Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dating: A Biblical Perspective

This is the lesson I gave on dating tonight. It didn't record right so here it is in written form. It is kind of long. I'd like to know what you think.

Why date?

I asked that question to a teenage girl the other day. Her answer was, “because we like each other.” Is liking each other really a good reason to date? I mean, does the fact that two people like each other give any guidance to the purpose of dating?

As Christians, and really as human beings, I think we really need to think through our reasons for doing what we do. Believe it or not, reason can actually guide a person in what they are doing. It can actually give purpose and when a person has purpose they can set guidelines that will get them to their purpose.

So how good of a reason is “liking each other?” What are we going to do with liking each other? How are we going to allow this reason to shape how our relationship moves? It really holds no substance. Liking each other is not really a reason. It is more of a feeling. I like pizza doesn’t give me a reason whether I should eat it or not. Some people may think so, but saying your reason is that you merely like something is pretty superficial.

Another reason given for dating is to have fun. Okay, what kind of fun are we looking at having? We say fun but have we really thought out what kind of fun we are talking about. What kind of fun can you have in a dating relationship that you can’t have with other people outside of a dating relationship? Is fun really a good reason or purpose for a Christian?

Our world says that dating is fun, but when it comes right down to it I think that what the world is referring to is what we discussed last week. The fun that a person can have in a dating relationship, according to the world, that you don’t have in other kinds of relationships is sex. As we discussed last week, God’s intention for sex is that it be between one man and one woman who are committed life partners; in short, married.

I really don’t know if fun is the right reason for a Christian to date. There are all sorts of ways to have fun and they don’t have anything to do with dating. Two people who are attracted to each other can have fun and not date.

Dating is actually a relatively new phenomenon when one looks at the history of the human race. Dating didn’t really begin, and what I mean by dating is going out with someone of the opposite sex on a date, until between the 1920s and 1930s. Before this courtship was the norm and courtship didn’t really become an official thing until the 1800s. Before the 1800s marriages were primarily arranged.

Because of this it shouldn’t be too surprising to find that Scripture doesn’t talk about dating at all. Dating or courtship was not the practice during the time Scripture was written. Arranged marriages were the practice of the day. That isn’t to say that all marriages were arranged, but most were. There were times where widows and the occasional divorced did remarry.

Even though the Bible is silent on dating it doesn’t mean it can’t guide us in this phenomenon we call dating, and let’s face it. Who arranges marriages anymore? Okay, so there are a few parents who wish they could, but it just doesn’t happen.

Just the very fact that our discussion has involved both dating and marriage shows that there is a link between the two, but can a case be made for this from the Bible? I believe a case can be made from Scripture that says the purpose of dating is to find a future life partner of the opposite sex. Let’s dig in and see.

In Genesis we find the story of God creating the human race. Genesis 1:26 reveals two things: first, God shows himself to be a being that is comprised of more then one personality. Second, human beings are made in his image. What can we conclude from these two revelations? God is in fellowship with himself. A careful study of the Bible shows us that God is a being comprised of three personalities. He is God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit. He is a being who requires fellowship. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that God created us in a similar fashion. He created us to desire fellowship, and so in verse 27 we see him creating not just man but woman as well.

From the very beginning God’s purpose was for a man and a woman to be united. Not merely for the continuation of the human race though. When we go to chapter two we find more detail about the creation of man. We see that God made man first before he made woman. He allowed man to live by himself for a time. Now scripture doesn’t tell us what affect this had on Adam. We know that during this time by himself he was given the responsibility of naming all the animals. We can guess this did have to have some affect on Adam for Scripture does tell us that “there was not found a helper fit for him.”

God created in Adam the same feeling that most men will go through at some point in their lives. He created the feeling of loneliness. I don’t believe this was just a lonely feeling of not having other people around. I believe it was a lonely feeling of not being complete for he saw that every animal God created had a counterpart. He was the only one who did not. Adam had to experience loneliness in order to accept the last created being God would make. This being, called woman, was created to “help” Adam. Not serve Adam, but help Adam.

Something I find rather fascinating is the fact that God didn’t just form another creature out of dust and breathe life into it just as he had done to Adam. Instead, he caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and actually took a piece of him and formed Eve. In a literal sense, Eve was the missing piece to Adam.

In Genesis 2:24 God spoke, through Moses, the very purpose of dating. He says “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” God has foreordained that most of us should have a life partner who completes us. We have to realize this in order to form the proper perspective concerning dating.
I truly believe that the only reason why two people should “date” is this; to find the person you complete. This is the only reason for dating, the only purpose, that helps us define guidelines for what happens within the dating relationship. Liking a person is a starting point for pursuing dating. Having fun is a reason to continue dating, but the purpose for dating should be to find that person you complete.

I believe that most people enter into a dating relationship for the wrong reason and it is usually a selfish reason. To enter into a relationship for selfish reasons is going to end up with someone being damaged; either you because your needs or desires weren’t met or the other person because you just used them as a means to an end.

Paul writes in Philippians 2:3-5 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” It doesn’t matter if the relationship is dating or not, this is the principle that should guide us. Even though it applies to all relationships I am going to say it especially applies to the dating relationship because you are looking for the person who you complete. Not the person who completes you, but THE PERSON YOU COMPLETE!

From a Christian perspective, the only reason for dating is to find the person you complete. This reason also defines the boundaries and guidelines that will be used in dating. Christian dating should look completely different then dating done by the world. If you are looking for the person you complete then you are going to date in such a way that you are constantly taking that person’s needs into consideration. To put it another way, you are only going to do what is best and right for your girlfriend or boyfriend. This limits the type of activities you can do as a couple. It sets boundaries that should never be crossed. It completely changes the way the world defines dating.

I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t date, but I am going to encourage you to date with the proper Christian perspective. What I have said should cause you to stop and consider if you are ready for dating. If you want to know whether you are ready or not all you have to do is ask yourself a simple question and answer it honestly. Are you ready to spend the rest of your life completing someone else? If you can honestly answer yes then go for it. If you can’t answer yes then you have not right getting into a relationship that is headed no where.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out on a “date” with someone of the opposite sex. There are actually some advantages to going out on dates with several people. Some valuable social skills are learned and you can start looking for that person you were born to complete. With that said let me also warn you. First, when you date do not set unrealistic expectations. Have fun. Don’t get caught up in what the world says is a good date. Two, as you go on these dates never, NEVER put yourself in a position where you will be tempted to compromise your sexual pureness. Save yourself for your spouse. Third, if your parents and/or people you trust are not involved in helping you set and not cross boundaries you will find yourself in territory you will wish you never entered. Finally, don’t you ever make a decision to become more intimately involved with someone based out of emotion. Use your brain. Reason things through and get the advice of more mature and godly people.


Christina said...

Great post, Brian. I'm so thankful to have had a teacher & mentor like you while I was coming of age. God did me a huge favor in using people like you to show me what true love really is (as opposed to that gushy Hollywood tripe), and now I have a great husband to prove it!

Pastor Brian B Van Dyke said...

Wow Christina. You don't know how much I appreciate your comment. Thank you very much.