“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.” ~Max Lucado
In this blog entry, we will be discussing dating/courting relationships among Christians and why it is important to seek God’s Will in this matter. We will also cover various sub-categories in relation to Christians who are dating/courting. Dating, marriage, and child-bearing are not requirements to live a fulfilled life. However, it is statistically-proven that the majority of people will embark upon a dating/courting relationship in their lifetime. When scripture was written, there was no such thing as Christian dating sites on the internet. However, God’s Word is timeless and the principles found in His Word still apply. It is the Godly principles which we are to adhere to. It is wise to keep the relationship on a “we’re just friends” level before launching into dating/courting. Do not give your heart away too soon and step into a dating relationship unless you are relatively sure that it will work out. Also, if you are discerning, it is good to go with your gut instinct. However, if you are undiscerning, pray and ask God to reveal His Will to you and to make it plain for you to see.
Obviously, dating/courting requires two people; but it is important that each person is in a position to date/court. For starters, each person involved in a potential relationship must first be balanced and know who they are in Christ. Some questions to ask yourself before embarking upon a relationship is:
*Do I have a strong enough relationship with Christ that I won’t be tempted to do wrong if exposed to pressure?
*Would I be willing/able to put God’s Will before my own will, even if it means that I must not date this person?
*Would my (potential) relationship be pleasing to God; would it bring Him glory?
Also, it is important to assess your reasons and purposes for wanting a dating/courting relationship. You must evaluate if your motives are pure or if they are impure. Is dating/courting simply a means by which you can have fun and socialize? Is it for the purposes of finding a potential spouse? Is it a way to carry out physical desires? Is it a way to have the benefits of marriage without the commitment? Is it a way to be free from loneliness? Is it a way to make someone else jealous? Is it something that is used to help self-esteem issues and merely used as self-therapy? Ask yourself, “What are my motives? Are my motives pure?” 1st Samuel 16:7 says, “…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” If your motives are pure and if you are in a good spiritual condition to date/court then ask the Lord to guide you to the next step.
“Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” ~R.A. Heinlein
An important step in the dating/courtship process is to set standards up front. A quote by Francis A. Schaeffer says, “A false spirit of accommodation is sweeping the world as well as the Church, including those who claim the label of evangelical.” Are you lowering your morals/standards in order to accommodate someone simply because he/she is physically attractive? It is important to set standards and not bend. Many think that if they set their standards too high that they will remain single. But, isn’t it better to remain single than to be in a relationship which has the potential to harm you mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, and even spiritually?
Below are just a FEW examples of standards which you may want to set:
*The person I’m dating/courting must be a genuine Christian who has a strong, deep walk with God.
*The person I’m dating/courting must be willing to attend a Christian church which we both agree upon.
*The person I’m dating/courting must have scriptural standards for living.
*The person I’m dating/courting must have respect for my body and my moral standards as I do for theirs.
*The person I’m dating/courting must be faithful to me.
*The person I’m dating/courting must be responsible.
*The person I’m dating/courting must not be a fornicator/adulterer.
*The person I’m dating/courting must exhibit self-control and other fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Again, the aforementioned examples are just to give you an idea; but, perhaps it would be helpful to make a list of your own that is unique to you. Also, it is important not to model your dating relationship after Hollywood or the world’s standards. The Bible teaches us to be separate from the evil influences of world and its way of doing things. The world produces magazines and commercials which teaches young ladies to flaunt their bodies. You can go to any supermarket check-out lane in America and see magazines teaching various ungodly “flirting techniques” or ways to get a male to lust. Modesty matters, not only in our dress but in our actions. There is nothing sinful about looking nice – but we must be separate from the world. 1st Corinthians 6:17-18 says, “Therefore go out from their [unbelievers] midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” Additionally, the Bible instructs us in 2nd Timothy 2.22 with the following: “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”
It has been well-said that relationships don’t come from intimacy; intimacy comes from relationships. Marriage is a committed relationship where physical intimacy is no longer a sin. However, pre-marital sexual relations and co-habitation are not the way God designed relationships to flourish. 1st Corinthians 6:13-20 says, “…The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” In 1st Corinthians 6, the term “sexual immorality” is derived from the original Greek word porneía (the root of the English terms “pornography, pornographic“) which is derived from pernaō, which means, “to sell off” – properly, a selling off (surrendering) of sexual purity; promiscuity of any (every) type. Certainly, God can forgive past mistakes – but now that the Biblical standard is clear, adhering to it is essential.
Conduct matters. 2nd Corinthians 8:21 says, “We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.” We, as Christians, are to avoid the very appearance of evil (see 1st Thessalonians 5:22). We are also not to behave in a way that would cause others to stumble or to have reason to discount the authenticity of Christianity because of our actions.
Many well-intentioned Christians also believe that there is nothing wrong with dating a non-Christian. Some view it as a way to witness to them. However, we can witness without being in a “missionary dating” relationship with them. 2nd Corinthians 6:14-16 states: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with [demons/Satan] Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God…” Should a Christian’s courtship with a non-Christian progress, how could the unbeliever take their marriage covenant vows seriously before a God they do not believe in, respect, or trust? How could one in this condition build a strong relationship upon God’s Word and in prayer when the unbelieving mate does not desire to pray? Sure, it is possible that the unbelieving mate MIGHT find salvation later – but that is not guaranteed. We must heed God’s Word when He instructs us to NOT be entangled with an unbeliever. We cannot go against His good wisdom and expect Him to bless such a relationship that is not founded upon His statutes. “Be not deceived: evil companions corrupt good morals” 1st Corinthians 15:33.
Something else to reflect on before taking a friendship to the next level of dating/courting is to consider Proverbs 31:30. It states: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last…” Women and men, alike, will age and their physical attractiveness will fade. However, the heart and soul of a person remains. Not only can age affect the outward appearance, but accidents and injuries can cause mental handicaps, physical handicaps, and disfiguration. Are you attracted to the outward appearance only – or is there an inward attractiveness as well? Vietnam veteran/author/speaker, Dave Roever, has an amazing testimony. On his website, it says that only eight months into his tour of duty in Vietnam, Dave was burned beyond recognition when a phosphorous grenade he was poised to throw exploded in his hand. The ordeal left him hospitalized for fourteen months, where he underwent numerous major surgeries. His survival and life are miraculous. A lot of his fellow servicemen were badly disfigured, as well. He said that their wives would come to see them and be so embarrassed of how they looked; and finally, these ladies would take off their wedding rings, place it on their husband’s bed, and leave them. But Dave’s wife welcomed him home with love. When she first saw him, she kissed him on his burnt lips and showed him unconditional love. Ask yourself, “Am I dating a person of character, like this, who would love me even if I were disfigured or unwell?”
“Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.” ~Dr. James C. Dobson
Hopefully, this blog entry will give those of you considering dating/courting/marriage some food for thought. Apart from your relationship with God, choosing a potential lifelong mate is something to take very seriously. Real life happens. Life won’t always be filled with roses, dinner dates, and good times. We must consider a person’s character, morals, and integrity very heavily before forming a bond with them. Most importantly, ask God to make His perfect Will evident to you so that you will make good decisions in life.
*1st Corinthians 7:1-16