Dating can be messy. As Christians, we have learned that there are two viable states for a Christian, singleness or marriage. What about those who exist in that awkward tension of singleness while looking for a spouse? To be honest, the Bible doesn't speak directly on how Christians should think about dating, but the Bible does indirectly speak to issues like dating. The Bible is full of wisdom and it provides us with a worldview of how to examine and make decisions as a Christian. As Christians, we are to be holy and set apart from the world as Jesus is. This means that we need to think and date with a different focus than the rest of the world. So the following is practical counsel from me to you as we think about dating relationships. When it comes to dating, the tension isn't always between a right and wrong decision, but a wise and a foolish decision. The following are things I advise to my students as a Youth Pastor that I've learned as I've studied the Bible and learned through experience, most of my experiences being my own failures and sins.
Maximize Your Singleness for God
We have talked extensively in a previous post about how singleness is an incredible gift. Use your freedom to maximize your relationship with Christ. Take the extra hours you have to study the Bible, spend nights in prayer, go on mission trips, and serving in the local church. Don't sit around and cry over your loneliness, but use that extra time God has given you to make much of Jesus. Besides, the best way to meet a nice Christian person to date is through the local church as you serve and work along side other single Christian people who are looking for a spouse, just like you!
Do Not Date a Non Christian
This one isn't just wise counsel, but commanded by the Scriptures. Paul makes it clear in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" As a Christian you have been born of the Spirit. By God's grace He has saved you and made you pure because of what Jesus has done for you on the cross. As a result, your beliefs, convictions, purpose, hopes, and dreams are going to be drastically different than someone who does not know Christ. If the purpose of dating is to result in marriage, then why would you date someone who is going to hinder, rather than spur on your relationship with Christ? Do not fall for the lie of missionary dating, which is trying to date a non-Christian in hopes to convert them. Most of the time it doesn't work and leads both parties into sin and heartbreak. Hang out with lost people. Be friends with lost people, but do not open yourself to a person so that you are unequally yoked.
Do not Seriously Start Dating Someone until You are Ready for Marriage
This might be one many would disagree with me on, but I share it with you as some practical wisdom. I suggest that you do not begin seriously dating someone until you are in that place in your life when you are ready to marry. I say this because so many teenagers just end up in sexual sin in middle school and high school. None of them are even thinking of marriage, they just want a pseudo marriage where they can treat some person like a fake spouse. They get way too intimate, way too quickly, and way before they are ready for marriage. They begin to connect on an emotional, physical, and a tragically sexual manner that when the inevitable break up happens it leaves both parties in utter chaos.
However is it realistic to begin dating young when we live in a couture that enters into marriage in their thirties? As Christians, I think we need to not be afraid to marry early. If the bible teaches abstinence from sex before marriage and we are going to expect this from our young teenage and college followers of Jesus, is it realistic to abstain from sex until the age of 30? So often we make our young Christians feel like it is a shameful thing to get married at the age of 20, 21, or 22. In fact many older married people even discourage younger Christians from getting married young (It happened to me and my wife), most often because they themselves have terrible marriages and enviously long for their single life back. We forget Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." Many of our young christians are burning with sexual passion and rather than discouraging a young christian couple from marrying we should encourage it. Instead of holding to the social faux pas we need to celebrate it. For it is better for young Christians to enter into marriage than to burn in sexual passion and sin.
Don't find your identity in the person you are dating
As many people date, they create an idol out of the person they are dating. In fact, many people begin finding their identity in that individual. An unhealthy dependent relationship begins to develop. Many people begin to want the intimacy of marriage in their relationship without the commitment. However, as Christians we must be constantly on guard in case we begin finding our identity, hope, and satisfaction in anyone or anything other than Jesus. Even in marriage, we must be careful of finding our hope in our spouse instead of Christ. So many sinfully look for a romantic relationship to satisfy what is lacking in them. However, in Christ we lack nothing, but have been given everything we need! No boy or girl will ever satisfy you, only Christ! Guard your heart from idolatry as you date, and pay careful attention to your thoughts and emotions. Keep the focus on Christ and in all things you do, whether you are single, dating, engaged, or married; do all for the glory of God and for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus!