To Date or Not To Date?
Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege of speaking at our EDGE Young Adult service. I am an expositor at heart. I love to settle down in one passage and pull out its truth and/or principles for the listener. But yesterday I took a more topical approach and dealt with dating. Although dating is not dealt with in the Scripture, there are truths and principles therein that can and should be applied to it. And by the way, it is a reality whether we like it or agree with it or not. The truth is many single young adults will date. And since we know that to be the case, why not help them to make biblically-informed, God-honoring dating decisions? That was my goal and I pray and trust it was achieved. So what you will see below is a skeleton of what I shared with them. There were 10 questions (of course there are more than just ten, but i considered these to be a solid foundation upon which to build) that I gave them to ask before they get into a dating relationship or take an existing one to the next level (3 levels of dating: Casual, Exclusive, and Serious).
1. Does he or she have a GROWING relationship with Jesus?
This question implies that he/she has repented of his/her sin and placed his/her trust in Jesus’ death on the cross for his/her sins and His resurrection from the dead.
To date someone who does not believe in Jesus is setting yourself up for some serious conflict and possible compromise down the road. Why? Well, just ask Solomon what CAN happen when you marry (in your case it would be seriously dating and possibly looking to get married one day) someone – well in his case it was 700, but you get the point – who does not have a relationship with God (see 1 Kings 11:1-9ff).
Now I know what some of you might be thinking: “Well, maybe in the course of dating him/her I can help him/her come to know Jesus.” This is commonly known as missionary dating. You and I both know that you can do that by just being friends. To date someone in hopes that you can win him/her to Jesus is not wise. You don’t need to date someone in order to effectively share Jesus with them.
What do I mean when I say “growing?” In other words, what are some characteristics that a person will exhibit if he/she has a growing relationship with Jesus?
a. He/she will be devoting time to reading, studying, and applying the Scriptures, which the Holy Spirit uses to grow us into the image of Jesus (i.e., sanctification = living and loving like Jesus; see John 17:17; 1 Peter 2:2-3)
b. He/she will confess sin to and seek forgiveness from God in Jesus (1 John 1:9) and will continually submit himself/herself to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in his/her life, which will be evident by His fruit in his/her life. (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:16, 22-25)
c. He/she will be striving against sin (or, putting sin to death) in their daily lives in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit according to the Scriptures. (Eph. 4:20-22; Col. 3:1-10; 1 Pet. 2:1)
d. He/she will seek to faithfully DO what the Bible says. (James 1:22-24)
e. He/she will live in the realization that he/she is loved by Jesus and as a result will seek to love people – that includes you – like Him. (John 15:9, 12; 1 John 3:16, 4:7-11, 21)
2. Is he/she committed to a local church (i.e., a local community of believers) – and submissive to its leadership – where he/she is being encouraged to love others and do good works and being held accountable to live a Christ-like life? (Hebrews 10:24-25, 13:17)
3. Does he/she have a growing track record of considering other people more important than himself/herself? Does he/she look not only to his/her own interests, but also to the interests of others, like Jesus? (Phil. 2:3-5ff)
4. Is he/she slow to get angry during a conflict? (Prov. 14:29; James 1:19-20)
a. When a conflict ensues, does he/she try to speak gently or does he/she have a tendency to “go there?” (Prov. 15:1)
b. Is he/she quick to give people a piece of his/her mind? Is he/she quick to curse someone out or use harsh words? (James 3:9-12)
5. Is he/she known for “double dating,” cheating, two-timing, creeping, etc.? This might be an indication that he/she will have trouble committing to you in a exclusive or serious (i.e., looking to get married) dating relationship.
YOU can’t domestic someone who is used to running wild and free. It is best that you let him/her roam in the wild without you in the picture until he/she gets to a point with God’s help that he/she is ready to “habitat” with you in a dating relationship. You will save yourself a lot of grief this way.
6. Is dating him/her going to hinder or help your growth in Jesus?
7. What is his/her view on sexual purity and sexuality?
If you engage in physical intimacy (not just sexual intercourse), it will over time begin to overpower your judgment. The physical has a way of eclipsing the spiritual and rational.
8. Are you spiritually, psychologically, and relationally ready to enter into a dating relationship?
9. Ladies: Does he show signs of being willing and able to lovingly lead you spiritually (i.e., Does he pray for and with you? Does he read and/or discuss Scripture with you? Does he appeal to God’s wisdom when you ask him for his input regarding a situation? Does he repent to you when he sins against you? Does he seriously seek to protect your heart and purity?)
Gentlemen: Does she show signs of being willing and able to respect you and follow your loving leadership in the relationship?
Side note: Ladies, if you are not married to him, you are not required to submit to him.
10. What is the end goal, purpose or objective of you two dating?
For believers, the end goal for exclusively and seriously dating someone should be marriage.
Closing thought: Of course, no man or woman is perfect. So you may not want to dismiss him/her too fast, or jettison the dating relationship too quickly WHEN you discover certain sins/deficiencies in his/her life (some dating relationships need to be cut off quickly – e.g.: physically or verbally abusive, controlling). You just need to make note of those things. And remember, you are not perfect either. But please take ALL things into consideration, pray, lay his/her life up next to Jesus looking to the Scriptures and examine him/her, and seek counsel from other mature Christian brothers and sisters before you make a decision to date or take your relationship to the next level.