Ah, deciding who to date. Ask many Christian singles, and this is a question that requires advanced calculus and graduate-level Facebook stalking to get right. (Editor’s note: That’s a joke. Get off Facebook.)
The problem is choice. Usually having choices is considered a good thing, but you run into problems when there are too many choices.
Here’s what I mean:
If I need toothpaste, I’ll go to the store and get toothpaste. If there are only two types of toothpaste, I will decide almost instantly, and feel pretty certain about my choice. But if there are 8 different brands of toothpaste and 14 different varieties for each brand, it will take me longer to decide, and I won’t be as certain that I made the right choice. Do I need tartar control? Fluoride? Peroxide? Am I even supposed to put that kind of stuff in my mouth?
The same issue of having too many choices may be part of the reason why more people are staying single these days. In the past, more people lived in rural areas, where there are fewer dating choices—and where, despite this, the marriage rate is higher than in cities like Dallas.
According to the Census Bureau, there are 4.8 million people in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. So let’s say you are a single guy here, between the ages of 20 and 39, looking for a single girl of a similar age. Based on the latest figures—let’s see, carry the one—there are 434,169 unmarried young adult women in DFW to choose from. If we do this “Bachelor”-style, you will have your choices narrowed down in approximately 16,000 years. And then you’ll break up.
Narrowing the Field
Now, if you are a fully-committed follower of Christ, and your goal for dating is marriage (as it should be), you really don’t have all that many dating options. And that is a good thing.
It means you can narrow down the list of potential dating partners very quickly. Starting with yourself, in fact; if you are not ready for marriage, there is no good reason to be dating someone right now.
If you are marriage material, then you can start ruling out everyone else who is not. So what constitutes good “marriage material?” Well, if you are a guy, I would suggest keeping an eye out for:
If you are a single girl, consider:
Note that this rules out anyone that you don’t know (unless, perhaps, you have a trusted mutual friend who can vouch for the person and initiate an “arranged marriage”). That in itself narrows the list of choices down to a more manageable number. It also rules out anyone who is not a believer, since 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 (and basic logic) states that you wouldn’t want to date and marry someone who disagrees with you on the foundational truth of your life.
The main point overall is that you are looking for someone who is at least as committed to Christ as you are (and that should be very committed). The more committed you are, the fewer people you will have to choose from.
Again, that is a good thing. It really is. It should be an encouragement to you, not a discouragement. Here’s why:
If you are trying to find “the one” and you have 400,000 people to choose from, you are looking for a needle in a haystack. I don’t know if you are familiar with haystacks, but they are full of hay. There is no reason to expect you’ll find a needle there. (See also the high divorce rate, which occurs after people have searched and dated and bet their life that they had found “the one.”)
But if you restrict the search to the few truly godly men or women you know, and make that your basis for choosing who to date, then you are searching for a needle…in a tiny pincushion…that contains only needles.
In other words, though it is a really small group of people, any of them would make a great choice. You are “compatible” on the one thing that really matters, and are both following the only One who truly knows how to make relationships last. Just choose.
It’s simple. Be someone sold out for Jesus, and find someone sold out for Jesus.