One question I get asked fairly often—and it’s usually from married couples hoping to instill good values in their children—is “What’s the right way to date?” They’re wanting to give their children solid biblical advice about dating.
But the Bible doesn’t say one specific word about dating, because people didn’t date back then like we date today. However, Scripture does have strong words that can apply to today’s dating culture:
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” (1 Cor. 6:15).
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18)
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
In today’s culture, young people tend to have relationship after relationship. They “date around.” They engage in casual hook-ups. Rather than honoring God with their bodies, they see sex as inconsequential.
What they don’t understand is that God created sex to be consequential. For one thing, He created sex for procreation. But not just that. God gave us intimacy because it’s part of the process by which we become one with another person.
Sex creates a deep connection between people. When you have a sexual relationship with someone, it creates a powerful, intimate bond. When you break up with that person, part of that person comes with you. Part of you goes away. It hurts. That’s why sex can be so damaging before (and outside of) marriage.
That leads to a few concepts I often teach about dating:
Intentional dating approaches it with the idea that you’re preparing for marriage. It is the opposite of recreational dating, which is dating for fun or for sexual purposes. If a romantic couple discovers one of them doesn’t have the intention of getting married someday, then they end the relationship.
Make a decision to set parameters on physical affection. For instance, “We’re going to kiss and hold hands, but we’re not going to lie down together.” These kinds of boundaries keep couples from ending up in compromising positions.
Date by faith, not by fear.
Acting on fear makes your fears come true. People who act promiscuously because they’re worried about finding a spouse and getting married are hurting themselves—and their future marriage. Instead, put faith in God’s Word and rely on God to bring you the right person.
Date to explore, not to impress. Rather than worrying about physical attraction, go deep. Engage in meaningful conversations. Be honest and authentic. You don’t want to get married only to discover that the two of you have hurtful issues in your past, or different ideas about raising children.
Dating God’s way honors parents, families, and the two people involved. By following His standards on sex and dating intentionally, a couple can begin their marriage on a strong foundation without any regrets.
Learn more about dating and marriage in the MarriageToday program:
How to Find the Right One