Dating as a Christian can sometimes be quite challenging, particularly considering how much the dating world has changed. While you're seeking to connect with like-minded believers, many people are just settling for casual encounters.
They prefer to serial date and enjoy the benefits of marriage without the commitment. Others have no intention to commit to an exclusive long-term relationship, let alone marriage. And, they have no qualms about making this clear to you right from the start. Furthermore, monogamy seems to be a thing of the past.
As much as I was tempted to think that maybe this is the new trend, that inner voice of God was always in the background reminding me that the new era of dating is not His way. Intimacy is reserved for marriage.
"Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." - Hebrews 13:4 King James Version (KJV)
My pastor never fails to emphasize to the congregation the importance of staying pure until marriage and give tips on how to date without losing salvation. On the other hand, friends, relatives, and co-workers tried to provide me with their own advice on dating.
But their suggestions did not always line up with the right way to approach dating as a Christian. I wanted to do the right thing in keeping with my faith and biblical principles. The essence of godly dating is to continue pleasing the Lord while seeking a partner for marriage.
With that being said, just how should you approach dating as a Christian? Whether you're new to Christian dating or just seeking a fresh perspective, I can help you understand what Christian dating and courtship is and how to navigate the challenges of staying pure until marriage.
You will also get some useful information on exploring online dating as an alternative way of finding your soulmate in Christ.
Find Your Soulmate with Christian Dating and Courtship
Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way of dating and courtship. Christian dating followed by courtship is a process of finding an equally-yolked partner that is right for you.
They are necessary prerequisites to setting up a strong foundation and ensuring a long-lasting union. They are the precursors to relationships and ultimately marriages, according to David C. Pack, author of Dating and Courtship: God's Way.
The process offers so much to enjoy and experience without trodding into intimacy. This can and must wait until marriage. You'll get to learn about each other, meet each other's friends and family, and talk about your goals and intentions for your life.
Believe me, I've experienced how valuable this "old-fashioned" way of courtship is, and it worked like a charm to help me find my soulmate. Finding my soulmate while staying grounded in the Bible was more than just "going with the flow" to see what will happen next.
It involved both parties taking an active role in steering the dates, meetings, and activities of courtship in the direction of a meaningful relationship. This is what dating or courting with a purpose means.
But if engagement followed by marriage within a reasonable time is not the vision or end result, then what is the purpose of this interaction? When I was actively dating for love and marriage, this is a question I asked myself. It helped me to determine early on if the person I was making time to go out with was worth my time.
Setting a Solid Foundation: How Long Should Courtship Be Before Marriage?
One of the mistakes many people make when dating is rushing into the relationship or marriage. I understand that your biological clock may be ticking or you think age is not on your side. But there is so much at stake, particularly with more than 50% of all marriages ending in divorce. The entire family suffers when a marriage fails.
Therefore, take time to know. Take as long as you both need to establish a firm foundation for the marriage to withstand its challenges. I heard people, even my fellow Christian brothers and sisters, pinning a time to courtship. Some said engagement should be after six months of courtship and marriage six months after the engagement.
I researched and found that plenty of marriages ended in divorce mainly because the couple did not take enough time to know each other well. On the other hand, courting longer than six months or a year does not immune anyone from a failed relationship either. Instead, the whole concept of time is subjective to the personal circumstances of the couple.
I must warn, however, that taking too long can have the same effect of rushing in. According to Apply God's Word, the goal of dating is to determine, among other things, (a) if the marriage should happen and (b) whether the couple is prepared to fulfill their biblical roles as husband and wife.
The sooner you can determine this, the better. I knew that once I met the man God directed into my life, courtship and marriage would be almost seamless. You know how you know this is "right?" It's an unmistakable feeling.
Although we were excited to be together and relished the idea of intimacy, we had to let good conscience prevail and court as long as it was necessary to solidify the foundation of the relationship before tying the knot. It took one year from the time we met to feel that the time was right to take the next step and get engaged.
Staying Pure While Dating Deepens the Connection
Dating as a Christian requires inner strength to remain sexually pure in thoughts and actions. Staying pure helps to deepen the bond between the couple. That mystery of not knowing and the idea of purity before God creates even more passion.
But the one most important thing I did at the outset of courtship was to make it clear what my standards were. I wasn't willing to spend time behind closed doors, no shacking up, no kissing, and no doing of anything that could trigger sexual desires.
I'm not going to tell you that temptation will not come. It will. But I had to remind myself every day of the bigger picture, which was that my walk with God meant more to me than a moment of pleasure. According to Christianity Today, this is a commitment to God that must be renewed daily.
In the meantime, expressions such as words of endearment, holding hands, and hugging can communicate love. However, prolonged physical contact may trigger other feelings that can interfere with purity. I had to remain vigilant and practice virtue by refusing to feed my fantasies.
I learned that acknowledging Christ before each date, preparing spiritually, and asking him to direct my path gave me the mindset to keep my thoughts and actions pure.
"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:6 (KJV)
My partner and I agreed that deep kissing and petting were off-limits, and so was spending too much time alone in private. There were times when I had to step away from him because I could tell that things were heating up. Yes, it's human nature, but I had to take control of my feelings for the sake of my Christianity.
Managing a Physical Relationship Before Marriage
Your body belongs to God. To remain pure for marriage is to avoid all physical contact that falls within the scope of sexual intimacy. One of the concerns I had to address during dating as a Christian was how far I was willing to go, physically, before marriage.
Asking myself this helped me to consciously set boundaries on the level of physical contact between my partner and I. Although I was engaged to be married, I didn't take this as a license to boost physical contact. I could have said, "Well, we'll be married soon. So whether we become physically involved now or then, it doesn't matter. I will still be his wife."
But it does matter. There are no shortcuts in dating as a Christian. Waiting is a requirement. Doing otherwise will destroy the sanctity of what is being built — making your union nothing but a sexual, instead of divine, relationship.
Also, don't be fooled by suggestions that touching of the breasts or genitals with the hand or mouth is not considered sex. They are considered foreplay, and foreplay is the precursor to sexual intercourse. It creates lustful thoughts even if you don't go "all the way."
Now, it does not mean that sex is a bad thing, but sex before marriage is to many devout Christians. It is fornication and fornication goes against biblical principles. I was called on to exercise self-control. Had I done any of these things, it would count as a sin against my own body and against God.
According to Desiring God, the Bible warns Christians to flee sexual immorality and advises that sex is to be enjoyed only in matrimony. As 1 Corinthians 6:19 New International Version (NIV) puts it, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own."
In this YouTube video, Pastor and Pastoral Counselor, Mark Bellenger, talks about 5 Christian Dating Boundaries to help guard against acts, thoughts, and words that are reserved for marriage.
Choose to Engage in a God-Centered Dating Relationship
It's probably clear by now that engaging in a Christ-centered relationship is not necessarily going to be a walk in the park. A christ-centered relationship means the couple puts God first in everything pertaining to their courtship. Most of all, it is loving God first before your partner.
It's about trusting God to help you build the type of relationship that will withstand the test of the inevitable challenges. Dating, falling in love with, and courting a believer can make this easier. It would have probably been trying to bring a horse to the water to make him drink for me to choose someone who did not have that zeal and passion for following God.
I had prayed so many times for God to send me someone according to His will. And I knew it was him—my soulmate—when I noticed he was patient throughout the dating process and never once pressured me to do anything that fell outside the will of God. Overall, this made it simpler to date with Christ as the captain of the "relation ship."
Other essential factors are praying, worshipping, studying the Bible, and attending church together. Praying together helps to connect you and your boyfriend or girlfriend to God in ways you may not experience by praying solo. It can provide clarity and confirmation that this is God's plan for you and help with spiritual growth.
Being on the same divine level allows you to encourage each other at times when temptation comes to threaten and tarnish the genuine relationship you are building. According to Crosswalk.com, by redirecting each other back to Christ, the couple is taking a proactive stance against sin.
Going to church regularly, mingling with fellow believers who are striving to cultivate a christ-centered relationship, and living on the Word help to reinforce that you are doing the right thing.
Build a Strong Relationship in Christ That Leads to Marriage
God designs love and marriage for a purpose. But He wants you to go about achieving them according to His Word. I truly believe that you can lose out on a great opportunity to experience what pure love is if you approach dating in a way that does not line up with the principles of the Bible.
It is also important to not view Christian dating as a way to find the perfect person. This only sets you up for disappointment. Instead, you should see it as a way to meet a lifetime partner, a spouse, who is meant to be with you in Christ. Someone who is God sent. Trust and believe that God's timing and choices for your life are perfect.
Exercise patience in finding your soulmate and throughout the period of courtship. Trust God to give you that which He promises. There should be no need to rush into anything and mess up your faith. Setting up healthy boundaries and reinforcing them as needed are other tools in your arsenal that will work to help you preserve yourself for marriage.
Trusting Christ wholeheartedly and letting Him reign in the relationship allows His phenomenal, extraordinary love to saturate every aspect of your courtship. Putting God first before your partner will also serve to strengthen your relationship with Him.
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalms 37:4 English Standard Version (ESV)
When God sees your heart and knows that your intentions are divine, He will be moved to bless you with true love that lasts a lifetime.
A Christian Dating Site Can Help You Find Your Soulmate
Technology has made it easier to connect with people with just a click or tap on the smartphone or computer. Christian dating sites provide a platform for godly men and women to chat online, meet, and build a loving and God-centered relationship on mutual faith.
With millions of Christian singles online, a dating site provides a broader range of personalities to choose from. From the looks of things, the trend is catching on as more and more Christians are turning to this method of dating.
Many of these online dating platforms allow you to sign up for free. Others charge a subscription fee while providing matching services to match you to potential singles who tightly fit your criteria.
Before I met my husband, I tried my fair share of dating apps and online dating sites. These platforms make dating for Christians much easier, and I was able to connect with many high quality people ultimately leading me to meet my husband.
I was apprehensive at first to try a dating app or website in fear that it might be against God's way of finding love. There are also pros and cons of online dating. Nevertheless, I spoke with my pastor, who assured me this was okay. Phew, what a relief that was!
I decided to sign up for eHarmony, a dating site created by a Christian theologian, that has an excellent 29 dimension compatibility matching system and with 30 million members, many of whom are Christians. Once I created my profile and uploaded some attractive photos, the door was opened to hundreds of single Christian men in my city!
I was able to browse on the go with ease and at my own pace whenever time permitted. Before I knew it, I was receiving so many messages for potential dates. This was exciting and extremely easy. I was relieved to know that they were walking in the same faith and didn't have to worry about being confronted with opposing views about the right way to approach dating in Christ.
eHarmony helped me find my soulmate and could be the site that enables you to find yours. Take the free 29 dimension compatibility and personality assessment, sign up for a free account, and start browsing profiles to see if it's the right fit for you preferences.
Top 3 Dating Websites for Christians
Christian Dating Site
*The dating companies chosen above are my personal opinion based upon me giving them a try and testing their benefits, features, and overall quality for their membership.