Dating is hard.
For the Christian, dating is like every other area of life in that we should be deeply concerned with how following Jesus informs the way we think and act and love.
If you did a Bible search for the word “dating” you know what you come up with? NOTHING.
There are some that feel the Bible prescribes a courtship form of dating because that was the cultural norm in that time. Using that same logic you can make the argument that we should all be polygamous because that was the cultural norm in that time as well.
Instead of direct, explicit instructions, the Bible teaches us several principles that we can apply to dating and ultimately, the pursuit of marriage.
7 Biblical Principles of Dating
1. Walk with Jesus.
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. – Colossians 2:6-7
Far too often the first step a Christian takes in thinking about how to date God’s way is to sit down and make a list of all the qualities their future spouse needs to have. Then, they only date people who fit the list.
While the forethought is admirable, our first step in trying to date in a way that honors God is to BE someone worth dating. Our faith in Jesus should be active and meaningful as Paul described in Colossians. We should be rooted and built up in Jesus. Lists are just fine but we should make a list for who we need to be first.
2. Only date people who walk with Jesus.
The second principle is where you can use your list! In looking for someone to date, you’re really looking for the type of person you will marry. That person needs to have the same active faith you’re living out.
They need to be more than cultural Christians who attend church. They need to be able to explain the Gospel out loud. They need to be able to talk about what Jesus means to them and describe what Jesus has done for them. They should be able to point out ways they are more like Jesus this year compared to last year and be able to share what God is currently teaching them.
3. Keep physical boundaries.
Flee from sexual immorality. – 1 Corinthians 6:18
You know what this verse says in Greek? Flee from sexual immorality. Literally run away from it. Since sex is a good gift from God but a gift meant to be enjoyed only in the covenant marriage relationship, sex outside of marriage falls under the category of sexual immorality.
So does pornography, homosexuality, lust, objectification, and crossing physical lines even if you don’t “go all the way.”
If the Bible calls us to run away from something, why are so many of us trying to get as close as possible to the line without stepping over? We are fundamentally misunderstanding God’s heart for us to live a pure life walking with him and honoring others.
Setting and keeping firm physical boundaries helps you flee from sexual sin instead of flirting with it.
If you’re an unmarried Christian I would suggest you consider boundaries that keep you from:
- sex outside of marriage.
- living with someone before marriage. (co-habitation)
- being alone in a private place (apartment, dorm, parked car, etc.)
- being alone in a room with your computer/phone late at night.
- sending pictures, Snapchats, etc. that you would not want others to see/know about.
- laying down (even in an Eno!) with someone you’re not married to.
- Isolating yourself from godly friends who can hold you accountable.
4. No marriage. No commitment.
One of the reasons the Bible doesn’t talk explicitly about dating is there is absolutely zero commitment in dating. It doesn’t matter how many times you say, “I love you” or how long you’ve been together or how many promise toe rings you’ve exchanged.
The covenant relationship of marriage is the only place to find real commitment. Dating can be a wonderful experience but don’t deceive yourself into crossing physical boundaries you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable crossing under the guise of a commitment that simply does not exist.