To Date or Not to Date?

“I have committed my heart to courtship. But right now I feel a little confused…I have heard all the bad things on dating…and now I hear some good things about it…Who do I believe?”

“I think it would be more fun and I would get more worldly fulfillment out of dating, but it is God’s plan to court and that is what I am going to do…”

“I believe there is nothing wrong with dating, but I do think girls should wait to date, especially wait till your relationship with God grows strong! Then it will be easier to make the right choices with relationships.”

“…dating is actually sometimes a good thing. You hear a lot of bad stuff. I sure do. I’ve went through a lot of bad dating, but once you really find that special guy I mean you have your ups and downs but its really just amazing to be with that person all the time and just know their there for you…”

The blog has been buzzing on the topic of dating. Some of you have come to the site seeking advice on the subject and several of you have weighed in with some great thoughts! It is obvious you are wondering…does God care if you date? Does He care who you date? Is dating even okay? If you’re among the young women asking these questions, you are not alone. In fact, 68% of the girls we surveyed for Lies Young Women Believe said they feel better about their lives when they have a boyfriend. I personally interviewed most of those girls. What surprised me most is that many of the girls who answered this way had never had a boyfriend. Some were committed to courtship. Others felt led to wait to date until a certain season of their life. Some just hadn’t met the right guy. Others told painful stories of heartbreak as a result of poor choices in relationships with guys. But it didn’t seem to matter which category these girls fell into, they were obviously experiencing serious confusion about the topic of guy/girl relationships. The bottom line? Defining boundaries in our relationships with boys is an area where Satan loves to lie to us. Let’s take a look at the Word and see if we can uncover some truth!

When it comes to relating to boys, here are the ground rules.

1. Find your fulfillment in Christ alone.

John 4:13-14 says this, “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Only Jesus has the ability to fully satisfy. He used water to prove this point, but we can easily replace the water with boys in this analogy. No person including your friends, your family members or your boyfriend can meet your needs so completely that you will be fully satisfied. They weren’t designed to do so. But Christ is able to fulfill every need.

Often the problem that young women run into in their dating relationships, is that they look to that relationship to meet their needs and create their happiness. If the relationship is going well, they are on cloud nine. If it isn’t, their world comes crashing down. Perhaps more commonly, girls tend to feel unfulfilled if they aren’t in a relationship at all. This is dangerous ground.

Anytime we seek satisfaction, fulfillment or happiness from a source other than God, we are bound to be disappointed. Until you have reached a place where Christ is your source of fulfillment, you probably aren’t ready for a relationship.

2. Wait for God’s Timing.

“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you…do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (Song of Songs 2:7)

“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you…do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” (Song of Songs 3:5)

“Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you; Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (Song of Songs 8:4)

Why do you suppose that the author of this book chose to repeat that phrase three times? Probably for the same reason that your parents tell you to do (or not to do) the same things over and over. Because they mean business! This is an important point, and the author of Song of Songs didn’t want us to miss it. I don’t want you to miss it either.

A relationship with a guy in God’s timing can be one of the greatest blessings we receive in life. I can still fondly remember the season of my life when I was falling in love with my husband. The whole world seemed sweeter and my heart filled to overflowing with love and affection. I can also remember times when I chased love and intimacy prematurely. They guys I was chasing were not who God intended me to marry and the timing was all wrong. I had my first boyfriend in pre-school and I stayed in relationships from that point on. Obviously in pre-school I wasn’t ready to start a relationship with the purpose of heading toward marriage. The truth is, I wouldn’t be ready for that kind of relationship for another two decades. The results of “awakening love” before the appropriate time were painful. I experienced many broken hearts, disappointments, and compromises along the way.

In addition, being in relationships with guys too early often leads to sexual sin. Research has shown that the girls who have boyfriends by seventh grade are the most likely to be sexually active in high school and there is a direct relationship between the length of your relationships and the likelihood that your purity will be compromised. Being in a relationship with a guy six months or longer is one of the top five factors that leads to sexual activity in teenagers.

So, when is the right time to pursue this kind of relationship? There are two important factors. The timing is right when you are in a stage of life when you are ready to consider getting married and when God has brought a man into your life that you are ready to commit to for a lifetime. Until these two pieces are in place, it is better to wait.

3. Honor Your Parents.

Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Matthew 19:19 says, “Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Ephesians 6:1-3 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go will with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

This is just a sampling of the scriptures that tell us to honor our parents. There are more, and the theme is the same. As Christians, we are to honor the wishes of our parents. For some of you this means that you won’t be allowed to date at all. Maybe your family has chosen to follow a courtship model instead. For some of you this means that you won’t be able to date until you reach a certain age. Honoring your parents means to respect these parameters. Don’t push your parents to change their mind and throw a fit when they don’t. Don’t try to sneak in dates under the disguise of group outings or time with your girlfriends. Trust that their decision to have you wait is wise and the result of much thought and prayer. For some of you, this means that you aren’t allowed to date a certain guy. If your parents disapprove, and especially if they have forbidden you to continue a relationship, the Bible is clear, your job is to honor them.

4. Pursue Emotional Purity.

The truth is that no matter what model you use for your relationships with the opposite sex, you can get into trouble if you don’t guard your heart. The Bible tells us to pay attention to this possibility “above all else.”

“Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

You can experience a broken heart at any age. And while certain boundaries may limit the possibility of physical compromise, they may not protect you from emotional compromise. Nancy writes about this in “Lies.”

“Over the years, many women have poured out their hearts to us about deep regrets they have over choices they made related to dating, courtship and marriage. They would give anything to be able to go back and re-live that part of their lives. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible. As I (Nancy) listen to these women share their heartaches, I often think, ‘I wish every young women could hear this story—before it’s too late!’”

This brings us back to guideline #2. Until you are ready to give your heart to a man for a lifetime and until God has brought the right guy into your life, it is dangerous to awaken love. Waiting is the best way to guard your heart.

5. Only link your life with another Christian.

2 Corinthians 6:14-17 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said; ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.’”

To be “yoked” is to join your life with another. This certainly doesn’t mean that we aren’t ever to interact with non-believers, but we aren’t to choose them as our partners to walk through life with. Additionally, verse 15 asks, “what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” If Christ is the center of your life, if you are seeking to please him with your choices, if your ultimate goal is to serve him and grow to be more like him, you won’t have much in common with someone who doesn’t believe in him at all. If your ultimate goal for your dating relationships is to head toward marriage, there is no room for intimate relationships with non-Christians.

The bottom line on this issue is that God is good (Psalm 84:11). His timing is perfect (Ecclesiastes 3:11, 2 Peter 3:9) You can trust Him with this area of your life (Proverbs 3:5-6, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 18:2). His truth is the solid rock on which you can build the foundation of every corner of your heart.

About Author

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

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