13 Statements on Dating and Christianity

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Whether you’re 40 and single, or 16 and single, if you desire to be married, that desire is good and it’s from God, so align your emotions with what God wants for you, and not what everyone else is doing. 

Here are 13 biblical values I see when it comes to dating and Christianity: 

(1) Take Advantage of Your Singleness.

If all you do while you’re single is sit around a dream about marriage and romantic love and constantly search for it, you’ll miss out on what God wants to do in you right now while you’re single. I feel strongly you should finish your education before marriage – and get your theology firm about God before marriage. Give your time to travel and go on church mission trips and work hard hours in your career and pay off any debt you owe. Don’t waste your single years away.

(2) Don’t Pursue a Serious Relationship Until You’re Mature Enough to Marry. 

The movies and books and our friends are all about LOVE LOVE LOVE, vying to find that Prince Charming and that happy ending, but there should be a lengthy period of time in everyone’s life where we’re not thinking about crushes and romance and finding a spouse. 

You should be preparing yourself for marriage. Some single people need biblical counseling to overcome a habitual sin in their lives – whether it’s pornography, or lying, or stealing, or substance abuse – so they can mature as a Christian. 

If someone is a new or immature Christian, or if their just moving out of mom and dad’s home, or if they’re just getting into their career and this “bill paying” thing they’ll be doing  until death – these are all good reasons to delay a serious relationship until maturity happens. 

Until someone is mature enough to handle the responsibilities of marriage, they shouldn’t be in a romantic relationship. Instead they should be using their energy and experiences to mature. 

3) Don’t Set Your Expectations Too High or Too Low. 

Setting your expectations too low in a potential mate may lead to you making the worst mistake of your life. You’ll be miserable, and you deserve better. I don’t like it when people settle for just anyone due to low confidence, or because all their friends are getting hitched.

Now if you set your expectations too high, that can be futile as well. There was a period of time in my single life where I was only going get married to the actress Natalie Portman. It kind of narrowed my options down and had I stuck with it that silly expectation, I’d still be single and miss out on the person God wanted me to marry. 

I’m not a fan of Christian singles having a long list of what they’re looking for in a lover. I think making a list of what you’re looking for in love is idolatrous because it’s just made up of what you dream about over thoughts of Jesus. And that list is probably someone just like you instead of finding someone different from you that you can learn to love and serve. 

4) Don’t Even Think About Having a Romantic Relationship With Someone Who Doesn’t Love Jesus.

If Jesus is truly the center of your life, then a non-Christian won’t understand who you are, what you value, or even how to treat you the way God wants them to. 

If you’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t care about Jesus, then arguing over their sin will be a mess because they have no standard of morality outside of their own worldview. 

Now, you can and should have non-romantic, evangelistic connections with non-Christians. Introduce your unbelieving female friends to Christian girls. Introduce your unbelieving male friends to Christian boys and pray for them date Jesus first before they date you.

If you’re in a marital relationship with an unbeliever, pray, pray, pray for them, be a Christ-like example to them, and keep your commitment to them. But know there will be difficulty because you submit to God and they don’t.

5) You Should Only Be in a Dating Relationship With One Person at a Time. 

The goal of a Christian who isn’t called to be single is not to be someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s to be married. 

I can’t stand the act of cheating. And even if it’s mutual to date around, it’s straight up mean to date multiple people at once, making them compete for your affection and attention. 

I also think being in numerous relationships at once is better preparations for adultery in the future and not a covenantal marriage. 

6) He Should Initiate and She Should Respond.

Any serious dating relationship should begin beautifully, and that beautiful genesis should be a man taking the brave step to kindly requesting an opportunity to get to know the woman better. 

Any Christian woman going out on the prowl herself needs to drop hints, but not initiate. Guys are dense, yes, but she shouldn’t become the leader.

7) Get Your Head Out of the Clouds and Notice Who God’s Put in Front of You. 

I get this feeling that Christian singles dream of some mythical person to be with when there are great single Christians in their church, or at their work, or somewhere right in front of them. In God’s plan, faithful awesome people are right in front of you. And while the girl shouldn’t chase the guy, she can put herself directly in front of him. 

This is what the Old Testament book of Ruth is all about. God providentially put Ruth in Boaz’s field, but they weren’t together until Ruth considered the counsel of older believing women, got all dressed up and put herself in front of Boaz, not to chase him, but get in his way so he noticed her, and it ended up being one of the sweetest love stories in all of history. 

8) Choose to Use Technology Wisely. 

Stop looking at images dealing with pornography. That’s stupid and destructive. If you’re addicted to that, find a Christian friend to truthfully hold you accountable. 

If you’re texting the opposite sex inappropriate statements, stop it.

If you’ve got pictures on social media that will cause someone else to stumble, take them off. Use technology wisely, as if Jesus is sitting next to you. 

9) Invest Yourself in a Dating Relationship Only if You’re Completely Attracted to Them. 

Duh, right? You should get excited and feel some butterflies and be attracted to them if you’re going to date them. 

But attraction is more than someone who is hot and rich and hot. Attraction to a person must mean you’re attracted to the whole person. 

Are you mentally attracted to them? Do you enjoy talking about faith and deep topics and like learning from them? Married couples could do well to remember their first few dates where it was all about learning about one another. Some of y’all cute married couples have stopped learning about one another. We never fully know God or our spouses on this side of heaven, so keep having great conversations. 

You should be financially attracted to one another so you both can agree on the kind of lifestyle you dream about. If their bank account is unattractive to you and that matters, that’s what I mean by being completely drawn to them.  

Above all you should be spiritually attracted to them. Do they inspire you by how much they love Jesus? By how much Scripture they know? By how loving and giving they are to others? By how pure they’re committed to being because they love Jesus more than they love their hormones? 

I’m “integrity attracted” to my wife – I love watching the Holy Spirit work on her through the time she gives to God through reading the Bible. I love watching the Holy Spirit work through her to help others. 

I’m “ministry attracted” to her as well, watching her be the church and serve others. 

10) Only Get Serious With Someone Who Agrees With You on Primary Theological Issues. 

As you get to know them better, get to know their theology better. It’s not enough to marry someone who calls themselves a Christian. If you want peace in the home, both sides need to have the same theological convictions. 

For my wife and I, here’s what I mean: We both agree the Bible is God’s Word – that every syllable is from God’s mouth.

We both agree that God is Trinitarian – Father, Son, and Spirit. We both agree that the Son, Jesus, lived a perfect life and died for His imperfect creation. We both have a protestant view of Scripture. 

We both agree on gender and family roles from the Bible – not from the 90’s, or the 50’s, or from our parents. The husband leads, the wife follows, the husband loves, the wife respects, and the children are a blessing from God. Our children aren’t ours, they’re God’s, and God has allowed us to care for them in a loving way to lead them to Christ. 

We both agree that baptism is a command to obey from Jesus and that means a body under the water and back up, not sprinkling. We both agree that elders who lead the church are holy men, not women. From day one of our marriage we have never missed a tithe (givingi God 10% of our after-tax income) which shows God we also view money as something we borrow from God and use for Him and the church and others.

We both agree Christians are to be in the world and not of it. We look forward to being around sinners and loving them, but not participate with them in their sin…..I could go on, but be sure you’re having these important conversations, and if there’s a core disagreement, don’t overlook it. Get into Scripture together and you’ll find that conversation might lead to a break up, or for y’all to grow in your faith together and become more knowledgeable about God. You should be allies with your potential spouse on core values, not enemies – plus, raising the children is good this way, and going to the same church as a whole family is beneficial. 

11) Protect Your Heart. 

Getting to know someone takes time, so let’s not say “I love you” on your first date as you’re pulling into Micky D’s. Protect your heart. 

If you give your heart away too quickly, you’ll find yourself trying to make the relationship work and be heartbroken in the end. It’s a momentous act to give your heart away, but it should only be done in the act of marriage.    

12) Marry Someone Who Will Enjoy Every Season of Life With You. 

I love my wife more today in my 30’s than I did in my early 20’s. We’ve grown through dating and working and moving and adopting and parenting and home buying and loving the church and I’m stoked about what’s coming our way next in life. I want to grow old with her. Don’t just think about how fun they are now, or how your wedding would be, or sex, try to think ahead for once at what every season of life.

13) Don’t have any sexual contact until marriage. 

Single Christians, whether teens or older, are prone to ask the question, “Where is the line on how far is too far?

This question irks my tater. How far is too far? The question is sinful because it’s asking how close can you get to sin without asking how close can you get to Jesus?

Ephesians 5:23 says, But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity….because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Not even a hint.

Massages don’t lead to prayer time. Being alone with the person you’re dating at night doesn’t lead to putting more clothes on. Not even a hint. 

It’s possible for single Christians to avoid sexual sin. It’s possible by the power and wisdom of Christ to remain pure. As theologian John Piper writes, “theology can conquer over biology”. It is possible to remain pure. 

Put Jesus above all, raise your children to love Him above all, and if you desire to please Him and pray, you’ll find love.

Thanks for reading. You are loved. 

Zach  

3 PRACTICAL GOALS FOR SINGLES (3 OF 3)

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For the first time in American history single people households outnumber married people households. If you’re not single currently, you have single friends and family, your kids are going to be entering single adulthood if they’re not there already. They’re an important, valued group the church should not ignore.

I have a deep love for singles, wanting them to thrive and live wisely.  I want to humbly offer three practical goals singles can steadfastly commit to. The first two practical goals for singles can be read here and here. Here’s the third practical goal for singles to get serious about:

STAY OUT OF BED. 

I’m not talking about sleep being overrated. You know where I’m headed with this.

Paul was of the first leaders of the early church. He was single. He wrote 31% of the New Testament that we know of since the book of Hebrews is up in the air with no certainty on who authored it (although I would love for time to reveal a woman wrote Hebrews). Anyway, Paul lived during the 1st Century. Much of his writing was to a sexual culture that was worse than what we see and hear about today. It was worse then.

Back then, this whole idea of human sex-trafficking was legal and permissible. Back then, men literally owned women. Women were owned by men for their sexual pleasure and for slave-work. The moment a man got tired of a woman he was with, all he had to do was go down to a pagan temple providing prostitutes and slaves for sale and trade his wife in for someone else.

This is not the kind of culture God intended but this the kind of culture the church was born into.  Paul writes these words in an attempt to reorient culture back to Christ:

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18) 

This isn’t saying that sexual sin is worse than other sins to God. God views anything sinful on a linear level. Some sins have worse consequences in our lives, but God views sexual sin like He does gossip and greed. There’s not a separate category to put sexual sin in. It’s not worse than other sins, but it is different. It’s a different level of damage.

Think about it. If you make a bad financial decision, you accept the reality, pay it off, take a credit hit, get an extra job, downsize or file for bankruptcy. You move on. You might have some regrets, but you venture forward.

There is something about sexual sin that haunts us and stains us and it follows us into every relationship we enter into. It has a way of negatively sticking around. Sexual sin doesn’t just affect our emotional state, it affects our body and our soul. It’s just different. Sexual sin is a soul violation.

When you engage in that, outside of God’s desire and boundary of marriage, you do things more than just to your mind. It’s more than just pleasure. It’s pain that will hang around forever – yes it will be forgiven by God, anything is, and He can sweep it away in His mind, but for us, in this life, it’s pain that hangs around forever. It’s different.

What would we expect God, our Creator and Lover of our soul, to say about something that could be damaging to us long-term? He says, RUN! Stay away from it because God knows if given into, it will hurt what good we have and harm what good awaits us. That’s wisdom for Christians and non-Christians alike. But then he takes it up a notch.

Then he talks to just followers of Jesus. If you believe Jesus rose from death, if you believe He’s God, if you were baptized into the water to confirm your belief in Jesus, you are no longer your own decision-maker. You now beautifully adhere to Jesus in all things. The very Spirit of God lives inside the Christian and you take the Spirit into every conversation/relationship/choice you have.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

The Jesus-follower no longer belongs to themselves. When we sing, I Surrender All, that includes giving Jesus our body, it includes giving Jesus our sexual desires. Not just our sexual sin in the past, but we give Him the right to choose how we act and what we desire going forward.

Dating today is all about the chase and impulsiveness and conquest and when you don’t get what you want (what you wrongly think you deserve) you move on or get angry.

Some of you ladies feel like you have to give in to what can be considered modern-day prostitution where he pays for dinner, pays for dessert or drinks, pays attention to you and then he expects you to pay him back with favors he defines.

Ladies, you owe no man anything. Jesus has bought you, honor Him with your body. If you have to do something outside of God’s boundaries just to keep a man around, that’s not a man you’re with, it’s a little boy who’s not full of Christ, but full of selfishness.

Ladies, if you feel like you have to give in to keep him around – if that’s your mindset – my advice is that you take a year off from dating – a year – just to right your mind and search God’s Word out on your true identity and what godly way He lays out in store for you to live. Maybe you need to choose purity for an extended amount of time, staying away from temptation.

Maybe it’s time for parents of children who are dating to make sure they are being pure with the person they hang out with. Don’t assume they’re being pure, set God’s standard for them and lovingly hold them accountable to honoring God, not their desires. Talk to your them today to be pure because you don’t want their soul to be damaged.

If you’re in a relationship currently and you’re living together before marriage, don’t be afraid to find the research yourself or talk to others who have been there: Cohabitation does not increase your chances at a happily ever after. It decreases it. I’m not sure why people prolong marriage, but I want to encourage you to move out to honor God, test the relationship living in separate homes and have a more solid marriage in store if it works out.

My encouragement, whether you live together pre-marriage, or are in sexual sin while dating someone, or are sleeping around – take time off. Back away. Be abstinent. Pursue Jesus so you can think clearly.

I am praying daily that the men who get to pursue my daughters will be men who honor them and honor Jesus; men who think about a good legacy, not a good time.

Jesus says something in Matthew chapter 5 that we could spend days studying together and still not get the richness He provides. He says:

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Do you see the connection? There is something about moral purity that allows us to see God and what He is up to clearly.

How many of us know the opposite of this? I do. When you’re living in moral impurity – when you’re hiding and scheming and lying and cheating and lusting it’s like you’re living in a fog. You don’t know who you are or where you’re going. You might even blame God for how life is going because you can’t see Him clearly. He’s there, you’re just sinning so much it’s fuzzy.

No wonder single people who sleep around or live together before marriage get cold feet when thinking about marriage. They think, I don’t know if she’s the one. I don’t know if he’s Mr. Right. Sometimes sparks are there. But it’s up and down. The person I like is great some days and then they’re really hurtful other days. Thoughts like that breed little trust and give minimal stability and security.

We can’t see clearly because of impurity in our daily lives and Jesus says He will make us pure from our past, we will rely on His example, teaching and strength to be pure going forward and then we’ll be able to attain the clarity around us we desperately crave.

Get out of debt. Clean out your closet. Stay out of bed.

Thanks for reading You are loved.

Z