It’s easy not to think too deeply about the things that we do when we are young. It’s way too easy to get caught up in the excitement or passions of the moment without giving a lot of hard considerations to the choices we are making. Dating is a perfect example. It is so easy to get caught up in how attracted we are to someone, how they make us feel, and the fun of the adventure, that we forget how to take it seriously. But as young Christian people, we should be dating like we mean it.
The “imperativeness” of this can be understood when we realize what dating is meant to accomplish and picture. Ultimately dating is a means to an end: marriage. And marriage is not just about our wants or our happiness. If that were true, then there would be nothing wrong with gay marriage, divorce and remarriage, or even polygamy. The truth is, however, that marriage is all about God. It was created and instituted by the King of Kings at the beginning of time (Genesis 2:18-24). It is of His invention and not our own- He set the rules. He established what it was made to picture: the sacred and beautiful union of love between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His bride the Church. That is the holy relationship we are meant to emulate as we walk before the One who established such a bond! Marriage is no trivial matter. Likewise, the activity of dating cannot be either.
Also, the closer that two young people become, the greater the physical attraction between the two becomes. The deeper that your intimacy becomes in sharing time and conversations with one another, the deeper the desire for physical intimacy grows as well. This is natural. After all, God created us to become “one flesh.” All the raging hormones of our youth does not help matters- it only makes the desire for that physical relationship that much stronger and overwhelming. In fact, so many relationships become so wrapped up in the physical, that they forget to nurture the spiritual and emotional bonds. It can so easily become the focus. And so, it is very easy for individuals, young and old alike, to “burn” in their lusts (I Corinthians 7:9).
Thus, dating leads to temptation. When it is done flippantly, with no view of the future or toward marriage, there is nothing to “wait for.” How easy it becomes to “burn” in lust. Of course this is no different for a young couple looking to marry, however, with the promise of marriage there is an end goal. They have something to look forward to, and know that the physical intimacy will be a blessed part of their union in Christ. This is yet another reason to take dating seriously. Can you stay pure as you draw close to another person, when you aren’t even thinking about marriage? If you are lost in the fun and thrill of the idea of a relationship, but aren’t developing the boundaries and the bonds that will keep you strong and connected spiritually and emotionally, then what are you expecting to get out of the relationship? Your thrills and desires can carry you away. And so, as Paul said, “it is better to marry than to burn.” Date like you mean to take it seriously, not just because you are infatuated or thrilled.
Marriage is about so much more than just the physical. Sure, that is a blessed and important part of marriage, and pleasing in God’s eyes when done in the context of marriage, but it is not what the marriage itself is grounded on. Therefore that shouldn’t be the focus of dating, either. Don’t just look for someone “cute” or “funny,” though those traits are by no means bad! But rather, look for a man of God who will lead you and his family in Christ. In life, God is first, above all things (I Cor. 10:31). In our dating and marriages the same should be true. Establish a relationship that is pleasing to the Lord. Spend time getting to know one another and growing in your faith. Make God your first priority. Love for one another can only come from Him (I John 4:7-19). A strong marriage is built on the love that flows out of our Lord, and without Him, we have no strength.
Let this guide both who you choose to date, and how you both go about spending time together and getting to know one another. Date a man who is strong in the Lord, and nurture a relationship of service to him and to your Lord, and not to your own lusts, wants, and feelings. Put God first: don’t sacrifice Him for the approval of a person you are attracted to. And don’t forget: while you date you are getting to know the person that you may very well spend your whole life with. Are you using that time wisely to get to know them? Are you using this time to know their thoughts, their views, their attitudes towards life? Now is the time for that. Use it wisely. Remember… take dating seriously.