This is a topic that is not being talked about much in the average church today (we won’t go into the reasons why now) but I feel needs to be addressed. That topic is dating.
It is a practice that has become so thoroughly integrated into our culture that it is the S.O.P even in so-called Christian circles.
As I covered in the series on modesty, we who profess to put forth the Bible as our sole authority for all matters of faith and practice should examine ourselves and our beliefs. All cultural customs must be compared with Scripture to see if they are approved by God. If there is something we are doing that is out of God’s will, we need to try to get back on track. For those of us who grew up in the average American home today – or even what we thought was a Christian home – so many things are just burned into our thinking from the time we are young, things that we have never stopped to question. And yet we are commanded:
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Most people do not deny that the moral state of our society is not where it should be, especially regarding sexual issues, and a good number of people really don’t understand or perhaps never even question why. Those who are actively trying to remedy the situation often times resort to putting the allegorical “band-aid on a broken arm;” meaning their methods are designed to stifle the symptoms, not to address the root cause, of the epidemic of fornication and its aftermath: unwed mothers, abortion, divorce, pornography, etc.
But could it be that all of these problems can be traced back to this one practice, or the mentality that is associated with it?
Most importantly, what does God think?
Dating Misses the Mark about True Love
Here’s something else. You may THINK that’s what you want, but it really isn’t. There is a scenario between a man and a woman that is an average situation today…
A certain man expresses interest her and perhaps ask her to be his wife. They haven’t known each other very long or very well but they are young and each thinks the other is physically attractive. And she is in such an emotional dither that she is “getting married” that she drops everything, packs her bags and books a flight to Hawaii. This is what’s called the “happily-ever-after” trap. Because unlike in Disney movies, marriage is not an ending, it’s just the beginning.
Let me tell you, that honeymoon ends real fast. And then reality hits.
They discover there are things they don’t agree on. A LOT of things, and important ones. So they argue. Communication problems happen. Values are not equal. What matters to her doesn’t matter a bit to him, and the other way around. They are unequally yoked (Amos 3:3). Things she thought were cute or attractive about him then are irksome now. Things she thought weren’t a big deal then are grieving now. They try “Christian marriage counseling,” most of which is just pop psychology with a Jesus sticker on it.
And as time goes by she’s realizing she’s stuck with this guy that she never really truly understood or truly loved – it was all cotton-candy, fluffy, sparkly smoke-and-mirrors. They become unhappy with each other, in many cases they actually hate each other. See the story of Amnon and Tamar, 2 Samuel 13. Once they have what they want the infatuation dies. There are many similarities between that story and many marriages going on today. Why? Because what happened in each case happened for the same reason. They married for what they THOUGHT was love – but was really just lust!
Then what? Well, many times what happens to over 50% of marriages in our country today – divorce, especially after one ends up committing adultery in their search for satisfaction. For those who don’t, there’s still nothing but heartache and sorrow left to deal with.
Dating Leads to a Stubborn Attitude
The surprising thing is if you try to explain this to some women, they just shut down, so to speak. They are so caught up in the moment, so blinded by their own hearts and emotions, that the long-term consequences don’t matter to them. So many girls get “tunnel vision” and they won’t listen to what anyone has to say – they turn a deaf ear to even their own pleading parents. Anyone who would oppose them or try to warn them is viewed disdainfully as a wet blanket. They just want to plug their ears and close their eyes to the truth. But it is really an attitude of sexual nihilism (sadly very prevalent in our culture today). They don’t care if they self-destruct after they get what their flesh wants. What a dangerous mindset! In these cases I think, sadly, most of them are too far gone. They are going to do what they want no matter what, even if they know full well what the final outcome will be.
It reminds me of the attitude of the main character in the wicked Twilight movies and books…
EDWARD: “I’m a killer, Bella.”
BELLA: “I don’t believe that.”
EDWARD: “Because you believe the lie. The camouflage. I’m the world’s most dangerous predator. Everything about me invites you in – my voice, my face, even my smell… I’m designed to kill.”
BELLA: “I don’t care.”
-Scene of Bella and Edward from Twilight, quoted by Marc Stein, Twilight Exposed: The Inside Story of a Billion Dollar Franchise, p. 190
Sister if you have such an attitude (if by some small chance you have read this far), I plead with you to ask the Lord to open your eyes before its too late, that you would not let your heart lead you down this path.
“But what about following my heart?”
The cliche phrase “follow your heart” is one most of us ladies heard growing up. I know I did. I heard it most from two sources: Barbie and Disney princess movies – mostly Disney. And I grew up believing it.
It’s interesting because I was shocked when I first read what God had to say about your heart:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
It is deceitful! It makes you feel one way sometimes, then other times it’s completely the opposite. It also wants things that are actually really bad for you and tells you that those things are good because it is depraved and corrupt and utterly wicked. That’s why we’re supposed to follow Christ and obey His Word. Those are true and the way of life – following your heart is a trap. It will wind you up in all sorts of evil and sorrow. I know because I tried it, much to my hurt and shame. Dear sister, don’t believe the world. Don’t believe your heart. Believe the Lord Jesus, the Word of God, and follow after righteousness and the things from above, not from beneath.
This means you may have some battling to do, spiritually speaking. Contending with that rotten heart can seem impossible – and it is, but for the help of Christ. Lean on Him and ask Him to help you overcome it.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Ladies, this is not what God wants for your life!
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
That expected end is so much better than the way of most of the world’s marriages.
Dating Causes an Attitude of Indifference
There is another way that dating leads to indifference: the constant date-up, break-up cycle.
When I was being counseled by a psychologist in my lost life, I remember her telling me that “Boys are like shoes. You have to try them on to see if they fit, if not just find another pair.”
Here is why this mentality is so toxic: the first few times there is pain associated with the breakup, but as time goes on a tolerance is built up to that pain – enabling the cycle to continue. You “fall in love.” Then you “get your heart broken.” That first time is devastating, so you start building a wall to protect yourself from getting hurt but for whatever reason (whether to fill the void or fill the appetite) you find someone else later and try to “learn to love again.” The breakup hurts this time like it did before, but not as bad – enabling you to move on faster. Rinse and repeat.
But this also means there is a tolerance built up to being able to form deep relationships. Instead of fully giving your heart to one person, as is God’s model for the man-woman relationship, you dole out bits and pieces until there isn’t anything left to give. So people date for shallow reasons because they have to hold themselves back in case things fall out. They can’t put down roots because it would encumber their socially nomadic lifestyle. That’s the trade-off. They can have their physical intimacies, but there never is a bond that spans the bridge between superficial appearances and really loving the other person.
This translates into shallow marriages (if marriages even happen), so there is no real bond holding them together. That is why we have people who eventually make fun of breaking up, like it’s just a game that never mattered much to begin with. Admittedly, you have to go through a significant number of “partners” to get to be that numb. God intended for there to be pain when the man and the woman are severed. They are supposed to be one flesh. To part them is to dismember the body. No pain when that is happening means something is wrong! You are emotionally dead.
This begs the question: why do they bother going to all the trouble? What is the driving force behind dating, that force that would compel people to turn their lives into a soap opera?
The Driving Force Behind Dating is Carnal, not Spiritual
The chief object of dating is really to gratify the flesh. When you look at everything about it, you realize that each aspect of the dating process is there for one reason: to satisfy the appetite for fornication and/or the steps that often lead to it (yes, that includes holding hands, kissing, touching, etc.). It is all purely recreational and orgiastic – not focused on anything of the spiritual nature.
Dating is Focused on Pleasing Self
To the world, relationships are equivalent to accessories. They are not about the other person. They are certainly not about advancing God’s kingdom or gaining ground for the gospel. They are about PLEASING YOURSELF. Want a change of scenery? Break up. Fancy someone else instead? Break up. Can’t agree on something? Break up. All that matters is doing what you feel like doing and that it’s best for you. It’s as simple as changing your clothes to throw your relationship aside. Consequently, marriages fragment over every little thing… i.e. “He just didn’t understand me.” When one party does not feel that they are getting what they want from the other person for whatever reason, that becomes grounds to move on. The other party is left in the rubble.
What about just holding hands, or even a little kiss?
“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” (1 Corinthians 7:1)
God says unmarried men have no business making physical contact with a woman who is not his wife. It’s off-limits, and for good reason! Much of what goes on between a couple on a date is a precursor to fornication. Unwed mothers – even those that claim to be Christians – so often are shocked and ashamed to discover how quickly things got out of hand. They thought they should have put on the breaks at the edge of the cliff before they ended up falling headlong, but it was actually when they missed the warning signs 2 miles back! Things didn’t get out of hand when the moment of fornication happened. Things got out of hand when you got in the car with that young man before you even left the driveway! Your fate was sealed!
My point in saying this is to help you to see that all of those seemingly innocent gestures are leading somewhere. That’s why you won’t end up with sin on your hands if you stay away from physical contact with the opposite sex. At this point I’ll be accused of trying to take away everyone’s fun and being a legalist, but I don’t care because God didn’t make it my job to prioritize your fun. Your fun is leading you on the road to sin. Call me what you want to but you are trying to justify abomination, and it isn’t going to work. God wants you to abstain from all appearance of evil, my friend. God wants you to flee youthful lusts which war against the soul. It is playing with fire to participate in any kind of touching – dancing, kissing, hugging, rock paper scissors, you name it. The same verse that bans making out bans holding hands, so please don’t cherry pick.
“Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27)
If you wouldn’t do it with a brother, don’t do it with another!
“The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” (1 Timothy 5:2)
Young men are to act toward young women who are not their wives as they would a sister. You are brethren in Christ. As incest is repulsive to God, so are extramarital physical interactions.
Hugging Outside of Family
“Well I hug my brother, and that’s not wrong, so why can’t I hug another guy?”
A study of the word “embrace” (the more modern term “hug” won’t turn up results in the KJV) is very interesting in the Bible. It is found 13 times. We are told in Ecclesiastes 3:5 that there is
“… a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;“
So not all embracing is bad. But not all embracing is good.
Of the occurrences of embracing between people in the Scriptures, we see that it happens only between family members and blood relatives, other than one instance where we are told that Paul embraced the disciples as he departed from them. These disciples were men, as we were told in the previous chapter. It is not wrong for brothers in the Lord to embrace one another as a token of their Christian love in purity.
We don’t see embracing going on between Christian men and women who are not kin in the Bible, not once ever (or holding hands, kissing, etc.). That would give way to impurity among the churches and invoke great cause for stumbling in one another.
“… but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13)
We ought not give any occasion to stir up the passions of the flesh in one another for any reason, and if you are honest with yourself, sister, you know that this practice opens a door for many hurtful lusts to enter in.
Embracing between men and women who are not kin is addressed in Proverbs 5:20:
“And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?”
The rhetorical question is put forth, why wilt thou? What business do you have hugging someone who is not your spouse? Why would you do something so careless and foolish? That is something that adulterers do!
Kissing Outside of Marriage
The practice of kissing and dating go hand in hand. It seems kissing is an almost inevitable event on a date, and ranges from either the light peck to the more intense lip-locking, which is usually the precursor to fornication, planned or not. Both forms are damaging to one’s purity, disobedient to God and should be avoided at all costs outside of marriage.
It used to be that kissing was between married couples only in the privacy of their home. Now we see kids barely into their teen years doing it – in malls, theaters, everywhere. This is because we are a morally degenerate society in every aspect and it is in no way normal to what was upheld throughout history, much less by God. Prior to the last 160 years you would have only found this behavior in whorehouses and pagan temples. Just walking down nearly every school hall between classes you can’t miss it. Welcome to 21st century Rome, I suppose.
“Didn’t Jacob kiss Rebekah before they were married?”
Yes, he did. But that is because he recognized her as kin after being separated from his near family, not because he was on a date with her! They were blood relatives, and he kissed her as long-lost kin, as he also was kissed of Laban, his uncle.
“What about greeting one another with a holy kiss?”
Firstly, it’s a HOLY kiss, so there is obviously no room for an unholy kiss. It baffles the mind that anyone would try to use this in an attempt to even remotely excuse making out as a way to say hi.
Secondly, it is completely contradictory that the apostle would encourage such a thing to take place between those of the opposite sex when he said elsewhere that it is good for a man not to touch a woman.
Dating Misses the Mark About the Purpose of Marriage
Solid, godly marriage is not built on fleeting emotions, and for good reason. Emotions come and go. If you rely on your emotions to make such a life-changing decision about who you will marry – and one day your emotions change – everything crumbles. To the true Christian seeking to please the Lord, life is like a game of chess. Every move must be carefully, deliberately decided upon and weighed heavily as to whether or not it will be beneficial to God’s kingdom. There is no room for giddy butterflies in the stomach or acting on a whim. “Winging it” is not an option. The questions are not, “How do I feel around him?” but rather, “Is this a man that is a strong, godly leader? Can I submit to him in good conscience in all things? Will he be a father that can raise and train a godly seed?” Because that’s really the whole purpose of marriage…
“And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.” (Malachi 2:15)
Most “Christian” marriages today fail or fall short because they miss the whole point of why they should even get married in the first place. I mean, let’s be honest. To them, marriage is just some official ceremony you have to get out of the way in order to be 100% physically intimate with the other person. Children are seen as either:
a) A pastime hobby to get provide more entertainment, a step up from having a pet, or
b) A nuisance and an additional burden (so they have to be sent to a school asap)
But that’s not what marriage is about! It’s about raising up the next generation in the fear of the Lord, not about what makes you happy or brings you pleasure! Dating is not focused on children in the least, or even on a compatibly matched, sound marriage. In fact, as with fornication, abortion is undeniably a byproduct of dating.
And just think with me for a moment on divorce. Is it really any surprise that divorce rates are through the roof when dating has been in place in the last century? I mean, when people feel like they can dump the other person at the drop of a hat for any reason and move on to another, this mentality doubtlessly bleeds into their future marriage. Why should it be any different then? Their reasons would be the same.
Dating is focused on the here-and-now, cheap thrills and fast, fleeting fun. Then we wonder why marriages crumble when the road gets rocky. Suddenly it isn’t so fun anymore when sickness or financial problems or strife crops up. And when the going gets tough…
Dating is Dangerous to a Woman’s Heart
The pressure is on. Fear of being rejected by the other person places women in a compromised situation. They cannot be themselves. They have to constantly worry about trying to put on a front to impress. “What if he never proposes? What if he does propose and I don’t know if I should marry him or not? What if he is putting on a front like I am and then I marry a monster? If I don’t marry him, then what if I might lose my only chance of getting married?” These are all stresses women face in the dating situation. The burden is so heavy on both sides many suicides have resulted.
Women are very emotional creatures by nature, and it is easy for them to tie the love knots quickly. But when those knots are severed for whatever reason, she is hurt. But she wouldn’t be nearly as crushed if things were being done God’s way, which we will discuss later.
Dating Does not Consider a Woman’s Safety
Funny how the pro-dating, pro-shacking-up feminists do not care about protecting women from the very vulnerable position they are put into in such a situation.
A young, pure daughter is sent away for the evening in a car with some unfamiliar or slightly familiar young man AWAY FROM HER PARENTS at NIGHT? What do you expect is going to happen?! Even if she is resolved to refrain from consented fornication, date rape is still a real threat. Many times the suitor is stronger. Drugs and alcohol can be used to force her unwillingly so she can’t even cry for help. Daddy isn’t there to see she is protected. He can only sit at home twiddling his thumbs hoping perhaps they will stay within sight of some adult or with their friends.
“…date rape can be expected to be frequent in a society in which sexual mores vary between the permissive and the repressive.” (Posner, Richard (2002). Sex and Reason. Harvard University Press. p. 387.)
Sadly, that’s where many parents stand today – in between yes and no, in between black and white, in between right and wrong. And it is destroying families.
I’ll tell you what would bring the nearly 60% statistic of unwed mothers crashing down to 0% real fast: put the parents in the same room.
“But how can I get to know the other person well if we don’t have any time alone together?”
On the contrary, how can one who is blinded by infatuation gather a well-rounded view of the object of their desire? It takes someone who is impartial to be able to step back and see the whole picture to assess the compatibility, personality and faults of the suitor in question.
Believe it or not, God’s design will see to it that you have a much better understanding of the other person with His model than with the world’s. You don’t need to be isolated with the other person to get to know him – in fact, that is usually the most misleading situation, because you can’t see how he interacts with others if it is just you two alone.
What is that design? We’ll get to that, but first you need to read Reasons to Jump Ship on Courtship!