In modern times, we’ve complicated singleness and the pursuit of marriage. I've been reading in Genesis (through Join the Journey) and it seems so easy: a man sends his friend to find him a wife. Awesome. Why did we stop doing that?!
I'm only sort of kidding. Today we have intermingled biblical principles and cultural standards, and what we're left with is confusing. Consequently, I get asked a lot of questions about dating on a regular basis. As we start a new year, a new series at The Porch, and start approaching Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d try to answer some of the more common dating questions.
Can a girl ask a guy out?
Can she? Yes. Should she? I wouldn't recommend it. Here's why:
It sets the tone in the relationship of the man being passive, a passenger in the relationship, while the woman takes control. The reason this question even comes up is because of masculine passivity, and guys not taking the initiative to ask out godly women. Instead of encouraging him to step up and be a man, it encourages yet more passivity.
This has always been a struggle in relationships, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden: Adam is the one God told not to eat the fruit from the tree, yet when Eve was tempted, he said nothing and went along with it. We also see many examples in Scripture where women get impatient with waiting on The Lord and push their own timing and desires. Abraham and Sarah were told that they would have a son together; instead of trusting God’s promise, Sarah took matters into her own hands and had her maidservant sleep with him. That decision affected generations to come. This desire to "help" God with his timetable by taking matters into your own hands is often a reflection of us not trusting that God is faithful to keep his promises, and that you may not trust a guy to step up and lead you.
I've heard it said, ladies, that you are a treasure. Treasures don't do the hunting. Men, step up, find a God-fearing lady and ask her out.
Should I pray with my boyfriend/girlfriend?
I've heard it said that you shouldn't, because it fosters intimacy prematurely. I don't see anywhere in Scripture that says you can't, but you should live out Proverbs 4:23.
Really, praying together would be difficult to avoid if you are living out your faith. We pray before meals, to celebrate, when in need, and without ceasing (according to Paul). So this is less a question of “should you?” and more a question of “how should you?” or “when should you?” If you’re praying alone together, and being more vulnerable through prayer or sharing things that you wouldn’t yet share through normal conversation, then that’s the problem.
Do I have to date in groups?
I don't see that law in the 10 Commandments. I do, however, see lots of examples in the Bible where the couple’s friends are in agreement and approve of the relationship. See, for example, Song of Solomon 1:4, where friends “rejoice and delight” and “praise (their) love more than wine.” You could also look at the many instances of arranged marriages, where friends or relatives decide who would make a good match.
In dating, you are intentionally observing someone and how they interact with others. You want to get to know what they are really like. That's difficult to do when your primary interactions with them are alone while they try to impress you. I'd avoid that (very common) scenario, and see how they behave towards people they aren’t trying to win over, or people they’ve already known for years. That will give you a better idea of how they will treat you years down the road.
How do I know if they are the one?
Are you well—that is, free from addictions and pursuing Christ? Are they likewise free from addictions and pursuing Christ? Are you both in biblical community and connected in a local church? Can you love them for the rest of your life, especially when you don't FEEL like it? If yes, yes, yes, and yes, they're the one.
Is it really that simple?
Next week, we’ll tackle the question of how important physical attraction is. Let us know what other dating questions you’d like to have answered.
Until then, join us at The Porch THIS Tuesday, January 27th for our new series Missing Out. And watch this:
(With help from Kevin McConaghy)