Ahhh! Click-bate at it’s finest!
Allow me to clarify and say that the way society views dating is dumb. You see, people have been entering dating relationships to fill a void, resolve boredom, validate themselves, and even to establish a variation of self-worth. That isn’t what dating was meant to be.
Dating was intended to be the figuring out if two individuals of the opposite sex are compatible and fit for a life of marriage together. Dating was meant to be the gateway to a couple’s forever, but it has devolved into something that can be degrading.
Before I go any further, allow me to reiterate I don’t think the idea of dating is dumb, but the way society approaches dating relationships is, in my opinion, dumb. In fact, I am a supporter of the dating process.
Dating is a new idea derived from the basic principles of courtship and, likewise, courtships are a derivative of pre-arranged marriage relationships and the desire to know the life partner before the wedding day. With this being such a “new idea” it goes without saying that dating is not exactly a biblical principle. However, with Bible in hand, I am convinced that it can be done in such a way to honor one’s self along with the person they are dating, their future mate, and God.
From business to friendships to marriages, God lays a foundation of how a follower of Christ should present themselves in all situations. In today’s culture, we have lost sight of this truth and often stray so far off course that we end up trying to justify our actions and relationships later on. I feel the urgency to restate that marriage, Biblically speaking, is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:21-25, 1 Cor. 7:2) and anything else is viewed as an abomination before God (Lev. 20:13, 1 Tim. 1:8-11). Also, I feel an urgency to explain that before marriage, any acts to be reserved for the marriage bed are also an abomination to God (Heb 13:4, 1 Thes. 4:3-5) as well.
I am a firm believer that the basic and foundational building blocks for marriage also apply in dating. Here are seven keys to dating the right way:
Keep Jesus the priority. I think the best advice I have ever been given that I could ever pass along when speaking on this topic is “above all else, in spite of all else date Jesus.” So many times in dating relationships, we get self-gratification focused and immerse ourselves in the other person that we don’t put God in the center and at the forefront where he belongs.
Develop a friendship first. In Christian circles, we are so concentrated on “finding God’s special someone for us” that we forget to get to know about the person before we jump head first into a dating relationship. Before you offer your heart to someone, make sure that the person is worthy of it, make sure they are seeking God above all else, find out their likes and dislikes, find out their goals, and get to know their character. Remember, character counts.
Be intentional and date with a purpose. You date to hone in on someone to spend your life next to. Don’t treat your boyfriend/girlfriend like arm candy or as a means of giving your life purpose because both will leave you empty and set you up for a long string of pointless relationships. Be intentional in your dating. Don’t date any Mark because he has abs, date him because the two of you share common goals; furthering God’s kingdom.
Set and maintain physical boundaries. Boundaries are necessary at any stage of the dating relationship. Boundaries are what tell the other person, “Out of love for my future mate, I am going to show honor and set boundaries for myself” as well as “God created me and out of my love for him I am going to respect his creation.” When boundaries are set there is thereby precedence established of mutual respect and honor, in turn, creating an atmosphere for the relationship to develop.
Guard your heart. A friend of mine once told me the most significant regret she had in dating was she let different guys have pieces of her heart ultimately belonging to her husband. When giving your heart to members of the opposite sex they always take those bits with them, tethering your heart to theirs in the process. Guarding your heart in a relationship is difficult because you want to let that person get to know you as well as reserving yourself for your future mate. The key is to determine how much of your heart you are willing to give away to someone who isn’t marriage material and go from there.
Don’t set yourself up for regret. Don’t enter relationships where you already know there is no potential for marriage because it is a disaster just begging to happen. Don’t do anything or say anything that you might regret five minutes later.
Pray. Above all lines of communication within a human relationship, pray. Ask God for direction, ask God to bless that person and give them discernment, ask him to help you practice self-control, ask him to stand in the middle of the relationship.
Don’t pray with someone you are dating unless there is marriage occurring, joining the two of you together. Remember when I talked about tethering? Well, when you pray with someone your spirit man is connected with them. I am not saying don’t pray over a meal or don’t pray blessings and guidance over them. Just the opposite is true. Pray with them and for them, but don’t spiritually attach yourself to them by seeking God together on matters you have no business in together.
Every relationship is different, and maybe some of these things are “unobtainable,” but remember always to strive to be like Jesus. In all things honor God, and he will honor you.