Mar 29, Before continuing with this article, please review the preamble included at the beginning of part 1 of this series, “Biblical Dating: How It's.
Table of contents
- Will You Go Out With Me? Rules for Biblical Dating
- 12 Ways to transform modern dating into Biblical dating
- Peace comes through living the way our creator designed us to
- Will You Go Out With Me? Rules for Biblical Dating – CBMW
A high view of true, biblical manhood and womanhood leads us to a high view of dating. May we date well, intentionally, and for the glory of God. With Spring just around the corner I thought it would be a great time to give you aspiring lovers out there some tips on dating. Who wants to get dating advice from a pastor?
But my hope in this is only to help you, after all God created relationships, and so you would be a fool to not at least consider his a perspective on dating that is grounded in scripture. And beyond Biblical perspective, this advice also comes from experience, if I have to be honest when I was single and dating I broke every one of these rules in one way or another and it always cost me.
If you watch any TV show aimed at an audience of year olds you will hear at some point on any given episode the phrase: Dating is a serious game and one that you should enter into with prayer and with humility. This rule really applies more to men than it does to women, and it is something that my college buddies and I used to tell each other whenever we took a girl out. Ultimately people date in order to pursue marriage see rule 2 so then our dating should be a reflection of marriage.
Among the different roles assigned to men and women in the Bible, men are assigned the role of leadership. This is true in the church and in the family. This is not a signal of male superiority or of the greater importance of men. Men initiate, women respond. Briefly, biblical support for this position is found, among other passages, in the creation order in Genesis 2 , in 1 Corinthians True, these passages refer to marriage, but it is wise and right to set patterns that will serve you well in marriage, especially if one accepts the premise that the purpose of dating is to find a marriage partner.
First, the man should initiate asking the woman out. Whether this means approaching the woman herself or her father or someone filling that role instead of her father, it should be the guy that starts things off. As a quick aside, if you are a single man and you would not describe yourself as ready to be married within a year, think about why that is. I mention this for two reasons: As I said, in the Bible, marriage and family are considered a natural stage of progression toward manhood.
The command in Genesis to be fruitful and multiply is a general command. When Paul extols singleness in 1 Corinthians 7 which is an often-misused passage in this area of life , it is singleness for the purpose of enhanced ministry discipleship, teaching, missionary work. If you are floating around staying single because you enjoy social flexibility or having time to yourself or hanging out with the guys or because you have worldly ideas about the perfect woman or how to approach marriage, consider: Are you approaching manhood and marriage biblically?
Every male who is out of college should have at least thought this through. This is not initiation. Are you saying that all the risk is mine? Welcome to trusting God. Welcome to being a man. Your cards belong on the table. Your intentions and your feelings, to the extent that you can discern them and it is appropriate for you to share them, should be clear.
Part of your role even at this early stage is to protect the woman of your interest from unnecessary risk and vulnerability by providing a safe context in which she can respond.
Will You Go Out With Me? Rules for Biblical Dating
Her response may be positive or negative, it may occur through her father, her family or words directly to her potential suitor. But whatever the circumstances, her role is as responder, not initiator. As single men need to learn how to lead whether they like it or not , single women need to learn what it is to let a man assume spiritual leadership in the relationship — and to respond to that leadership.
Needless to say, that is not the biblical picture of the responder. So what does this picture look like? Does this mean that a woman should never ask a man out on a first date? I think it does. Again, I think so. When men drop the ball on leadership as we often do , it presents a temptation for the woman involved to pick up the reins and lead for him. This is no less true within marriage. Picking up the reins sets a terrible pattern that only confuses the roles in the relationship and encourages both of you to take the role of the other to the detriment of the relationship and ultimately the marriage.
The Lord is sovereign. He knows what is best for each of us, and all of us must learn to trust Him — especially about things that are really important to us. Finally, let me advocate the initiating of a relationship under some accountability structure. The idea was to protect the woman from potential hurt or awkwardness, to aid her in evaluating a man whom she might not have known well at the time of his initiation, and to help ensure that the relationship was carried out honorably. Certainly, this norm spread beyond the believing community and became more of a cultural phenomenon, but it still gels well with attempts to carry out a godly dating relationship — especially among those believers who hold a complementarian view of biblical gender roles.
In this day and age, however, the hard fact is that many single Christian women have fathers who are not involved in their lives at all, are not believers, or are indifferent to or unaware of the notion of protecting and shepherding their daughters and potential suitors in a dating context. It may mean that you explain to him that before you are willing to go out with him, he needs to meet person or couple X and discuss it with them or with the two of you. Humble openness to accountability is essential to a godly relationship. One of the big questions hovering around the topic of courtship and dating is the role of friendship.
How intimate of a friendship with someone of the opposite sex is OK? How do I move from friendship to dating? Much of this is a fairly new problem. So is the trend toward intimate friendships between single men and women a good thing? In my view, not so much. I believe it is extremely difficult and rare — as a practical matter — to honor these principles in the context of a close, intimate friendship between two single Christians of the opposite sex. Intimate friendships between men and women almost always produce confusion and frustration for at least one of the parties involved.
Close friendships by their very nature tend to involve extensive time talking and hanging out one-on-one. In other words, they tend to involve much of the type of intimacy and companionship involved in — and meant for — marriage. Yet even with all this deep communication going on, at least one aspect of these friendships inherently involves a mixed message. Yes, I know, the other person is an adult who is free and responsible to walk away if he or she is so unsatisfied, but like it or not, it tends not to work that way. Hope springs eternal, whether it should or not. I have seen and heard and read of such frustration and hurt playing out many times over.
Ladies, might there be men who would have initiated with you but for their uncertainty about or discomfort with your intimate friendship with another man? Guys, has a woman perhaps turned you down over questions about a woman friend you spend lots of time with? Would you want to date someone knowing that he or she had a significant, pre-existing and ongoing emotional bond with another single member of the opposite sex?
If I were a single person desiring marriage, the answers to these questions would matter to me. In my experience counseling and writing on this topic, everybody thinks or at least claims that his or her intimate friendship is the exception. But here I would pose the question that is relevant to so many aspects of the courtship and dating topic. Why risk harm to your own heart or to that of a brother or sister to have a type of companionship that, outside of marriage, is arguably questionable anyway?
This brings me to my second argument against intimate one-on-one friendships between brothers and sisters in Christ. Men and women who are not called to long-term singleness and celibacy have a strong desire for companionship with a member of the opposite sex. This is good and right. In the past, when both sexual immorality and intimate male-female friendships were much less accepted and less common in society, men and women moved more deliberately toward marriage earlier in life.
By offering a taste of the companionship and interactions that make marriage so satisfying, with none of the accompanying commitments or responsibilities entailed in marriage, intimate friendships discourage the pursuit of the grown-up, God-intended outlet for marital desires — marriage. I would especially encourage women who desire marriage to give this argument some thought. Are you and your sisters satisfying the intermediate needs of your guy friends such that they feel no particular compulsion to pursue marriage? Am I saying that friendship among single brothers and sisters has no place?
In fact, I would argue that dating or courting relationships ideally grow out of friendship among co-laborers in the Gospel. The question is what those friendships look like practically. First Timothy 5 describes a relationship among Christian men and women not married to one another as that of brothers and sisters. The Lord has mercifully called us not to live the Christian life alone but as part of a community of believers. Single men and women can and should serve in ministry together, study the Word together and hang out together socially.
They should go out together, gather around meals, watch movies. In my view, however, these activities should be done, for the most part, in groups rather than one-on-one. Men can initiate group get-togethers, and so can women. Men can and should give women rides home rather than have them walk alone at night. Men can come over and move couches.
Women can cook a meal for a group of guys in danger of developing scurvy from a near total lack of vegetables. Friendships grow out of the body of Christ functioning and, in turn, result in interests beyond friendship. To be sure, the friendships that develop in this context are not the same friendships with the same level of intimacy that would develop from spending consistent time alone with someone, but they provide a context from which initiations and relationships can bloom.
Remember, the world has falsely told us that a high level of intimacy with another person needs to precede any sort of commitment to another person.
Is there a precise formula for whether a friendship or series of interactions is too intimate? Hang out in groups; serve together. By all means, chat and be friendly with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Have you blown two tires and gone screaming off into the trees if you ask someone to lunch or coffee once or twice? Depends on what happens from there. Beyond that, godly single adults will have to work this out on a case-by-case basis. Because this sort of perhaps unintentional deception is a particular temptation in a dating context, we need to be deliberate about avoiding it.
This is not the only way the early part of a relationship might look. These are simply suggested applications of biblical principles. In the end, there is no formula and no rote substitute for intellectually honest Christians seeking to care well for one another and to faithfully apply Scripture to infinitely varied relational circumstances.
The first thing that should happen if it has not happened during the initiation of the relationship is that intentions should be established. Whatever that conversation looks like, intentions should be clear and it should be the man making them so. Guys, tell her why you have initiated or are initiating with her, tell her that you intend to pursue the relationship to determine if marriage to her is the right choice before God.
The idea is to remove that period of confusion or vulnerability for the woman by being forthright from the beginning about what level of intention or commitment exists a la 1 Thessalonians 4. From there, you obviously need a response from the woman to know whether or not things will go any further.
Ladies, as uncomfortable as this may sound for the guys, you might be in a difficult position here as well, depending on how well you know the man initiating with you. Then — in addition to actually thinking and praying about it — ask one of your pastors or elders whether he knows him and what he thinks. There are instances in which you can be genuinely unsure about a guy but still move forward this far.
Let me say it again: Agreeing to date is not agreeing to marry. There are biblical and unbiblical reasons for a man to initiate with a woman, and there are biblical and unbiblical reasons for turning a man down. If you feel that you are not initially attracted to a man who initiates with you, OK — but at least ask yourself why that is. Are you considering biblical characteristics in that decision? Do you have enough information to know that you could not marry this man? If a man initiates with you, ladies, think and pray and seek counsel before simply dismissing him. If nothing else, treating men who initiate well will encourage other men to initiate.
If we are concerned about defrauding one another again, this idea applies to both genders but particularly to the men as the initiators , another one of the early issues to address is how much and what kind of time couples spend together. The answer turns on what you are trying to find out about this person at this stage of things. Did you catch how I phrased that? You are trying to figure out if you should get to know this person more intimately; you are not at the outset trying to get to know this person intimately. The difference is subtle but important. One suggestion I have for couples starting out is that the majority of your time together should be spent with other people, preferably with your families and church families.
Get to know one another in groups, find out how the other person reacts to people, spend time with the people he or she cares about. This will provide you a chance to get to know him or her well and will also provide a buffer and accountability against getting too emotionally intimate too early.
Many people want to start out a relationship by spending a huge amount of time alone together. This is understandable but unadvisable for a number of reasons. Spending too much time alone promotes a high level of intimacy on a number of fronts, can lead to some level of isolation from other friends, and puts undue emphasis on the relationship in the lives of both people, even before any significant commitment has been voiced.
If you do spend time alone, spend it in activities, read a book together, be in public places, etc. Think not just about the kind of time you spend together, but how much. Even if you spend the right kind of time together, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Leave space in your life for other activities and relationships.
Build the momentum if it will build slowly. Have you thought about the fact that there are some topics that are inherently intimate and that almost automatically promote deep intimacy between two people? What do I mean? For starters, let me suggest that you not go out in the first week and tell each other the long, teary versions of your testimonies and the greatest personal pain that the Lord has delivered you from in your life.
Also and this may seem counterintuitive , I advise folks not to spend long periods in prayer together. What should you talk about then? Talk about your values and priorities, ambitions and plans you may have, your families and things that are happening in your church or in the world. Does this sound cold, uninviting, even deceptive? You are not that yet. This brings me to the larger principle bound up in these suggestions: Deep emotional intimacy should not be established in the early stages of a relationship. Song of Songs 2: Do not start what you cannot — without sin — finish.
The biblical idea of marriage holds that such level of relating to one another begins when you are married. I assure you, though, that the pain will be lessened by the honest, mutual, spiritual concern for one another that results when two people treat one another like brothers and sisters in Christ first, and potential spouses second.
12 Ways to transform modern dating into Biblical dating
This is for the protection of the people involved especially the woman , for the witness of the church and for the glory of God. Many wanted to know, did I really mean no physical intimacy? What about showing affection? How can you say definitively that other things are wrong? In this day and age, how far is really too far?
I understand most physical stuff is wrong, but what about just kissing? Let me lay out what I view to be applicable biblical principles and passages on this topic. I believe the Bible to teach that all sexual activity outside of marriage is sin, and all romantically oriented physical activity is sexual activity. In my view, this includes premarital kissing. As the questions above indicate, however, many single Christians have questions about whether premarital physical activity at some level beyond kissing is OK.
Let me offer a caveat or two at the outset. I am obviously not saying that hugs and kisses of affection or greeting to relatives and the like are out of bounds. Another important point has to do with culture. In some cultures, kisses of greeting — between members of the same sex or of the opposite sex — as well as hand-holding and other forms of physical expression during normal, non-romantic social intercourse, are more common.
The argument becomes clearer when we look at some of what the Bible has to say about 1 sex, 2 our relationships with other believers and 3 sexual immorality itself. As a good initial principle here, we should affirm that sex itself and sexual activity in general is not inherently negative or sinful. On the contrary, in the proper context, it is a kind and good gift of God. God instituted sex within marriage as part of His design of the family Genesis 1: In 1 Corinthians 7: In Song of Songs, God has given us a holy and beautiful picture of a marital sexual relationship, and everyone seems to be having an excellent time.
Even there, however, God is clear that sex is uniquely for marriage: The orthodox interpretation of the book suggests both that an actual sexual relationship is part of what the narrative relays and a context at the time of the sexual part of the relationship of marriage. So marriage is a unique relationship, and the good gift of sex is not only allowed but commanded within that relationship.
Still, the overwhelming majority of believers will only share that relationship with one person in their entire lives. How are we to relate to everyone else especially believers , and how does that question inform the topic of premarital sexual activity? The simple answer is that every believer to whom I am not married is my brother or sister in Christ, and I am to act accordingly. Just a few examples: Romans 12 , especially vv. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Love does no harm to its neighbor. More specifically, 1 Timothy 5: Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.
Treat younger men as brothers , older women as mothers , and younger women as sisters , with absolute purity emphasis mine. We should note this analogy with care. Also, look at that phrase about how younger women should be treated — with absolute purity.
As a lawyer, I almost never see absolute statements. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to lead a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his holy spirit. Look closely at verse 6. The argument might run thus: Of course I want to care for their spiritual good.
I just think I can show genuine affection short of intercourse with someone I clearly care about and still obey those passages. Have you ever met that mark? Think about the times you have engaged in any type of romantically oriented physical activity with someone not your spouse. It might have been last night or last week or last year or back in high school or college. Were you honest with the person about making a commitment to him or her before the Lord, or did you defraud or deceive that person in some way?
Whatever you did, as you now think about it, does it inspire a comfortable peace or an uncomfortable shudder to remember that Father, Son and Holy Spirit observed it all? Do you believe God was glorified or grieved by what He saw? I have never heard any believer , single or married, defend their extramarital physical relationships from a position of looking back on them. Keep in mind that the idea of holy, God-glorifying sexuality is by no means an impossible standard once you figure marriage into the equation. While no person stops being a fallible, broken sinner just because he or she gets married, the context of marriage makes it possible — even normal and likely, in the case of two walking Christians — to answer well the questions I just posed.
Sex within a godly marriage is holy and honorable before God 1 Corinthians 7 , Song of Songs , Hebrews It is part of the process of building one another up spiritually in marriage and should be done to that end. It is also meant, among other things, for sexual pleasure. And marriage — including the sexual relationship within it — reflects the covenant and the joyful, loving, intimate relationship between the church and her Savior.
It meets the mark. A brief tour of Christian blogs and bookstores will provide several different answers to the question, attempting to compose lines and boundaries somewhere on the sexual continuum behind which singles must stay. Scripture is replete with statements that sexual immorality leads to death, that it is idolatry and that those who are characterized by it will not enter the kingdom of heaven check out 1 Corinthians 6: In addition to 1 Corinthians 6, other passages explicitly tell us that sexual immorality is not something to flirt with.
If you want to think through this idea well, take your concordance and look at what the Bible has to say collectively about sexual sin of all types. That leaves little room for intentional flirtation with any sin, sexual or otherwise. To borrow and embellish an analogy from Michael Lawrence , sexual activity is like a down-hill on-ramp to a highway. This truth bears itself out not only in our emotions, desires and common sense, but literally in our physical bodies. In the right context, those desires are good and right and God-glorifying. In any context, they are some of the strongest desires known to human kind.
Kissing will often make you want to do more than kiss.
Peace comes through living the way our creator designed us to
It will likely make you want to indulge in sin. That desire will be strong enough in both of you without blatantly tempting yourself by trying to put just one foot on the on-ramp. Let me close by reminding us all that while God hates sin, and while sexual sin — like all sin — is destructive to us and grieving to God, there is hope and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. What was red as crimson has become white as snow. We talked about how to establish intentions for the early stages, appropriate topics of conversation, types of dates and level of emotional investment.
Guys, again the brunt of the work falls to you here. Tell her that you have loved getting to know her, that you find her a godly woman, that you are interested in pursuing a more serious relationship with her for a finite period of time, basically to see if there are any clear obstacles in terms of beliefs or affections or goals or personalities to the two of you getting married.
Finally, you should tell her that if she does not find herself in the same place in terms of her feelings about the relationship or if she becomes certain at any point moving forward that she is not interested in marriage to you , she should break up with you immediately. Will it feel a little forced or awkward? Maybe, but being deliberate and clear about where the relationship is need not suck all the fun, spontaneity and feeling out of the whole affair.
In fact, many women tell me they deeply appreciate such clarity.
Will You Go Out With Me? Rules for Biblical Dating – CBMW
Let me also reiterate that, like asking someone to date initially, this conversation is not a proposal, and neither person is committing to marry the other at this point. If done well, it should actually put you both at ease moving forward. Obviously, as your relationship progresses, the two of you will probably spend more time together than in the early stage, and more of that time will be spent alone together.
That said, it is still dangerous to spend time together alone in a private setting. Temptation in this area is easily underestimated, and it is very difficult to regain discipline and backtrack once you have sinned physically. Spend time in public. Remember those long candle-light dinners in restaurants I suggested were unadvisable in the early stages of a relationship? Even at this stage in the relationship, there is still no reason or need for the two of you to be alone in one of your apartments together. For the sake of purity, be very careful about how and where you spend time together.
In getting to know one another more intimately, there will also be some changes in some of the topics that are appropriate to discuss.