Let’s get right to it on this topic. The way young people date today pretty much reflects how married people relate to each other. Young people spend lots of time together alone; they awaken desire prematurely; they mess around, often times ending in intercourse; and they are just as affectionate as a husband and wife should be within the sacred confines of marriage. Most of the time, the only thing that separates a dating relationship from a marriage relationship is the ring that is parked on the left hand. Vodie Baucham says, as stated above, that dating as it is currently done is “glorified divorce practice.” So, it’s not hidden—I am a huge enemy toward the way we currently practice dating.
The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian when it comes to relationships should be monumental. For the Christian, the lens through which we view relationships must be Scripture. For the non-Christian, the lens through which they view relationships is often the current cultural approach. This approach is found in the saying, “You don’t know if the shoe fits until you try it on.” Men and women live with each other, fulfill their sexual desires, hop around from dating partner to dating partner, and treat each other as husband and wife—all without any form of commitment. Again, it is not uncommon to find confessing Christians living together before marriage either. If they are not living together it seems that they spend all of their time together in intimate environments where there is no accountability, and they have no one walking beside them as they pursue the biggest journey of their life.
What’s the Difference?
The dating relationships of Christians must be different than those of non-Christians. Men, what does it say about you when you do not protect your girlfriend physically, emotionally, or mentally? Do you use the words, “I love you,” without thinking twice about it as if love is really an emotion, and then when you aren’t “feeling it” anymore you can just use the “it’s not you, it’s me” line? Oh man, there is nothing worse than a guy who uses a girl and then moves on to the next after he’s gotten his fix! Do you often put yourselves in situations where temptation can be sparked? Have you awakened desire and intimacy before it is ready? If you can answer yes to any of these questions then you need to repent of your stupidity, and really begin to think about how you are forever hurting your sisters in Christ. Believe me guys; I’ve been there. I have done the things mentioned above, and thankfully God has shown grace upon me through his Son Jesus where I have had to repent of sin and become intentional about how I treat my sisters in Christ.
The way young people currently practice dating is killing not only their spiritual lives but it is killing the vitality of the church. This must change in our generation! Scripture does not necessarily say, “This is how you are supposed to date,” but it does give us insights and wisdom into how men and women outside of marriage should relate to one another. Let’s begin in Genesis 2. Genesis 2:24-25 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
The Bible does not say that a man shall leave his fa- ther and mother and hold fast to his girlfriend. Let me be clear men, we don’t join with our fiancées either. We join together with our wives. This is what is known as leaving and cleaving. Men, we leave our mother and father and we cleave to our wives. And obviously, we don’t get naked with our girlfriends either. Do you ever wonder why you feel ashamed when you do?
So, if marriage is the end goal then what are the steps to getting there? Here’s what I think, and honestly, it’s this simple:
1. If you find yourself being sexually tempted then it’s time to begin to prepare yourself for marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-3).
I realize that many people will disagree with me on this point, but that’s okay, often times the ones who disagree with this are the ones who are justifying their actions of finding sexual pleasures outside of marriage—whether it’s through sexual relationships or pornography. It has been said somewhere that 98% of men lust after women; the other 2% who say they don’t lust after women are liars.
2. Young guys, you must have someone walk with you through the dating/courtship process (Titus 2:1-10).
I often tell young guys who ask me about courtship that it is simply the season of life when you are preparing yourself for marriage. If we are modeling discipleship/mentorship biblically then we should have an old- er man who is teaching and walking beside younger men as they make decisions. This includes their dating/courtship decisions.
3. Keep your dating/courtship/engagement time short (Song of Solomon 2:8; 8:4).
Please don’t date for five years before you get married. Seriously, is there any biblical wisdom in this? Let me tell you what will hap- pen if you don’t know already. You will be putting yourselves in five years of sexual temptation, desire, and struggle. Desire and love will awaken before its time. Also, when it comes to the engagement process then keep it as SHORT as possible. Believe me, this is the absolute WORST time for guys.
4. Begin to read books on marriage and not books on dating.
Why would you want to read a how-to-guide on dating if you’re only going to date for 6-8 months when you’re going to be married for the rest of your life? Prepare yourselves to be husbands and wives, not boyfriends and girlfriends. Believe me, six to eight months is enough time for you to know if you want to spend the rest of your life with someone. You don’t need a year to figure out if you want to see them naked or not, if you are like-minded, and if he or she loves Jesus. In all honesty, these are the only three requirements you must have to be compatible as husband and wife: 1) Do they love Jesus? 2) Are you attracted to them physically? 3) Are you like-minded in life, family, children, church affiliation, goals, etc.?
With that said, I implore you to begin to rethink your current dating situation if you are indeed in one that I have spoken of above. Let us be men who take the Bible seriously. Let us see the culture through the lens of Scripture—not vice-versa. I challenge you to be courageous in your dating, engagement process, and marriage.
Men, we must step up!
Greg Gibson is married to Grace and is the father of Cora and Iver. He serves as an elder and family ministries pastor at Foothills Church in Knoxville, TN overseeing birth through college and marriages. He is the author of Reformational Manhood: Creating a Culture of Gospel-Centered Warriors and serves as the lead editor for CBMW’s Manual. Greg also writes often at ggib.me. Follow him on Twitter: @gregrgibson
Excerpt taken from Greg Gibson, Reformational Manhood, BorderStone Press, ©2014. Used by permission. http://borderstonepress.com