Dating can be an exciting yet challenging experience for Christians who want to honor God in their relationships. If you’ve ever wondered what the Bible says about dating, you’re not alone! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through biblical principles, wisdom, and advice to help you navigate dating in a way that glorifies God.
Biblical Principles for Christian Dating
Seek God’s Will First
When considering dating, it’s important for Christians to seek God’s will first. The Bible encourages believers to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Rather than relying on our own desires, wisdom comes from the Lord. We can ask Him to guide our relationships and reveal His will for our lives. As it says in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Guard Your Heart
The Bible warns us to guard our hearts, stating “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). Entering romantic relationships means opening ourselves emotionally to another person. While this can be positive, we must be careful.
Rather than recklessly pursuing romance, we need wisdom and discernment. As 2 Corinthians 6:14 explains, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
We should avoid relationships that might lead us astray.
Avoid Sexual Immorality
The Bible clearly prohibits sexual immorality, with verses like 1 Thessalonians 4:3 instructing us to “avoid sexual immorality.” Premarital sex can have many negative emotional and physical consequences, and most importantly, displeases God.
As 1 Corinthians 6:18 says plainly, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” Rather than compromising our values, Christians should date with self-control, setting appropriate physical boundaries.
Choosing a Godly Partner
Desire a Mature Faith
When seeking a godly partner, one of the most important qualities to look for is a mature Christian faith (1 Corinthians 13:11). A committed relationship with Christ reflects humility, wisdom, and self-sacrifice.
Ask yourself, does this person exhibit the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)? Do they regularly read the Bible, serve at church, and have mentors that speak into their life?
A mature believer will encourage your own spiritual growth. Pray for discernment and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit when evaluating a potential partner’s faith.
Look for Godly Character
While physical attraction is important, the Bible instructs us to look deeper at character and heart when choosing a partner (1 Samuel 16:7). Prioritize the qualities that reflect the heart of Jesus – compassion, honesty, generosity, kindness, selflessness, and moral integrity.
Ask trusted friends about what they admire in the person’s reputation. Look for evidence of the fruits of the spirit in how they treat others – patience in difficult circumstances, peacemaking during conflict, joy in trials. Pay attention to how they talk about others.
Ultimately, you want a partner with integrity in public and private who brings out the best version of yourself.
Seek Compatibility and Chemistry
While faith is foundational, you also want to consider compatibility and chemistry. Do you connect relationally, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually (2 Corinthians 6:14)? Can you communicate openly, resolve conflict well, and forgive quickly?
Do you share similar values about family, finance, ministry, relationships? Talk about vision for marriage, parenting, life calling. Discuss if any differences are complementary or may become points of contention. Seek wise counsel if you have concerns (Proverbs 15:22).
While you don’t need the exact same interests, having some shared activities you enjoy together builds connection. Pray for clarity and pay attention to your dynamic as a couple. Submit your desires to God, trust His timing and discernment as you seek a godly partner (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Setting Appropriate Physical Boundaries
Kissing and Cuddling
When dating as a Christian, it’s important to set appropriate physical boundaries. Things like passionate kissing and cuddling can quickly lead to temptation. The Bible advises us to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
While kissing and cuddling with your boyfriend or girlfriend may seem harmless at first, it’s easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment. Setting clear boundaries from the start of a relationship can help couples avoid compromising situations.
Rather than intense physical intimacy, Christian couples should focus on emotional and spiritual intimacy. Spend time talking, praying together, reading the Bible, or serving others. These activities allow you to get to know each other on a deeper level while keeping God at the center of your relationship.
Spending Time Alone
As a Christian couple, it’s wise to avoid spending extended private time alone, especially overnight. These intimate situations can easily lead to sexual temptation. The Bible reminds us to “avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
It’s best for dating couples not to isolate themselves for long periods to remove temptation.
Group dates or outings can allow Christian couples to spend quality time together while reducing the likelihood of compromising your values. Attending church functions, volunteering events, double dates with other Christian friends, or family activities are great alternatives.
Having others around provides accountability and support for making wise choices.
Christian couples should not spend the night together unless married. While occasions may arise where it’s impractical for dating couples not to share sleeping quarters, such as while traveling, clear boundaries still need to be set.
Talk through expectations beforehand and make alternate sleeping arrangements if possible, like separate beds. Most importantly, pray for God to grant you both strength and discernment for purity.
As followers of Christ, we are called to honor God with our bodies and relationships (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Making the choice to abstain from sexual intimacy while dating, though challenging, allows couples to develop self-control, trust, and sacrifice — all great preparation for marriage.
Involving Family and Christian Community
Seeking accountability from family and friends is essential for a healthy dating relationship as a Christian. Telling those closest to you about your new dating partner opens up the relationship to outside perspectives and counsel (Proverbs 11:14).
Your parents, mentors, and other Christian friends likely have wisdom to offer from their own experiences. Their support can also help you stay grounded in your faith. As followers of Christ, we are called to spur one another on toward godliness and encourage wise decision making (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Allowing others to speak into your relationship prevents isolation and unwise choices.
Ask for Guidance
Asking for guidance from parents, pastors, and mature Christian friends is another key way to gain wisdom and perspective in dating. As Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” No one always makes perfect decisions on their own.
Seeking counsel from multiple godly people helps provide missing pieces to the puzzle. They may notice red flags you miss or blind spots in your thinking. Their life experience and spiritual maturity can help you consider angles you have not.
Dating can be confusing and complex, so admitting you don’t have all the answers and inviting guidance is wise. Those who love you want God’s best for you.
Avoid Hiding Your Relationship
Being upfront about a new dating relationship allows others to celebrate your happiness and support you. It also prevents the pain of dishonesty eroding trust in your other relationships. The temptation to hide a romantic connection is often rooted in the desire to avoid outside opinions and preserve a bubble around just the two of you.
However, healthy dating bears up under scrutiny. If aspects of the relationship would wilt when exposed to light, that reveals areas for growth and improvement (Ephesians 5:8-14). Share appropriate details with family and friends, introduce your significant other to those close to you, and make your times together part of normal life rather than a separate secret existence.
This builds accountability and helps ensure you stay connected to your Christian community.
In dating, as in all of life, wisdom from God is found through communing with Him in prayer and listening to godly counsel (James 1:5, Proverbs 12:15). We need each other to make wise choices and live out God’s call to purity, integrity, and love.
Leaning on family and Christian community provides missing puzzle pieces, keeping us grounded in faith. With accountability and guidance, we can better discern God’s path in our romantic relationships.
Discerning God’s Will About Marriage
Look for Confirmation
When considering marriage, it’s important for Christians to seek God’s will and look for confirmation that a relationship is part of His plan. Here are some tips:
- Pray about it. Ask God to clearly reveal His will and give you wisdom in discerning if this relationship should lead to marriage.
- Look for spiritual unity. Make sure you and your partner share similar values and commitment to God.
- Seek counsel from mentors. Talk to mature Christian friends, parents, pastors who know you well and can provide perspective.
- Reflect on peace/unease. Check your own spirit for confirmation – if you have unrest, take it as a sign to pause and wait on God’s timing.
- Consider circumstances. Do factors like age, life stage, responsibilities, etc. seem aligned to support marriage?
While there’s no formula, sincerely seeking God’s will through prayer, wise counsel, and an open heart will lead to clarity about marriage. Remember, God promises to guide those who acknowledge Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Along with looking for spiritual confirmation about marriage, Christians should also consider potential dealbreakers that may indicate a relationship is not God’s will.
Some examples include:
- Unequal yoking if partner is not a believer (2 Corinthians 6:14)
- History of domestic abuse or violence
- Addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography
- Inability to manage finances responsibly
- Major disagreements about child-rearing
- Recurring infidelity or breach of trust
- Manipulation, controlling behavior, anger issues
While no one is perfect, patterns of ungodly behavior are red flags when considering marriage. Wise believers weigh these carefully rather than ignore them.
Seek Wise Counsel
In addition to prayer and personal reflection, Christians contemplating marriage should seek counsel from trusted mentors.
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14)
Here are some tips when seeking guidance about marriage:
- Ask mentors who know your relationship history for honest perspective.
- Seek counsel from spiritual leaders like pastors or small group leaders.
- Discuss with family to get insight from those who know you best.
- Listen humbly even if advice is hard to hear initially.
- Consider feedback prayerfully before rejecting it.
- Talk to couples who have healthy marriages and can share wisdom from experience.
Seeking wise counsel demonstrates maturity and can protect from blind spots. It provides valuable perspective when discerning God’s will about marriage.
Dating as a Christian involves walking a narrow path of wisdom, purity, and seeking God’s will for your relationship. While the Bible doesn’t give detailed rules for dating, the principles and advice it provides can help guide us.
Most importantly, bring your relationships before God in prayer and trust Him to lead you every step of the way.