15 December 2017

Dating…

In our Western culture we are continuously bombarded with the latest who’s who of dating, marriages and divorce. Unfortunately the relationship statuses of celebrities and people in the public eye are constantly changing.

raThe age at which dating begins is lower than it has ever been, marriages are shorter, and divorce – even multiple divorce – is more common. Some of these marriages do not even last a couple of weeks. Many of those who should be good examples for this generation seem to be more than ever affected by stress, the pressures of business, lust, sex, greed, the desire for power and other temptations. Look at the media: the very young Justin Bieber is dating Selena Gomez. There is considerable media speculation which is followed by the public as to whether or not he was having sex at the age of 18! Another example are Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries who sold the rights to broadcast their wedding to a TV channel for a large sum of money and the marriage ended after only 72 days. Hearing this kind of news is getting more normal.

What message does this send to us as Christians, to our children, youth and young adults? Is our reaction really any different from that of non-Christians? Where are our biblical principles as Christians? How are we supposed to act in terms of our reaction and action within this modern culture? Let’s start with dating. Our culture offers us TV shows such as Take Me Out, where the contestants make their decisions about who to date after only a brief appearance and a couple of sentences. Some may laugh or speculate about how realistic this show is, but the sad truth is that for our youth this is the picture and these are the criteria for dating which are appearing more and more normal.

There is not much said in the Bible about dating, probably because dating – and indeed pre-marital relationships – is a relatively new approach which more or less began in the 20th century. Nevertheless, there are principles in the Bible which we should apply to modern dating. John 3:3- 8 suggests that we should find out if the person we want to date has been born again in the Spirit of Christ and Philippians 2:5 encourages us to ask if he or she shares the same desire for Christ-likeness.

The ultimate goal of dating is to find a life partner who shares our values and commitments. Unfortunately the world’s view may be that we should date as much as we want, as many partners as we want, and for as short or as long a time as we like. There is no time to really get to know our partner, or pursue the real meaning of commitment and responsibility. Similarly, as Al Hsu wrote in his book The Single Issue, one subtle result of dating can be that we may become consumers in the quest to find the perfect product. In a way this style of dating is preparing us for a greater liability to divorce. Changing our partner because he or she did not suit, or because he or she changed, devalues that person and he or she becomes an object rather than the person you hope to spend the rest of your life with. All this numbs our hearts and we become hardened, less able to recognise our true emotions.

Young people may throw themselves headfirst into these new intimate and usually short-lived relationships because they are all-consuming. They may have little patience in getting to know each other, and after it stops working or burns out in contrast to their idealistic beliefs, they may just go for an alternative partner. Rather than trying to be the best partner themselves they search for the one who best fits with their expectations. This is not limited just to the young. More mature couples may also feel they are running out of time and opportunity and may then project all their life expectations onto their partner. Matthew 10:37 clearly states that it is important to remember to love the Lord above all else. Therefore such beliefs and expectations about another person as your “everything” is nothing but idolatry, which is sin, as we know from Galatians 5:20 and Colossians 3:5.

Rather sadly today, dating is also often about premarital sex. The Bible clearly states that we should not defile our bodies by having premarital sex (1 Corinthians 6:13; 2 Timothy 2:22). In 1 Corinthians 6:18 we read that sexual immorality is not only a sin against God but against our own bodies. God created the relationship of marriage and He intended it to be permanent and unbreakable (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5).

I hear the echo of a lot of arguments, such as:-

“What’s wrong with it, we love each other?”

“He or she would not stay with me without sex.”

“Don’t make a big fuss about it – in the end, it’s just sex.”

Is our faith and trust in God bigger than our fears and worries about being single?

If our answer is not clearly yes, maybe we should take a step back and instead of searching for a partner, start searching for God.

Please do not misunderstand me to mean that I think dating is all wrong. There is a way of dating which is rooted in the Bible and that is the only way. All Scripture speaks about our relationship with God and our brokenness. There are many examples of healthy relationships and that is the way we should go about our dating as well (Galatians 6:9, John 13:34, Matthew 7:12).

In previous articles we have spoken about redefining marriage according to its original God-given meaning. One of the main messages regarding marriage is found in Ephesians 5:21-27: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord… Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” We should always imagine the picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church and go from there. This will surely help our broken society and surely decrease the number of broken hearts. This is the challenge – to redefine dating and change personal attitudes and actions on a daily basis. 1 Corinthians 10:31 exhorts us “Do all for the glory of God…”

WORDS Zuzana Polackova

All used links:

http://www.gotquestions.org/dating-courting.html

http://christianteens.about.com/od/dating/a/HowToDate_2.htm

http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_16.html

http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001401.cfm

http://dangitbill.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/a-christian-view-on-dating/

http://www.datehookup.com/content-the-christian-perspective-on-dating.htm