Let’s be honest, the Bible doesn’t say much about dating. And what little it says about finding a spouse, few people eagerly apply:
- Abraham sends his servant to a distant land to find a wife for Isaac (Gen 24)
- Jacob goes on a blind date and ends up with a surprise wife (Gen 29:16-28)
- Ruth freeloads off an older man’s crops, lays at his dormant feet, and pops the question when he wakes up (Ruth 3:7-13)
- Samson tells his parents to fetch a woman from among Israel’s oppressors because, well, eye candy (Judg 14:1-3)
- A bunch of Benjaminites crash a party and then wifenap several dancing virgins (Judg 21:16-23)
- Esther wins a beauty pageant and scores first prize – a pagan king who will soon authorize the genocide of her people! (Esth 2:8-17)
These are all unique situations that require explaining, but it’s no wonder people are more likely to consult christianmingle.com before asking what the Bible says about dating.
The fact is, the Bible doesn’t directly teach us how to date. So, many Christians simply follow the prevailing culture. This leads to trouble because unbelievers date for a wide variety of sketchy reasons, like
- expressing romantic feelings
- combating loneliness
- testing sexual compatibility
- having a good time
- experimenting with their genitalia
- gaining the respect of their peers
Many churches do little to challenge many of these motives. Instead, they tout the familiar slogan, “Just say no!” If only we can convince youth to save sex for marriage, we’ve done our part.
What is worse, some churches remain altogether silent and leave it all up to parents. Unfortunately, many parents lug around so much of their own sexual baggage that they feel unworthy to give helpful advice.
Now I’m no sexpert, but I believe that the church can and must do better. Here are 4 principles about sex and marriage that may get us thinking in the right direction:
- Begin with marriage in mind. One of the most important reasons to date is to discern whether a given person may be a suitable spouse. If someone could never be a viable spouse, they should not be a viable date. Since Christians may only marry Christians (1 Cor 7:39; 9:5; 2 Cor 6:14), it follows that they should only date Christians.
- Begin with witness in mind. Everything Christians do should reflect their life’s primary ambition to seek first God’s kingdom (Matt 6:33). So one of the main reasons to marry and thus date is because one believes that they could better seek God’s kingdom coupled with this particular person.
- Begin with sex in mind. A little known biblical truth is that sex is the divinely appointed act for making two people husband and wife. That’s how Jacob ended up with two wives (Gen 29:16-28) and why Paul tells a man to stop sleeping with a prostitute (1 Cor 6:15-16). Sex makes two people one flesh (Gen 2:23-24). So, there’s no such thing a pre-marital or extra-marital sex; there’s just a society-wide epidemic of marital sex without marital commitments.
- Begin with the end in mind. Regardless of what civil laws say, Scripture says that marriage ends only in death (Rom 7:2). Furthermore, in the next life we will not be given in marriage but will be single, like the angels (Matt 22:30). So there’s no shame in being single now. It is the default position into which we are all born, and it is the eternal position in which we will all someday find ourselves. Still, in this world, marriage is a lifelong permanent bond and it should be entered into as such. The consistent NT teaching is to avoid divorce (Matt 19:8-11; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Cor 7:10-13).
If all of this is true, then Christians ought to take marriage and thus dating quite seriously. It is not a recreational activity—it is a pre-marital probation period. This should deeply impact the way Christians interact with one another physically while dating.
But it’s not the only factor. Another one involves how God has created our bodies to function. Few people realize the extent to which different parts of the human brain control the production of different chemicals–some that urge us to mate, others that attract us to a viable mate, and still others that bind us to a particular mate.
My next blog breaks all of this down. So be sure to check it out!