Clayton Coates, Pastor of GracePoint Church in Texas, and ChristianMingle National Advisory Board member, sat down to share the guiding principles that kept his dating relationship with his, now wife, Allison, pure. He also relates the qualities she possessed that confirmed she was — and still is — God’s best for him.
Prior to meeting Allison, Clayton had many past failed relationships and realized that he was trying to fill a void in his life with another person that only God could fill.
Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Before meeting Allison, Clayton truly yielded his desire to be married to the Lord. This surrendering was a turning point for Clayton and was the act that prepared him to recognize the radiance of God and, in turn, see it in others.
When Clayton met Allison, he knew she was completely different from any woman he had dated. It was because Clayton knew what God wanted for him that he was able to recognize Allison’s strong character, love for the Lord and spiritual beauty.
Gauge Your Focus & Determine Your Desires
1. Strive to have the kind of spiritual life you would desire in another person.
- Ask yourself, “Would my actions and thoughts inspire another person to turn to God and desire a deeper relationship with Him?” If your heart is not right with God, your dating relationship will not be right with Lord either.
- Recognize your sin and confess it to the Lord. Perfection does not stimulate growth, but rather, a mind and heart that are in tune with desires of the Lord. Psalms 37:4 states, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Strive to align your action and thought to the heart of God.
2. Focus on being made whole in God until He shows you the person He has for you. To be a Christian is to desire that the Gospel saturate every area of your life. Take advantage of this amazing season in your life to use any extra time to dive into the Word of God and let it take shape in your heart. Light attracts light and God will reveal a likeminded and like-hearted person to you.
Set & Stick to Boundaries
Don’t ‘Set Up Shop’
- Singles: Be cognizant with how much time you are spending with your partner. Couples that begin to spend all of their time together create a faux marital situation or relationship. This type of dating arrangement is hazardous because it clouds judgment and blurs the lines of what you may “feel” is right and what God knows is best.
- Singles with Children: This area is a major pitfall for dating couples, especially those with children. Children should only come into the equation after a proposal. Hearts can mold to children and children form attachments. Protect your heart and your potential mate’s children’s hearts by setting a boundary to introduce and spend time with them only when marriage is the definite next step.
Nothing Good Happens After 10PM
- No, your mother did not write the above phrase. This tip is tried and true by Clayton and Allison. A verse that Clayton and Allison would remind one another of was, Song of Solomon 8:4, “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” Choose date locations and activities that will set you up for success as your strive for purity in your dating relationship.
Pray For One Another, Not With One Another
- Prayer is an intimate act and should be reserved for marriage. If you begin praying with your date too early in a relationship, and you later discover that the person is not God’s best for you then you have created an inappropriate bond that will be painful to break. Yes, pray boldly to God for one another, but also be vigilant as to not cross this intimate, spiritual boundary too early.
The Virtual Community & Its Benefits
A long distance relationship can be positive. Setting boundaries early in a relationship are actually made easier through a long distance, online dating relationship.
As you build a friendship online, through emailing and instant messaging, you will be able to ask those questions and learn details that will make it clear if taking the relationship offline is worth your time. If you determine that someone is not God’s best for you, move on! Keep your focus on building friendships and dating with integrity.
If you ask God to mold your heart to desire what He wants for you, you cannot fail.