I know I’ve managed to furrow many an eyebrows with just the title!
After having successfully shed the “good-boy” image to all who thought dating was a a sin but found out I actually courted for two years, I decided to write this post to open up a forum for discussion, as well as present to you what I believe is from the Word.
We all have differing opinions and understanding on this subject, and many of you might not even be interested to read beyond this point, but for the general good of all my precious readers who would like to expand their horizon of thought and are interested in working out an answer, I thought it would be better I write. I’m sure the learning would be both ways, for you and for me!
So, what is dating?
This is the definition that the Oxford dictionary has for the term ‘dating’: A social or romantic appointment or engagement!
Now many people confuse dating with courting.
Dating is a period of getting to know a person, before actually getting into a commitment.
Courting, on the other hand, is the period between getting committed to a person, and making it official with an engagement or a wedding.
Now, when you are dating somebody, you don’t really know God’s will for your relationship. But when you are courting somebody, you need to have been 100% sure that this person is the one that God has intended for you to spend the rest of your life with.
Now, getting into the subject, here are the burning questions:
Q.1 When is it not right to date?
When it imitates the worldly pattern, involving pure lust or is temporary.
The media around us has THE most disillusioned view when it comes to portraying the subject of dating. The movies, TV series, the personal lives of major celebrities and almost every person in the limelight give us a very wrong picture of dating.
Dating is shown to be always coupled with sex. So one of the primary motives to dating becomes getting physical with the partner, almost never intending on marriage.
Not just that; the world has a philosophy of temporary relationships. They are always in search of ‘the one’ while continually indulging in temporary, meaningless relationships with no future. That is why most marriages end with a divorce instead of at death!
Those are the dangers of following the method of dating prescribed by the world around us.
Q.2 Why do you need to date?
..followed by the real questions: What is the real purpose of dating? Is it necessary? How much is too much? What are my limits?
Well, for starters, one shouldn’t be dating if one’s not yet prepared to make a lifelong commitment for marriage. But if you are somebody who is ready to make this decision, dating will help you meet other single people with similar likes and interests. I have known countless people who thought they knew their prospective partners well, and fell head over heels in love with them, only to realize later that they were not at all compatible.
Spending time with your prospective partner helps you clarify a lot of your thoughts and opinions upfront, so you get into marriage with complete knowledge of what to expect from the ‘significant’ other.
The dating phase is never to get into an emotional or physical relationship. It is only to come into a place of mutual agreement and understanding.
Amos 3:3 NLT
Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?
That’s all that happens during the dating phase. You’re only discussing the direction of your lives. Walking together begins much later, on the day God unites you as one!
Q.3 Is there an alternative to dating?
There are those who don’t agree with the above view on dating. Their perspective is that you should just pray, hear God, and walk in whatever you hear from God, that you don’t need a time of getting to know each other. I personally do not have any problem with this viewpoint. As long as you are 100% sure a certain person is the one God wants you to marry, all discussions, understanding and agreement could take a backseat and be resumed post your marriage.
However, I wouldn’t personally recommend this to anybody. Dating does not exclude God. It is only a method to test and prove if whether a person is God’s will for your life or not, by bringing judgment and discernment into our perspective.
Q.4 What role does tradition play in dating?
I don’t know what culture you are from, but my conservative upbringing is definitely not in favor of dating. Not even courtship. Here, it’s mandatory that the parents be the one who select the partner for their children. My wife and I faced a lot of heat for going the nontraditional way of selecting our life partner.
Irrespective of what your culture says about dating, the bible is very clear about one’s conduct before marriage. Though there is no limitation on selecting, or getting to talk to/know your prospective partner, like Jacob selecting Rachel or Joseph getting to know Mary before marriage, the bible highly condemns all kinds of physical, sexual relationship outside of marriage!
Hence, if you believe you possess the Godly wisdom and maturity it takes to shatter the world’s definition of dating and live up to the standards the Word has set for you, I would say dating is OK.
What have you learned new from this post? What is your take on dating? Do you believe differently? Please feel free to express the same in the comments here.