The word “dating” often brings out mixed emotions and views. Secular people think of dating as a commonplace activity, comparable to sports or television in what it brings. Christians think of dating with many different opinions. Some treat it just as commonly as non-believers do, while others give it a wide berth. Some give it no veneration, while others revere it as if it is a gift from God; which, of course, it is. Despite the apparent similarities between secular and Christian dating, Christians should remember that dating is a gift from God, and should be treated with all due respect and reverence.
One of the major differences between secular and Christian dating is the means. Secular people treat dating as a means to take, though this appears to be quite confusing, it is easily explained. Essentially, many secular people view dating as an activity used to take from others. This is comparable to Christmas time, when the only thought within the mind of a child is what to get from Santa Claus. Just as children view Christmas as a time for getting presents, secular men and women see dating as a time for receiving pleasure. Whether acknowledged or not, pleasure is always found at the center of secular dating.
Christians must treat dating as a means to give. While the secular assessment of dating centers on self-seeking pleasure, Christian dating should focus on selfless giving. Tragically, the art of giving has become a lost art within today’s culture. Millions of unsaved people make it a habit to take without giving, while Christians are supposed to do just the opposite. Christians must learn to give, not out of duty, but out of love, for “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (English Standard Version, 1 Corinthians. 13.3). Without love, a person cannot hope to give. But within love, giving becomes the most radical testimony a Christian could share, for love through giving is a way to reach out to anybody, be they Muslim, Atheist, or Buddhist. Giving is not only a testimony of faith but also a testimony of character. A Christian armed with this knowledge will find giving within love illuminates personal testimony. Giving displays love, and love does not tear down, as hatred does. Selfish taking is a form of hatred, which destroys all hope for relationship. Contrary to this, love creates relationship, and the creation of relationship should consistently be the main goal within a Christ-led courtship.
Non-believers view dating as a pathway to sex. In today’s world, sex and dating are intertwined. The two go hand in hand, according to some, and are interchangeable. Because there is no Biblical background to most relationships, there is no context to sex. Thousands of unsaved men and women enter sexual relationships with no knowledge of God’s intention for sex within marriage. Because of this, few realize that sex must be held within marriage, else it inevitably becomes boring to the participants, who eventually break up or divorce. Today, secular marriage is only necessary when a couple wishes to exchange rings, have a ceremony, and join last names- no other reason. When the couple lives together, sleeps together, and can already have children, what true purpose does marriage hold to a secular couple? None.
Christians must treat dating as a road to marriage. Unlike secular dating, which is used to gain pleasure, Christians should view dating as a pathway to a possible marriage. Dating will not always end in marriage, and, because of this, should be viewed as a pathway to marriage. When viewed as a road to marriage, Christian dating becomes something far more special then secular dating. This time period is used as an opportunity for possible couples to learn about each other. The time within engagement is spent differently when the end goal is marriage, since secular dating has no end goal, save for pleasure, which is not fulfilling in the least. Did God intend for dating to be used within the context of marriage? Yes! How else is a young Christian going to learn about his future spouse? If two people were to enter marriage without having any true knowledge of each other, their marriage will likely be destroyed. Dating within the context of marriage has been blessed by God, and should be emulated by all young Christian men and women.
The major difference between secular and Christian dating is the inclusion of God within the relationship. Earthly relationships have no inclusion or basis with God; instead, they focus on pleasure, within sex, and taking what they can get. It is because of this that “About 40 to 50 percent of marriages within the United States end in divorce” (Lewis). When God is not included in dating, the relationship between the couple cannot be expected to last.
If a future marriage is to last, it is paramount that dating couples include God into their relationship. A problem found within many Christian couples is a lack of knowledge on how to incorporate God into their relationships. While they still pray, read their Bibles, or go to church, they are not actively including God into their relationship. The inclusion of God into a relationship involves careful prayer between the couple, reading the Bible together, going to church together, asking God how they can be the best husband/wife. This incorporation of God, while seeming to be unimportant, is crucial for producing a healthy, mature marriage.
While the differences between Secular and Christian dating appear to be few, they are extremely different, two beliefs separating two totally different ways of approaching relationships. Because of these differences, Christians have to remember that dating is a gift from God, and should be treated with all due respect and reverence.
Lewis, F. Henry. “Divorce Statistics in the United States and California.” Gardner & Lewis, LLP, 9 October 2018, https://www.michaelagardner.net/blog/2018/10/09/divorce-statistics-in-the-united-193973
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Crossway, 2001. Print.