What has gone wrong with Christian dating? Join me for the second part of the discussion (see part one right here) of some common questions about Christian dating and purity.
What qualities should you look for in a potential mate?
Well, the very first quality you need to look for is salvation. The Bible makes it very, very clear that a Christian can only marry another Christian. You may not marry somebody who is an unbeliever. You should not marry somebody for whom you’re not certain whether they’re a believer or not. So absolutely, the first thing is, is this person a believer in Jesus Christ, do we share faith? And you know, it can sound very easy, it can sound, that person’s almost there, or that person really loves me and he’s promised he won’t interfere or that kind of thing. You may not do it. And there’s very good reasons for that. These things may be easy now when you’re really in love with one another and you know, you’ll do anything to marry one another. It will at some point get more difficult and there will inevitably be consequences for marrying an unbeliever.
So that’s the absolute first thing. After that, I think you’re just looking for compatibility. Do you enjoy one another? I mean do you just have fun together? Do you have common interests? Do you have common goals? You know you’ve got to have a lot of conversations, and often these are guided conversations with other people. Does one person want to go to the mission field, the other person is very much geared toward a career here at home, wherever home is. These are things you’ve got to discuss so you make sure you’re bringing the same sort of presuppositions into marriage. Have you talked about having children? And just these general compatibility issues.
So, salvation, compatibility is really what you’re after.
How should a single man pursue dating a single woman?
We have to account for culture here. And that might be an ethnic culture, it might just be a certain Christian culture. So, if you’re dating a girl and you know, or you learn that in her background there’s really this expectation that you would speak to dad before you speak to her, you ought to honor that. But the Bible I don’t think mandates that for all people and all times and all places. So there may be other situations in which you don’t have to do that. You can just ask the girl, would you like to go out for a coffee and begin to indicate interest that way. So, we’ve really got to be attuned to culture. You get ethnic culture, there’s certain ethnicities where there’s certain steps you need to take and that’s honoring the family, that’s honoring the culture. You ought to learn that. And then, generally submit to that. To honor them by following those traditions.
Beyond that, if there aren’t traditions that apply, I think just starting to spend time together and then at some point just step up and ask the question. Say I really like you. One of the struggles we have in Christian dating is when do you indicate interest in marriage? We understand as Christians, we don’t casually date. So we’re not just dating for a time with no goal in mind. As we date, there should be the view toward marriage. But that can complicate things because it can make it seem like, I’m asking you out for a coffee and I want to have babies with you someday. That’s adding a lot of weight to simply having a coffee.
On the other hand, there should be at least some interest in that person. You’re not just casually dating, you’re not just hooking up, there is something in mind. So I think dealing with that tension in a healthy way and just saying, let’s go out, let’s have a coffee, let’s get to know one another a little bit. Don’t introduce marriage too soon. On the other hand, if you immediately see I would never want to be married to that person then don’t keep dating.
Can or should a woman pursue dating a man?
Yes, I’m only married to Aileen today because she expressed interest and pursued me. And so I’m thankful for that and not opposed to it. Again, I think we have to account for culture here and for different traditions, that in some areas that might be considered too forward, it might be considered inappropriate. So I think it’s wise to account for that in some way. But I do think a woman can indicate interest in obviously appropriate ways. And maybe that’s just taking the lead and saying let’s go out for a coffee or something. I don’t think the Bible clearly mandates that a woman may not step up, that she may not take the lead in that. You know, obviously in biblical terms we have husbands leading families, taking the leadership role within the home, and that’s good. But I don’t think that is shoved aside for the entire course of a relationship if the wife or the girlfriend, whatever, is a little bit assertive at the beginning. Speaking on behalf of guys, sometimes we need to be given that little nudge, so I don’t think it’s wrong. I don’t think it’s inappropriate for a woman to show some interest and to suggest, hey, why don’t we get to know one another?