There are four types of relationships when it comes to dating today, and three of them are acceptable for Christians.
- Prearranged marriage.
- Christians dating.
- Non-Christians dating.
In any of these scenarios of pursuing marriage, I want to give seven principles for single people.
1. Utilize your current singleness for God (Philippians 2:3-4)
Single people desiring marriage can give in to two temptations that will harm the work God wants to to through them.
One: They will be so consumed with wanting to date, wanting to be engaged, wanting to plan a wedding, wanting the kids and the picket fence that they waste their years of singleness.
Two: They will choose to be selfish in their season of singleness.
These temptations really go together. If a single person is being lazy, or selfish AND they’re always thinking about wanting to marry, there’s going to be long-term harm if they do end up choosing to marry.
Marriage is sacrifice. A single person needs to be using their singleness as a time to serve God, serve the church, serve co-workers and neighbors and those in need. A single person will never have more time and opportunity in their lives to serve others than right now in their singleness. Marriage and children bring beautiful distractions that limit the amount of self-sacrifice that can be done toward others.
Singleness should also be a time where a person is leaning on the Holy Spirit and Scripture and Christian community to mold them into a more godly person, which prepares one greatly for marriage. This means no to pornography, drunkenness, drugs, grudge-holding, promise-breaking).
2. It’s not wise to pursue a relationship until you are ready to marry (Proverbs 18:22)
Each parental unit in the household will have their own guidance on when their children can start dating. This should be done with prayer and conversation with godly people and not done with what culture is doing or what the child’s friends are doing.
There’s no where in the Bible where it gives a certain age on when someone should be married, so there’s definitely not an age given on when someone can start dating.
Who and how someone dates is more important than when they date.
When I say that Christians should not pursue a relationship until they’re ready to marry, I really mean until they’re ready to commit fully to one person. They don’t have to by forever committed to the first person they go on a date with. The point of dating is to search out what godly and lifelong characteristics are valuable to you.
Problems occur when someone in dating wants a greater intimacy than what is wholesome in God’s eyes and doesn’t want to commit to much. Those who simply want to date around and be physical with others while giving no concern to commitment long-term aren’t ready to find or enjoy a spouse.
3. It’s healthy thing to not set your expectations too high or too low.
My heart breaks for the person who worships romance and marriage and they basically want to find Jesus to marry, not giving any room for sin or defect or flaws in the other person. They won’t find Jesus to marry (even though He should have their heart above all). Sometimes Mr. Right is Mr. Right In Front of You but you’re dismissing that person because they’re not perfect. Your bar is too high.
My heart also breaks for the person who doesn’t see the value and worth God has instilled in them, so they settle for any person to be with long-term. Even if the person is destructive or if there are obvious character defects that loved ones warn about, they are staying with that person. They’ve set the bar too low.
We won’t find Jesus to marry but we shouldn’t date the devil either.
Yes, you deserve someone godly to serve you and lead you closer to Jesus, but no, you don’t deserve anyone ungodly to use you and belittle you and let you down continually.
4. Never date a non-Christ-follower (2 Corinthians 6:14)
In our household there are two daughters. My wife and I encourage them to not say the words never or always. When they express what is wrong they will say, You always side with her, or, You never let me play outside. Of course those aren’t factual. They’re over-exaggerations based on emotion.
But, when it comes to God’s Word, if God uses always (He will always love us) and if He uses never (He will never forsake us), then it’s time to use those words too.
God tells His people to not (never) be emotionally and physically intimate with non-believers. Not because Christians are better than non-Christians, but because there are severe issues long-term when one side worships Jesus over all and the other side worships someone or something other than Jesus.
And notice I didn’t say, Never date a non-Christian. I said, Never date a non-Christ-follower.
Just because someone is in church doesn’t mean they’re in Christ.
It’s when a girl says, He’s so cute and so funny and he likes me and he told me that his grandma used to take him to church once in a while and he’s cool with me loving Jesus.
Not gonna fly. They need to be in Christ. The love for Jesus and the fruit of the Spirit should be oozing out of them.
5. He should initiate and then she should respond.
In the biblical roles for men and women in marriage, men are assigned the role of leadership. This is not to say that women don’t lead (my wife leads me), or that women don’t have leadership skills (the church leadership team where I serve has more women than men). This isn’t to say men are more valuable or have greater importance in the marriage. Both spouses are equally, worthy, spiritual beings.
But in dating, men should initiate and women should respond.
The guy should approach the girl (or ideally, her father first). After there’s a friendship, after there’s prayer, after there’s visible evidence of fruit of the Spirit and a servant-heart toward others, after he’s ready to commit to one person to date and hopefully marry, he should initiate.
A girl is best suited to lean on God’s goodness and sovereignty as she prayerfully waits for a godly man to initiate a relationship with her.
Now, does this mean a woman never tells a man how she feels? Because men are dense. They need help connecting emotionally. They need help realizing what signs she is giving him.
I know this: God is sovereign and powerful. If it doesn’t work out for a girl with a particular guy because he didn’t see the signs or the beauty in her or wasn’t ready to commit – whatever the reason – God knows what is best for us and will orchestrate someone better in the future.
We can trust Him with the things that are most important to us.
6. Feel free to utilize technology wisely (internet dating) (Proverbs 4:23)
What technology has done to many young people is devolve them into not knowing how to have a conversation. They can text a bit, use emojis, film a Tik-Tok, but their phone has become such a desire, it’s like their fifth appendage.
With not knowing how to talk (and with the dating scene being pretty sparse because you probably aren’t going to find the guy/gal for you long-term that God wants at a bar or a club), and, with many churches not being relevant or not caring about the next generation (since the churches are getting older and older), there aren’t a lot of millennial or Gen Z options to date at a lot of churches, it can be dismal out there.
Internet dating becomes a viable option to meet people. Let’s allow God to use technology for redemptive good.
Your trust should not be in a dating site. Your energy should not be spent on a dating site that is only for hook-ups or good times. You don’t need a good weekend, you need a good legacy.
Just be cautious as you sift through online options. You don’t want physical attraction to be primary, you want to prayerfully seek the character and heart of the person you might go on date with. As Proverbs 4:23 states, guard your heart.
7. Only invest in a relationship with someone you are attracted to completely.
You should be attracted to them physically, yes. You can be attached to how talented they are, sure. It’s fine if you like their success, though that fades (so does beauty and talent).
There needs to be a mental attractions (you think highly of them).
There needs to be an emotional attraction (you trust them and feel safe with them).
There needs to be a spiritual attraction (they love Jesus more than you or anyone/anthing else).
There needs to be a gifting attraction (you see your spiritual gifts and theirs combined well together to do ministry).
When the two become one, it’s not just sex. It’s not just living other. It’s not just having one bank account together. It’s everything.
It’s views on marital roles, on parenting, on gender, on spiritual disciplines – everything, on how time away from work is spent.
For the final post in this mini-blog series on dating, we’ll ask each man and each woman 8 different questions when it comes to them dating.
Thanks for reading. You are loved.