I don’t claim to have all the answers about dating and relationships. But the lessons I have learned can help as you reflect responsibly on your relationships. To start with, let me outline a couple of underlying assumptions that shape my perspective.
Assumption 1: Dating is ultimately about marriage
I don’t think it’s very meaningful to consider dating apart from marriage. Certainly dating can be just for fun and companionship. But I believe God has wired men and women for emotional intimacy leading to complete union for a lifetime. When men and women date, that emotional intimacy will inevitably begin to spark. Thus dating is about finding a suitable partner for that ultimate heart union – which is what God designed marriage for.
Marriage is a worthwhile goal. I realize not everyone is ready for marriage or will get married. But it’s not something to be feared or avoided. Yet as a central relationship of life, involving a higher level of commitment, it should never be entered into lightly – certainly never on purely emotional grounds. So dating is much more than cultivating a romantic spark. It’s about applying wisdom to evaluating people who might become lifetime partners.
Assumption 2: Dating must be governed by authentic love
The Bible doesn’t say much – if anything at all – about dating. But it says a lot about marriage, and a lot about relationships in general. The overarching principle in dating is the same principle that governs every human relationship: love. I don’t mean mainly affection, desire, or romantic attachment (although I’m certainly in favor of these!). When it comes to love, Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor.
- To love God in your dating relationships means that in your attitudes and actions, you seek to please God above yourself. What God wants is more important than what the person you are infatuated with or trying to impress wants – or what you want. After every date or even a phone conversation, ask yourself, “Did my desires, attitudes, words, thoughts, and actions bring honor to God? Did I go against God’s truth or God’s will in how I conducted myself?”
- To love your neighbor in a dating relationship means you put the other person first. You do what is in the best interests of your dating partner rather than serving yourself. You think about how your choices and actions will affect him or her. You’re willing to sacrifice what you desire in favor of what is best for him or her.
If everyone applied these two principles to their dating relationships, a great deal of trouble and heartache would be avoided.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Is dating ultimately about marriage? Why or why not?
- In your mind, what is the goal of dating?
- Why is loving God the first principle of dating? In what practical ways can you love God first in a dating relationship?
- What are some practical ways to “love your neighbor” in a dating relationship?
- Take a minute to honestly identify some of the assumptions you bring into dating relationships. In other words, what has dating really been about for you?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.