getting our hearts right with God. The psalmist asks,
How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living. (Psalm 119:9–16; The Message)
It’s an active, not a passive, lifestyle
Sometimes the questions about romantic relationships that we level at the Bible (Read Why does everyone tell me not to date a non-Christian?) are less about us wanting to know God’s plan for our lives and more about us wanting him to approve our plan for our lives.
Does this demonstrate sacrificial love?
When we committed to following Jesus, we joined the team whose mission is to seek God first and join him in restoring his world. This will inspire, challenge and fulfil us in ways we can only begin to imagine. It’s an active, not a passive, lifestyle.
We’re no longer on the sidelines waiting for our lives to begin. We’re signed up to learning the hard lessons of selflessness in all our relationships. We’re committed to being a faithful friend, generous neighbour, forgiving sibling, humble employee and an honourable girl/boyfriend.
None of this happens without obedience to Jesus and an acceptance that we will make mistakes along the way.
Thank God for grace!
You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything – and I do mean everything – connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life – a God fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you. (Ephesians 4:20–24; The Message)
Our lasting happiness is not dependent on us finding romance
Single, dating or married – these are all times when we can explore God’s will for us and his deep desire to build godly character into us. Trusting that God knows the desires of our hearts, and will give us good gifts that satisfy, means that we can have every confidence when we date.
The outcome is not just down to us. Our lasting happiness is not dependent on us finding romance.
We have a God who will work in and through our dating relationships. He will give us the courage to see ourselves honestly and to take the responsibility of changing to become a better boy/girlfriend.
Here To Stay
The dating culture we know is recent and has evolved over time. Romance had never been so central. Whether we like it or not, this culture has affected, and continues to affect, us and our choices.
Our romance revolution begins with a celebration of God’s incredible love for us
Do we like what we see? Do we realise that, as well as the good that being free to choose who to date offers us, there are also things that with God’s help we could change for our benefit and his glory?
Our romance revolution begins with a celebration of God’s incredible love for us. He is the God who desires, pursues and wins us!
His freely given love brings out the best in us. When we allow this to overflow into our search for lasting love with someone, we find ourselves acting more like him, and less like the culture around us.
Imagine if we dated, and encouraged those around us to date like this. In a way that was asking the tough questions, was honest, was looking to Jesus, respectful, kind, and applicable in our situation. (Read 3 Things You Should Do To Avoid A Co-dependent Relationship).
The conversation I had with Joshua was really good, and I came away more excited than ever about being part of redeeming the dating culture. This can happen when we engage with the culture, and make decisions that aren’t solely driven by what everyone is doing around us. We need to ask ‘How can I do this differently?’ (Read Being Cautious Vs Jumping In: Which Dating Habit Is Best?)
Do you think God can be honoured through our dating? Comments welcomed below.