Dating as a Christian today can be a hazardous exercise, with enormous pressure to conform to modern liberal norms. The Western world’s view of dating is primarily self-seeking, in which people date to overcome loneliness, fulfill perceived needs, and gain access to regular sex. In a word, there are no boundaries in dating.
As Christians, we are called to be “in the world” rather than “of the world.” How then should the way we date be different from the world’s way? What boundaries in dating should we put in place to protect us?
5 Suggested Boundaries in Dating for Christian Relationships
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23, NIV
1. Remember the purpose of dating.
The first of these five suggested boundaries in dating is to remember the purpose of dating. A Christian’s purpose in dating is quite simply to get to know if someone could be a suitable marriage partner. Therefore, first, make sure you are in a position (or soon to be in a position) to marry.
Marriage – specifically a marriage that glorifies God – is thus the ultimate goal of Christian dating. Dating someone unsuitable is not only pointless but also manipulative – if you don’t intend to marry them, you are effectively using them as an object to satisfy a perceived need.
2. Only date other believers and be honest about your faith.
Throughout Scripture, believers who want to get married are expected to marry other believers (e.g. – 2 Corinthians 6:14). This is another critical boundary in dating. If you use an online dating app, state your faith clearly on your profile. Don’t waste your time or other people’s time by hiding this critical bit of information.
If you meet someone in person, try to work it into the conversation early on and ask the other person about their faith. If a person seems reluctant to be known as a Christian, who hasn’t been plugged connected to a church for some time, or whose faith seems weak, these are red flags that dating should be avoided.
3. Introduce the other person early in the relationship.
In secular romantic movies, a couple will only introduce their boyfriend or girlfriend to their parents (and even some of their friends) after the relationship has become lengthy or serious, or even only after they are engaged! However, as Christians, seeking wise counsel from others on important matters like a potential marriage partner is a mark of spiritual maturity.
Introduce your partner to your family and friends early on in the relationship and invite input from other Christians that you trust. Often family or friends who know you well will be able to confirm whether the person is likely to be a good match or will draw your attention to some potential issues. These may not be easy conversations, so try not to be on the defensive but hear them out and remember the heart behind the comments.
4. Make it easier for yourself to stay sexually pure.
Among the most important boundaries in dating is staying sexually pure – this is reiterated in both the Old and New Testaments and remains a commandment for Christians today. Make it easier to avoid temptation by not living together, sleeping over at one another’s homes, or going on holiday alone together.
In fact, don’t ever be alone in private. In other words, only go out in public places or where others are around to help keep you accountable. Be aware of what you watch. Most of all, stay focused on the Lord and be an active member of a church that will support you as you date.
5. Put a (realistic) timeline on the relationship.
While marriage is not something to be rushed into, there is also something to be said about not pursuing a long-term relationship. If you have been dating for more than a year or two, it would be wise to ask yourselves honestly why there has been a lack of commitment to marriage and then either decide to marry or separate by a mutually agreed-upon date. Being stuck in a perpetual dating relationship generally gives rise to feelings of insecurity and unhappiness for at least half of the couple.
Seeking professional help.
If you are concerned about boundaries in your current relationship, consider Christian counseling in Huntington Beach. Talking through your concerns with a counselor at Huntington Beach Christian Counseling who shares your faith could help you to see any red flags before you contemplate marriage. Reach out to our office and make an appointment with a trained relationship therapist today.
“Happy Couple”, Courtesy of Becca Tapert, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Loving Couple”, Courtesy of Ave Calvar, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License; “Holding Hands”, Courtesy of Joe Yates, Unsplash.com, CC0 License