Christian advice on dating and marriage
If so, how should they date? What does the Bible say about dating? Marriages were typically arranged in ancient Eastern cultures, and opportunities for social interaction between young, unmarried men and women were limited.
However, the Bible has much to say about integrity, respect for others, sexual morality, and a vast array of interpersonal relationships—including marriage. So for the Christian who is curious about how his or her faith should shape a dating relationship, some general principles found in Scripture can apply.
The accepted Western dating protocol of the late twentieth century—that is, a man initiates; a woman accepts; the man pays; and the community parents, friends, and neighbors approves—is no longer the norm. Among high schoolers and on college campuses, texting, sexting, hanging out, hooking up, group activities, and NCMO-ing non-committed making out 1 may be more common than one-on-one dating.
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Some recent books written by young evangelicals have discouraged the practice of dating for Christians; 2 others have endorsed it. Should Christians date or not? The more important question is: How should you, as a follower of Christ, go about dating? Christians should date as they live —and Christians should live by following the example of Christ. In every relationship—including romantic relationships—we should follow his example. Dating Christians should show respect to one another.
A man respects a woman he dates by clearly pursuing her, planning their time together, considering her likes and dislikes, listening to her, and regarding her as a fellow child of God. A woman respects a man she dates in much the same way: Your date is someone created with eternity in mind and who is completely unique. Even better, honor it.
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Relationships not built on honesty will not last. The same is true if your dating partner is not honest with you. If and when feelings change, they should be acknowledged, discussed, and dealt with. Conflicts should be explored, not ignored. Together you can determine whether or not to continue dating.
Even in the evangelical subculture, the majority of unmarried young adults report that they are sexually active by their early 20s. But the Bible states that sex is intended for the lifelong commitment of marriage. He also designed it to be emotionally and spiritually meaningful—to cement a permanent marriage relationship. The Bible states that there is safety in an abundance of counselors. If a Christian intends to marry a Christian, then he or she should date a Christian. You can also expect to be pulled in two directions with regard to many life decisions: Treat your dating partners with respect.
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Tell them the truth. Open your life including your dating life to those in your community whom you love and trust. Listen to their counsel. Ask for their prayers. Resolve to reserve sex for its proper home: To avoid heartache, decide to marry another believer—and date with that decision in mind.
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