Dating is sometimes harder than it should be. After countless dinners and drinks, it can be tempting to throw in the towel and resign to nights of forever watching Netflix alone in your bed. But when dating is done right, it can be amazing, and those great dates often lead to great relationships.
1. Live on mission . . . and then find a spouse.
Instead of making marriage your mission, make it God’s global cause and the advance of the gospel where you are, and look for someone pursuing the same. If you’re hoping to marry someone who passionately loves Jesus and makes him known, it’s probably best to put yourself in a community of people committed to that. Join a small group, not just a group of single Christians but one actively on a mission together. Get plugged into a ministry in your church that’s engaging the lost in the local community. Focus on the harvest, and you’re bound to find a helper.
2. Keep the end in sight.
In all your dating, keep your last first date in mind. The only thing worth dating for is a marriage—a lifelong, life-on-life love like Jesus’s love for us. Nothing else is worth all the risks we take when we begin to share our heart with someone else. Nothing else can protect us from diving in too quickly or jumping ship when things get hard.
Nothing else can stand out enough from the world around us to say something significant about Jesus. Marriage has to be the big and beautiful goal of our dating before we are ever ready to date well.
3. Marriage is worth pursuing.
When divorce rates are high and the surviving marriages around us seem broken, messy, and unhappy—and when there are plenty of other good things to keep us busy—lots of young men and women in their twenties and thirties have basically given up on marriage, or at least we’ve discounted it in our plans and dreams. Some of us have tried dating and been burned—confusion, rejections, sexual failure, breakups, or whatever else plagues our relationships. With all the pain, failure, and friction, it simply can’t be worth it, can it?
Lots of not-yet-married people need to be reminded that marriage is spectacular and needed in our society, and that’s because it belongs to God. The beauty of marriage far surpasses the functional, social, relational, and, yes, even the sexual benefits. For believers in Jesus, the importance and allure of matrimony ought to be deeply spiritual, missional, and eternal.
4. Your boyfriend or girlfriend is no substitute for God.
So many people have tried to find ultimate happiness, significance, or ultimate belonging in the arms of a man or a woman. Marriage seemed like the answer for a while—a few years, a few months, a few minutes even—then it fell short. It left them wanting, even demanding, more from marriage, not seeing that their demands were too much for marriage. They blamed their emptiness, loneliness, and joylessness on marriage instead of seeing that it was never meant to satisfy their deepest needs. There are lots of bad reasons to get married, and the worst is that we think he or she could be what only God can be for us.
5. The Bible is the best dating book.
Many of us let the Bible sit like a statue on our shelf because we think it has very little to do with our everyday lives. Things have changed over time, so we think we need new advice. We think voices today have a better perspective and better things to say about today simply because they’re living in it. The Bible had its day, and we’re grateful for it.
But all we really need, for whatever decision, situation, or relationship we face this year is God’s Word. The Bible says a lot about how we should relate to one another, and specifically about how men and women relate to one another. Even with sixty-six books and more than eight hundred thousand words, the Bible cannot speak specifically to everything every Christian will experience in this world throughout history. But it still promises to speak meaningfully to everything, including our pursuit of marriage.