By Liz Lampkin, Crosswalk.com
Dating - the term often affectionately known as the journey to discovering true love or the path to finding "the one." There are so many opinions, encouragement, discouragement, advice, and rules about dating that singles are bombarded with that it's hard to decipher what to listen to. Many singles are actively dating. For some, the journey is joyous and exciting. For others, it's been an unexpected adventure of learning. Both experiences come along with unsaid rules or things you should and should not do. For believers, there have been established ideas taught and passed down from generation to generation about how to date as a believer. But the question is, how many of the things taught are true, and how many should believers continue to follow? Take a look at some of the lies many believers have learned about dating that should be unlearned in order for saved singles to have productive dating experiences.
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1. Dating Isn't Biblical
For years, maybe even decades, the belief that dating isn't biblical has been taught for many reasons. One reason being that dating is strongly associated with pre-marital sex, and fornication is a sin. Also, many believers are taught to engage in courtships. Courtships include different stages of getting to know someone with the intention of getting married. However, to reach the courtship stage, you must spend time with the person you are involved with. What other way do you get to know someone you're romantically attracted to and interested in than to date them? The notion of dating being unbiblical is one that's been taught and learned because dating is considered an activity of the world, and it is not found in the Bible. However, the idea of courtships isn't found in the Bible either. So, with this news, what does a believer with a romantic interest in someone do? How do believers get to know someone they're interested in without stepping outside of the realms of the Bible? The answer is simple, pray and ask God what steps to take to get to know someone you are interested in and follow His guidance. Interaction with believers, humans, is natural. In fact, believers need each other to survive. How we interact with each other determines what relationships are developed. Asking God for guidance with everyone we encounter will help believers remain on the right path while meeting and engaging with the right and wrong people.
2. Date Someone Who Attends and Who's Involved in the Church
While it is a good thing for someone to be physically involved in church, it does not mean they are worth dating. Not only this but just because someone actively attends church does not mean they will have pure intentions when dating. People have many reasons for going to church and being active in ministry work. Some intentions are pure; some aren't. It's important to understand the difference between the two. Rather than date someone because they go to church, look at how they live their life daily outside of the church. Churchgoers are not perfect people. No one is perfect. It's okay. A person can have the purest heart, the most humble character, and a giving spirit and sit quietly in the back of the church or not in the church at all. It's up to you to decide what's more important; someone's open and outer involvement in the church or their inner heart for genuinely doing the Lord's work. There is a difference.
3. The Lie of Church Silence
Many churches don't discuss dating and sex with their young adult members. This is a disservice to them, and it's time for the narrative to change. Youth, young adults, and even single adult members need a safe space where they can address their struggles with dating and receive judgment-free guidance. Keeping silent about dating and sex won't prevent believers from engaging in it/them. It's important to have open and honest discussions about dating with impressionable singles. This will make them feel better about themselves, their relationship status, and dating overall.
4. Date with the Purpose of Marriage
Dating is multilayered. There are so many reasons people choose to date. Marriage isn't always the end goal, and it doesn't have to be. Dating with the sole purpose of marriage places unnecessary pressure on people. It also takes the fun out of dating and can create unrealistic expectations.
5. Don't Date Someone Who You Don't See Yourself Marrying
There are so many things wrong with this.
- Taking this piece of dating advice limits who you get to know and experience.
- You could be stopping yourself from meeting someone who could be a good friend.
- How do you know what it takes to be married if it hasn't been your personal experience?
Dating/getting to know someone is not all about marriage. It's a journey to discover your individual interests while getting to know someone else. It's finding out what you may or may not want in a partner. It's an opportunity to understand who you are in and out of relationships. Besides, if you only date people or a person who you see yourself marrying and you don't get married, what do you do next? My advice? Change your views on dating.
6. Don't Date Someone You're Unequally Yoked With
2 Corinthians 6:14 encourages believers not to dwell with unbelievers. This verse was not meant for believers to isolate themselves from unbelievers but rather not to engage in personal or business relationships with them so that their faith and work in the ministry won't be compromised or hindered. However, whether we want to believe it or not, many believers can compromise someone's faith and work in the ministry because of their attitudes and lack of character in Christ. In a sense, this makes them unequally yoked with someone who is dedicated to truly doing God's work and trying their best to honor God with their life.
Dating is a challenging thing whether you are a believer or an unbeliever. There are so many things to learn and unlearn. However, knowing and being clear about what you want from dating and relationships is essential. It's also important to know and understand who you are in Christ and build a profound relationship with Him so you will have His guidance in everything you do. If you're a single Christian and you're grappling with things you were taught or weren't taught about dating from the church, seek out a trusted believer and have candid discussions about your struggles with them. If you want to take things a step further, go to your church leaders and suggest or request to have open forums about dating and give your reasons why. As your journey with Christ continues, I pray that He guides you every step of the way. I pray that each experience you have with someone makes both of you better. And I pray that your heart is filled with everything you need to bring you closer to God.