February 20, 2011
Our society has trained us to believe that we should be concerned with the physical attraction more than anything else. According to society, as long as the physical attraction is present, little else matters. The result is a conquest for the one who is the most outwardly beautiful person you can find. After all, when was the last time the hero of the movie rode off into the sunset with an ‘ugly” girl? But again, we must consider what the purpose of dating is, and what the constraints of dating are along with the desires of our flesh. Because our flesh desires a physical relationship, and a physical relationship cannot be legitimately accomplished outside of marriage, we must ensure that we take every step possible to prevent the possibility of sin. In Romans 13:14, Paul tells us to, “…put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Contemporary dating (where you have two people off alone together, who have been taught that anything they want to do is ok), is a recipe for failure. This style of dating not only creates a provision for sin, but it encourages the sins.
As we search through the Scriptures, we do not see an example of contemporary dating. It just was not practiced in Bible times. Does this mean that we do not see a standard? No. We must consider what the process of dating (courtship, betrothal, fishing or whatever you want to call it) is all about. What are these traditions and practices for? They should all have one common end: marriage. However, contemporary dating has become a social rite more than a process for determine God’s plan for a mate in your life. People ‘date’ now for companionship, to be a part of the crowd, or just because it is expected of them. Along with this casual attitude toward dating, there is also a casual attitude toward physical immorality. Unfortunately, physical contact and the physical immorality have become an expected part of dating.
Because dating is for one specific purpose, finding a mate, you should not consider dating until you are ready for all of the responsibilities that go along with marriage. That is, you should not start dating until you are physically, financially and emotionally ready to get married and have children. Some people try to assign a certain age to dating. Some say as old as eighteen, other people allow their children to date when they are as young as twelve or thirteen. There is no hard and fast rule in the Word of God concerning the age one should start dating. The qualifications mentioned above are merely signposts which point to one of the key qualifications: maturity. There are many other aspects to maturity to consider. I know, we are talking about dating and purity, not having children, but the goal of dating is marriage and the goal of marriage is having children. So, until you are ready to have children you should not consider dating. Your focus should be on God and God’s plan for your life. As you begin looking for the person with which you will spend the rest of your life, you will want to find someone you will love and who will love you. If you expect to find love, you must be saved and you must be looking for someone who is saved.
1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (8) He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Many people have a mistaken outlook on love. Yes, there are many people who claim to love. Perhaps they have lived with their spouse for decades. This is a choice they have made, but it is not the real love that springs forth from the Spirit of God. They believe love is something everyone is capable of. This simply is not true. Love is of God. Galatians 5:22 tells us that love is one of the fruits of the Spirit of God. If one is not saved, he cannot know what real love is about and he cannot show real love.
After you are saved, you need to ensure your walk with the Lord is as close and vibrant as it can be. Aside from the decision to be saved, the most important decision you will make is choosing the person with whom you will spend the rest of your life. You do not want anything hindering your relationship with the Lord. So, you must have a consistent habit of dealing with any sin in your life. You must be clean!
Dating is just one aspect of your life. As with every aspect of your life, you need to obey the leading of the Lord. The Lord never has, and never will lead you down a path that is not best you. If you trust God and allow Him to lead you, He will show you the best person at the best time for you to look for someone. The relationship will prosper, and the two of you will have great joy in serving each other as well as in serving God. If you do not obey God, you may miss out on the best God has for you and the consequences could be severe.
Proverbs 3:5-10: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”
God’s plan is simply the best plan for us to live by, and in His plan, He has chosen the perfect mate for us. We get in trouble when we think we know more about what is best for us than God does and we get in trouble when we think we know the timing for our life better than the Lord. We tend to rely on our own logic or reason; we trust the people around us instead of turning to God for the answers to our questions. God is not only ready to guide us, but He is also anxious to do so.
In addition to trusting the Lord with the decisions of when to date and who to date, you should also consider the advice of your authorities. Your parents have tremendous insight into the people you may bring home. Mothers can look at a girl and see through the polite attitude and pretty face down to the heart of the girl. They can tell you if you have fallen for the wrong type of girl, or confirm that the girl you are interested in is a good choice. Fathers can also help their daughters in the same kind of way. They understand what is in the heart and mind of the young men, and how the intentions for the innocent young girl are not so innocent. In addition to this, your parents can also give you a way of escape from someone who may not be right for you. Since their authority is final, if they say you should not see someone, the discussions is settled. You do not need to worry about explaining why you cannot see the person again, just that you honor your parents, and they have said no. In addition to their experiences, parents also have been given wisdom from God. If they are following God, they are also praying for you as well as praying for the wisdom to train and protect you. God will answer these prayers. This is just one reason why the young person should be praying for his parents. He should be praying for his parents to have that wisdom and discernment as well as the backbone to use it.
Your pastor or youth pastor will also have a lot of insight into the person you are considering. In most cases, they know more about the potential date than you do. They may have access to information about them that you do not. In fact, they may even have counseled with the person you are considering, or even with the last person they dated. They may know more about the other person’s parents than you do. They may know that the family of the person you are dating simply has different standards. They may even know things about you that may make you unsuitable for the person you are considering. They will counsel you in how to discern who is a good choice and who is not. If you are ready to look for someone, they may even be able to direct you toward someone you have not even considered. Your pastor or youth pastor is a valuable wealth of information, and you should rely on them. In addition to all of these things, your pastor and youth pastor are your under-shepherds, ordained by God to be your leaders. You are obligated to honor and follow them in much the same way as you are to follow your parents.
When you get all of this advice, compare it to Scripture. If, for example, your parents tell you physical contact is acceptable before you are married, you must take that advice in the light of Scripture that tells you that fornication is a sin. If the advice you are given is contrary to the Scripture, in any way, you must discard it in light of the Scripture. Hopefully, the advice you get will be confirmed by Scripture. In this case, the advice becomes reinforcement for the Scripture. In either case, the Scripture is the final authority. The Bible, God’s Word to us, is completely without error. In addition to this, the Bible is a living text. That is to say that God uses It, in ways that we cannot understand, to lead us. God uses It to guide us in our daily lives. However, to see and take advantage of this guidance, you must walk with God. You cannot just use the Word of God when you feel like it; you must learn and know the Word. You must study and meditate on the Word on a daily basis. As we have already discussed, your relationship with God is more important than anything else. You cannot sacrifice your relationship with God and expect to be successful.