Doing Love Different

My, Devotion to Him #304

Have you ever seen someone take a lesson, an idea, a motto, or anything else and run with it to the extreme side? I have many times. Dating seems to be one issue where we find ourselves never in agreement, and each of us takes ideas, advice, and lesson, and sometimes we can apply them logically, or other times we find ourselves running to the fence in far left field. I’ve heard both sides that are incredibly free in this area and others who are stricter than the Bible itself.  

A balanced approach is the best approach in many life situations or issues. And that is what I’ll try and convey today. One set of rules is usually easier said than done. We are all different people who are of different ages, maturity levels, walks with God, and experiences. So I find specific rules to be very unrealistic, and yes, I’m aware that this most likely won’t go over well with my Christian friends. I know this will be frowned upon and even close man-made opportunities and relationships.

However, I think there should be some more simple, practical rules that can help shape and define dating boundaries for us that can be applied throughout any age group. 

Believe it or not, most dating rules at any given time are usually man-made (gasp), I know. The Bible doesn’t actually say a lot about dating. This doesn’t mean that there is no good advice in these rules. Still, we need to remember to bring practicality to our relationships, especially when they aren’t Biblical principles that were listening to. 

Let’s see if we can simplify this down based on what the Bible tells us. 

  1. Pursue Jesus Above All Else

This principle should govern every single relationship, even for married couples. Loving Jesus should always be first and foremost. To love Christ is to obey Him and His Word. Many things will fall right into place or be weeded out once this is set firmly in place by both individuals. Obedience to Christ will allow us to quickly filter actions taken within a relationship.

When we pursue Christ, it shows the other person that this is not just about them and not in a negative way. The pursuit of Christ always wants the best for others as well. Thus, we are more cautious in the steps we take while dating others. We have the best intention for the other. 

Verse Passage: John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – ESV

This would, in essence, rule out the dating of unbelievers. Missionary dating is not a thing and would be a recipe for disappointment that could negatively impact your relationship with Christ. 

2. Pursue God’s Wisdom 

Lord knows I should’ve sought wisdom in dating a LONG time ago. It is an area where every single person desperately needs Jesus. So many issues are not clearly addressed within the Bible and therefore requires wisdom. Is it sinful for a couple to drive to an area at night where no one else is? No, but it might not be the wisest thing. Should a man ask her parents about dating her? Maybe. It could depend on whether they are Christians, how old she is, and other factors. The list for this could only go on and on. 

The significant part about not knowing these answers is that God loves to give wisdom. A seeker of truth is one to whom God reveals things. The two most significant issues we find in this area are not seeking Him in questionable moments. And also taking our revelation that He’s given us and judging others based on it. Even though there could be widely different elements in another relationship. 

Verse Passage: James 1:5-6 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” – ESV

Wisdom from God is always better than unwritten rules but don’t ignore what some of these rules might be trying to tell you. Remember, there can be truths found even in man-made practices. 

3. Pursue Purity 

Verse Passage: 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – ESV

This principle tends to be the toughest. This is due to this being a principle, a practice, and a rule that we can’t agree on in full. 

The principle of this issue is to remain pure. 

The practice, however, I believe differs from relationship to relationship. Premarital sex is out of bounds. Making out is actually off-limits due to the fact that it is classified as sexual activity. Even more so, avoiding any action that could evolve into touching or promoting sexual desires is better. Typically, once engaged in these activities, the window of opportunity opens to further progress into more sexual activity. Once these windows are open, shutting them (saying no) can be highly challenging due to the natural power that sexual emotions have. 

Some view holding hands as a hard no. However, this doesn’t fall within the sexual limits. Wisdom is once again required. If specific activity leads us further into the sexual domain physically or mentally, it’s the wisest thing to leave it alone. We should seek to remain pure and desire the same thing from whoever we are dating. 

As Christians, we wrestle between what purity looks like exactly, and the last thing we should do is hammer it to our brothers and sisters when we are all different and when the rules aren’t always Biblical. Love and respect for each other is a priority, as Christ says to love one another as our own. When following after Him, seeking to obey Him, and searching out wisdom from Him. I believe most issues can be handled correctly, even though they may slightly differ from one Christian to the next. 

I knew a man who dated this woman throughout high school and college, and they ended up married. He revealed that they never held hands until getting married. To him, that is what purity looked like. On the other side of this spectrum, or maybe further down, my wife and I held hands the whole time we dated. The matter here is the heart, intention, and priority. If you want to hold the hand of someone in hopes that it leads to more than the wisest answer would be, don’t do it. 

However, I urge everyone to seek Christ in all things. Love the person you are dating like Christ would and therefore create boundaries that show mutual respect for each other, not letting temptation and desire overtake you for a moment, which will result in a relationship exposed to an activity that can be destructive emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. 

I knew of another couple who had been married for twenty-plus years and still married today. They love each other dearly. Both are dedicated and faithful Christians. However, I have never seen any PDA (public display of affection) because that was something they did not believe in as Christians. Were they right or wrong? In my opinion, I think they are right in themselves. 

There is not a one size fits all hard rule to follow here. My wife and I do PDA. Now I’m not talking about the kind that should be for the bedroom. But we hold hands, and we kiss. I’ve seen pastors and their spouses hold hands, and plenty of other couples never do anything publicly to hint that they are married. Who is right? The answer is both. 

We are both being respectful of our spouses in both approaches. Some are convicted personally of taking a different route, and I can’t denounce either one because the rules aren’t there to say one way is right over the other. I would say for the latter that not making a show out of it or showing the spouse as anything other than a godly person should be at the forefront of our decisions. 

Our spouses and dating partners are children of God. He is the Father of us all. In that mindset, we should treat each other in a way that is respectful and dignifying.

4. Pursue Community

Just as Christians are called to be around each other, the same is correct for couples. Dating couples should want to be around other Christians and other Christian couples as love is spoken into these relationships. It allows us to continuously see purity in all forms. 

Did you catch that? Purity in all forms, not just what we “think” is correct. If what we thought was right all the time, we would be God. But we aren’t, so what we believe is not always right and is not always the only way. It’s the only way if Jesus says it’s the only way. Period!

This doesn’t mean we have to only hang out in a group setting or only around family. However, it does mean that we shouldn’t hide our relationship away like a secret. Things hidden like a secret can indeed open the doorway for ungodly activity. 

If you’ve noticed, every principle was about pursuit. It is a constant state. We must constantly be in action of these things. I genuinely believe these simplified and clear points will allow us to not only focus on Him but also keep us from hurting others and ourselves. Your relationship may not be like others for various reasons. But following Christ and seeking Him first in all things will definitely open the door to a healthy dating life. 

God bless, 

Copyright © 2022 by Jacob Olinger

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