Last time we began this conversation on dating knowing that much of what we encounter in our dating relationships can lead to brokenness and pain. Honestly, what I write I wish I had taken to heart as a young man. Even still, we often hear the truth many times in our lives but it isn’t until we make some wrong choices that we are brought back into correction and surrender to Christ. That surrender, painful as it can be, is always worth it no matter the cost. Maybe you’ve been burned by some bad dating relationships. Maybe you’ve gone too far. Maybe all of it seems hard to sort out when you are trying to find God’s will.
I’m not here to tell you that you are the sum of all your mistakes. If you’ve made some missteps, God is loving and forgiving. He stands ready to receive you, scars and all, and He has a way that is best for you. If you haven’t started dating yet, you are in a place to set yourself up for His best knowing He can be honored through right and pure relationships. The choice is yours. I lay all of this before you for your consideration.
All that being said, let’s jump in with the 2nd half of the list.
6. When you are dating, begin to ask “Can I see myself marrying this person?”
If the answer is a firm “no” to this question, then why are you dating them? It would be better to be honest with this person that the relationship is not going anywhere and certainly won’t lead to marriage. Once again, we find ourselves in these situations when we feel pressured to always “be in a relationship.” It’s funny but sad at the same time to hear someone say “I don’t know why we’re dating. I don’t even like him/her.” Well, it’s probably time to end it then. If they’re not marriage material, you need to move on.
7. As you get more serious, discuss the “deal breakers”
Knowing marriage is for life can seem like a lot of pressure. But many conversations long before that time can help pave the way to a happy and healthy marriage. There are some things a potential husband and wife need to discuss. Where will we live? Do we want to have kids? And if so, how many? What will we do to support ourselves? Will we both work? Will either one be a stay-at-home parent at least for a time? What about the in-laws…are we on good terms with our potential extended family and have their blessing? There are a lot of other questions but as the relationship becomes more serious, all of these seem to surface at some point. Or at least they should. It’s surprising when you hear of a couple divorce because one wanted kids and the other didn’t. Those things should be discussed way before saying “I do.”
8. How are you equally yoked in Christ?
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. 2 Corinthians 6:14
Here’s a statement that might offend, but I believe it 100%: do not practice evangelism dating. In other words, don’t date a non-Christian thinking you’ll convert him or her. Here’s the reality: that person, if not committed to Christ, is not going to drastically change just because they get married. If they don’t go to church now or read their Bible or pray, they’re not going to magically become a new person through the process of dating or marriage. I see this more often with saved gals who go after unsaved guys. I wish I could spare them the heartache and pain because I have yet to hear of a success story in this area. Even more, Christians need to be dating other Christians who are at a similar place spiritually-speaking. It’s hard for a new Christian (i.e. a “baby Christian”) to find a lot in common with a mature Christian. The relationship will definitely have its challenges. My advice is to avoid it altogether and find someone who is as passionate about Jesus as you are. Again, wait for the right one. They are out there.
9. Recognize modesty is important
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17
Modesty is a word that we don't often find in the culture today. It is also becoming harder to find in the church to some aspect. In many ways, we feel that our "freedom" in Christ can lead us to dress and act certain ways because of the newfound liberty we have. But this would be a misinterpretation and misapplication of Scripture. Our actions can affect others. Would we dress a certain way if we were to meet Jesus? This whole thing affects guys and girls alike: all can be stimulated or influenced by what we see. And sometimes we dress a certain way in order to get attention from someone; anyone. If that is our goal, we have to rethink whether or not this is Biblical and appropriate as a child of God. Dress and act in a way that brings honor to the Lord.
10. The person of the opposite sex is your brother/sister in Christ before they are your spouse
I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman. Job 31:1
I love this verse from Job and I believe it holds true today. I wouldn’t take lightly the idea of making a covenant before God. But if you are interested, there is a great read on this very topic called A Covenant With My Eyes by Bob Sorge. Highly recommended. Here’s the deal: you must treat the person you are dating with respect realizing he/she is your brother/sister in Christ. That is their identity first before they are someone you are dating. And they remain that while you are dating. That fact alone should bring you to a place where you uphold and honor this person — even if they were not the one you marry.
Note: I believe God places the call of headship on a man; this call should be something we’ve already been prepared for in our dating relationship. It should definitely be a call we aspire to in our engagement and eventual marriage. Sadly, men are not being men. And boys are growing up to become men who’ve had no good role models to follow. Church, we’re missing it here. But if you don’t hear it anywhere else, guys you need to hear it now: be a man who respects a woman and looks at her first as a child of God. I believe your commitment to this will be honored and rewarded by the Father.
Well we’ve wrapped it up here and we end with a charge to pledge ourselves to purity and a higher standard in terms of our dating relationships. I know we can mess this up at times but thank God for grace. There’s a lot I haven’t touched on even with this week and last. But what I hope you take away from this is both a cautionary yet rewarding tone all at once. The caution comes in the avoidance of sin. Just as Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit, so we are told not to pursue wrong paths in our relationships with the opposite sex. But in finding the right path, God’s path, we find reward and blessing. I’ve seen this in my own life, knowing I married a woman much better than I deserve and beyond my wildest dreams and expectations. If God can do that for me, He can do it for anyone. Guys and gals, keep the faith, stay pure, pledge yourself to God first and allow Him to lead you to date with intention.
Next time we’ll finish up the series as we talk about getting ready to go down the aisle. See you then.
As always, I love walking the journey with you.
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17