The month of February is widely popular for Valentine’s Day, the 14th day of the month, and has a strong romantic association. With respect to this day, this month’s article is devoted to dating relationships. It is perhaps one of the most exciting and frightening, joyous and frustrating kinds of relationships an individual will have. The dating relationship can potentially lead to one of your most important decisions in life – choosing a mate.
There are many views on what the correct “biblical approach” to dating should be, ranging from the conservative to the fairly more relaxed stance. The purpose of this month’s article is not to give platform to any specific viewpoint or present the most current research but rather provide some food for thought as I’m sure most readers are actively engaged in, or desire to be engaged in this thing called dating.
Consider the following: it’s 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon. The whole weekend lies before you. Suddenly, your cell phone rings. It’s him, that guy you’ve been talking to for the last three months. With great anticipation, you answer in your sweetest tone. “Hello?”
“Uh, hi…” He’s not sounding quite as excited as you are.
You both exchange small talk about each of your day’s activities, and then he tells you he’s going out with his guy friends tonight, but he’ll try to remember to call you tomorrow.
“You’ll try?” you respond. “I thought we were going out tonight!”
“Well, it’s just that I’m busy…I mean, I just don’t have time for—us. Maybe we should just be friends. Cool?”
“Whatever. I’ve got a lot going on, too. Have fun with your friends.”
You hang up on him hoping he thinks you don’t care, but on the inside your heart is sinking. This person in which you’ve invested your time and energy has just put an end to something you had hopes would last forever—or at least longer than three months! A few days later, the hurt hasn’t gotten any better as you realize a sad truth. You don’t have a life because this person was your life.
In western culture, it seems dating is starting to occur at earlier and earlier ages. In our teen years we desire exclusive time with members of the opposite sex. We’ll enter the dating scene as teenagers in blissful ignorance and put friends, family, interests, and our relationship with God on hold. Then, when a dating relationship comes to an end (yes, it will happen to you), if you have put these other relationships on hold, you have nothing to sustain you.
Whether you call it “going out,” “dating,” “hooking up,” or simply “hanging out,” we need to keep some important things in the forefront of our minds regarding the arena of dating:
Learn to derive your self-worth from God. You are created in the image of God and have worth and value simply because you were born. Your identity and worth are based on being made in God’s image and doesn’t fluctuate according to possessions, personalities, or even romantic relationships.
Learn to develop healthy relationships with others. Last month’s article showed how being created in God’s image means we naturally desire relationships. Therefore, learn to develop relationships with family and friends that foster trust, safety, and vulnerability. Ask yourself if you have relationships with others who encourage you, listen to you, and will confront you when necessary.
Learn to enjoy serving others. Become a giver. Are you working to meet the practical needs of others, or are you all about pleasing yourself?
In a word, dating could be synonymous with “discernment.” Discernment is defined as the ability to grasp or comprehend the obscure. The wise person understands the other person is on their best behavior, putting their best foot forward when out on a date. Consider these tips for discerning the character of that one for which you feel an attraction:
• Ask yourself if this person is faithful, honest, and committed in other areas of their life.
• Crisis reveals character. Pay close attention to people when they are under pressure.
• A person’s friends can be a window into their character.
• Taking a look into previous dating relationships can help you determine patterns of behavior.
• Remember Paul’s words in I Corinthians 15:33: “Do not be deceived: bad company ruins good morals.”
It’s wise to seek the approval of parents, or guardians, and spiritual leaders—namely your pastor—when it comes to pursuing dating relationships.
Chad Flowers is married to his best friend and teammate, Mendy. He’s a daddy to two incredible little girls, Jadyn & Keira, and he lives in Mesquite, Texas where he has a private practice as a licensed professional counselor and serves as pastor of Emmanuel Pentecostal Church.