The Purpose Of Dating
In this 21st century, dating has taken on new forms especially with online dating. For some, it has even become a sort of game that people play or a hobby. Many are dating simply for the fun and excitement that they can get out of it. However, for the Christian, dating should still be about evaluating if one is suitable for another person based on one’s spiritual life and beliefs, as well as core values. That is the true purpose of dating. For the Christian, marriage is the ultimate goal and reason for the dating process. We don’t date just to pass the time but we also don’t rush into marriage. Although dating is not biblical, there is nothing wrong with dating if God is in the middle of it.
To understand the purpose of dating, we must first understand that dating is not about compatibility so much as it is about suitability.
Compatibility versus Suitability
Compatibility is being able to exist together in harmony, without conflict.
Suitability is about the correct or appropriate person, purpose, or situation.
It is important to be able to distinguish the two. When God introduced the need for Adam to have a mate, He was referring to suitability. Adam needed the right person to build a life and marriage that would be pleasing and honorable to God. He needed the appropriate person to help him fulfill God’s purpose for his life. For this reason, the first concern of the Christian should be: is the person I’m considering suitable for me? Can I fulfill God’s vision and purpose for marriage with this person? Is this relationship glorifying God?
The Christian’s Approach To Dating
Dating must be approached with and is meant to be intentional, purposeful, and prayerful. I call this the I.P.P of dating. The Christian understands that dating serves a great purpose. Dating should never be recreational, that’s simply dangerous; it should be intentional and purposeful. It is only a vehicle to help you reach a final destination; it is not the final destination. Remember that everything we do has an eternal consequence so we must approach dating with the eternal kingdom in mind.
First, as we mentioned earlier, dating will allow you to evaluate if you and another person are suitable for each other. You need to determine your core values and non-negotiable traits meaning the things you aren’t willing to compromise on. Keep in mind that God must always be at the center of the Christian’s choice, hence your choices. A believer should never compromise on his beliefs and that means also choosing another believer as their life partner. The Word of God is very clear on this point. How can two people walk together unless they are headed in the same direction? (Amos 3:3 The Message)
Second, dating will allow you to get a glimpse of the beauty of marriage. Though marriage involves intimacy, it’s about much more than the act of sex. It’s about forging a relationship that is based on a mutual love of God, commitment, trust, purpose, and more. It’s also about two souls making a spiritual connection that is unique and honoring God through their relationship.
Although we won’t go too deep into the subject of dating, there are some ground rules that you should know and apply.
Rules for godly dating
- Always keep God first –> Someone should never take the place of God. God must be first at all times, even in your dating process. Seek God with the person you are dating. When God is at the center of your dating relationship, you have the absolute advantage and opportunity to display God to each other which can ultimately help you to better commit to one another in the long term. But if you must force God on the person you’re dating, you may definitely need to end the dating process.
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and will all your strength. This is the first commandment. – Mark 12:30 NKJV
- Keep dating purposeful and intentional –> When you are dating intentionally and purposefully, you won’t be dating multiple people at once. Leave that and the speed dating for the world. For the Christian, each date is a chance to know the other person better. It’s similar to an interview process. If the first interview goes well, you get called back for another when applying for a high paid position. And that is exactly your situation because you are valuable so don’t depreciate yourself for anyone.
- Involve your small village in the process –> Remember how we talked about the importance of the inner circle in 12 reasons why everyone should have godly friends, well this is one of those situations when you need your inner circle. Those are the people who know you best, love you, have spiritual discernment and wisdom, and are able to point things out to you that you might otherwise miss. Let your inner circle meet the person you are dating and give you a constructive feedback on their impressions. Remember, there is safety in the multitude of counselors.
- Observe how the person interacts with his or her own family. This is so important. As you progress in dating, watching how the person treats his or her family will reveal a lot. If you are a woman, observe how that man treats his mother, sisters, aunts, and cousins. If you are a man, observe your lady’s interactions with the various men in her life at home. You can often get a pretty good picture of their character and interaction with the opposite sex.
- Avoid isolation. –> As you progress in your dating process with someone, it is easy to fall in the habit of spending more time with them and less time with the friends that can keep you accountable. Try as much as possible not to isolate yourself from the friends. They will keep you accountable to doing things God’s way and they may be the voice of reason when you need it most.
- Keep your heart and your body pure. –> Your relationship should glorify God. If it is straying you away from Him, it is important to reconsider it. Make sure that the meditations of your heart (the things you meditate on, think about, and which take space in your mind) remain pure and honorable to God. Also, keep your body pure as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Celibacy is your best friend. Sex should not enter your dating relationship. This benefit is strictly reserved for marriage. It’s not meant to punish you or deprive you. Rather, applying this principle is meant to protect you: protect your soul, your heart, your anointing, and who God has created you to be. Sex is a gift of God that is very powerful. Unfortunately, when misused (which is too often these days), it can have some catastrophic effects.
- Have boundaries. –> You cannot date without boundaries and you cannot make or decide on the boundaries as you go along. That is a recipe for disaster. Like guardrails preventing or deterring access to dangerous areas like a cliff on the side of a road, boundaries are there to protect you and prevent you from falling in dangerous situations as you date.
- Finally, dating should not last very long. If you are still dating after 10,15 years or more, something is not right. Dating is not meant to be a final destination. Think of dating like a shuttle bus taking you from the airport to your hotel. You are meant to stay on the shuttle bus. It is only a mode of transportation that will lead you to a final destination, in this case, marriage. If marriage is not right in your dating relationship, get off the shuttle bus because that’s like ending your relationship. Again, be intentional.
Now, these are just some common ground rules to lay the foundation in your dating process. Though many people will share their own rules of dating such as dating as a group, other do’s and don’ts, these are the key rules that you should never go without in dating. In addition, you must understand that dating presents some serious dangers. Though we are not trying to discourage you from dating God’s way, we would not want you to be ignorant of this reality.
Warnings To Consider
Dating is harmless. No, that is a myth. Dating can be quite dangerous depending on how it is approached. When we date outside of God’s will for us, meaning in a way that does not glorify Him, it has the potential to do some serious harm. For instance, sex is a big part of dating for today’s generation despite God’s expressed will in His Word. As a result, emotional and physical bonds are created that can leave lasting wounds once the relationship has ended. There are a lot of bleeding people roaming our streets today. What’s more is the danger of soul ties being formed with other people. Allow me to elaborate.
When you become intimate with someone, especially outside of marriage who has been intimate with other people, you don’t just form soul ties with that individual. You also become connected with all the other people that person has developed soul ties with. Oh, how scary is that! Not everyone out there carries the spirit of God. Therefore, in the spiritual realm, there are things associated with these former lovers that pass on to you although you may not realize it. This is a serious matter, not to be trifled with. Furthermore, due to misusing the gift of God, even as you come into marriage, you can easily try to please your spouse by trying to use techniques or methods that you know pleasured a past lover. And just like that, you have invited someone else into the bedroom in your mind.
There are so many other ways in which dating can be harmful not to mention children being born out of wedlock, idolatry, etc. Like everything in life, dating has its risks but when it’s done with God at the center, you can trust that it will lead to your desired goal. And that what you should be seeking. Every relationship should have a goal and a destination. What’s yours?