Dating can be an important step on the path to a successful and godly marriage. Be sure to teach your children God's standards even before they begin to date.
The subject of dating and attitudes toward human sexuality must be discussed in the context of marriage. Marriage is the foundational relationship of human life. Marriage affects our biological viability, defines a positive social culture, and is the stabilizing factor for all forms of human government.
Key Features of Godly Marriage:
Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
American King James Version×designed by the Creator of Humanity as a separate and distinct organizational unit.
Ecclesiastes 9:9 Ecclesiastes 9:9Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of the life of your vanity, which he has given you under the sun, all the days of your vanity: for that is your portion in this life, and in your labor which you take under the sun.
American King James Version×designed to last [a feature which teaches important spiritual lessons, lifelong commitment to each other teaches us about God’s eternal commitment to us]
Malachi 2:15 Malachi 2:15And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And why one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
American King James Version×designed to produce Godly children.
Physical creation is the first stage in the expansion and growth of God’s spirit born family… and it has been assigned to you and me. God says go forth and multiply. This is not a directive to go and seek our own pleasure its an invitation to participate in God’s amazing project to grow His divine family.
Before the spiritual creation comes the physical. God places a spiritual component in each new human being and when combined with the power of the Holy Spirit we have the potential to become an eternal spirit born member of God’s own family.
Ephesians 5:31-32 Ephesians 5:31-32 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
American King James Version×Through our participation in this project we learn valuable personal and spiritual lessons along the way.
Creative and curious humanity are constantly dreaming up new hypotheses about what human sexual interactions should be, or what marriage should be. Then we start experimenting to see if our hypotheses work. Ours is an age of intense speculation and experimentation.
For success in marriage look to the Creator of marriage. God has given us… simple, basic, concepts. Simple but challenging… because they run counter to many human passions BUT you can count on them to actually work.
Laying the foundation for success in marriage starts long before your wedding day… even before you find Mr. Right, or the woman of your dreams. So let’s talk about dating…
Dating: Love American Style
Wikipedia defines dating as “a stage of romantic relationships in humans whereby two people meet socially with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a prospective partner in an intimate relationship or marriage”.
Social interactions that lead to marriage vary greatly from culture to culture.
Some are arranged by parents… or extended family, or professional go-betweens… with negotiations, contracts and so forth. These emphasize the practical elements and show little concern for the emotional. In our western world we have a system where the individual carries most of the responsibility for finding a mate with a heavy emphasis on the emotional. Often over-riding some of the serious practical considerations necessary for a successful marriage.
Scripture does not indicate any preference for one method over the other. Scripture contains examples of both ways of finding a mate. Both approaches have their pros and cons. The western way of doing things is what we have to concern ourselves with here.
Parental control in modern western culture is very limited once our children reach the age where they are ready to start seriously dating. Wise parents will make every effort to teach their young people wise principles, and biblical standards for dating long before they are actually ready.
If you wait too long you will miss that important window of opportunity when you can still control the situation. What is that age? There is no biblical instruction for what is the appropriate age for dating.
You have to make your own determination of the right age when you see readiness to accept responsibility for actions. But the time to start laying the foundations is early.
Instruction is a Gift You Give To Your Children
The gift you give them is life… a better life now, and a hope for eternal life.
Don’t just turn your children loose and hope for the best. When it comes to sex and marriage there are just too many dangers lurking out there: STDs, unwanted pregnancy, abusive and destructive relationships… and spiritual dangers.
Try not to give them your own ideas about what works and what doesn’t. The gift of true value is passing along instructions from their creator.
God’s Standards Do Not Change
Principles for dating apply just as much for adults who might find themselves on the dating scene through divorce, or widowhood. Age is not a license for relaxed standards. There is not a different set of standards for males than for females. With God there is one set of standards for all people… young or old, male or female.
Humanly devised standards change, what was forbidden 50 years ago is common practice today.
In my own lifetime free love became the norm. It was deceitfully sold to my generation as the ultimate expression of a loving relationship, proof of trust, and test of compatibility. Today’s kids live in a world of recreational sex with little pretense of it being more than a way to satisfy ones own personal needs.
Try to be aware that what your kids are dealing with is different from what you faced. Perhaps as different as your circumstances were from your own parents. Cultural attitudes on human sexuality will continue to change.
The Standards That Does Not Change
Zoom forward 1,500 and that standard was still in place Hebrews 13:4 Hebrews 13:4Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
American King James Version×
The epistles were written to a highly sexualized Greco-Roman culture. It was a time when traditional values that had been held for centuries were being thrown out for some wild and crazy stuff that would rival anything we’ve go going on these days.
The church could have said “we’ve got to come up with standards that are more realistic. Find some sort of compromise with what’s happening out there”. But the church did not… because God’s standards do not change.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body.
19 What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?
20 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
American King James Version×instructions like this would have made the church really stick out… what the church was teaching was very different from what others had to offer. What the church was teaching is the same rule “no adultery” meaning all sexual activity outside marriage is illegal… but putting it in a new light. The message here is more than just obey. The message is RESPECT YOURSELF… who you are, and what you are in the eyes of God.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brothers, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us how you ought to walk and to please God, so you would abound more and more.
2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication:
4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;
5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
7 For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness.
8 He therefore that despises, despises not man, but God, who has also given to us his holy Spirit.
American King James Version×the customs and practices of dating should be conducted with a mindset of HONOR toward the other person, toward self, and toward God.
God expects us to enter into marriage as virgins, otherwise as chaste. Which means, if you can no longer enter marriage as a virgin you can confess before God, seek His forgiveness and move forward with a commitment to sexual purity.
Principles of Dating and Friendship
How can parents teach their children wise principles: wisdom for dating begins with wise principle for friendship.
Dating for friendship: at some point your teens are going to want to start getting together with members of the opposite sex. That’s normal.
Group dating is a good way for your kids to get started in a setting that avoids the pressures for intimacy that come with one-to-one dating.
As a parent you want to continue to turn their focus towards developing friendships rather than intense one on one romantic relationships.
Encourage activities where they get to interact and see how the other person relates to others. What that guy’s personality is like. Is that girl kind and respectful towards your other friends.
Friendship With Purpose
Most people want to be around other people… to have friends. God called Abraham and Moses His friends… Jesus had friends.
If you have friends who are getting into bad behavior its tempting to think you are going to be a force for good. That by hanging out with them you are providing a good example they might choose to follow. But remember, all the while they are also providing a BAD example for YOU to follow. And the flow of persuasion is heavily weighted towards the bad undermining the good.
1 Corinthians 15:33 1 Corinthians 15:33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
American King James Version×– Proverbs 22:24-25 Proverbs 22:24-25 24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man you shall not go: 25 Lest you learn his ways, and get a snare to your soul.
American King James Version×don’t knowingly subject yourself to temptation
Proverbs 19:4-6 Proverbs 19:4-6 4 Wealth makes many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor.
5 A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaks lies shall not escape.
6 Many will entreat the favor of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that gives gifts.
American King James Version×People often have ulterior motives [why do pretty girls have more friends than plain girls?]. Make friends for the right reasons.
Proverbs 17:17 Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
American King James Version×a true friend is consistent regardless of troubles and trials… when you are popular and unpopular. They are committed to the relationship.
Proverbs 27:6 Proverbs 27:6Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
American King James Version×some think being a friend is someone who never openly disagrees with you, but there are times when a true friend needs to [and will] tell you when you are wrong.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 its better to work together. God’s way in not about independence… its about interdependence. Maintaining good friendships is part of putting on the mind of Christ.
Dating for marriage: your kids are going to mature and start thinking more seriously about the opposite sex… they will want to focus their attention on a particular person. This too is normal.
Parents need to prepare young people now for a period of life where they will start making decisions with lifelong consequences. If dating is a process of searching and evaluating then there are some questions that seem obvious but need to be spelled out for young people:
Does this other person believe God exists? Does this person obey God? How will that affect your life?
What is their personal background and standards? The makeup of this other person’s family can tell you a lot. Is the family life stable, or chaotic… if so, are they committed to breaking the cycle of negative family behavior? Or do they just accept it as the new normal?
What are their likes/dislikes/preferences [can I live with these or do they strongly clash with my likes dislikes and preferences]
What is their character and personality like?
weak analysis: they’re nice, they make me laugh]…
strong analysis: do they show the fruits of the holy spirit? [do young people even know what the fruits of the spirit are… or how to spot them in others]
Can I love and respect this person?
Getting Input From Others
Sexual attraction clouds you thinking and makes it harder to focus and rationally consider the values and traits of the other person. Sexual activity [everything from full-on intercourse, to kissing, touching etc.] has the potential to further cloud your thinking. The more you escalate… the more fuzzy your decisions can become.
Most people only seek input once they are already pretty far down the road… and the further down the road you are the harder it is to hear objective outside opinions. The ministry is a resource you can tap into. Alas, most people are merely looking for validation of decisions they have already made.