What God Says About Dating
When it comes to love, people have generally fallen into one of two camps. The first is those who think they’ve mastered love or have reinvented the wheel with their personal touch on the word and its definition. The second is those who are searching and wondering what it really looks like.
Whatever camp you fall in, we can tell you that what you think you know or what you’re looking for has actually already been defined.
God has already defined what love is. And there is no greater love and no love more real than that which God himself has declared and defined. 1 John 4:7 states that God is love and we ought to love one another properly as God intended because God is indeed love. If we’re in Christ, we also know God and inevitably understand what love is since we’ve been shown it.
Now, we know you all didn’t come looking for another cheesy Sunday School answer. And yes, we are here to define what God says about dating. But before we get there, our first step is to pause and get honest with ourselves about which of these two ways describes how we’re currently approaching dating:
1️⃣ Resting in the sufficiency of God’s love that’s ours in Christ
2️⃣ Chasing the false ideology of love — that the satisfaction of being loved can be found somewhere other than God
Too many Christians have been swept up in the lies our culture tells us about love and, when it comes to their dating lives, care less for what God says about it and more for their own conceptions. But while the world constantly tells us we can choose who, what, and how we love, our desire to be loved will never be fulfilled with what anyone else has to offer. Instead, the love we’re searching for has already been defined through God’s Son and given to us as a free gift in Christ. When we come to grips with this truth, it changes everything about our lives, including our relationship with dating.
Cambridge Dictionary defines the verb dating as “to regularly spend time with someone you have a romantic relationship with.”
The problem is that dating, when used to define romantic relationships, has only been around for about 100 years and, in that time, has changed cultural meaning many times. And with the Bible being around a lot longer, the word isn’t used once in the Bible. So, one may think the answer to the question “What does the Bible say about dating?” is nothing.
We tend to disagree.
What the Bible says about dating is what it says about everything in life. It begins with living out your faith and the practical implications of the Gospel. You cannot allow culture to define how you should date — it must be rooted and led by the Gospel.
This means whether you are on a “date” (hanging out with someone of the opposite sex) or “dating” (in a romantic relationship with someone), you should always look at the other person as the Lord looks at them — as someone made in His image.
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
As followers of Christ, this is how we need to look at and treat those we are dating or going on dates with because this is what is honoring to the Lord [Galatians 6:10 & Philippians 1:27a]. And if we are rooted and led by the Gospel, this is how we must act in our dating relationships.
When we know how God calls us to act in our dating relationships, we can begin to understand the purpose of dating. For many, the answer often heard is to find a spouse or date for marriage. We want to challenge that answer. This is not THE purpose of dating, meaning it is not the only reason to date.
Dating presents an opportunity to carry out the commands of Scripture [Matthew 16:24–25, Matthew 28:18–20, John 13:34–35]. Like everything else in the Christian life, dating’s purpose should be centered on the Gospel and used as an opportunity to grow in our walk with God.
How can we do that? Often, we think it means finding someone who lives their life in such a way that encourages us to be more like Jesus. The problem with this mindset is that it’s focused on what we THINK we need. The truth is, most of us, even those who are married, often don’t know what we need. Dr. Henry Cloud puts it this way,
Dating is as much about learning what you need and want, and how you need to grow and change, as it’s about finding the “right” person.
Truly, only the Lord knows who we are, what we need to grow, and who will help sharpen us in our walk with Him. If He knows this and yet He gives us the opportunity in our culture to date, we should then look at dating as a gift from God that He uses to show us more about ourselves and who we are in Christ. When looked at properly, dating helps us to grow closer to Christ — whether through encouraging us or challenging us by exposing sinful behaviors, habits, etc.
Who can God use in the dating process to do that? Anyone? Even non-believers? We think so. But before you jump to conclusions, understand that we are not saying to enter into a committed relationship with someone who isn’t a Christian, as that would be contradictory to Scripture [2 Corinthians 6:14]. But can you go on a date with a non-believer? Yes. Here’s why.
First, we live in a day and age where we meet people online through dating apps and the dates that come out of that are what lead us to get to know someone. It is on those dates where you learn about each other’s beliefs. And if God is your first love, meaning you have a relationship with Him and you know everything in your life should be centered around the Gospel, then we know ultimately this is an opportunity to demonstrate Christ to someone who may not know Him. Second, we know that if God is your first love and you know everything in your life is centered around the Gospel, you will not enter into a committed romantic relationship with someone else who doesn’t love God first.
So, what does God say about dating? Everything.
Our prayer is that your heart would be so set on the Lord, that you would look at dating as an opportunity and gift given by Him to glorify Him. And if you are looking to learn more about what God says about dating, we encourage you to check out “5 Christian Books You Should Read if You are Single or Dating.” You can find it by clicking here.