Type the word “dating” into your bible search tool and what comes up?
When I was single, I remember wishing there was an entire book of the bible dedicated to the topic, or at least even a chapter. But though Scriptures are filled with foundational life-changing truths, there are still some topics that are left untouched when it comes to finding a biblical perspective.
In fact, I have to chuckle to myself whenever someone asks me to give a “biblical” perspective on dating. Not only is there nothing said about the topic, but the concept of dating didn’t even exist in biblical times. Even today in cultures of the Middle East, dating is a relatively new concept and couples can’t even be seen together in public unless they are officially “engaged” to be married.
I get a little tired when people ask me to address “Christian Dating”, because frankly, it doesn’t really exist. In fact, the modern-day concept of “dating” looked far different 2,000 years ago. The process of meeting a spouse had very little to do with compatibility and personality traits, and everything to do with family lineage and economic status. Finding a mate functioned a lot more like a bartering system than dinner and a movie.
If we’re really serious about “biblical dating”, than a Friday night first-date at Starbucks would probably need to include our entire extended family, some bulky gold jewelry, an expensive dowry, and a couple herds of donkeys, goats, and sheep somewhere in the mix.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty awkward first-date to me.
So what is our obsession with wanting to know about “Christian Dating”? I don’t often hear Christians saying they want their doctor to practice “Christian Medicine”, hiring “Christian Plumbers” to fix their toilets, nor taking “Christian Mathematics” as part of their coursework.
I think part of our obsession, though, might be rooted in FEAR: Fear of doing things wrong. Fear of making mistakes.
Because relationships are such a valuable part of who we are, what I hear when someone asks me to talk about “Christian Dating” is a voice who is unsure, longing for answers, and in need of direction. Afraid of making mistakes, we long for cookie-cutter formulas that tell us to date this person, or that person – or better yet, to kiss dating goodbye all together.
But God doesn’t often provide cookie cutter answers or straight-edged formulas. But be encouraged, though He may not always provide us with the direct plan, He always gives us everything we need to get where He wants us to go.
Though the bible doesn’t talk directly about dating, it does speak volumes about relationships, godly interactions, and principles that can be applied to how you date. In fact, my entire book, True Love Dates (Kindle version currently on V-Day sale fro $1.99 for a limited time) is dedicated to examining how to apply these principles (paired with a little modern psychology- which FYI is NOT from the Devil) to real-life situations. 1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us that no matter what it is we’re doing; it can be used as a means to glorifying God. When it comes to “Christian dating”, I think we could all benefit from relaxing a bit with all the rules, and learning to apply Godly wisdom to every single part of our lives.
The bible makes it clear that life is less about the “do’s” and “don’ts” and so much more about doing what’s beneficial, healthy, and righteous (1 Corinthians 10:23). So what does that mean when it comes to dating? How can dating be done in a way that’s healthy and righteous?
Become a healthy person: The best way to have a healthy dating relationship is to become a healthy person. God’s word reminds us of the need for us to throw off the old baggage of sin, bad habits, and hang-ups – and to become new each and every single day (Ephesians 4:22-24). Becoming more like Christ sets us up for interactions with others that reflect love, healing, and wholeness. I don’t know about you, but I say that’s a step in the right direction when it comes to dating well. (Learn more in “Dating Inward” Section 1 of TLD).
Date a healthy person: God’s word reminds us of the importance of connecting with people who are in line with our spiritual life (2 Corinthians 6:14, 1 Corinthians 15:33). The truth about relationships is that the healthier both individuals are emotionally and spiritually, the healthier the relationship will be. Apply this truth to dating by connecting with people who are on the same page as you are spiritually and emotionally. (Learn more in “Dating Outward” Section 2 of TLD).
See dating as an opportunity for encouragement: No matter where we are or who we are with, above all else we are called to reflect God’s love, encouraging and uplifting those around us (1 Thessalonians 5:11). It’s important to remember that though dating should never be used for the purpose of bringing others to know Jesus, it’s still a chance to encourage and uplift those we come into contact with. Healthy interactions with others will leave us with little regrets, no matter what the long term outcomes.
Maintain boundaries: All over Scripture we are reminded of the value of a physical relationship within the context of a committed marriage and the risks of intimacy outside of marriage (Hebrews 13:4, Song of Solomon 8:4). Dating well means that we make sure to honor and respect this portion of our future marriage by setting physical limits and boundaries when it comes to interacting with the opposite sex. But not only that, dating with wisdom means that we also understand the importance of emotional and spiritual boundaries by learning not to go too deep, too fast. God’s word tells us to guard our hearts, because the truth is, everything valuable is totally worth protecting. (Learn more in “Dating Outward” Section 2 of TLD).
Bring it to God: It’s easy to include God in our spiritual lives, but why not include Him in our relational world as well? We want the title of “Christian Dating”, yet we often fail to bring Christ into any of it at all. Throughout God’s word, we are encouraged again and again to bring our needs, concerns, and desires to Him (Matthew 7:7). He cares about the things that concern us, and He’s longing to connect with us in a way that’s meaningful. Our relationships can be an instrument that draws us close to God, as we seek Him for wisdom, guidance, and discernment along the way (Psalm 34:10). (Check out 8 Ways to Pray for Your Love-Life and then Learn more in “Dating Upward” Section 3 of TLD). **Snag True Love Dates (Kindle) while it’s on Valentine’s Day Sale for a limited time at $1.99)
So no matter where you are within the world of dating, remember that there is no such thing as “Christian Dating”, only Christians who date. It’s time to take the pressure off of trying to date “biblically”, and instead see the entirety of our interactions with others (including how we date) as an opportunity to connect with God, to become our best, and reflect Him to the people He brings into our lives. Because there is truly nothing more “biblical” than that.
What if one act a day had the power to change everything? We spend so much time worrying, analyzing, adn thinking about our love life (or lack thereof), without taking the time to actually pray.
Why not start today, by praying in a way that is focused, deliberate, and has the power to impact God’s heart! Click below to learn more.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!