Christian views on dating are diverse, depending on how conservative a Christian is and the influence of the culture in which the Christian finds himself.
Consider these four hypothetical examples.
During a youth meeting, Joseph suddenly realizes that Mary is beautiful. Mary is equally calm, morally-upright, and appears to have the characteristics of a wife.
Joseph soon approaches Mary and starts building a friendship with the intention of someday asking her to marry him.
In the same youth meeting, Isaac is drawn to Rebekah, whose melodious voice drowns his heart with romantic emotions.
Isaac asks Rebekah out, and the two begin dating. Marriage may or may not be on the agenda. At least, not anytime soon.
Somewhere in the singles' universe, Jacob is praying concerning Rachel. No matter what he does, he can't get out of his mind. If pressed hard, he would confess that he believes she's his Miss Right.
With conviction, Jacob confides in his pastor, who then acts as a link to bring Rachel into the picture. It turns out that Rachel too, had been having the same sentiments towards Jacob.
The two meet both families and begin formal preparations towards marriage.
Still in the singles world, Abram is informed by his pastor (or maybe by his parents) that Sarah is his wife-to-be. Abram may have the privilege to reject the choice or he may not.
I bring these examples to highlight one fact: there are differences in how Christians approach dating.
I've not even included online dating and speed dating, practices which before were approached by Christians with reservations but which have proven to be permitted avenues where some singles have met the right one.
However, there are biblical principles that should guide the Christian single no matter what method you choose to find your mate.
Like some other persons, I've tried to make a difference between courtship and dating, but at the end of the day, I think the difference doesn’t matter if the Christian knows the goal of the relationship and how to conduct it in a godly way.
I will bring to you some advantages and shortcomings of some approaches to dating, but first, let's look at some generally accepted attitudes towards Christian dating.
Christian dating should be different from others. There are values a Christian single must uphold, which entail that aimless and frivolous relationships must not be welcome.
The goal of the Christian single is to date to find a suitable mate FOR MARRIAGE.
That is why I am opposed to teen dating. Below the age of eighteen, the Christian single should have other priorities to which to give attention.
When marriage is not the purpose of your dating relationship, there is a breeding ground for unholy behavior.
That is not to say it can't happen in relationships aimed at marriage, but fornication can occur much more frequently when there's no definite purpose to the relationship.
Dating with purpose involves you seeking to go with someone compatible. That means you consider many factors even before choosing to date that person.
This approach looks beyond the present and visualizes your future with that person, taking into account the fact that God made marriage to be life-long.
One cause of the increased rate of divorce today is the lack of diligence in choosing a partner. Another is singles approaching marriage with unrealistic expectations. They go with feelings and just hope to God that they will experience a happily-ever-after at the end of the day.
Dating without purpose is mostly fueled by infatuation and physical looks. It seeks instant gratification which comes with being with the person who causes butterflies to flutter in your stomach.
It is important that you must only accept to date someone who has marriage in mind.
One reason why some Christians are opposed to the idea of dating is the fear of sexual immorality.
I find that fear rather baseless, because whether courtship or dating, the commitment not to fornicate still lies in your commitment to the standards of God's Word.
Date a person with the same standards. Date someone who honors the Word of God and seeks to live for his glory.
Set your relationship rules early on.
While the majority of Christians believe that sex before marriage is sin and to be avoided, there's a debate on the degree of petting that is allowed during dating.
Some Christians find no issues with kissing, holding hands, and being together without a chaperone.
To preserve purity in your dating relationship, I advise you to drop kissing and other forms of petting that arouse your sexual desire. Avoid that until you get married.
That long distance from sex ensures you never arrive at the point of fornication.
God is concerned with every area of your life. Who you date and marry is important to Him. He does not have someone specifically created for you, but he does know someone who fits you perfectly.
He delights in bringing your paths together.
Again, there are differences in opinions here. How does God bring two people together?
Do you date while seeking God's guidance to lead you to that right person, or do you wait on God to show you the right one before you initiate a relationship?
I lean towards the latter option. It is good to hear from God before you initiate a relationship.
Yet, there could be instances where you think you've heard from God when in truth, he hasn't spoken.
That is why you must stick to God's Word on what kind of mate you should choose whether you're dating to find or you're waiting on God to reveal Mr. or Miss Suitable.
While the two points above stand,
It is not uncommon sometimes to find a brother in the church who has asked more than one sister out. He finds them each beautiful and suitable for him, and not being able to be a definite choice, he decides to date all.
Same with some Christian single women. Men approach them, and they find it difficult to turn them down.
That is morally wrong. You're playing with people's hearts. Consider that they are your brothers and sisters in the Lord.
The Bible says, 'Do to others what you would want them to do unto you'.
Multi-dating is also a sign of superficiality. No serious Christian single will have multiple partners at the same time.
You also stand to lose respect and trust when that behavior gets noticed.
I'm in love with testimonies of God bringing husband and wife together in unmistakable ways. One thing such testimonies highlight is the faithfulness of God.
As a single, you can trust God with your dating life, and he will bring your partner to you.
In this case, you must have an intimate relationship with the Lord, where you live for Him alone, where you hear His voice, and where you're following His plan for your life.
God leads you to your mate. You can't be a couch potato, living for self while hoping that no matter what, God is going to bring to you that man or woman specifically created to be your spouse.
No, you get busy wholeheartedly with the Lord, following His plan for your life. If that plan includes marriage, God knows how to bring your paths to cross.
Only do not put God in a box. Be attentive to His voice.
There are advantages to being led by God in this way.
On the other hand, there are many testimonies where someone believed God had shown them who to marry, but the person never came, or the relationship turned sour, leaving them heartbroken and confused.
Not to repeat myself here again, please read this other article: I believed God told me he was my husband.
If on the other hand, someone claims to hear God for you about who to marry, never accept someone you don't like.
Parents and spiritual leaders sometimes have genuine concerns, and sometimes their choices for singles can be right. But they can also be wrong.
You'll live with your mate for the rest of your life, so it's crucial that you love waking up beside that person every morning.
If your pastor or parent recommends a spouse to you, don't just accept the choice. Consider the points above and pray to understand God's will.
The agreed Christian views on dating include dating with the purpose to find the right marriage mate, conducting your relationship in a godly way, and being open to God's leading.
The methods may differ, but these three aspects should not be absent.
If you have any views, let me know in the comments section below.
Janet is passionate about encouraging the Christian youth and single to pursue intimacy with God, discover and fulfill their God-given specific purpose, and prepare for life-long enjoyable marriage.