The Bible doesn’t talk a lot specifically about dating. There is a reason for that. Dating is a very new practice in the history of humanity. The idea of choosing someone to go out and spend one on one time with outside of a marriage commitment is still very new. In biblical times, there was no “dating”. As a result, there is no passage that instructs specifically how Christians should handle the issue of dating. However, the Bible does share many truths and theological principles that help us think Biblically when it comes to modern cultural issues like dating. My fear is that many single Christians think about dating, relationships, and marriage just like the world. There is a great failure of building our thinking about dating on the Word of God.
As a youth pastor, I get a front row seat to the morally murky waters of teenage dating. Last night at my youth group I taught from 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. This passage describes a distinction between the people of God and the unbeliever. Paul gives us the command to not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever and concludes this section in 7:1 where he tells us to cleanse our self from worldly defilement and pursue holiness through fear of the Lord. As I taught this passage I made applications to teenage dating and relationships. However before I started teaching this passage I shared my own personal opinions about teenage dating for Christians. Although it is not necessarily a sin to date in middle school or high school, I argued that dating in middle school and high school is very unwise and a risk that should be avoided until you are ready to be married. I know how radically counter cultural that sounded to my teenagers who seem to be in a new dating relationship every other week. However, here are my reasons.
1. Your primary focus should be on your relationship with God. Dating can distract you.
Dating can be so distracting for Christian teenagers. I watch them as they gossip about who is dating who. Who broke up with this person. There is a massive amount of emotional and intellectual engagement about the dating life of their peers. It seems that teens are either working on getting a date, currently dating someone, or recovering from a breakup. Singleness seems to be taboo in teenage culture.
For the Christian teenager this whole business of dating can be very distracting. As Christians, our primary focus, especially in our single years, should be on our relationship with God. Rather than spending their energy pursuing the Lord, they are distracted by the dating culture. Rather than spending their evening in prayer with the Lord, the spend it texting their girl friend. (FYI, Teens don’t talk on the phone anymore, they just text) Teenage dating is unwise because it can distract you from pursuing the Lord.
2. You place yourself into unnecessary temptation and sin. Dating can defile you.
Our bodies naturally long for physical and sexual intimacy. Teenage dating unnecessarily puts the Christian in temptation and possible sin. It is like playing with fire. This is why kissing always lead to more intense kissing. Teenagers who are sexually charged with hormones as it is, put themselves at risk when they pair off and isolate each other. Building intimacy without commitment is dangerous. I can’t tell you the number of Christian teenagers I’ve seen fall into sexual sin due the pseudo marriage the’ve made out of their marriage relationship. Don’t play with fire unnecessarily, don’t start dating until your able to commit in marriage and then you will be able to joyfully and freely act out on your God given, but sin corrupted, sexual desires. Teenage dating is unwise because the temptation to sexual sin is great, and sin defiles you.
3. You don’t have the spiritual maturity and refuse to guard your heart. Dating can damage you.
Many teenagers just don’t have the emotional or spiritual maturity to handle dating. I see this especially in teenage girls. In a culture of absent Dad, these girls long for the affection and care of a boy. As a result many teenagers go from boy to boy looking for something that only Christ can give. In the process these sweet young girls get their heart abused and taken advantage of time and time again. Before you every start thinking about dating you must make sure your identity is sealed in your union with Christ, not in a boyfriend or girlfriend. Teenage dating is unwise because it can damage you when you refuse to guard your heart and find your identity in Christ.
4. You affections for your date is greater than your affections for God. Dating can deceive you.
We live in a culture that idolizes romance. At the time of this writing it is Valentines day, the holy day of our false-god cupid. So many Christian teenagers get caught up in the idolatry of the culture and begin worshiping the idol of romance. As a result, we can be deceived to idol worship if we are not careful. As I watch the dating life of Christian teenagers, so often their affections for their boyfriend or girlfriend exceed their affections for Christ. When this happens, idolatry has occurred in our hearts. Teenage dating is unwise because it can deceive you to bending knee to cupid instead of the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Dating handle wrongly can hinder your witness as a missionary. Dating can hinder you.
Christian Teenagers are missionaries. They have been sent by God into their local schools to be ambassadors for the Gospel. Yet, the dating life of teenagers often hinders the evangelistic mission God has given them. Many Christian teenagers are known more for who they date than for their love for Jesus. Lunch table conversations revolve around dating drama about them then their radical unselfish love for Jesus and other people. Dating for teenagers often damages their witness to the unbelievers in their school. This is a shame. Rather than distinctness from the world, Christian teenagers imitate the culture of their school. Their dating lives often hinders the mission God has called them to do. Teenage dating is unwise because it hinders the mission of sharing the Gospel.
It is no sin to date other people as a teenager, but these five reasons I think are enough to put dating on hold until you reach the place in your life when you can begin to seriously think about and prepare for marriage.