This article on Christian dating may not be for you.
In fact, if you came here looking for some gem or checklist that helps you find ‘the one’, you will probably be disappointed.
That’s not what this article is about.
There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of books, blog articles, websites, conferences and more dedicated to helping couples find their soul mate; their partner.
This article, isn’t that.
So, now that I have your attention, what is this article about then?
My goal is to share with you the ‘hard stuff’ about Christian dating. The stuff you don’t want to hear, but need to hear.
Believe it or not, you’ve probably been brainwashed by the media, news, movies or series you’ve been watching. They’ve given you certain expectations and opinions about dating that have no foundation whatsoever.
The simple fact is, the church world has taught a lot on the subject of marriage, so most people understand that (as a side note, the rising divorce rates the world over say the opposite).
But not a lot has been taught about dating or Christian dating specifically.
What does the bible say about it? What is the right age to start dating? How do I choose the right person to date? Is dating scriptural even?
If you’re open to a fresh perspective on dating, one that is founded on nothing but the word of God, then you’ve come to right place.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a marriage counselor, neither am I a therapist. I am simply a Christian who believes in the bible as the instruction manual for living an all-round victorious life, of which dating and relationships are one aspect. The word of God can indeed be used to enjoy happiness in any area of our lives, but this is a matter of personal faith and commitment. This article is not a magic wand. It is exactly what the title says: a guide.
Okay, so now that that’s out of the way, here’s what we will be covering.
Click on any of the links below to jump to a specific section in this article.
Ready to dive in?
Great! Let’s go!
What does Dating even mean in the first place?
Dating is one of those things that has existed for as long as there have been people to go on dates :).
The word ‘dating’ comes from the idea of ‘setting a date,’ where two people (or more, if on a group date) agree to get together at a certain time and place for recreation and fellowship.
The term has evolved to be used as more of a slang word, replacing the commonly used words ‘courtship’ or ‘courting’. Courtship is when a man and a woman are romantically involved, with a view to seeing if marriage is right for them.
Wikipedia defines ‘courtship’ as the period of development towards an intimate relationship, wherein a couple gets to know each other and decides if there will be an engagement.
Simple enough, right?
However, dating does mean different things to different people, even among people who are non-Christians.
Additionally, in this article, we are dealing with Christian Dating.
And so here’s how we will define it …Christian dating is a relationship between a man and a woman, that goes beyond mere friendship, for the purpose of assessing the suitability of each other as a prospective partner for marriage, and fulfilling their individual God-given destinies.Click To Tweet
This definition immediately tells us two very important things about Christian Dating, which we will discuss in detail in the next section:
- It is not the same as friendship, and it is for people that are thinking long-term i.e. Marriage
- It should have as one of its focal considerations, the God-given destiny of each individual
What to consider before Dating
You should not be considering dating if what you want is ‘fun and games’.
That’s what friendship is for.
The commitments of a friendship are not as ‘stringent’ as those of dating, and those of dating are not as stringent as those of marriage.
Now don’t get me wrong: friendship is an important part of dating and marriage. In fact, that is where true dating and courtship emanate from. However, it is important to distinguish mere friendship, from a relationship that is meant to lead to something life-long.
Before dating, you also need to consider your God-given destiny.
No, this does not mean that God should have appeared to you in a vision and spoken to you about what he wants to do with your life. This simply means you need to possess a good understanding of God’s purposes in Christ Jesus, as they concern the world, the church and you.
When you are clear on this, through studying God’s word and fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit, then you are in a place to consider Christian dating.
With this kind of knowledge, whatever relationship you have, and whoever you end up dating, will always be viewed through the lens of the impact it will have on your life’s purpose and journey, in God.
Remember this, God only brought the woman, after he had given the man a goal, a vision, a purpose.
“… be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth”
This is Genesis chapter 1. God here tells Adam what his purpose and assignment is. It was after this that Eve was formed in Genesis chapter 2. God said in chapter 2 that it is not good for man to be alone.
Now, let’s explain the concept of being alone for a second.
Why does the bible say Adam was alone? Wasn’t God there? Yes, he was, but when you read the context within which the bible says he was alone, it gives us a clue as to what it means:
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”
You can very clearly see what ‘alone’ here means.
He was alone, because he was the only one of his kind. All the beasts, and cattle and fowl had several of their kind. But at the end of the naming ceremony for animals, the bible says ‘… but for Adam there was no suitable help’.
Adam wasn’t the one who said he needed a help. It was God who said so.
Why? Because Adam was completely fulfilled.
He was alone, but he wasn’t lonely. In tending the garden he had meaningful work to do. In his authority over the other living creatures, he was exercising his God-given dominion over the created order. He enjoyed full and open fellowship with his Creator.Adam had a clear vision and purpose, before he had a companion. And just like him, you must find out your purpose.Click To Tweet
- Why were you born into this world?
- What does God intend to do with your life?
- What did God seek to achieve for you by sending his son to die?
The answers to all these questions are very clear in the scriptures, and unless you are able to answer them, you might not make the right choice as far as Christian dating is concerned.
Is Christian Dating even scriptural?
The bible is full of verses on marriage.
It talks about the role of the husband and the wife in that relationship as well.
However, there is little to no information about ‘dating’ or specifically, Christian dating. Dating or courtship appears to be a concept that did not exist in bible days.
Does this mean that Christians should NOT date?
Let’s find out.
In a previous section, we mentioned that dating is the more commonly used term in our day; the original word was courtship. We also said that courtship is about marriage; you court in order to explore the possibility of marriage.
Here, I’d like to introduce another term: engaged.
Being engaged is different from courtship or dating. A man and woman are engaged after an actual marriage proposal has been made AND accepted. This is usually done after courtship.
To be engaged means to be pledged to be married. It refers to a formal agreement to marry someone. Similar terms are affianced, betrothed, intended, or espoused.
So here’s where I divert and give you a little history lesson:
During the time of Jesus, the Jewish marriage process involved two separate parts, the first of which was betrothal. This was an exchange of consent made between a man and a woman before witnesses.
Betrothal in ancient Judaism was unlike modern-day engagements.
It was a temporary period (up to one year) between the covenant of marriage itself and the time when spouses lived together. Because couples were legally married during this intervening phase, a betrothal could be terminated only by death or divorce.
After the betrothal, there was a period in which the woman remained with her family. After that period was up, she would move into her husband’s home, where they lived together as husband and wife.
So when the Gospels refer to Mary as being betrothed to Joseph, they are talking about the period of time after the exchange of consent but before they lived together as a married couple.
The bible does talk about betrothal or engagement in a few scriptures I’d like to highlight:
2 Samuel 3:14
“And David sent messengers to Ish–bosheth Saul’s son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines.”
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”
“And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.”
From the above scriptures, it is evident that God recognizes not only marriage, but betrothal as well.
That is why he himself said in Hosea 2:19 that his betrothal to Israel would be forever, and this is why per Jewish tradition, you couldn’t simply walk away after a betrothal.
A ‘pledge to marry’ is as holy and sacred as marriage itself in the eyes of God.
So, does the bible talk about Christian’s dating or Christian’s courting? Not specifically.
Does it make it wrong? Not really.
Remember, that one of the things that drives relationships is culture and societal norms & practices. It’s much like our traditional weddings. These aren’t necessarily scriptural, but that doesn’t make it wrong.The important thing is that Christian principles must provide the framework or guidelines for dating, or anything for that matter that isn't directly covered in scripture.Click To Tweet
Once that is done, God has no issues with it.
Good and Bad Reasons for Dating
So, you want to start dating.
You’ve thought about it and prayed about it, and believe you’re ready to jump in.
Great, but let me ask you a question: why do you want to date?
One of the things that God looks at more than your actions, are your motives; the driving force behind your actions.Your reasons for wanting to date could mean the difference between getting it wrong or getting it right.Click To Tweet
So with that said, let’s explore what drives people to seek out someone to date.
Here are some of the bad reasons for dating:
1. You are physically attracted to the other person
Don’t get me wrong, looks are important. But looks alone are shallow.
Remember: this is Christian Dating we are talking about, so you need to go beyond a surface level, and look for something more; something deeper.
1 Peter 3:3-4
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Physical beauty fades and changes with time. So basing an important decision such as dating on just looks is incredibly short-sighted.
How a person looks is crucial. He or she should have proper grooming, dress neatly and not shabbily and should exude decency. These are all good qualities to have, but being driven solely by them can be very misleading.
2. The other person is rich or well to do
Money has a place in every relationship. The bible says “… money answereth all things” (Ecclesiastes 10:19).
Wealth and finances are blessings from God and he sure does want his kids to prosper financially.
However, the bible also says in 1 Timothy 6:10:
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”.In almost any decision, being driven primarily and solely by monetary gains will end in misery.Click To Tweet
The person you are considering should be hardworking, should be responsible, and in most cases, should be financially stable.
However, never let their finances or your assumption that being with them will guarantee you financial freedom, be the reason why you choose to date them.
3. Pressure from parents, family, friends or society
This is something that is very rampant in Africa.
The moment you hit a certain age (especially as a woman) the question you start hearing a lot is: when are you getting married?
Do not, I repeat, do not let this pressure move you if you’re not ready.
The worse thing you can do for yourself, is to be in a relationship where the other person is committed and you are not. And your main reason for being in there is because of societal acceptance. It never ends well.
4. To not feel left out or left behind
This is very similar to the above point, but with one small difference: the earlier point is external; this point is internal.
Here, no one is giving you any sort of pressure. But suddenly, most of your friends are inviting you to engagements and weddings. Some are even inviting you to baby showers.
You are in church, and it seems like every week, someone that you know is getting married.
Slowly but surely, you start feeling like ‘Something is wrong with me. I need to get out of single hood. I need to be with someone so others can see that someone also loves me. By this time next month, I will have someone and go round showing them off to my friends & family’.
This is extremely dangerous. It is born out of a desire to ‘measure up’ in the sight of others.
Christian dating is not about measuring up. It is about doing what is right; what is right for God and for you. Never let this be a reason for you to hurriedly get into a relationship.
Now, what are some good reasons for dating as a Christian?
I’m glad you asked.
1. To fulfill your God-given destiny
Choosing to date someone should first and foremost be because both of you can aid in the achievement of God’s vision for your individual lives.
When you have God’s purpose at the back of your mind, it helps you in locating other like-minded people. It ensures that you keep the right kind of friendships, which like we mentioned earlier, is the right breeding ground for a relationship.
2. To add and give value to each other’s life
Apart from fulfilling your destiny, choosing to date someone because of the kind of positive impact they can have on other aspects of your life is a good reason.
This could be the value they add to your career, work, education, character, personal goals, etc. In addition, thinking of how you can be a blessing to this person is also a good reason to date.
You are exhibiting the attitude of one who’s selfless when you do this, and that is one of the qualities of love.
3. For companionship and friendship
Another good reason for dating is to build a lifelong friendship with someone. Someone with whom to share your dreams, hopes, aspirations and goals.
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?”
With a partner, one can accomplish a lot more than if one was alone. And when you have someone by your side, he or she can always support you when you need it.
4. Compatibility with the person
Let’s be real for a moment: it is easier for us to get along with some people than with others.
It is just a fact of life.
Christian dating is an avenue for exploring who we ‘click’ better with; who we ‘gel’ or connect better with.
So if you’ve been friends with someone, and the two of you seem to get along quite well; you share the same views & opinions about things, and you generally tend to be of one mind, this is a good reason to consider dating the person.
The list of good and bad reasons for dating could be a whole article on its own. These are just a few points to guide you in checking your motives.
Common Myths and Pitfalls in Christian Dating
When you talk to some Christians and get to know their opinion about dating, you’d be surprised what most believe it should be like.
These beliefs are the reason why their past relationships failed, and they don’t even realize it. They keep some in bondage and are usually opinions of others that have no foundation whatsoever.
Again, this could most certainly be its own article, but I’m only going to discuss three.
For all you know, you might silently agree with one or two of them yourself.
1. Christians who are dating should spend all their time in church
Okay so, maybe you don’t think a Christian couple should spend ALL their time in church.
However, most Christians in relationships spend so much time in church, that they have little to no time to spend with the one their supposed to be dating.
A relationship requires commitment. And yes, it is important to be in the house of God ‘working together’. But, the purpose of dating as we have previously mentioned is to gauge if this person is suitable for marriage or not.
This isn’t something you can do in the house of God alone.
You need to be able to sit and talk with this person. Get to know them when you’re not on ‘holy ground’. What are they like? What do they do for fun? How do they talk when other believers aren’t around? Who are they outside of the Christian community?
In church, it is very easy for people to pretend to be something they are not. The pastor is there. The deacons and ‘prayer warriors’ are hovering around. They will be on their ‘best behaviour’.
But that is not what you need. You need to know what you’re getting yourself into. How does this person treat their family? How do they speak to waiters, taxi drivers, cleaners, shop attendants etc.?
You simply cannot know all this if all you’re doing is having ‘holy communion’ in church.
Both of you should be in the house of God. Its important. But don’t be deceived into making a decision about this person, solely on the basis of what you know about them from church.
You just might be unpleasantly surprised.
2. Christians should only meet the parents of the one their dating when things become ‘serious’
Yep! This is a common one. And not just among Christians too.
And I totally understand the logic behind waiting a bit before introducing the one you’re dating to your parents. I’m certainly not advocating that you call a meeting with your parents after both of you have been dating for merely a week.
However, waiting too long has its downsides as well.
Again, Christian dating is for exploring the possibility of marriage.
And as we said, true dating is born out of friendship. So, you don’t have to be introduced as anything other than a friend, but you should be introduced nonetheless.
It’s important because it helps you get a sense of the family you’re considering marrying into, and sheds light on your partner’s upbringing and belief system. You’ll gain a better appreciation of why he (or she) thinks the way they do, and be better informed to make a decision.
How long you wait before meeting them is a very subjective matter. But, like I said, it depends on how you’re being introduced.
After a month or 2, I don’t think it hurts to be introduced as a friend. If for nothing at all, there is a wisdom from old age that you can benefit from. Parents are often able to spot traits and attitudes in people that you might not be able to.
Additionally, because they are not the ones ‘in love’, they can be more objective than you might be, and that always helps.
3. God has a ‘special someone’ just for you
This is another very common one.
The idea limits the power of God so much, its not even funny.The idea, that God would create over 7 billion people on planet earth, and that there's just one person out of the 7 billion people in this world that is the person you're 'meant to be with', is an insult to a divine God.Click To Tweet
Now, let me step back a bit and explain something about destiny.
God has places he wants you to go to and people he wants you to meet. He has things he wants you to achieve and even things he wants you to avoid.
God knows who you’re going to end up dating. He even knows who you’re going to end up marrying.
But, he hasn’t established that brother A and sister B are the ones meant for each other. How do I know this? Because to think this means, that if you mess up with this person or never meet this person, you’ll never be happy with someone else or able to be with someone else.
This means that God is incapable of giving you a happy relationship or marriage with another person? It has to be this person, or no one else? Is that how limited God is?
I think you get the point.
How to get yourself ready for Dating
By now I’m sure you can tell that Christian dating isn’t something to enter lightly.
It is an important decision that you should take prayerfully.
A lot of thought should go into it, not necessarily because it is a final decision in itself, but more so to ask for God’s guidance as your explore the possibility of this person being a suitable life partner.One of the common mistakes Christians and even non-Christians make is spending more time on 'searching' for someone to date, rather than 'preparing' themselves for that someone they want to date.Click To Tweet
Your focus should be more on giving, and not merely receiving. The question on your mind should be: how can I add value to the life of this person I want to be with?
With that said, here are some tips on how you get ready to start dating:
1. Invest in yourself
As I mentioned earlier, you should be thinking about being an asset to the one you’re with. He (or she) needs to feel like their lives have improved since they came in contact with you.
One sure of making this happen, is by investing in yourself. You do this, by reading the right books, attending church services, growing in your career and becoming more skillful at what you do, going for seminars & conferences related to what you do.
Another great way of investing in yourself is identifying a mentor.
This is someone on whom you lean and depend for wisdom and counsel, and one who has your best interest at heart. They can help you grow and develop at a faster rate and most successful people have accredited their success to having a mentor.
2. Study God’s ways
Notice I didn’t say study God’s word; I said study his ‘ways’.
You can study the word, but not necessarily understand how God operates. Studying the word can tell you the ‘what’. But to be able to live by it, you need to understand the ‘how’.
How does God think about things? What is his opinion? What is his perspective? How does God judge things? How did God deal with different circumstances, and why did he deal with it that way?
This is important because as mentioned, dating is something the bible doesn’t necessarily address specifically.
However, if you study with the guidance of the Spirit, you can see patterns & principles emerging in God’s word. If you study just to find out the ‘what’, you may not find much. But if you seek to understand his heart, you’ll get a framework that’ll guide your life.
3. Learn how to be ‘single’ and alone
I’m going to borrow an excerpt from Dr. Myles Munroe’s book on ‘Waiting & Dating’ to explain this concept:
“Contentment with being alone involves learning how to be fulfilled in your singleness. A truly single person is one who is complete physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually without dependence upon anyone else. Successful singles find their personal identity and sense of wholeness within themselves and in relationship with God. Because they are complete within themselves, only whole individuals are fully comfortable being alone. They can thrive and prosper whether or not they are involved in a relationship. For such people a relationship is an added blessing; it is icing on the cake. Adam was completely self-fulfilled; he was ready for a mate when he did not need one. It is the same way with dating. The time you are most prepared for dating is when you don’t need anyone to complete you, fulfill you, or instill in you a sense of worth or purpose. You are ready to date when you have first learned how to be single.”
Need I say more?Enjoy your singleness. Find happiness and joy in your own self-worth. Develop a relationship with God to the point where like Adam, you don't even notice you need to be in a relationship.Click To Tweet
That’s when you’re ready to date.
A word on Christian Dating Sites
This is a bit of a touchy subject.
I’m going to try my best to give a balanced view on this.
So, is there anything wrong with Christian Dating websites? Not at all. Its just like meeting Christians within any social setting or social networking website.
I think people just get tripped up on the phrase ‘Christian Dating site’ that is used to describe the platform. But if you stop and think about it, you could technically meet up or ‘hook up’ with other believers through any social media platform really.
Most believers don’t find anything wrong with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media platforms for that matter. And at their core, that’s really what dating platforms are; places for social interaction.
The pros and cons that apply to social media networks in general, also apply to Christian dating platforms as well.
So in and of themselves, there’s nothing inherently wrong with them.
Are there bad people and opportunists on these platforms? Yes, of course! But so are there on Facebook, Twitter, etc. And just as you’d be careful when engaging on these platforms, so should you when engaging on a Christian dating website.
Additionally, the guidelines that we have already discussed apply to them just as much.
Final words on Christian Dating
If there is one thing I can leave you with that I haven’t already mentioned it’s this: it is important to get to know yourself, before you start dating.
You cannot expect someone else to know you, when you don’t know you.
Knowing yourself will make it very easy to tell who you’re likely to be compatible with. It’ll also help in communicating your expectations to your partner.
Without a clear understanding of your personality, character, likes & dislikes, preferences for fun & pleasure, etc. you might struggle in finding someone who is like-minded.
Get to know yourself. Get to know yourself from God’s perspective as well. Who are you in the eyes of God? What have you become in Christ Jesus? What is your inheritance in God?
Answering these questions early on, will save you from a lot of heart ache.
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