The Dating Game
Relationships are some of the trickiest things that we have to navigate in our lives. We struggle with how to interact and trying to understand what the other person is thinking about us. We wrestle with how we present ourselves and what to say even. However, with all of the relationships in our lives, some of the most difficult can be our dating relationships. We want so badly to be loved, and when we find someone, we want to be what they want and need. We can find ourselves becoming a different person at times, or even working to make the one we are dating into a different person. Our lives can be so consumed with the relationship and hoping that it works out, so we don’t have to be alone forever, that we neglect other important relationships in our lives. This is not how it should be though. A romantic dating relationship in our life should be an edifying relationship that builds us up and prepares us for our future. In this post we will look at a couple of questions and a few Scriptures that will prepare you for the dating relationship and the future of a blessed marriage.
In all of our relationships, Scripture should drive our interactions. This is even more true in a dating relationship. We should understand what the Bible says about romantic relationships. Truth be told, there is nothing specific to dating written in Scripture, however, there is much we can learn from various passages.
Our world has turned dating into a long game that can last years for some couples, and can often times remove the thought of marriage because the dating relationship is essentially marriage without the commitment. This is not how God designed our relationship to be. Marriage is a good thing and should be the ultimate goal of any dating relationship. The dating relationship is to get to know someone on a better and deeper level to know if goals, dreams, and passions are similar enough to be a compatible and thriving married couple.
We need to ask, “What does it take to be ready for marriage?” This is a big question that may be difficult to answer, because in some ways it is not possible to be fully ready for marriage! When we get married, we can soon find out that some of the things we didn’t think were issues for us actually are in fact issues. Selfishness is the biggest highlight for new couples. During the dating relationship we put aside everything to woo and enjoy our significant other. Once married, our lives become so interwoven with being and living together, we can find that we have more flaws that we were able to admit. So, how do we get ready for this? It all starts with our relationship with God. God is true love, and it is He who shows us how to love truly. It is a love at a commitment level that declares, “no matter what happens, I will always love you!” On our own, we do not have that ability. We cannot love like that it is just not possible. It takes intentional time seeking God and setting aside the deeds of the flesh, and rather, walking in the works of the Spirit. See Galatians 5:16-24 for a list that Paul put together of works of the flesh versus works of the Spirit. In order to prepare ourselves for marriage, we need to work hard and separating ourselves from the wicked and sinful desires that come so naturally to us and begin focusing our lives on God. As we get to know Him more our capacity for commitment grows. As that capacity grows, we are better equipped to handle the various circumstances that dating and marriage may throw at us.
Marriage is a sacred thing in God’s eyes, and so it should not be entered into lightly. As you strive to know God more, you need to ensure you are in a relationship with someone who is doing the same. If the balance is off there will be a struggle between you as the relationship grows. With that struggle can come animosity that God is more important than the relationship, or that the one closer to God will lower some of their standards in order to come down to the level of the partner not pursuing God. This will only lead to problems later in the relationship
One of the major issues in our culture today that is being played up as good and right in a dating relationship is sex. The world tells us that we have to have sex before marriage because everyone else is doing it, and how can you know if you will be satisfied with each other if you don’t sample the goods? This flies in the face of what God ordained our relationship to be! Sex is a very good thing when it is done in God’s timing. When asked the question “what can I do with my girlfriend/boyfriend before sex?” the answer is “Get married!” Over and over again in Scripture God tells us not to defile the marriage bed, or not to have sex outside of marriage. It is a union that is special and reserved for the sacred bond of marriage. It is a physical representation of the spiritual closeness that we can have with God, but when we cheapen it by not abstaining, we misunderstand what God has given us and can greatly impact our relationships moving forward. God has a perfect plan that involves sex, but it must be done in His timing and in His order.
This leads us to the question, “Based on biblical standards, what are the male and female roles in a relationship? Is it important that the man be the stronger spiritual leader in a relationship?” This question is only a difficult question to answer because of the current cultural situation we find ourselves in. A culture which promotes an unhealthy view of feminism at every turn. One that says, “women can do everything a man can do, and sometimes to it better.” This thinking gets into the mind of young women and makes them believe that not only do they not need a man in their life, but if they have one they do not need to submit to this man who is inferior to them because they are a woman. However, this is not how God created the two genders to interact. There is a very clear need for each other which not only fulfills a physical and emotional need, but once again expresses a spiritual situation in the physical world. God lays out roles for the man and woman in Ephesians 5. The woman is to submit to the husband, and the husband is to lead the wife as Christ led the church. This only becomes a problem with people interpret the passage incorrectly. With a healthy view of what Paul is expressing, the relationship works beautifully!
Ephesians 5 does not tell us that women are inferior to men and so must submit to their every whim and desire. It is a submission to leadership in the manner the church submits to Christ. But submission is easy when leadership is done correctly. The greater burden in this passage is on the man. He needs to learn and understand the comparison made between husband and Christ. Christ, who gave His very life for the bride that He loves, is the role model for the husband to lay aside his own desires and love and lead his wife appropriately. When a husband leads correctly, respect and submission is easy for the wife. This type of leadership allows room for healthy discussion and decision making. It is not a dictatorship.
When applying this concept to the dating relationship, the woman needs to understand that the man has been called to be the spiritual leader. If he is not leading the relationship spiritually now, in things such as Bible reading, prayer, purity, and more, what will make him lead once married? If the woman is leading now, it is a situation that is comfortable and easy for the man to allow to continue even further on in the relationship. The man should be able to step up and take charge of this God given calling and show himself to be the loving leader God created him to be.
When we pursue God with all that we are, and trust Him to show us the right relationship, we will not be disappointed. One should never lower standards on relationships simply because they have waited so long. God is fully in control. It is also good to note that not everyone will get married. However, for those it has been given, singleness is a great thing (Matthew 19:10-12, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35). Even now, if you find yourself in a season of singleness, use it for the glory of God, and trust Him to bring your significant other at the right time!