So, you’ve met someone interesting. What now? As a Christian, how are you supposed to date?
First, make sure he/she’s a born-again Christian, too. The Bible says, Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14) Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3)
Some people say they’re Christians, and they only profess; they don’t possess. Watch for the fruit of the Spirit in his life: love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness with and temperance (self-control). (from Galatians 5:22-23).
Ask his pastor. Find out if your person of interest acts as he should. Unless the church is huge, the pastor will know what kind of a reputation he has. This is a very important step and can save you much heartache. If you get a good report from his pastor, then you might want to date.
Date in public. What I mean by this is that you go places where someone might walk by at any time. Here are some suggestions:
- Concerts, dramatic productions, etc.
- A walk in the city
- The mall
- Restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream
- Festivals, car shows, antique malls, county fairs, craft shows, rodeos, etc.
- Tourist sites
- At home with the family
- A bike ride—built for two, anybody?
- Hiking with friends
- Church and church socials
- Ball games and other spectator sports activities
- Play sports (tennis, mini-golf, golf, Frisbee, catch, bowling, ice skating, roller skating or blading, skiing, etc.)
I’m sure you’ve already thought of more!
- Park a car in a secluded place.
- Go on a hike in the wilderness, just the two of you, all alone.
- Date in an apartment or house, alone.
- Sit in the dark.
- Be anywhere that someone might not walk by at any time.
Why these suggestions? Well, let’s face it, when you start dating someone to get to know him, you want to be in a neutral setting. Then, when you begin to care about that person, you will naturally be tempted in ways you weren’t before. So, date in a public place. You may need to discuss your dating standards. It’s great to have them! They are, after all, for your protection. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another (Galatians 5:13). Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).
The whole purpose of dating someone is to find out what he’s like. I think it’s good to see your friend in the normal world, especially if you’re both going to a Christian university. Visit his family. See what he’s like at home and with his mom, dad, and siblings. See how he acts in his church. Watch how he interacts with friends. Observe him doing normal, everyday things. Let him visit your family and see you in the same circumstances.
It isn’t enough to text back and forth. It isn’t enough to talk on the telephone or Skype. You need to actually be together and see each other in the context of normal, daily life.
Here are some ideas for topics of conversation:
- Find out about the family. Ask about mom, dad, siblings, and relationships. A person’s family is a window into everything he knows about family life, so ask away! You can’t ask too much. (Remember, when you marry, you become part of his family.)
- Find out about his interests. You’ll observe his values as you date, but feel free to ask questions, too.
- Find out how he thinks. Ask his opinion about anything. It’s good to know!
- Find out how he treats people. This isn’t really a topic of conversation, but it’s so important; I didn’t want to leave it out. Watch how he treats women (mother, sisters, aunts, other girls). Watch how he relates to others. Does he strut about and tell them how great he is? Is he humble? Does he berate himself? Is he anti-social? Is he a manipulator—always trying to get people to do things, mostly by shaming, blaming, threatening, and lying? (If so, run!!!) Is he violent? Does he easily lose his temper and lash out? Does he ever slap another person? (If it wasn’t in self-defense, run!!! If he will slap in front of you now, beware!) Does he speak with tact? Does he yell? Does he use ugly language? Observe how he treats others in word and deed.
- Find out his true values. Is he all wrapped up in his car, his gadgets, his things? Is he addicted to video games, online gambling, or any substance? Does he really love the Lord? Does he demonstrate that love for God and His Word in his personal devotion, in his speech, in his involvement in his church, and in the way he treats others—including you? What is most important in his life? Observe how he spends his time and money. Talk about values.
- Find out his work ethic--or lack thereof. Observe him. Is he lazy? Is he a workaholic? Is he hard-working? Does he know how to relax?
- Find out his personal standards. What are his standards about dress and entertainment (movies, music, TV, etc.)? Find out if he drinks alcoholic beverages. Find out about all his other standards. They will be important if you decide to marry him and build a home with him.
- There are lots of other important subjects, and nothing should be off limits. (Don’t discuss the physical relationship in marriage until after you’re engaged.) You want to know how he thinks. You want to share and understand each other.
What if you see red flags? What if you observe something about your interesting person that looks like a game changer?
- Confront. Ask him about it. Listen well. See if it’s truly a problem. If he agrees to change, watch for change afterwards.
- If it’s important enough that you don’t want to live the rest of your life with this particular character flaw, and you continue to observe that he doesn’t change, break off the relationship. It’s a lot better to break up now than to spend a lifetime wishing you had. Also, it’s better to break off earlier instead of later. Even if the wedding is already planned, and you don’t wish to marry this person, it’s better to break up than to go ahead and regret it for the rest of your life.
Use your head. Yes, of course, the heart and emotions get involved, too. We’re human beings. But, it’s so important to evaluate a possible future husband or wife as he/she is. What is this person really like? Do I want to spend the rest of my life exclusively with this person?
Evaluate. Communicate. Think before you promise your faithfulness.
Marry in the will of God, and have a wonderful life!