The first rule in dating is the first rule in all of life: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). You will not truly love anyone else if you do not love God first and most. And no one will truly love you if they do not love God more than they love you.
Lean hard on the people who know you best, love you most, and will tell you when you’re wrong.
Joyful, Courageous Accountability
My golden rule in dating is a warm, but unpopular invitation to accountability — to truly and consistently bear each other’s burdens in the pursuit of marriage (Galatians 6:2). Maybe that term — accountability — has dried out and gone stale in your life. But to be accountable is to be authentically, deeply, consistently known by someone who cares enough to keep us from making mistakes or indulging in sin.
1) Do not be unequally yoked.
Take 2 Cor. 6:14 seriously.
Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? (NLT)
If you are dating someone who doesn’t have a personal relationship with Christ, you are playing with fire. If you fall in love, what will you do? Don’t let the relationship progress to a physical point and then hope you can cut it off later.
3) Put obedience over passion.
Not everything we do that’s right, feels good. In fact, usually the opposite is true. It feels incredibly good to give in to passion. But, the authority of Christ needs to take precedence over your physical drives. Society tells you to give in to the moment. Christ tells you to be obedient to His word.
4) Physical expression must be appropriate.
Physical touch/intimacy should correspond with commitment. This doesn’t mean anything goes if you are engaged. Physical touch should be in the context of a meaningful relationship, not reduced to satisfaction of personal need.
5) Limits must be set mutually.
Both partners should take responsibility for setting limits. Mutual boundary keeping reflects maturity.
7) Is there too much physical and too little other?
If the social, emotional, spiritual dimensions are missing or lacking, you are out of balance. If you can’t stand the person but have a great physical relationship, rethink the relationship
8) Less is better.
If one person is uncomfortable with any type of physical expression, don’t do it. You should respect and honor each other. Don’t push a date to do anything that makes him/her feel uncomfortable.
10) Allow the Holy Spirit to direct and lead you.
If you feel convicted of certain behaviors, stop doing them.
OK. Let’s take care of some basic definitions. We may define biblical dating as a method of introduction and carrying out of a pre-marital relationship between a single man and a single woman:
The Scriptural support for the idea of biblical dating is largely by example and implication. We will look at a number of passages over the course of our discussions that support various aspects of biblical dating, but for the moment, let me just give you some references to study:
1 Corinthians 6:9-7:19 (command to be pure, seriousness of sexual sin and instructions regarding marriage) 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (do not wrong or defraud one another in relationships — by implying a relationship or commitment by your words or conduct that does not actually exist) Song of Solomon 2:7 (“do not awaken love before it pleases” — i.e. before the proper time, meaning marriage) Proverbs 6:20-7:27 (warning to avoid sexual sin and foolish relationships) James 1:13-15 (temptation is to be taken very seriously) Romans 13:8-14 (love others, work for their soul’s good; don’t look to please self) Romans 14:1-15:7 (favor others, not self … value what’s good to their souls) 1 Timothy 5:1-2 (treat single women as sisters in Christ, with absolute purity) Titus 2:1-8 (young men and women should focus on self-control/godliness) John 14:15 (if you love Christ, you will obey His commands — read: above your own desires — and live biblically)
Modern dating tends to be egalitarian (no differences between men and women in spiritual or emotional “wiring” or God-given roles). Biblical dating tends to be complementarian (God has created men and women differently and has ordained each of these spiritual equals to play different and valuable roles in the church and in the family).
Modern dating tends to assume that you will spend a great deal of time together (most of it alone). Biblical dating tends to encourage time spent in group activities or with other people the couple knows well.
Modern dating tends to assume that you need to get to know a person more deeply than anyone else in the world to figure out whether you should be with him or her. The biblical approach suggests that real commitment to the other person should precede such a high level of intimacy.
Modern dating tends to assume that a good relationship will “meet all my needs and desires, ” and a bad one won’t — it’s essentially a self-centered approach. Biblical dating approaches relationships from a completely different perspective — one of ministry and service and bringing glory to God.
Modern dating tends to assume that there will be a high level of emotional involvement in a dating relationship, and some level of physical involvement as well. Biblical dating assumes no physical intimacy and more limited emotional intimacy outside of marriage.
Modern dating assumes that what I do and who I date as an adult is entirely up to me and is private (my family or the church has no formal or practical authority). Biblical dating assumes a context of spiritual accountability, as is true in every other area of the Christian life.
Basically, we can make three general statements about modern dating vs. biblical dating in terms of their respective philosophies:
Modern dating seems to be about “finding” the right person for me (as my friend Michael Lawrence has written on this site, “Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend”); biblical dating is more about “being” the right person to serve my future spouse’s needs and be a God-glorifying husband or wife. In modern dating, intimacy precedes commitment. In biblical dating, commitment precedes intimacy. The modern dating approach tells us that the way to figure out whether I want to marry someone is to act like we are married. If we like it, we make it official. If we don’t, then we go through something emotionally — and probably physically — like a divorce. In biblical dating, Scripture guides us as to how to find a mate and marry, and the Bible teaches, among other things, that we should act in such a way so as not to imply a marriage-level commitment until that commitment exists before the Lord.
Warning and Encouragement
To cap off my dating advice, I’d like to offer a warning and an encouragement. First the warning: If you enter the relationship and suddenly stop going to church, pray less, and read less, that’s probably a sign it’s not heading in a godly direction. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that if your relationship is a serious drag on your commitment to obeying Christ’s commands to gather with the body, this is actually killing your relationship with Jesus, and is therefore, by definition, not a “Christian” relations