When you became a Christian, a transformation took place in your life. You became a new creation and that means that you now have a new way to live (2 Corinthians 5:17).
What you find is that Jesus has something to say about how you are living in every area of your life, and He wants you to obey Him. When you think about all He has done for you, surely you’d want to, too!
One area of your life that you are called to obey Him is the area of dating or going out.
‘Dating’ or ‘Going out’ can be defined as being:
“a friendship between a guy and girl that is: exclusive (they can’t go out with more than one person), committed (while they are going out with each other) and public (other people know about it).”
It sounds a lot like marriage and that’s because the purpose of dating someone is to see whether that person might be your future husband or wife. But dating is not marriage!
What does Jesus have to say about dating?
Not a lot, or so it seems.
You won’t find the words: dating, boyfriend, girlfriends, going out, courting etc in the Bible because dating is a relatively new concept – less than 100 years old. In Bible times, marriages would be prearranged by the couple’s parents. That was the culture then, as it still is in some parts of the world.
However, this doesn’t mean that Jesus has nothing to say on the matter. In fact, Jesus lays down a number of principles that can be applied to the issue of dating, and what I want us to see is that:
DATING can be a GOOD THING but it can also be a BAD THING. It depends on how it is done, when it is done, and with whom it is done.
So here are three things for Christian young people to remember about dating.
1. There is a right way to date and a wrong way to date
“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9)
If you are single, but you are attracted to someone of the opposite sex in such a way that you don’t want to stay single, you should get married.
“that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.” (1 Thessalonians 4:4-6)
You are to use your body in a way that pleases God, showing self-control and not taking advantage of others.
“Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
Purity should characterise your relationship with others, particularly those of the opposite sex.
“[Love] is not self-seeking.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)
Love is not selfish – it puts others needs above your own.
The Bible is clear that the reason for starting a special kind of friendship with someone is for the purpose of marriage. It also says that when you are dating someone, you are to show purity and not take advantage of them.
Can you see how this is different from what your friends, the TV, movies would say about dating?
The message given by the world about dating is that:
- It’s just a bit of fun.
- It doesn’t do any real harm.
- It will make you feel good.
- Everyone else is doing it – why shouldn’t you?
- People will think you’re cool.
But the Bible says that there is a right way to date and a wrong way to date. Dating can be a good thing if done in the right way. Jesus says that the right way is with the aim of marriage and with absolute purity.
2. There is a right time to date and a wrong time to date
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: …a time to embrace and a time to refrain.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5)
The Bible talks about times for doing different things.
“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (Song of Songs 2:7)
There are things to do with love that need to wait until after you are married. They are not to be done before the proper time.
Joshua Harris has said that: “A right thing at the wrong time is a wrong thing.”
For example, driving is a good thing. It gets you from A to B quicker than walking. But driving through a playground full of small children is not a good thing. A good thing at the wrong time is a wrong thing. Or say I said to Harrizon (my son who is 4), you can drive this car. Even though driving is a good thing, it’s not when the person doing it is only 4.
Dating (done right is a good thing) at the wrong time is a wrong thing.
So when is the right time to date?
If the purpose of dating is marriage, the question you need to ask yourself is this: Am I ready to get married? Am I ready for this commitment? Could I support a family?
If you’re not ready, dating is a wrong thing for you.
Now this kind of thinking is different from that out in the world. But it’s the way someone who is a new creation, who has a new way of life to live, should think.
Also, there are lots of benefits of not going out with someone.
- Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 speaks about the time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, single people can spend serving God.
- You will have lots of time to spend getting to know lots of different people.
- You’ll also have more time for doing things for hobbies and other interests.
3. There is a right person to date and a wrong person to date
Leaving aside the basics such as they need to be of the opposite sex and issues of compatibility. Something else the Bible is crystal clear on is that a Christian is only to date and marry another Christian.
“A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39)
They must belong to the Lord.
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
What have a Christian and non-Christian ultimately got in common – not a lot!
Now why is it so important that a Christian only dates and marries another Christian? In the Old Testament, Moses teaches the Israelites about how God wants them to live and says to them, “Don’t marry outside God’s people because they will cause you to turn away from following God!” And that’s what happened, with Samson and Solomon being two famous examples.
So the right person to date if you are a Christian is someone of the opposite sex, who is a good match, but most importantly who loves the Lord Jesus.
Dating can be a good thing. It depends on how it is done, when it is done, and with whom it is done.
a) Value Friendship
Use the time you are single to get to know lots of different people and have a good time with them without the relationship baggage.
b) Get on with serving God
Use the time you have being single to the max!
c) Trust God
Romans 8:28 tells us that God is working all things out for the good of those who love Him. You don’t need to worry about not getting married in the future. God has got a good plan for your life – you can trust Him.