What does it mean to date? One individual said that dating is confusing, intimidating. Another single adult answered the question by stating that dating is one of two things. One; making a commitment with long term possibilities or two; you can just be short-term. Yet another commented, “the purpose of dating is to get together with the opposite sex, beginning in friendship and see if it leads towards possible engagement and marriage. Not with everyone of course, but with this particular person.”
Another single female responded, “I was reading a book recently, can’t remember which one, it was about dating. It states when dating, date many people because sometimes you gravitate back towards the wrong kind of person. Dating is not necessary to meet your husband, well it is in the end, but don’t do that in the beginning. Date to meet different kinds of people, people that you never knew you were interested in.”
Yet another answer to the question by a 20-something was pretty insightful and a bit humorous. She said, “Hey … if we’d figured it out we wouldn’t be single right now!”
One of the things that is so confusing about dating or the concept of the word “date” is there’s really no clear definition. So let’s begin at the most basic source, at the source of defining all things, Dr. Webster. Dr. Webster‘s dictionary defines dating as a social appointment, engagement or occasion arranged beforehand with another person. It’s a good definition, but it is still a little ambiguous. So ok, it’s an appointment between two individuals, but that just doesn’t define what dating is. People often times use different terms in regards to “dating” and even when they use the same term, sometimes it has two totally different meanings. So the question still hasn’t been answered.
The issue of dating transcends all demographics and in the midst of a difficult topic to define, because of sin, the topic of dating becomes even more complicated. There are a ton of books on the shelves about dating. You can go to the self-help section of the bookstore, you can search books on dating at Amazon.com and that search will deliver a huge list of books for you to read. And, a lot of the books communicate vastly different concepts about dating. But for a follower of Jesus Christ, it is vital to go back to the source, and that source is God’s word.
What we are going to do is to look at dating through the lens of scripture; what the Bible says about dating. As you read this, you may be saying, “So what chapter and verse defines dating?” That is a good question and the answer is, “No specific chapter and verse.” However the Bible does say a lot about relationships and therefore it is a wonderful blueprint for dating.
When the concept of dating is distilled, what is the basic struggle that Christian singles have? The root of the struggle we have with dating is the same that we have in so many other areas in our life. It’s the struggle between God’s way or man’s way. Really all the struggles we have in life, if you boil them down, you’re going to find those two parts of the equation. Now if we do things the cultures way, the culture defines dating as a word and along with it, gives permission for the physical relationship to begin. In many ways, the culture would say that with a friendship, the physical isn’t present, but when that friendship shifts to dating, the physical relationship becomes present.
Often times in our culture, when you use the word “dating” you allow yourself to become physical with one another. You allow the focus of your relationship to now deal with a new dilemma of “how far is too far.” If we are going to be honest, what we are really asking in that questions is, “Where is the limit to how far I can go, first base to home, and still get a thumbs up from God?” If you find yourself asking this question, you have already gone too far in your mind and your relationship is headed down the wrong path. That right question to ask about any area of your life is, “How far away from sin can I be?” That is what brings God glory, especially in relationships.
So we have culture’s definition, basically the shifting of a relationship from friendship to dating which allows for the physical relationship to begin, but what is God’s definition? Let’s define dating God’s way and then spend the remaining time in this article series unpacking it.
“Dating is quality time spent between two people of the same faith and opposite gender in a safe environment where they are able to authentically get to know one another.”