How to Approach Dating as a Christian
A dear brother in the Lord named Roberto has a huge fascination with cars, especially sports cars, like the Camaro and any model Porsche. In his native country of Brazil, he and his buddies often spend a Saturday afternoon test driving new cars at a local dealership just for fun. Because a “test drive” is all they are interested in, they never walk away having to worry about monthly payments, fuel prices or maintenance…just the fun and none of the responsibilities associated with owning the car of their dreams.
In today’s society, especially in America, dating is much like test driving a car where casual seekers are just out for a series of fun, commitment-free, recreational adventures.
The Modern Approach to Dating
Modern dating was successfully launched during the sexual revolution and spiritual mayhem of the 1960s and many of the principles of biblical dating (courtship) rapidly became less prominent and less important in our society. The practice of courtship offered structure which allowed both parties to get to know each other before encountering emotional and physical entanglements.
Culturally speaking, dating has now become just something you do if you’re single and of age. While many are in it just for the fun and physical, not everyone is so laid-back about it. Some are desperately seeking to find their “soul mate” or someone whom they believe will make them “happy” and will stop at nothing until they’ve finally secured their match.
The Internet offers a smorgasbord of dating sites for those who are seeking to find their “significant (or not so significant) other” to connect with on some level. If you Google the word “matchmaker” you will get some 10 million results, including many targeted to “Christians.” If you enter “dating,” your options increase to more than 400 million!
Unfortunately, survey after survey indicates that many of those who say they are Christian are following on this path right along with the masses. Certainly, the Lord is not pleased, but rather deeply grieved, by the casual, drive-by dating scene that professing Christians are immersed in and with which they are seemingly quite comfortable.
The Biblical Approach to Dating
A young single man who desired someday to be married came to our recent Annual Conference and asked about the biblical view of dating, courtship and finding a spouse. He shared that many of his professing Christian friends and peers had already gotten married and had played the dating game until they “hit the jackpot” and found their spouse. I was able to share with him that, as believers, we must be careful not to embrace the world’s ideas and methods for dating and/or finding a spouse even though multitudes around us are doing so.
The Bible provides authoritative guidance for any sincere, conscientious believer about how to best glorify the Lord in every area of our lives. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Consequently, single Christians must look to the all-sufficient Word of God to discover how best to glorify Him even in this area of his or her life.
The contemporary dating scene affords countless opportunities to meet members of the opposite sex—who may or may not be a potential marriage partner. The problem is, it is overwhelmingly driven by pure lust and self-centeredness and is often emotionally, physically and spiritually destructive to one or both parties.
So when you look at it through the lens of Scripture, the basic philosophy of modern dating is entirely unbiblical in that it’s mainly about “playing the field” to discover “what one wants” in a spouse, searching to “meet all my needs and desires,” and “finding the right person for me.” Where is the Lord in all this?
Isn’t our calling as single Christians all about loving God and loving others? Shouldn’t we have the mind of Christ even when it comes to dating? “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:3-5)
Date with Prayer
Single Christians who care more about pleasing and glorifying Jesus need not be distracted or led astray by the world’s views when it comes to finding a helpmate. Although there’s no actual formula per se concerning how to go about this process, a believer must be prayerful, “…but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
It’s very important to seek the Lord concerning a potential spouse to avoid playing the dangerous, often futile, dating game and following the corrupt, self-centered desires of one’s heart that are contrary to God’s will. One should ask for much grace, wisdom and patience to meet another single, godly person of the opposite sex. A love for Jesus and a desire to live in accordance to God’s will must be number one from the get-go.
When choosing a spouse, earnest Christians should consider these two passages of Scripture among others which stress how important it is for any two Christians to be on the same page spiritually:
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Date with Purpose
To avoid getting into an ungodly trap or becoming a stumbling block to one another, a single man and woman must also be purposeful from the onset. This will serve as a guidepost to clearly establish the seriousness of their friendship and the level of their commitment to prayerfully seek and discover God’s will for possible marriage in the future. Being accountable and submitting to godly, parental guidance (depending on one’s age, of course) and/or to one’s spiritual leaders will positively impact any purposeful relationship.
A telling question we Christians must ask ourselves over and over is, “what is my motive” in doing this or that? Is my purpose to please and glorify God by serving others, or is my motive to get something for myself? Is my interest in dating to have fun and be entertained, or is it to glorify God and serve others? Even if you are seeking your “soul mate” and someone you could marry, is your purpose more to find companionship, physical and emotional fulfillment, and social acceptance, or is it to more so to serve and glorify the Lord?
Date with Purity
Insert a MEGAPHONE here: Being passionate for purity must be the hallmark of any courtship between a Christian man and woman! Great care must be taken to guard another’s heart during the journey of getting to know each other—whether it eventually leads to marriage or not. Song of Solomon 2:7b warns, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires,” meaning before the proper time—marriage.
Establishing good physical and emotional boundaries will help both parties maintain the utmost level of purity. First Timothy 5:2 instructs men to treat single women as sisters in Christ, “with absolute purity.” In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he instructs believers to behave decently, to avoid sexual immorality, to be clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ and to not make any provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:13-14).
The Lord promises “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) In Psalms 37:4 He says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Be encouraged, beloved, the Lord is not stingy but rather desires that you be filled to overflowing. Simply believe Him for this, and you will see the Lord bless you in ways you could never think or imagine.
Brad Furges is the former Director of Men’s Counseling at Pure Life Ministries. Brad holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia (UVa) and an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from Master’s Divinity School.
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