If I can be honest, I’m a little over the Christian culture war of dating. In churches we spend so much time trying to either say it’s completely wrong or we have a “whatever” attitude (i.e. kids will be kids). I think less time needs to be spent on trying to put dating in black and white terms and more time needs to be spent teaching on why you date in the first place.

Because ultimately, dating isn’t the issue. The issue is wisdom, intent and goals. And age isn’t always a factor either; I’ve seen 30-year-olds date like they were middle schoolers and I’ve seen teenagers date like they were grown adults.

The deciding factor is whether they have marriage in mind and are operating with that in front of them. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18). If you don’t have a vision for the relationship, then it’s probably dangerous and will ultimately lead to heartache despite how much they like each other.

I came across a quote a few years back (can’t remember the source) that said it perfectly: “Dating with no intent to marry is like going to the grocery store with no money. You either leave unsatisfied or you take something that isn’t yours.”

Let that quote sink in for a second. If you don’t date with the intent of marriage, you only have two options. You can either get upset or you can take something that isn’t yours.

A lot of times when I travel and talk with high schoolers and college students about relationships, they will always ask particular questions about particular behaviors like, “How far is too far?” My answer is always the same; you should treat the other person in the relationship with so much respect, dignity and worth that if you were to break up with them, you could (1) stand before God knowing you honored that person as a fellow image bearer of Him, and (2) you could shake their future spouse’s hand and say, “I took care of them for you.”

That’s huge. Dating becomes destructive when you think that person is yours. Ladies, for example, you put yourself in a healthy spot when you realize your boyfriend isn’t your boyfriend, he’s someone else’s future husband. And guys, the same goes for you, too.

So if you are dating right now, do you have a vision for the future? Is marriage the goal of the relationship? To get to know one another in a way that allows you to see if you think you two would be a great team in the Kingdom of God? If not, then remember, you either leave unsatisfied or you take something that isn’t yours.


Bethke’s book, Jesus ˃ Religion is available now!

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