By Sabrina PetersFriday 21 Aug 2020
Relationships can be messy, and love can be complicated. Here are “10 Don’ts of Christian Dating”. They are raw and honest, compiled by the many failings of my own life and the wisdom of a collective group of voices.
Remember, relationships are God’s idea! Marriage, love, family, sex, are all really good things and God wants you to experience them in all their fullness, but sometimes that means avoiding certain pitfalls and dangers. So, here goes.
1. Don’t Marry Someone Just Because You Want to Sleep With Them
This is honestly such a bad motivator to jump into a relationship, or marriage. Yes, sex is an amazing part of a marriage, but it’s not the only part. If your primary desire for getting married (especially super young) is to have sex, you’re setting yourself up disaster. Sex is like icing on the cake, but if the rest of the ingredients aren’t great, your cake will be a dud. Don’t settle for someone you’re simply physically attracted to. Dig a little deeper.
Looks fade and attraction can fluctuate. Go after someone who propels you forward into your God given calling, who energises your soul, and aligns with your core values. Look for someone that you click with, laugh with and dream with. Most importantly pray that God would lead you to the best choice for you personally.
Marriage is a partnership that should be based on friendship, attraction, commitment, compatibility and hopefully a divine collision of purpose! It is so much more than a permission slip to ‘get busy’. Don’t date just because you like each other, or you want to see how it goes. Enter your dating relationship with vision, conviction and intention!
2. Don’t Become Emotionally Dependent
It’s so important to establish healthy boundaries. I’ve seen so many couples (and at times fallen victim myself) to becoming completely emotionally dependent on the other person. They become your primary source of joy. Instead of functioning like an individual, everything revolves around you as a couple.
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I recently saw a friend do this in her relationship. They would talk for hours every day and text non-stop. Unfortunately, when they broke up nine months later, it became a very messy situation. They were so deeply intertwined it was like untangling a sticky spiders web.
Don’t share your deepest secrets, fears and dreams early on in a relationship. Tim Keller puts it so well: “Don’t let things get too passionate too quickly – emotions can come on very strong in the beginning of a relationship. Infatuation is often misinterpreted as deep love, and people become blind to each other’s flaws, and disillusioned. Take your time to build up an all-inclusive attraction which will be a more sustaining, stronger love through years of marriage.”
3. Don’t Try and Get “as Close to the Line as Possible Without Crossing It”
When I was a Youth Pastor lots of teenagers would often ask me, “So how far can I go”? My advice, still to this day, is “Run from that line for dear life. honey!” It’s like lingering on the edge of a cliff hoping not to slip. You want to pull it back as far as you can, because inevitably you will creep closer. Trust me!
I may not have gone all the way but we definitely toed the line a time or two. And just because it’s not “sex” (technically), doesn’t mean it’s not connection. The point is not avoiding intercourse, the point is not bonding emotionally, physically, psychologically and sexually with someone that you’re not married to! Because whether you like it or not, any attachment that is broken has ripple effects. Sex is the strongest adhesive available. Handle with care, friends.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- “How is this choice affecting my future?”
- “How much can I experience with my future spouse?”
- “Is what I am about to do, honouring God, my future spouse, and this person and their future spouse, if we break up?”
4. Don’t Beat Yourself Up When You Make a Mistake
Like I said, relationships can messy and we all stumble through, but I’m so glad that God’s love for us has no strings attached! He loves us when we’re good, He loves us when we fall short. He loves the person we present in public, and the one only we know in the dark. Nothing you’ve done can ever separate you from His love.
So when you miss the mark or cross the line (whichever one that is) don’t stay down, get back up. No choice defines you, and no mistake disqualifies you. God made you, and me. He knows our humanity, our weakness and our frailty. Let go of any shame and don’t beat yourself up. Run to God, not away. The key is repentance, which simply means to change your thinking, to do a u-turn. Realise that Jesus is grace personified. Be honest with Him. Admit your failings. Take ownership for your actions and be empowered by His grace to go and sin no more.
5. Don’t Isolate Yourself From Counsel
So many people live by the mantra, “It’s my life, I can do what I want.” Yes, it’s true, it is your life and you can do what you want. But if you’re smart you’ll seek out Godly wisdom and the voice of the Holy Spirit to guide you.
There’s a verse in Proverbs that says, “Where there is no guidance, people fall, but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety.” When your parents, your pastors, or even your close friends try and speak into your relationship, don’t pull back and ignore what they say. Often we isolate ourselves when we know the decisions we are making aren’t great.
Foolish people ignore counsel and simply do what “feels” right. Be wise and listen to godly and good advice. When the Holy Spirit presses on your heart and you feel that knot in your stomach, don’t ignore His promptings or warnings. Far too often I have seen people ignore their pastors, parents, friends, even God, and end up in toxic relationships (and worse yet, toxic marriages) that leave them heartbroken and living with regret. We aren’t meant to do life alone, so lean into the good relationships that God has positioned around you.
6. When You Start Dating, Don’t Stop Chasing Your Dreams, or God’s
Just because you start dating someone doesn’t mean everything else in your life has to take a back seat. If you’ve got a dream to finish a degree, start a business, go to Bible college or pursue a specific career path, don’t give it all up because you got into a relationship. If you’ve got hobbies, keep them going! Stay motivated, keep seeking God for direction for your life, work hard, have fun, and continue to serve God. When you find the right person, they will propel you into your destiny, not drag you down to mediocrity. Make God’s kingdom a priority, whatever stage of life you are in.
7. Don’t Date Someone Who Doesn’t Hold the Same Core Beliefs as You
If you’re a Christian, don’t jump into a relationship with someone who isn’t. The Bible in 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” They can be the most attractive person you’ve ever met but if they don’t love Jesus – stop! So often I’ve seen Christians hook up with people just because they’re nice, but somewhere along the way they either break up because they weren’t heading in the same direction, or the believer turns their back on what they once held dear.
This doesn’t mean that someone who isn’t a Christian is a bad person or evil. We all have many friends and family members who aren’t believers, yet are still some of the most beautiful, caring and fun people in our world. This is not about belittling someone who doesn’t hold the same beliefs as we do, this is about aligning our lives with someone who does! Because it’s pretty hard to follow Jesus with all your heart and build your life’s most important relationship, with someone who’s going in the opposite direction.
8. Don’t Have Unrealistic Expectations
Don’t get hung up on the “perfect” relationship or being with the “perfect” person. No one is perfect, (despite how amazing their Instagram feed may be). And as for the facade Hollywood keeps trying to sell us; the truth is, not even Hollywood can live up to its own expectations (why do you think they all break up?)! It doesn’t matter what you crop or photoshop – your relationship is with a real person, not an image.
Who you date (and then marry) is a real-life person. They will not be perfect. None of us are. So, drop any unrealistic expectations. Be real, be raw, be gracious with your partner. A relationship is seeing someone at their worst and loving them regardless. Marriage is an exposure to the good, the bad and the ugly. When you’re dating you can hide the flaws, the imperfections, the insecurities. But marriage is about revealing your whole self. It is complete vulnerability – physically and emotionally.
It takes maturity to stick around when you see every part of a person. But that is what marriage should be – embracing your lover, flaws and all. In the words of Imogene Stubbs, “Marriage provides the solace of worked-on friendship and the joy of being known profoundly.”
9. When You’re Dating, Don’t Act Like a Married Couple
Until you’re actually married, don’t act like it. Don’t sleep together, don’t live together and don’t plan your whole life around one another! According to mainstream media those things are no biggie and have become the norm in most dating relationships, but as Christians we take our cues from the Bible, not pop culture. Romans 12:2, in The Message version, reads, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognise what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Until you marry someone you don’t get the privileges, nor the challenges of that relationship status. So, cool your jets! Your girlfriend is not your playground; your boyfriend is not your ATM. Don’t expect your beloved to pay for everything, or to want to join you in ‘crossing the line’. You’re not “one flesh” yet, so don’t mimic the married couples around you. Respect and value one another, by holding firm boundaries. Honour God and apply his principles.
10. Don’t Think That a Romantic Relationship (or Getting Married) Will Complete You
No matter how much water you pour in, if there’s a hole in the bucket, it will always run dry. No matter how perfect your Mr Right (Or Mrs Right) is, they can’t keep you happy all the time, and the truth is, it’s not their job to. That’s your job. So, learn to love yourself the way God loves you.
A spouse does not complete your life, they complement it. If you expect a person to fulfil you, you will be bitterly disappointed. God is the only one who completes us. God has to be our source of identity, security and joy or we will eventually be left unsatisfied. Marriage is good (great, actually)! But real, everlasting, complete love, is found in Jesus. You don’t just need that as a single person, you need that every day of your life. You and I will always be sons and daughters of God, before anything or anyone else.
Article supplied with thanks to Sabrina Peters. About the Author: Sabrina is a writer, pastor and relationships blogger. She is passionate about Jesus and changing the way people think about God & sex.