There are some areas in life where the Bible is relatively silent. It’s not necessarily that God doesn’t care about these topics, but rather some things simply weren’t culturally relevant when the Bible was written. One clear example of this is the concept of dating. People didn’t “date” in biblical times. Marriage wasn’t about finding true love, rather it was about family lineage and socio-economic status. That’s not to say that spouses didn’t love one another. But it’s not like today. Our modern way of dating has transformed the way we view marriage… and not necessarily for the better. So what exactly does the Bible say about dating and relationships?
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Pursue the things of God first.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. – 2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33
Dating can become all-consuming if we allow it. We can easily find ourselves so focused on pursuing a new relationship or finding a spouse that we end up with our priorities out of whack.
Our purpose in life is to glorify God… not to find a spouse. Now, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue marriage, but we need to be sure to keep our priorities in check. Seek God first… always.
God has a purpose for every season of your life.
I remember what it was like to be young and single. Most of my friends were single as well. As a young Christian 20-something, it’s almost expected that you will marry soon. So when many of my friends began to get married and start families, it was easy for those of us who were still single to feel like the clock was ticking. But the truth is that God has a purpose for every season. If you find yourself single, it’s because you’re supposed to be single right now.
Part of allowing God to use you in your singleness involves surrendering your future marriage to Him. It’s allowing Him to bring it about in His timing. By trusting Him fully with this area of your life, it becomes much easier to focus on what really matters in the moment instead of focusing on the fact that you’re not married yet. Instead of waiting impatiently for the next season of your life to begin, you become a vessel that God can use right now in your singleness.
Watch out for “bad company.”
While the Bible is silent on the topic of dating, it isn’t silent on relationships. First of all, we are called to marry a fellow Believer. Now, things are a little different if you were saved after you were married. In fact, it was quite common in the early church for one spouse to find Jesus and the other to reject Him. But if you’re not married yet, it’s important to marry someone who shares the same faith as you do.
Another reason to make sure you are dating a Believer is the fact that you will have similar morals. One clear example of this is sexual immorality. Dating someone who differs in their beliefs regarding sex outside of marriage will ultimately become a problem.
Here’s the truth: If you want to marry someone who shares your love for Christ and the morals that come along with serving Him, then be sure the person you’re dating is a Believer who is serving God with their lives as you are. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and possibly corrupting your own morals in the process.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV)
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
Remain pure in all ways.
The Bible is pretty clear when it comes to avoiding sexual immorality. Sex is reserved for marriage alone. In fact, Paul tells us to get married to help prevent us from sexual immorality! (1 Corinthians 7:2) But true purity goes beyond the physical. Remaining pure in our singleness also involves our hearts and our minds.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5:27-28
Jesus’ words here may be referring specifically to marriage and adultery, but if you can commit adultery by simply having lust for someone else, you can definitely defile yourself outside of marriage by lusting after someone who isn’t your spouse.
Remember to show love and respect.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. – Romans 12:9-10 (ESV)
I love the phrase here, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” This concept goes hand in hand with purity. We have to remember in our dating relationships to respect and honor each other. It isn’t just about you. In maintaining purity in your relationship, you are honoring the person you are dating.
We also show love and respect by how we behave in our relationships. What are our motivations for dating? Are we dating just to date and wasting someone’s time? Are we playing with their emotions? Is honesty an essential part of our relationship?
Live by the Spirit.
There is a lot of grey area when it comes to dating as a Christian. We don’t live in a culture where we simply choose a person to marry and that’s that. We don’t marry anymore for family lineage purposes or status, rather we marry for love. That being said, the Bible doesn’t give us clear instructions on modern dating. We have some basic principles to live by like purity and respect, but what does that look like exactly in a dating relationship?
While we aren’t given specifics in the Bible, we do have the Holy Spirit. His wisdom and guidance are more than sufficient. This is why the most important thing we can do as Christians is to pray and follow His lead. We can’t leave Him out of our relationships and expect to succeed. He knows our thoughts, our strengths, and our weaknesses. And because of this fact, He knows best how we ought to pursue dating as Believers.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.