Nearly everyone desires to one day have a close, secure and loving relationship with someone who is willing to be a partner for life. It is a desire built into humanity by our Creator, and such a relationship can provide some of the most satisfying and fulfilling elements of a happy life.
But getting to the point of making a lifelong commitment can be anything but easy. An often confusing array of emotions, personalities, hopes, dreams and spiritual principles must be worked through before one can enter into a happy and stable marriage. Today this journey generally involves a process called dating.
The term dating, however, means different things to different people, particularly across generational lines. Parents and grandparents may have one perspective, while younger people may have a very different view. What does a young adult need to do?
There was a time when dating might have been seen as a purely social gathering that could even include multiple people—sometimes called a group date. Whether in a group or just a couple, dates were generally seen as a casual time spent getting to know one another and enjoying the time together. A date did not necessarily indicate any kind of commitment or exclusiveness and did not sanction sexual involvement. The hope was that dating would eventually lead to a closer, loving relationship of mutual respect that would, in time, bring a couple to the point of marriage.
Cultural norms have changed dramatically in recent years. In many circles dating has come to mean that a couple is involved in an exclusive romantic relationship with the understanding that they are committed to one another.
Sadly, in Western cultures today, sexual activity is not only seen as a normal part of dating, it is often expected to be a part of the relationship. Unfortunately, dating is often not seen as a step leading to marriage. Many couples now choose to remain in this stage, living together indefinitely, with no plans for a future wedding.
Godly dating relationships
With all these changes and differing opinions, what should a single man or woman do today to find a mate to walk through life with? And how should he or she manage that relationship according to the divinely inspired instructions from God? Cultural norms of the past or present aren’t enough—we need to examine what the Bible says.
But the Bible doesn’t mention the modern concept of dating. So what does God say about our relationships before we get married? How can you negotiate the seemingly uncharted waters of dating in a Christian manner?
Learn more in our free booklet about God's design for marriage.