Should teens date? And if so, what would “Christian” dating look like? How would it differ from the typical one-on-one boy-girl relationships we see among the young people we know? Does the Bible give us any help in answering these questions?
Given the culture in which our teens are growing up, these are exceedingly important questions. In our super-sexualized society sexual intimacy is taken for granted, even at an early age. Hooking up is now considered the most common way young people relate intimately to each other, beginning as early as age twelve or thirteen. By the time they get to college, or into the work force, this may be their definition of a relationship. But this is definitely not “Christian” dating.
What is “dating” anyway? Jeramy Clark, a pastor, youth ministry leader, and author of I Gave Dating a Chance: “If it’s prearranged and social, it’s a date.” And what makes dating Christian? “Whether deliberately chosen or not,” Jeramy says, “your dating rules will reflect either the world’s values, God’s values, or a dangerous combination of both.”
Teens need to consider carefully what makes Christian dating different, distinctive. To do that, they need to begin with the purpose of Christian dating. What is its goal?
The purpose of Christian dating
In Christian dating, as you listen to and interact with another person, you can get to know and appreciate the uniqueness of each individual.
In Christian dating, you can get to know how men and women differ from one another, learn to accept and appreciate these differences, and practice dealing with these differences – intentionally built into us by God. In the beginning, as God created the world, he saw that what he had created “was good”. We read this in the first chapter of Genesis, the overview of the narrative of the creation. After he had created man and woman, he “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). But when we “zoom in” on the creation story in the next chapter (Genesis 2:18-23), before the creation of Eve, God said something was “not good” – it was “not good that the man is alone”. It was Eve, someone different from Adam, a “helper fit for him”, complementary to him, that made “not good” into “very good”.
In Christian dating, you seek to bless each other: to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32); to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11); to “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24); “through love to serve one another” (Galatians 5:13); and in countless other ways. Christian dating can help you become more Christlike.
In Christian dating you recognize and treat the other as a person of value and you expect to be treated as a person of value.
You are of inestimable value, first because you are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and then because Christ died for you – you are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Therefore you never “use” another person for your own satisfaction or pleasure. Neither do you allow yourself to be used. Rather, “be devoted to one another in love, and honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).
To be continued