Dating In The Bible

If you’re reading this, you’re interested in dating. You’ve done it, you’re doing it, you’d like to do it, or you need to teach somebody else how to do it. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. In our society, dating has become something of an obsession. It is expected to be a universal phenomenon. It’s just something you do if you’re single and of age (and that age is quickly dropping) in America. It is considered the natural precursor to marriage, and is generally considered something to be desired, whatever form it might take.

It’s also big business. If you were to Google the word “matchmaker,” you would receive something in the neighborhood of 21,200,000 responses — with a few of these outfits claiming to be Christian, but most making no such claim. “Dating” will get you 790,000,000 hits.

As evangelical Christians, we’re called to be distinct in the ways we think and act about all issues that confront us and those around us. This topic is no exception. So is there such a thing as biblical dating? If so, what is it? How can Christians think differently about this pervasive issue in media and culture? How are we doing so far?

Dating In The Bible

Although the words “courtship” and “dating” are not found in the Bible, we are given some principles that Christians are to go by during the time before marriage. The first is that we must separate from the world’s view on dating because God’s way contradicts the world’s (2 Peter 2:20). While the world’s view may be to date around as much as we want, the important thing is to discover the character of a person before making any commitment to him or her. We should find out if the person has been born again in the Spirit of Christ (John 3:3-8) and if he or she shares the same desire toward Christ-likeness (Philippians 2:5). The ultimate goal of dating or courting is finding a life partner. The Bible tells us that, as Christians, we should not marry an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) because this would weaken our relationship with Christ and compromise our morals and standards.

When one is in a committed relationship, whether dating or courting, it is important to remember to love the Lord above all else (Matthew 10:37). To say or believe that another person is “everything” or the most important thing in one’s life is idolatry, which is sin (Galatians 5:20; Colossians 3:5). Also, we are not to defile our bodies by having premarital sex (1 Corinthians 6:9, 13; 2 Timothy 2:22). Sexual immorality is a sin not only against God but against our own bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18). It is important to love and honor others as we love ourselves (Romans 12:9-10), and this is certainly true for a courtship or dating relationship. Whether dating or courting, following these biblical principles is the best way to have a secure foundation for a marriage. It is one of the most important decisions we will ever make, because when two people marry, they cleave to one another and become one flesh in a relationship which God intended to be permanent and unbreakable (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5).

Dating In The Bible

Modern dating philosophy assumes that there will be several intimate romantic relationships in a person’s life before marriage. In fact, it advocates “playing the field” in order to determine “what one wants” in a mate. Biblical dating has as its goal to be emotionally and physically intimate with only one member of the opposite sex … your spouse.

Modern dating tends to be egalitarian (no differences between men and women in spiritual or emotional “wiring” or God-given roles). Biblical dating tends to be complementarian (God has created men and women differently and has ordained each of these spiritual equals to play different and valuable roles in the church and in the family).

Modern dating tends to assume that you will spend a great deal of time together (most of it alone). Biblical dating tends to encourage time spent in group activities or with other people the couple knows well.

Modern dating tends to assume that you need to get to know a person more deeply than anyone else in the world to figure out whether you should be with him or her. The biblical approach suggests that real commitment to the other person should precede such a high level of intimacy.

Modern dating tends to assume that a good relationship will “meet all my needs and desires,” and a bad one won’t — it’s essentially a self-centered approach. Biblical dating approaches relationships from a completely different perspective — one of ministry and service and bringing glory to God.

Modern dating tends to assume that there will be a high level of emotional involvement in a dating relationship, and some level of physical involvement as well. Biblical dating assumes no physical intimacy and more limited emotional intimacy outside of marriage.

Modern dating assumes that what I do and who I date as an adult is entirely up to me and is private (my family or the church has no formal or practical authority). Biblical dating assumes a context of spiritual accountability, as is true in every other area of the Christian life.

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