I haven’t always loved talking about dating. This is a relatively new thing for me. When I started leading girls at Disciple Now weekends, they started asking me about relationships and what college boys are like. Yes. That happened…real life. I had to get comfortable sharing my experiences pretty quickly. I also quickly learned that there are a lot of different opinions out there about whether Christians girls and guys should be dating.
And so the great debate is this: Is it okay for us to date?
First of all…yowza. You ask a circle of people this question and you’ll get a circle of different answers. My friends and [unmentionables] co-bloggers have lots of different experiences and opinions regarding this question.
One friend points out that every person and relationship have their own story, reactions, and consequences. Everyone is different. There are some relationships that have very positive outcomes and there are some instances where you have to learn lessons the hard way. This friend was in a relationship that left her incredibly insecure and she drags the baggage from that relationship into every other that she has. Not just romantic – these insecurities, regrets, and weights follow her into relationships with her friends and family, as well.
Another friend says that she has dating experience and she’s glad to have dated other guys. She says, “I’m definitely not glad I have dated every guy that I have, but there is one in particular that I really learned a lot from. And that was the first one. The first guy I dated was not the guy for me. He didn’t turn out to be husband material. That being said, I learned how important communication is in a relationship. I learned it from him and our relationship that failed because we could not communicate. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I learned that lesson before I met my boyfriend, who is absolutely husband material (we just aren’t there yet).”
It’s so easy to have regrets regarding past relationships and then let that regret follow you around. What’s hard to do is to let it go. It’s so difficult for us to let God have our struggles and live in the freedom that results. Why is that? Wouldn’t that seem easier?
If you’re new to the dating scene and you aren’t sure what you want or should want, know this: It’s your choice. You can choose to see guys as brothers in Christ and cultivate relationships with them that center on seeking God or you can choose to put your desires first. You can choose to enter into a relationship that honors God or you can choose to put yourself in a situation that may result in regret and baggage.
If you’re a seasoned, dating veteran, remember this: You may have made bad decisions in the past, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 34:18, “God is near to the brokenhearted.” You can let the burden go and make way for a Christ-driven relationship. You don’t have to live in the shadow of the past. 2 Samuel 22:29 says, “…my God lightens my darkness.” Then again, you may not have any regrets at all. You may have had a series of relationships that left you with happy memories, strong friendships, and plenty of positive life experiences…and there’s nothing wrong with that!
A guy friend says that dating just for the sake of dating isn’t healthy, whereas dating for marriage is. He says, “When we view dating through the lens of marriage, we see that it’s not just about finding a girlfriend, it’s about pursuing a bride.” Committing ourselves emotionally can be just as dangerous as committing ourselves physically outside the covenant of marriage. Some people have this false idea that when we date around and we’re not making physical commitments, then there’s no harm.
Another guy friend says, “Any dating relationship should have marriage as the goal. That’s not to say that asking someone out is a proposal, but it should be working toward that end. Otherwise both people are wasting their time.”
If a relationship isn’t on the path towards marriage, then what are we doing? Our culture says that guys need girls for sex and girls need guys for love. Where does marriage fit into that equation? It doesn’t.
We have a chance to end the idea that young people must constantly be in a relationship to be happy and fulfilled. What would our lives look like if we made the choice to be in love with and in full pursuit of the Savior? What would our hearts look like?
Dating is always a touchy subject in Christian circles. Some people are all for dating around and having life experiences, while others are really shut off to the idea of dating until you meeting your future spouse. While you can gain a lot of positive life experiences and make a lot of great memories in a relationship, when that courtship doesn’t follow God’s will or isn’t done in a biblical manner, problems can arise and sometimes regret can sink in. A guy told me that dating is really fun and that companionship is one of the greatest things that God has blessed us with. He’s so right! When we respect each other and honor God above all things in a relationship, it can be one of the greatest gifts.
Advice from an [unmentionables] collaborator:
I feel the best way to learn about successful marriages is to look at the examples of others who glorify God better together than apart. Proverbs 15:22 states “plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Seeking the direction of an older married couple or woman even in your dating life helps you learn without tying yourself to emotional heartache that carries into your future marriage.
[next up: making the most of your single status.]