In the Christian world, so much has been written about dating. The “wise advice” has gone anywhere from don’t do it, to only date to get married, to pedal to the metal.
I am a balanced kind of guy. I try to stay away from the extremes, considering them danger zones – just look at politics, diets, medical interventions and temperature. So when it comes to this subject, I stand back a ways and try to get a perspective.
For those who would think to avoid dating altogether, I would ask “ Do you think you can make a good choice without spending time with someone under a multitude of circumstances?” Often attraction is developed over a period of time. Your dating partner often becomes better or worse looking the more time you spend with them. They become more three dimensional as you experience their behavior and character up close.
How about those who say only date someone with the intent to marry them? The truth is, dating can be pretty stressful to begin with. When you add this dimension, the fun often goes out of the process, and so does the objectivity that is necessary. I often joke that when women (in particular) hold this position, they begin naming children and ordering wedding dresses on the second or third date. And this often sets them up for a potentially painful break-up if they have “played the movie forward” to this extent.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the too casual type of dating. At the extreme it takes on a hook-up and break-up mentality. I have heard it cynically or distastefully described as “hit it and quit it” thinking. There is no way to square this away with a Christian belief system. The Bible rigorously teaches on sexual purity. There is grace and forgiveness, of course, but wisdom says not to push the envelope in your dating.
Dating: A Balancing Act
So what is the balance point? In my mind it would be this: Don’t date with an intent to marry, but don’t date someone you couldn’t or shouldn’t marry. It’s easy to attach to someone if you spend time with them. A lot of the counseling we do is the result of mismatched couples ignoring “red flags” early in the relationship. Their feelings for each other were strong, but their suitability as marriage partners was discounted.
Dating should be easy and fun. When we remove as many of the unnecessary complications as possible, it can be delightful and exciting instead of anxiety producing and stressful.
Determine in advance what your deal breakers are. Don’t be afraid to voice them. This is especially important if you decide to do online dating. “I am looking for a mature committed Christian of good character, close to my age, with no addictions and financially responsible.” There, you said it. Was that so hard? Isn’t that truthfully what you would want? So now go ahead and go on a bunch of dates and don’t be afraid to keep looking until the right one comes your way.