Let’s Talk About Dating, Part One
It was tough for me, at first, as a youth pastor to give clear instructions from God’s Word on the topic of dating to our youth group. The truth is the Bible does not give a solid “position” on dating. It is one of the many activities the Bible does not talk specifically about. However, the Bible does talk about character, values, and principles that people who follow Christ should do.
The questions we should be asking ourselves when it comes to dating should be, “What are you becoming in your dating? What fruit is being produced from your dating relationships for you and the people you date? How are you treating them and vice versa? What are you learning from dating? In all reality, the biblical position on dating has much more to do with the kind of person you are becoming rather than how and whom you should date.
I was a teenager when the big anti-dating movement in the late 1990’s began with Joshua Harris’ book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. People were joining the movement because dating for them had brought emotional pain and detrimental effects to their spiritual life. Dating had not helped them find their mate or grow into a better spiritual person. In one of his chapters, Joshua Harris lists the negatives of dating: it can lead to “intimacy but not necessarily commitment”; it can “skip the friendship stage”; it can mistake physical intimacy for love; it can isolate individuals “from other vital relationships”; it can distract from the “responsibility of preparing for the future”; it can cause “discontentment with God’s gift of singleness”; and it “creates an artificial environment for evaluating another person’s character.”
I’ll admit I have met some single adults who really do not need to be dating. The pain they have suffered from dating relationships is not leading to anything good. But let’s not forget, most of these issues listed are a matter of the heart, including one’s own relationship with God and a host of other immaturity issues.
Let’s look at what Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations – ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’…these things have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh” (Colossians 2:20-23, italics mine).
Avoiding certain things that could be destructive is not the cure-all for immaturity—an internal heart-problem, not an external easy-fix. In Boundaries in Dating by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, a loss of boundaries “occurs when an immature person gives up all of his or her structure, internal and external, and fuses with an ideal, a person, or something else to avoid maturing.” Individuals who have experienced negative dating relationships may not need to avoid dating but rather need character maturity and spiritual growth in order to face both life and relationships with better balance.
There are actually many benefits to dating that I will cover in the next article. Until then, if you have entered the dating season of your life, I hope you are prayerfully reflecting on what dating is revealing to you about you first and foremost. I hope you are not giving in to cultural pressures to form some kind of perceived identity that causes you to be immature in your approach to the dating arena. My goal in the next article is to provide some biblically-grounded principles that will help readers discover how engaging in the world of dating will help make them stronger spiritually and build some habits that will help them prepare for the future.
Chad Flowers is married to his best friend and teammate, Mendy. He’s a daddy to two incredible little girls, Jadyn and Keira, and one son, Chandler. He lives in Mesquite, Texas where he has a private practice as a licensed professional counselor and serves as pastor of Emmanuel Pentecostal Church.