“I’m a Christian, I am attracted to this person…now what?” It seems that there has been so much confusion within Evangelical Christianity on the topic of dating, no wonder people say Millennials are a lost cause when it comes to staying pure. If I were to ask someone from a secular point of view what their definition of ‘dating’ was, it would be way different from if I asked a pastor or minister. The problem with this question is that there are so many different descriptions of the dating scene for those looking to have a relationship with a significant other.
So… What is dating in the biblical sense?
All you have to do is turn on an episode of “Friends” to see what society says the standard is for a relationship and that’s problematic if you’re a child of God. Why? Because if we rely on society to set the standards of dating, that sets up numerous traps for sexual immorality. Call me an old school millennial, but culture should never attempt to set the stage when it comes to scripture in the sense of right and wrong. Not only is this a scriptural issue, it becomes a moral issue within our church walls. Dating, in the biblical sense, should be defined as means to connect with someone of the opposite sex with a goal of determining compatibility of becoming a spouse. If this isn’t the goal, then what is the point of dating unless your only goal is to engage in a sexual relationship outside of marriage?
I, too have fallen into believing the lie of scripture not being clear on sexual intimacy. My testimony is one of failure in this category as I found myself to be a youth leader in my church while also finding out that my 17-year-old girlfriend was pregnant with my child. How does that happen? Lack of scriptural understanding as well as a lack of accountability. Once I saw my failure, I immediately repented and turned to my mentors for guidance. Righteous judgement took place, I removed myself from the youth and continued to chase after scripture to further my understanding of grace and sin. As I continued to mature, I noticed so many pitfalls that my girlfriend at the time, my now wife, could have avoided with proper guidance and counseling.
Scriptural Commandments on Premarital Sex
Regardless of how often I tried convincing myself that my relationships were pure, scripture seems to be pretty damning to the idea of sex outside of marriage. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10. ESV). If you got technical and looked into the Greek Translation here, fornication is definitely among the list.
“The truth is that we have developed a civilization where human desire takes precedent and God’s word is inferior among our peers as well as ourselves.”
The Bible does not condemn dating, courtship or any type of connecting with the opposite sex so long as you do not commit sin. Society will tell you this archaic way of thinking is asinine to the contemporary socializing scene, but that doesn’t change truth. The truth is that we have developed a civilization where human desire takes precedent and God’s word is inferior among our peers as well as ourselves. I don’t believe that dating in the church should necessarily be looked down upon, but I think where the church has failed our congregation has been through excessive preaching and not enough discipleship and accountability. I have yet to have a person ask for advice where I haven’t asked, “How long since you two have had sex?” and gotten an answer I was pleased with. It may be a loaded question, but a question loaded with conviction nonetheless.
What about our youth groups?
The main issue I have seen with teen dating has been lack of supervision and guidance. They have started the process of pursuing that one person they have a strong interest in and parents have let it get to the point where the boundaries in dating have been crossed and they have been introduced to the sexual world with or without intention of doing so. So, the question I ask to parents is this; what are you trying to accomplish by letting your teen be actively involved in dating without supervision? My proposal to parents is not that they prohibit dating, but rather to question the nature of the situation they are allowing their child to be exposed as well as offer guidance on grey areas.
I am a product of being exposed to the dating world while leaning on my own understanding. As I already stated, I was left unsupervised and refused guidance which ended up leading myself to temptation. Scripture tells us the process of temptation, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15 ESV). I hope you don’t expect your children to handle temptation any different.
But I’m an older Christian out of the house…how does this apply?
This situation calls for major accountability. Now we have an ideal scenario of a single, young adult who now is looking for a companion. Should they be in the dating world? I think the answer is simple; of course. I like to allude to Ephesians 4:26 where Paul says, “Be angry and sin not.” This is where I like to use the phrase, “Be dating and sin not.” Obviously Paul shows us ways here in scripture where we have the ability to be angry, yet not be in sin. I would like to think of dating as the same way. It fixes issues for us as Christians to be able to continue having relationships with the goal of marriage and yet also have the understanding that we can remain pure in that relationship regardless of our past.
As opinionated as this might be, I think the answer to the question about dating is found in scripture, not from me. While I agree that dating in the Christian world should be a joyful experience, we need to make sure we continue to set ourselves up for success by reading scripture and seeking counsel. Christians can agree or disagree on the definitions of dating, whether Biblical or not, or even if necessary for marriage, but we all agree through scripture alone that sexual immorality is not just a problem, it is impossible to succeed without accountability.
“Be Dating and sin not.”
But I am struggling with accountability.
I believe it is sound doctrine to always continue striving to be holy, and dating has ended up being a topic in our churches that goes silent. Singles may be aware of sexual sin, but we have failed to pave the way of discipleship in order to obtain sexual purity and the enjoyment of relationships with the opposite sex whether they be young adults or teens in our pews. So, when we ask the question of “Should Christians date?” we need to make sure we understand what dating is, what it entails and if it is Biblical.
If you are asking yourself if you should be actively dating, the first thing I would encourage is to ask yourself whether or not you have a spiritual mentor who can help guide you among everyday life, including dating and courtship. There are plenty of Biblical resources you can reach out to if you do not have access to one. Make sure you are actively involved with a local church, because association will determine your actions.
As much as one would like to boast in their capabilities of being holy while also associating among sinners, their flesh is not strong enough to withhold the temptations of sin. If you are a person struggling and falling prey to your flesh, please reach out to a spiritual counselor about moving forward to accountability. Being a Christian is not an easy path to take, you are constantly battling flesh and trying to abide by scriptures as best as you can. Even though we may struggle, let’s give thanks that Jesus Christ is our answer for hope… and dating.