Restored: Dating Recalibrated - Part 2
Dating is one of the subjects which elicit strong emotions whether positive or negative within the Christian community. Last week, we considered that this may be because the Bible does not say a lot directly on the topic, but rather provides important principles we can apply to our dating life. We have identified the three main stages of the dating process and explored three popular views of dating:
- Date; who cares about a mate?
- Never date unless you have found a mate
- Date to discover your mate
We concluded that the best approach to dating was the 'date to discover your mate' approach, since this allowed for the healthy development or natural dissolution of the relationship without animosity.
The discussion continues this week with three critical questions we need to ask to discover our mate during the dating process, which are:
1. DO I HAVE A PLAN FOR THIS DATE?
When we are looking for the right person, we must commit to stay within God's boundaries for dating. God won't bring the right person into the wrong situation. In addition, it is important that before we even go out on a first date that we have a plan.
Proverbs 27:12 NLT says: "A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences."
This is an encouragement for us to set boundaries and take precautions.
Here are some suggested precautions:
- Avoid alcohol and getting drunk since alcohol lowers your inhibitions. This is particularly important for young people. In Ephesians 5:18 NLT Paul writes: "Don't be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you."
- Avoid getting too physical (e.g. horseplay, petting and excessive touching) because this usually leads to more physical interaction that could be in the danger zone. This principle draws on the law of diminishing returns which says that every time you do something physical in your dating relationship, that act loses excitement the next time that you do it. So, if your relationship is built on physical thrills, you will eventually go so far that you compromise your standards and step outside of God's will.
Remember "Whatever we do, it is because Christ's love controls us..." 2 Corinthians 5:14 NLT. Jesus' love should control us in all of our acts, including what happens on our dates.
So you are on the date and you have your plan in place, what is the next question you should ask?
2. IS THIS A POTENTIAL MATE?
You are trying to find out if this person is potentially the right person and someone you could marry. This means that we consider a person's faith and character before we take the relationship to the next level because these are the things that last forever. This ultimately takes time to discover but it is always the motive of our dating. It is important both for us and the person we are dating that we don't date anyone we know we would not marry. I am not saying that the only person you can date is the person that you are going to marry, but that you should focus on the ultimate goal of dating which is to discover your mate. Otherwise, you are just playing around and this can cause undue pain.
The final thing to consider is:
3. MARRIAGE, SHOULD I WAIT?
The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 7:7 NLT says: "I wish everyone could get along without marrying just as I do. But we are not all the same. God gives some the gift of marriage, and to others He gives the gift of singleness... But if they (single) cannot control themselves, they should go ahead and marry... than to burn with lust." Paul reveals three important truths in this passage:
= You and I do not necessarily have a soul mate;
- Being single can be preferable to being married and;
- There is no perfect time to get married.
On the other hand, a lot of us are so afraid of the commitment of marriage that we think the safe answer is living together before getting married. But, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT: "You say, "I am allowed to do anything" but not everything is good for you. You say, "I am allowed to do anything" but not everything is beneficial."
The reality is, I have the freedom to do what I want in my life, but is living together God's best or am I settling for less?
God's best is for you to enjoy your life, but your happiness is not dependent on another person.
So, it is OK to want God's best and not delay when we discover it, but recognise that both singleness or marriage are valid statuses in the Lord. In His eyes marriage is good but it is not better than being single.
Matthew 6:33 LB says: "...He (God) will give you everything you need from day to day, if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to."
Give God first place in your life and in return, God promises to bring His very best to you whether you are single, or married.