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Do you ever wonder how to date as a Christian? Though dating is not explicitly discussed in the Bible, let us talk about how Christians should approach dating and how to handle themselves while dating.
Humans are made for relationships. We were created by God to have unique characteristics, personalities, and strengths to complement one another. In fact, in the very first book of the Bible, God has already demonstrated this when He created Adam and Eve. We have seen in their story and in the stories of other biblical characters that there is increased productivity and passion when we work and relate with others.
That being said, it does not mean that building relationship is without challenges, especially as a Christian. One of the many aspects of relationships is dating. There are many questions surrounding this topic – what to do, what not to do, who to date, how to date – and numerous things said about it as well. But today let’s go back to what the Bible says on how to date as a Christian.
Brief Overview How To Date as a Christian
What Is God’s Original Design?
In this day and age, lines have been blurred in terms of identity and relationships. With the rise of concepts like individualism and expressionism, true freedom has been lost. True freedom can only be achieved when we are what we have been created to be.
Genesis 1:26-31 gives us a clear picture of our creation as humans.
Who created us? Verse 26 says, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Our creator is God. He is the One who gave us shape and form and has breathed the breath of life into us. And since He is the One who created us, He knows what we were created for.
Take for example our gadgets or appliances. Before we use them, we refer to the manufacturer manual for instructions. When it malfunctions or is defective, we bring them to the manufacturer’s service center because they are the ones who know how to fix it. It is the same way with mankind. God is the one who created us, He knows us best and loves us the deepest.
How were we created? The next verse then tells us how we were created. Verse 27 says God created us in His own image and likeness. “Male and female, he created them.” This is God’s original design. And because He is infinitely good and unfathomably wise, we can trust that this original design is what is best for us His children.
Why were we created? One of the most basic needs of humans is to know their purpose. What am I here for? What am I created to do? Verse 28 says we are to be fruitful and multiply. One of God’s purposes in creating a male and female is procreation. For us to be able to subdue the earth and have dominion over every living thing that moves on the earth, we need to multiply in number and be fruitful as individuals and as communities.
Once again, in His infinite wisdom, God created us in such a way that life can be reproduced within us. A miracle is only possible when a male and female come together in obedience to the calling of their Creator.
What is the Purpose of Dating?
Now that we know that God’s original design is for man and woman to become one in marriage for procreation, what then is the role of dating? Humans are relational beings. God gave us life and that includes our minds and our souls. We were created by God with emotions and intellect, passions and interests. We are not merely mating animals, but rather humans who need deep, meaningful relationships.
This is where dating comes in. Relationships are built over time and dating provides an avenue to pursue God and His will for both parties. Some of the newer generations do not want to put labels on their relationships to avoid commitment, but this is the first step toward a healthy relationship. It is important to have clarity on your relationships, your intentions, your goals, and your boundaries early on. This will help prevent a lot of potential misunderstandings and problems.
What are Common Misconceptions about Dating?
People have different ideas about dating. Unfortunately, some of these ideas are unhealthy and do more harm than good. Let’s bust these misconceptions with biblical truth.
A Season to Experiment
A lot of people say that relationships are a numbers game. The more you date, the more chances of meeting the right person. The more diverse your options are, the better your decision will be. To pursue someone to merely test the waters is thinking only of one’s own needs and desires.
Dating isn’t a time to experiment, because it involves someone else’s mental health and emotions. Philippians 2:3 says we should not pursue anything out of selfish ambitions or desires, but rather always consider others more than ourselves.
A Season to Discover Compatibility in Sex
Sex is tragically treated loosely in today’s generation. But the Bible holds sex in marriage with much value and beauty. Hebrews 13:4 specifically says that marriage is to be honored and that the marriage bed must be kept pure.
Sex is God’s beautiful gift to be fully enjoyed only within the bonds of marriage. It is not for the unmarried and dating is therefore not a season to find out if someone can meet or satisfy your sexual needs. God is a God of precision and perfection. Whoever He has created to become your spouse is the best and the only person who can fully satisfy all of your needs, sex included.
A Season of Recreation
Although dating should be a season of joyfully pursuing God and pursuing each other, it is not to be treated only as a source of fleeting happiness and gratification. Dating is a journey towards hopefully building a family, which is a big responsibility.
It is important to also work on the other areas of your life as a single person which will enable you to provide for your future family. Proverbs 24:27 gives a wise insight to complete outdoor work, prepare the field and then build a house.
A Private Affair
Although relationships are meant to be intimate and personal, they are not meant to be entirely private. As imperfect people with different weaknesses, you need the counsel of select individuals you respect and look up to.
Proverbs 19:20 and Proverbs 19:27 show what happens when people listen to rebuke and correction or not. Verse 20 says wisdom is gained when you do, while verse 27 says you will stray from the knowledge if you don’t. Wise men listen to advice, while fools only listen to themselves. Dating benefits from having a community that supports and encourages.
Different Approach to Christian Dating
Being salt and light on this world, Christians are known to be counter-cultural. And this can be seen even in the area of dating. Let’s look at the 5 main differences between the Modern Approach to Dating and the Biblical Approach to Dating.
The Modern Approach to Dating
Research shows that the modern approach to dating began in the 1960s. People started believing that if you are of age (18 years old and above) and are single, you can date anyone you set your heart on. Physical attraction and sexual relations became the basis of compatibility and commitment if any.
Consequently, once these fade there is no longer any deep motivation to continue. This kind of dating encourages disposable relationships and causes long-term physical, emotional, and spiritual destruction to a person.
The Biblical Approach to Dating
On the contrary, the Biblical Approach to dating is characterized by 3 things: Prayer, Purpose, and Purity.
The ultimate purpose of God’s children is to glorify Him in all aspects of life. And as I mentioned earlier, no one else knows what’s best for man other than the One who created him – God. There is no area in your life where He is not sovereign. And so it only makes sense to seek Him in all you do, even and especially in the aspect of dating. What then should you pray for when dating?
- Pursuit of Jesus over Pursuit of each other
Mark 12:30 teaches us to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. This commandment does not stop when people enter into a relationship with another person or after marriage and children. In dating, the purpose is to pursue God first and foremost, above the couple’s pursuit of each other.
Naturally, because of total depravity, you are not able to do this on your own. You will always tend to focus on what you can see (your partners) instead of God who is unseen. The only way this can be done is by the grace of the Lord and is one of the things that dating people need to pray for.
- Discernment over Chemistry
Choosing a partner is not a game of chance. It is not grabbing whoever comes and gives you attention. It requires prayerful consideration and listening to God’s word, instead of simply chemistry. Yes, physical attraction and shared interests are part of the process but these are not the deal-breakers.
It is important to pray for and discern someone who shares the same basic values, faith, goals, and priorities as you. Amos 3:3 has great wisdom in asking “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” Remember that dating is not simply a getting to know you stage, it is a pursuit of a lasting relationship. It is a time to discern if this is the kind of person who can draw you close to the Lord.
Paul also says in 2 Corinthians 6:14 that believers are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers or those who do not believe in and follow Christ.
Having a purpose or a goal for anything you pursue in life is crucial to ensure that you are going in the right direction. In dating, two purposes can be helpful in all decision-making: Intention and Mission.
- Intention over Emotion
Relationships should not be founded on emotions alone, because these can easily change or wane over time. It has to be rooted in a deep desire to honor God and serve the other person. Some questions that may help you search your heart in this area are the following:
- Why do I want to be with this person? Is it because of something I can get or because it is the Lord’s leading?
- Do I have pure intentions for marriage?
- Do I want this person to draw near to the Lord or draw near to me?
- Do I have the intention and the ability to lead and provide?
- Will I be able to love like Christ loved the church or will I still put myself first?
- Am I willing to submit fully to this person? Or am I only willing to submit because my emotional needs are being met?
- Am I willing to serve this person selflessly like Christ served the church?
These are good points to honestly answer to see if you are not only clouded by your emotions but rather are led and enabled by the Spirit to obey the Lord’s direction for you.
- Missional vs Self-seeking
As Christ-followers, we are to be missional in all things and not only seek our pleasure. Every season in our life is an opportunity to shine the light of Jesus to this fallen world. Here are some ways on how you can make your dating season point to the complete work of Christ:
- Love God above all. Your greatest need is salvation and restoration to the Father. Because of Jesus, this has already been met. All other needs are secondary, including the love and attention of your partner.
- Continue to serve others. The grace and gifts of God do not stop when you get into a relationship. The calling to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations still stands true.
- Pray to keep the other person’s interest above yours. Just as Jesus’ love is selfless, your love for your partner should be the same.
Sex has become a central need and sometimes requirement in relationships among single and dating individuals. Sadly, lust and selfish desires come before any kind of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual connection. The Bible teaches us to be sexually pure, which means sex is only to be enjoyed between one man and one woman in marriage. In your season of dating, work towards keeping that purity in obedience and gratitude to the saving grace of Christ.
How to Date as a Christian
Because the godly Christian way of dating is in stark contrast with the world’s ways and standards, people find themselves clueless on how to go about it. Here are some concrete ways to help you this season.
How to Date as a Christian Man or Woman
As a single man or woman, although each has different needs and struggles, these are the most important things to remember:
- God is the one who completes you. Looking for a life partner should not be to find someone to complete you. If you do this, you will only end up disappointed and frustrated. The eternal void in your heart can only be filled by the eternal God who created you. Anything else you try to fit in there will only fail eventually. Remember that you are already complete in Jesus Christ. No one else can give you the joy and fulfillment that comes from Him.
- Put on the armor of God daily. For believers, there is a daily battle against the flesh. Our sinful desires wrestle against the good commands of the Lord. We need the Holy Spirit to enable us to obey and not give in to temptations. Ephesians 6:10-18 teaches us to put on the armor of God to be able to stand firm.
- Do not obsess on finding “The One”. Rather, work on growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18) and cultivate the gifts God has given you to be a blessing to the church and community. Wait on the Lord and trust that His will is always good, pleasing, and perfect (Romans 12:2)
How to Date as a Christian Single Mom
Being a single mom does not mean you can no longer find love. If marriage is the Lord’s will for you, the right person will come at God’s predestined time. While waiting, prayerfully seek the Lord in doing the following:
- Pray for God to search your heart. What is your motive in dating? Is it so you will not feel lonely and insecure? Is it to have a temporary escape from your troubles? Is it so you will have a companion in raising your child? Do you still find your security and joy in the Lord or do you need a man to fulfill those needs? Only God knows your heart completely and if you seek Him, He will open your eyes to it.
- Wait on the Lord. Do not rush in making decisions but be joyfully patient instead. Keep in mind that any decision you make will have long-term and eternal effects not only on yourself but more so on your children.
- Keep communication lines open. As a single mom, the important people in your life are your children, next to God. And you are the only parent they have. Strive to be honest and open to your children and allow them to respectfully express their opinions and feelings as well.
- Allow the Holy Spirit to direct and lead you. You are safest at the center of God’s will. And you will only be able to know His will if you diligently seek Him and draw near to Him. Listen and obey as the Holy Spirit guides you to what the Lord has planned for you.
How to Date A Christian Girl as an Atheist
If you do not share the same faith as the woman you are pursuing, doing the following will make her feel safe and loved by you:
- Respect her faith. Her faith is central to her being and most probably her family too. If you are to truly pursue her with the intention of marriage, consider her faith in your plans and decisions. Get to know her beliefs and the people she looks up to.
- Be Honest with your own beliefs. Do not pretend to share her beliefs or agree with her just to please her. Transparency is important. You both have to know, understand and accept what you believe in and what you do not believe in.
- Think long-term. If you do not share the same beliefs, ask yourself if this is something that you can deal with for the rest of your life. This will affect every aspect of your life – your values, your marriage, your priorities, your parenting, and your daily choices – big or small.
How to Turn Down a Date as a Christian
Dating is not always a walk in the park. There will be hard decisions, one of which is turning someone down. It takes courage to pursue someone and so rejection is never easy. What are ways to do this graciously?
- Be direct yet kind. As much as possible, let the other person know promptly of your reason. Keep it plain and direct. Beating around the bush will only cause more awkwardness between the two of you. But at the same time, show your gratitude for his admiration and courtesy towards you.
- Be honest yet gracious. Do not resort to making excuses or giving false reasons. Tell him your true feelings without putting him down. Turn him down gently while still showing appreciation for his good characteristics. Encourage him to pray about God’s will and direction.
- Be open to friendship yet not send mixed signals. Do not close the door to friendship just because you turned him down. He may not be a suitable partner for you but he could be a great friend. But let your yes be a yes and your no be a no. Do not confuse him by turning him down yet showing signs that you like him.
God is the perfect, loving author of our lives. He is sovereign and mighty above all things, and so He is deserving of all our complete trust, even in the aspect of our relationships. Our relationships with other people will become a beautiful, gracious, and natural overflow of our intimate and personal relationship with God. If and when we put Him first, all else will be set right according to His will, in His ways and His own time.
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