Type the word “dating” into your bible search tool and what comes up? Nothing. When I was single, I remember wishing there was an entire book of the bible dedicated to the topic, or at least even a chapter. But though Scriptures are filled with foundational life-changing truths, there are still some topics that are left untouched when it comes to finding a biblical perspective.
In fact, I have to chuckle to myself whenever someone asks me to give a “biblical” perspective on dating. Not only is there nothing said about the topic, but the concept of dating didn’t even exist in biblical times. Even today in the cultures of the Middle East, dating is a relatively new concept.
The modern-day concept of “dating” looked far different 2,000 years ago. The process of meeting a spouse had very little to do with compatibility and personality traits, and everything to do with family lineage and economic status. Finding a mate functioned a lot more like a bartering system than dinner and a movie. If we’re really serious about “biblical dating,” than our Friday night rendezvous at Starbucks would probably need to include our entire extended family, a dowry, and a couple hundred donkeys, goats, and sheep somewhere in the mix. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty awkward first date to me.
Biblical Perspective on Dating
Though the bible doesn’t talk directly about dating, it does speak volumes about relationships, godly interactions, and principles that can be applied to how you date. In fact, a portion of my book, True Love Dates (Zondervan, 2013), is dedicated to examining how to apply these principles to real-life situations. 1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us that no matter what it is we’re doing; it can be used as a means to glorifying God. The bible makes it clear that life is less about the “do’s” and “don’ts” and so much more about doing what’s beneficial, healthy, and righteous (1 Corinthians 10:23). So what does that mean when it comes to dating? How can dating be done in a way that’s healthy and righteous?
1. Become a Healthy Person
The best way to have a healthy dating relationship is to become a healthy person. God’s word reminds us of the need for us to throw off the old baggage of sin, bad habits, and hang-ups – and to become new each and every single day (Ephesians 4:22-24). Becoming more like Christ sets us up for interactions with others that reflect love, healing, and wholeness. I don’t know about you, but I say that’s a step in the right direction when it comes to dating well.
2. Date a Healthy Person
God’s word reminds us of the importance of connecting with people who are in line with our spiritual life (2 Corinthians 6:14, >1 Corinthians 15:33). The truth about relationships is that the healthier both individuals are emotionally and spiritually, the healthier the relationship will be. Apply this truth to dating by connecting with people who are on the same page as you are spiritually and emotionally.
3. See Dating as an Opportunity for Encouragement
No matter where we are or who we are with, above all else we are called to reflect God’s love, encouraging and uplifting those around us (1 Thessalonians 5:11). It’s important to remember that though dating should never be used for the purpose of bringing others to know Jesus, it’s still a chance to encourage and uplift those we come into contact with. Healthy interactions with others will leave us with little regrets, no matter what the long term outcomes.
4. Maintain Physical Boundaries
All over Scripture we are reminded of the meaning of a physical relationship within the context of a committed marriage (Hebrews 13:4, >Song of Solomon 8:4). Dating well means that we make sure to honor and respect this portion of our future marriage by setting physical limits and boundaries when it comes to interacting with the opposite sex.
5. Bring it to God
It’s easy to include God in our spiritual lives, but why not include Him in our relational world as well? We are encouraged again and again through God’s word to bring our needs, concerns, and desires to Him (Matthew 7:7). He cares about the things that concern us, and He’s longing to connect with us in a way that’s meaningful. Our relationships can be an instrument that draws us close to God, as we seek Him for wisdom, guidance, and discernment along the way (Psalm 34:10).
So no matter where you are within the world of dating, remember that there is no such thing as “Christian Dating,” only Christians who date. It’s time to take the pressure off of trying to date “biblically,” and instead see the entirety of our interactions with others as an opportunity to connect with God, to become our best, and reflect Him to the people He brings into our lives.
Debra K. Fileta is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Relationship and Marital issues. She, her husband and two children live in Hershey, PA. She is the author of the new book True Love Dates (Zondervan, 2013), challenging young men and women to do dating in a way that is psychologically sound, emotionally healthy and spiritually grounded. Visit www.truelovedates.com and follow her on Twitter to get your dating questions answered and to learn more.