Updated: May 5
Of all the polls I created, the one where I asked about dating was by far the most popular. Perhaps this is because about 75% of my reader audience is still single, but regardless dating is clearly on your mind so we might as well get real about it.
The word "dating" is defined by google as going on dates. You are actively getting out there and meeting people and spending time with them. In today's society, the term can also mean that you and someone else are in an exclusive relationship. A decade ago this would've been called "going steady" but that terminology is now considered outdated. Ask any teenager or young adult if they are going steady with someone and they will look at you like you are an alien!
Social media and the celebrity world seem to make the act of dating the most important activity you can partake in, in life (aside from... well sex). Every day I check the news headlines, and every day under the entertainment section I see blaring headlines about who got together and who broke up. It has gotten to the point where dating someone is more trendy then marrying someone. Instead of marrying someone, you just have long term relationships with various different individuals. Some of these relationships might span from a few months to ten years or more.
I have a newsflash for you... dating is the new married.
I'm not saying it should be, or that everyone views it that way but let me point a few things out. First off, the majority of dating couples are having sex within the first three months of the relationship. Biblically, it is established that in God's eyes sex is the sign of a marriage commitment. Second of all, 7.8 million couples are living together across the world without being legally married. That means they are cooking and cleaning together, getting pets together, and even having children together. Ah, but don't call them husband and wife! They are still only dating!
At this point, we need to ask ourselves, what exactly defines marriage if we are doing all the exact same activities when we are dating? Is it simply a tax write off? A piece of paper from the local courthouse? Come on guys, that is ridiculous. Marriage was meant to be more than that.
So what is dating supposed to be?
When I worked as a middle school teacher, the topic if dating was on my mind fairly often. 14 is the new 20 it seems in today's modern world. Not in maturity, but in sex appeal. As I discussed the human body, sexual reproduction, and male and female psychology in my 8th-grade science class, the question was asked, "What does the Bible say about dating?"
The truth is, it doesn't say anything at all. Dating just wasn't something that was going on back then. Women, unfortunately, were a lot more like items or property than living beings. They were often traded off to make social or economic agreements. This is why you see so many dudes with a bunch of wives in the old testament. Not only was having a group of wives a status symbol it also helped the men (the head of the ancient family) have a lot of children. I'm talking about a LOT of children! Like hundreds!
So what are we as modern-day people supposed to do? Obviously we don't want to revert back to the degradation of females and the unhealthy lifestyle of polygamy.
Thankfully, the Bible does give us some guidance when it comes to choosing someone to marry, and we can apply that to our dating experiences:
Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Proverbs 31:10-11 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
There is a lot being covered in the verses above. First off we see that God purposely created male and female in the garden of Eden, to complement one another. He calls the woman a helper and points out it isn't good for man to be alone. Because of this, the next verse says when someone gets married they must be united with their spouse. The husband will leave behind his family and start a new family of his own where he is equal with his wife (one flesh does not imply gender roles!). As a team, they will face the challenges of life together.
Moving down the list of verses we come to Proverbs where the Bible tells us it is hard to find a good spouse, specifically a good wife. This shows us that it is desirable to get married. A guy who desires companionship and intimacy should be on the lookout for a quality wife. Likewise, a girl should be on the lookout for a guy who recognizes her value. Ultimately, finding a partner is about finding someone for you to love, who loves you back. We see in the book of John that Christ's love is the ultimate example and it is our calling to display that love to our significant other.
Finally, we see a reminder that we are called to remain pure in our intentions and actions. Being in a relationship isn't about having sex or focusing on what I can "get" out of the other person. Nothing about a selfish gain is Christ-like. Instead, dating is a time to prepare for marriage. It is a time to look for that special person who is valuable, and who sees the value in you as well.
The point of dating is to get married.
Dating is a time in our lives to find out what type of person compliments us. It is a time in our lives to figure out how we can serve and put someone else before ourselves. Our time dating should be full of fun activities and enjoyment, but it should also include tough conversations. When you are dating someone, you are essentially interviewing them to be your future husband and wife and they should be doing the same with you. When you get married, you want as few surprises as possible (although trust me, there WILL be surprises).
This means that while you are dating you need to talk about morals. You need to talk about life goals. You need to discuss how many kids you want, what your finances look like, how you budget, and how you feel about your career. You need to talk about your family, your past, and what has shaped you as a person. Being able to have such intense and vulnerable conversations with someone requires a lot of trust. You never want to just rush into topics like that with someone you barely know. Because of this, dating should take time. If you are only "in a relationship" for a couple weeks... you're not using dating in the right manner. That isn't a relationship... that is a fling. A fling is typically motivated by the wrong desires- sexual, selfish, or insecure.
Many of my readers are young. Many of my readers still live with their parents and they are frustrated by the rules about dating that are heaped on them. I know how this feels. I remember being so frustrated that my parents didn't want me to date until college. I didn't listen. I had my first "real" relationship when I was 15. I don't regret it, because I learned a lot from it... but I didn't learn anything that I couldn't have learned later. In fact, I also experienced and caused a lot of painful, negative things within that relationship. If I had been older and wiser, I probably could've avoided some of the drama. If you can't get married- if you aren't old enough to, or you can't afford to support yourself and a spouse- you don't really need to be dating. Instead, you need to be focusing on the stage of life that you are in. You need to focus on your schooling, finding a job, and maturing as an individual.
It is easy for me to say these things now that I am married, but I don't want you to think I'm so far removed from the single life that I've lost touch with reality. I know that many of my younger readers will date before they are capable of being married. I know how much pressure there is from your friends, the media, and your hormones to "fall in love" and "have a boyfriend/girlfriend". I'm not here to tell you that it is a sin to date before you can get married. I just want you to understand the challenges that come with dating too soon. If you intend to save sex for marriage, it is going to be very hard to start dating young. You will want to have sex with the person you love- that is a completely natural and normal feeling. That is what God intended. But if you are only 15 years old... you are still three years away from being 18, five years away from being 20, and ten years away from being 25. Are you really able to wait for ten years to have sex with your partner? It is important to be honest with yourself about this.
Another good reason to wait to date has to do with your interests. When you are 15 you will like and want way different things than when you are 25. In some ways you have to wonder, what is the point of finding someone to be with now, when I won't even be interested in them later? If I won't even like them when I can actually get married to them, what is the point? I'm not even just talking about maturity. I HATED when people told me I was too immature to date or understand love. I would never tell someone that. I think it is the wrong approach. Instead, I simply want you to know that your desires will change when you get older. Marriage is for life- make sure the person you commit to is really what you want forever.
Someone reading this thinks their relationship is the exception. Someone reading this figures they will marry their significant other eventually so they might as well have sex now. Someone is making excuses about themselves and their crush because they don't want to admit that they are interested in dating for the wrong reasons. If you are that person, it's okay. But please understand that we all felt that way too... and it never works out. You will break up. You will get hurt. You will have regrets.
You have your whole life to be married. Try not to rush the process. Enjoy the people in your life who are your friends. Figure out what you want from your own life. Figure out what God wants for you. Trust in him. Trust that if you wait to date despite what everyone else your age seems to be doing, you will still find love. It isn't a race or a competition. The only thing "worse" than being single is being married to someone you don't like... or who doesn't like you. Take your time.
Another comment I want to add is that there is more to life than being in a relationship. It is easy to become blinded by your desires for love and intimacy, that you forget all the other things you can spend time thinking about or doing. There is a whole world out there to travel! There are so many hobbies for you to invest in! There is so much service to be done for God- to help people who are suffering. While you are worrying about who you will marry, someone woke up homeless. Someone hasn't eaten in three days. Someone doesn't have clean water. It is important for us to keep these things in perspective.
There truly is more to life than dating, sex, or marriage. Think about that.
Read what the Bible says about sex. READ MORE
Are you old enough/ready to date? Read how to find a significant other. READ MORE