Where do you begin an article about dating? As I tossed this question around in my head, I decided to reach out to some teens and young adults and simply ask. I received quite a few wonderful, thoughtful responses with a surprising amount of overlap. The fear of not finding someone to marry. Taking relationships slow. Should I date someone just for fun or is there a bigger purpose? How do I know if the person I like is the one God intended? Do any of these topics sound like things you’ve considered before?
The typical practice for dating goes something like this: You commit to one person in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. As you begin to figure each other out, you realize they’re not “the one.” You break up and burn the bridge of friendship. You keep repeating this pattern, hoping to find your match. In what other area of life do we leave things to so much trial and error, resulting in such heartbreak and frustration?
In Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×we are told, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” So instead of conforming to the world’s standard of dating, which can cause so much baggage and emotional distress, let’s consider an alternative.
Over and over in the Psalms, we read about waiting on God. “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psalms 27:14 Psalms 27:14Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
American King James Version×). I’ve always loved this verse, but I’d never considered it in terms of dating. Waiting on God does not mean being passive. Instead, it involves taking our desires to God earnestly in prayer, knowing He hears our petitions. It involves developing moral, godly character and focusing on building ourselves up with God’s help. Waiting on God also requires trusting that God knows who will best complement our strengths and weaknesses and allowing for His timing.
Look in the Mirror
When I was in high school, it was so easy to get caught up in evaluating everyone else’s potential that I rarely stopped to consider how I measured up. The Bible is full of character traits that we are required to develop if we desire to be in His Kingdom. Take time to study God’s Word and figure out what He requires of you. It’s a lot harder to develop the characteristics of honesty, trustworthiness and integrity than it is to judge someone else. Consider what type of spouse you would be to someone else. Wouldn’t you want someone who is actively striving to become more like God? I challenge you to be that person too.
It can be daunting to think about all the ways you can grow, but good friends can help build you up. In the typical dating scenario, one person commits so fully to another that other friends and relationships are often pushed aside. This can prevent healthy relationships from developing, especially the kind that are needed once you break up. How much more encouraging would it be to have a solid group of friends that could support your growth and development?
Trust God’s Timing
God’s timing can seem like a confusing topic. We have so many biblical examples of people who decided to take matters into their own hands instead of waiting on God. Take, for instance, the story of Abraham and Sarah when they were promised a son (Genesis 18). This promise didn’t come with a timeline. But when Sarah saw that she was not with child in her timing, she introduced Hagar into their relationship. Thus Ishmael was born, and the repercussions of this decision are still being seen today (see https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-middle-east-in-bible-prophecy/the-sons-of-abraham). Abraham and Sarah used human reasoning to justify their actions.
We might not always understand God’s timing, but we do know His will for us never requires us to sin. Any relationship that requires you to compromise or bend your morals is not what God intended for you. Sure, everyone makes mistakes, and God works with us despite our flaws. But don’t push God’s boundaries hoping it will lead to a godly relationship. Stand firm in your beliefs, and continue to pray that God will provide what He desires for you in His timing.
We might not always understand God’s timing, but we do know His will for us never requires us to sin.
Look at the example of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah petitioned earnestly for what she desired most. She went year after year to the house of the Lord, despite being chastised. She waited on God’s timing with prayer and perseverance, and God answered her prayer.
Take it to God
Above all, we must first commit to our relationship with God. By putting what He desires first in your life, you are able to set priorities that enable growth. Don’t get me wrong, there will be challenges when you decide you want to wait for God’s timing in your life. Your friends may all be exclusively dating, and it might look like a lot of fun in the moment (dating is a lot of fun when it’s done right!). There may only be a small group of teens or young adults in your area who value God’s way. And when you do find someone you’re interested in who shares your beliefs, you may live hours away from each other. But these problems and frustrations can be overcome if you look to God and trust that He has an amazing plan for your life. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalms 30:5 Psalms 30:5For his anger endures but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
American King James Version×).
Dating doesn’t have to be a heart-wrenching experience. Let your focus be on developing your character and becoming a man or woman of God. Wait for God’s timing and for a relationship that He orchestrates, while you maintain great friendships with those who will support and encourage you. Then allow God to lead you when you’re ready for a more serious commitment. God has a plan for you, and it’s greater than you could ever imagine. “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
American King James Version×).