Last week, we learned about dating and courtship. We learned what true dating and courtship are, and we also defined the two terms. Then, we set the bare minimum standard for dating, reiterating what I published a few months ago in my post “5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Date Until You’re 19”. This post specifically laid out guidelines on deciding when to actually start dating. These included, but are not limited to, financial stability, a knowledge of proper manners, emotional stability, spiritual maturity, and discipleship by men/women in the Church.
Moving on past when to date, we also learned when not to date. High school was discussed in detail, and it was eventually decided that, as a general rule, high school dating is neither necessary nor reasonable, based on the reasoning found in this article, published by the Circe Institute.
After all of that, we are still left with one major question- what does real, Christian dating look like? This is, quite unfortunately, a question that few ask and even fewer would care to answer. Most Christians date whenever and however they wish, leaving younger, more inquisitive minds with a warped image of both themselves and their relationships. Somehow, we have almost deluded our younger generation into believing that young teenagers are within their rights to date before the age of fifteen.
This is a travesty. Nobody seems to know what real, Christian dating is. Some, such as Joshua Harris, seemed to have a clear picture, only to fall to the world’s pressures and recant. Others claim to have a clear picture but they deceive both themselves and others, all under the guise of a Christ-like performance. Truly, a sad thing has happened to the Christian community.
Dating must begin first and foremost with the Bible. I, personally, believe in the Bible as the full and inspired Word of God, flawless and infallible, as the final source on any matter regarding Christianity. So, with that, let’s take a look at two key verses that speak into this matter.
“Swear to me, young women of Jerusalem, that you won’t awaken or arouse love before its proper time!”Song of Solomon 8:4 (International Standard Version)
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”Matthew 5:29-30 (English Standard Version)
Wow. That last verse is especially strong. Now, keep in mind that the first verse, from the Song of Solomon, has different interpretations based on the translation of the Bible. For this instance, I chose the International Standard Version, not for the translation itself but rather for the meaning of the words. “Do not awaken or arouse love before its proper time.” Obviously, Solomon, the author, understood that there was a “proper time” for arousing love, which would translate quite roughly into today’s Christian dating. Since we know that the Bible establishes the fact that there is a time to arouse love, or begin dating/courting (keep in mind, these are different- dating has the end goal of courtship and then marriage, courtship has the end goal of marriage), we can conclude that our original assumptions, being that Christian dating should not start until a certain period, are true.
Dating must begin first and foremost with the Bible.Tweet
The second verse speaks to me in a particularly strong way. Broken down, it tells us that anything causing us to stumble should be discarded immediately. If we look deeper into the rest of the New Testament text, we see many verses talking about stumbling into lust, linking the two words together. Verse talking about a “stumbling block” sometimes refer to lustful stumbling. In the same way, this verse can also mean “if something is causing you to lust, remove it and throw it away.”
This opens an entire realm of realizations. While many men are different in what triggers lustful thoughts, there are a few more obvious and general rules that apply within dating, the first being the most obvious. If we are to keep ourselves from stumbling, we must follow these strictly and with understanding between our future or current girlfriend/boyfriend.
1: Your relationship should be devoid of sex or sexual contact.
This is, most certainly, the most common thing Christian teens are ridiculed for within school and athletics. Even growing up in a Christian community, I have been mocked for my beliefs in this area. But we, as Christians, know the Bible is very clear on this matter.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”Genesis 2:24-25
The man shall leave his father and mother, and then the two shall become one flesh (literally meaning having sex). This verse is literally the first example within the Bible to talk about sex and its boundaries. To read the entire collection of verses on this matter, click here.
2: Your relationship should glorify God.
What’s the point of a “Christian” relationship if not to glorify God? Through your relationship, you should demonstrate the purity and beauty of Christ’s relationship with the church. While some mistakenly believe this to indicate forceful sex even before marriage, we understand this to be neither true nor Biblical. Christ’s relationship with His church is pure, and in the same way, your relationship (whether future or present) should be devoid of impurity.
3: Your relationship should have the intention of marriage.
Not every relationship will end with marriage. I know many people that dated with the intention of marrying their girlfriend/boyfriend, only to realize that the other person was simply not compatible for a healthy relationship. Do not make the mistake of believing that your first or current relationship will end in marriage. Instead, keep marriage as the hope/goal and trust God’s work within the both of you.
4: Your relationship should be known by your parents.
“Oh my word, this is so 1940’s,” says the teenage girl in the third row. True, but let’s not forget that the 1940’s birthed what was quite possibly the greatest Christian generation in United States history. These old-fashioned methods were developed for a reason, and I believe them to be some of the smartest practices used within Christian dating. When a couple begins a relationship but keeps their parents out of it, the window for sexual impurity becomes massive. On the other hand, when accountability is nurtured with the parents on both sides, that window grows a lot smaller. Men, if you want to date a girl, talk to their dad. While it will probably be the most nerve-wracking experience of your life, you will not regret it.
5: If something within this relationship causes you to lust, discard it immediately.
Every man or woman will be different. Some men will be able to hold hands with their girlfriend without feeling lustful at all- that comes out of a pure, innocent, and brotherly love for their girlfriends. Others would be tempted to lustful thoughts by this. If that’s you, don’t be ashamed. Instead, be willing to fight for your wife and her purity, and conduct your relationship with completely platonic manners.
Kissing, on the other hand, is a topic that I find to be different between men. Some men believe it ok to kiss their girlfriends. Others wait until their wedding day. I, personally, intend to wait almost to my wedding day; I would like to kiss my fiance if she says yes to my proposal, but this opinion could change over the years. At the end of the day, regardless of your opinion on this, make sure that your relationship is glorifying to God, and don’t do anything you think you might regret, whether this applies to kissing or not.
6: Date to learn, not to have relationship.
The goal can be the same, but the reason should be clear. You should only date when you are ready for marriage, and when you date, it needs to be to learn, not to have companionship. Spend extra time talking and learning, and you will know your spouse better than many others. Every single week night, my parents sit on our couch and talk for an hour. What they talk about is beyond me, but something has been very clear from that (and their marriage, which is excellent)- communication is key within relationship. This remains true for dating.
The majority of these relationships that incorporate these factors as a basis will focus on God, and those involved likely won’t do anything they’ll regret. Study these before you are ready for a relationship, and you’ll be prepared for it. Study them in a relationship, and you’ll be ready for marriage. Trust God, stay pure, and give grace where grace is due.
Alright, that’s all for today. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post (and learned something!). If you did, make sure to click that Follow button below (or to the side). That way, you’ll get notified when I release a new post. Thanks again, and I hope you have a fantastic day!
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