How do I date as a Christian?
This question plagued me in college when I had just put my faith in Christ and wanted to honor God with my whole life, but I was not sure how to do that in my relationships. There is no book of the Bible that gives specific advice for dating because it is a modern concept, which can make many of us believe that God’s Word has nothing to say about our relationships until marriage.
While there is no list of “dos” and “don’ts” for dating in Scripture, God’s Word calls His people to live sacrificially. And that calling can shape the way we view dating.
Looking back on my dating years in college, I wish I could have told myself to pursue relationships in a way that is holy and pleasing to the Lord rather than dating according to cultural norms. One of the passages that can help us understand how to approach dating in a God-honoring way is Romans 12:1–2.
In Romans 12:1, the Apostle Paul encourages believers toward godly living in all areas of life when he says, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.” He exhorts all men and women in Christ to live in worship of God. The word “body” here means not just our physical bodies but our whole selves. We are to present our minds, hearts, and bodies to God as an offering. This means that we give all of ourselves in service of God’s glory.
We work for His glory. We rest for His glory. He date for His glory. We do not live for ourselves but live sacrificially for Him. And Paul explains that we offer our bodies as living sacrifices in response to God’s mercy. His mercy toward us is clear from His plan to sacrifice His Son to save His people from their sins. And for those in Christ, His mercies continue throughout our lives. In fact, they are unending and offered daily (Lamentations 3:22–23). In response to who God is and what He has done for us, believers give their lives to God.
How we can be living sacrifices
While the topic of being living sacrifices is vast, we will discuss two ways in which we can be living sacrifices.
Paul helps us understand how to be living sacrifices to God in Romans 12:2, which says, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Therefore, living sacrificially includes not conforming to this world.
The dating life of believers should not be modeled around the way it is depicted in secular culture because sacrificial living is counter-cultural. As living sacrifices to God, we will look different from the rest of the world. Culture and Scripture have different views on how to date. Western culture encourages us to date selfishly. Books and movies teach us to search and search for “the one” who will provide us with everything we ever wanted. And we see characters on TV discuss the need for physical intimacy in relationships outside the bounds of marriage. In response, those who live according to cultural standards seek out relationships with an expectation that their needs will be wholly met by another person or to satiate a physical desire. As believers, our hope should be to date in a way that is holy and pleasing to the Lord rather than fitting into the norms of culture. Our devotion to God should direct our dating, not only our desires.
The second part of living sacrificially that we will discuss today is to discern God’s will through the renewing of our minds. We can do this through prayer, spending time in God’s Word, and following the guidance of the Spirit who dwells within us.
As we seek to live sacrificially in all areas of life, including dating, we can prayerfully consider the following four questions about how we conduct our relationships:
- Where do I get my ideas on how to date? Is it from secular culture or God’s wisdom that I receive through the Word and the Spirit? Do I have friends with who I can discuss dating through a biblical lens?
- How is dating portrayed in culture (think social media/tv/books/non-believing friends)? Where does cultural dating go against God’s desires for His people? Have you fallen into any of these practices?
- Is the person I am dating or considering dating a brother or sister in Christ? If they are, how can I treat them with honor and respect as a fellow member of God’s family? If not, consider the issues that may arise when you desire to date counter-culturally and in line with God’s Word but your partner does not.
- Do I spend time renewing my mind and seeking God’s will? Is there any part of my dating life that should change in order to follow God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will?
Additional resources on dating