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Dear Lord, How Do I Date?

After being asked to write this article, I struggled for some time as to whether I had the courage to approach this subject. However, I didn’t want to let an opportunity pass to encourage you in godly living. I think many of us agree that the topic of dating is important, but when someone, something, or Someone Greater tells us how we should live in a sex-saturated culture, how do we respond? Do we embrace God’s word? Or do we allow current trends or even our own feelings to govern the decisions that are made as we date?
It is obvious that following natural feelings is never wise; however, it is not always wise either to simply mimic the dating we have seen in our siblings and friends. Instead of this thoughtless mirroring, we need to look to Scripture and have it be the one true light that leads us as we date.
This principle, Scripture Rules, has to be the main, overarching standard that we use in life. We know this has to be true, but do we sometimes want something different and attempt to trump God’s rules with our own feelings and desire for fun? Are we allowing lust to have a place in our relationships as we attempt to captain our own ship?
Godly dating means that God is the God of dating. Godly dating searches for a spouse, one who you will, in marriage, be able to share your life with completely—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Is there any other purpose to date? Some might say, “Just let us have fun while we’re young!” Today’s culture readily agrees and says, “Absolutely! Enjoy the experience! Find out which kind of girl or guy is “right for you!” See who “works” with what type of person you are!” Don’t misunderstand, dating done in a godly way can be fun. One of the fruits of godly dating is that it is an enjoyable experience, but this must not be the primary purpose.
God knows our path. Let him lead! As we walk this road, searching for a spouse, we naturally and selfishly look for someone who will satisfy us. But in our attempt to find a godly spouse are we neglecting the need to examine our own walk? If we have not set ourselves apart from this world, striving to walk a new and godly life, how can we think that we are in the right mind spiritually to date? This reminds us of the questions that one answers when he or she makes confession of faith. Are you resolved to adhere (cling to with all of your heart) to the doctrine of your church? Are you dedicated to rejecting heresies (not allowing evils to creep in)? Are you whole-heartedly devoted to leading a new and godly life? How would one expect to find a godly spouse if they are not living in godliness themselves?
Has dating changed so discreetly throughout the past decades (i.e., from parental approved and monitored dating to today’s style that is often so secret and hidden from our parents) that we do not see the negative trends? Are we not scared of what’s going on? Or is my dating experience fine because “it has worked in the past,” or “it’s supposed to be fun,” or “we don’t…”, or “our dating doesn’t look exactly like the world’s.”
Unbiblical dating encourages the young guy and girl (sometimes even before or at the time when a driver’s license is obtained) to spend too much of their time and life together. Unbiblical dating encourages young people to seclude themselves from other friendships, spending every spare moment together, sharing every feeling, struggle, joy, and secret. It urges young people not to let their parents be involved. It’s all about what I want. Unbiblical dating says the primary goal is: “Find the right person for YOU” instead of “Be the right person before God so that you can better serve your friend and possible future husband or wife.”
The danger is that this dating is becoming more acceptable in our lives. If you have these commitments when you are not spiritually mature or can’t understand this danger, your ability to think wisely and rationally is jeopardized. With carelessness, most, if not all, wise thoughts are thrown out the window. God and purity are far from your minds. You may have committed yourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally—commitments that ought to be fully shared only in the bond of marriage. Is it true that many have come to believe that living together and sex (and maybe a couple of other things) are the only changes that happen when one gets married? We need to be careful in our commitments. How much time are we spending together? What is the level of our emotional intimacy? Physical intimacy? What do we talk about? Marriage is much more than enjoying God’s gift of knowing your spouse intimately. Are we saving any of these things for marriage?
Although there are many opinions about physical intimacy in dating, God’s command is singular: Be pure! The Bible teaches only two types of love relationships between a man and a woman. There is that of a husband showing love to his wife, and there is the relationship between a man showing love to his sisters in Christ (daughter, mother, sister, friend). Although many aspects of these loves are shared, they are very different as well. The first includes a love that is only reserved for marriage. The second love (this love would include the love in a dating relationship) is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7. This love is patient, kind, and humble. This love doesn’t allow one to behave unwisely or to think about themselves. This love is a love of service.
This love does NOT include lust. Solomon warns against the appeal to follow after lust—a desire that is so great in every man’s (and woman’s) heart. We all know well the command of God in Proverbs 6 to bind God’s word around our neck and write his commands upon our heart. Do we remember the context of this command? You bind them in order to “keep thee from the evil woman” so that you don’t even “lust after her beauty in thine heart.” Young people, this is quite a command and warning!
Did you ever hear somebody ask, “Well then how far can we go?” At the core, this question really means, “How far can I go in satisfying my own sinful desires before it becomes wrong?” Instead of asking this, answer these questions for yourself: “Does [insert any action in your dating relationship] spark a lustful desire?” “Am I doing this to love Christ?” Don’t forget to include even the ‘smallest’ and generally accepted actions. Carefully consider what physical things happen in your relationships and how they fit (or don’t fit at all) with how God has demanded we live. If it is too awkward to talk with your friend about appropriate ways to show love or affection, and what the limits are, you are not ready to date. 1 Corinthians 6:20, “Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body!”
Young people of God, the process of searching for a godly spouse is a good thing.  It’s a wonderful thing. As you walk this road, let the authority of Scripture lead you. Look to the wisdom of your parents as well! Seek their advice and allow them to guide you through this process.
Solomon says that the way of a man with a maid is beautiful. Your process of coming to the point of marriage can be a beautiful thing as well. This article was not written only to point out the fire that we may have allowed to burn in our bosoms (Prov. 6:27), but also as a means of encouragement to live and date in a way that pleases God. Remember this: when you run, you are not only running away from bad behavior, but you are also running towards something. Even as Lot’s wife ran away, her one last glance to something sinful that she enjoyed caused her last breath. Young people, run towards God without looking back. Throw away everything that could cause you to stumble in your relationships, and see your Savior! His eyes are on you! That can be a scary thing when we’re living recklessly. Yet many of us are kept from evil by the thought of, “Thou God, seest me.” What a comfort it is to know that our relationships are guarded by his watchful care. Knowing his love, we are able to share that love with each other. Think first of whether God is pleased, and if he is, keep running straight and don’t look back.
Be faithful, guarded, and wise as you discuss this topic with your parents and friends. Keep each other accountable! Be convicted of the truth so that you choose to follow God’s ways in your relationship. Throw yourselves down on your knees in prayer together before God—pleading for wisdom and discretion, and the strength to fight against every evil way.
May this be our prayer for each other and for our friends: “Most Holy Father, as we live in a world that does its best to influence our lives, may I stand strong in the truth. May it not be said of me that I bend to the lifestyles of the world. If it pleases thee to have me date, guard my heart. Deliver me from all temptation because I understand the strength of the sinful desires of my heart. Lust and sexual sins are a raging fire so help me not even to warm myself by coming too close. Let sin never reign in my heart, but Father, keep me pure and holy. Help me to be an example to those around me in godliness and purity. Make me always walk with thee. All this because of Jesus’ sacrifice for me, Amen!”