In today’s modern world, the concept of dating and pursuing romantic relationships before marriage is commonplace. However, the Bible does not directly address the modern concept of having a boyfriend or girlfriend. As Christians, it is important to evaluate what scripture does say about relationships between men and women and apply biblical principles to modern day practices.
This article will provide an overview of the Bible’s guidance for romantic relationships, boundaries to establish, and how to honor God in your dating life. We will explore relevant passages while also acknowledging that some aspects of modern dating did not exist in Biblical times. The goal is to highlight timeless scriptural truths that can guide Christians in wise decision-making today.
- God designed romantic desire and marriage, so Christians should handle dating in a God-honoring way.
- Christians are called to avoid sexual immorality and flee from it.
- Boundaries and personal standards should be established.
- Seek to honor God, not indulge sinful passions.
- Relationships should stimulate spiritual growth, not hinder it.
- Make decisions prayerfully and with spiritual guidance.
- God can redeem relationships marked by past mistakes.
God Created Romantic Desire and Marriage
The Bible opens with the marriage of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:18-24. God designed men and women with romantic desire and instituted marriage, approving of romantic relationships within his design. The Song of Solomon celebrates romantic love, further affirming that God created these desires. However, the Bible only condones it within certain boundaries.
The passage from Genesis describes God’s original purpose for marriage:
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’…So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:18-24, NKJV)
This first marriage exemplifies God’s design for romantic relationships – one man and one woman becoming “one flesh”, a mysterious spiritual and physical union.
Therefore, Christians approach dating relationships remembering that God designed romance and marriage. Dating is meant to be a precursor that hopefully leads to a Biblical marriage.
Avoid Sexual Immorality
Although God designed romantic desire, the Bible strongly warns believers to avoid sexual immorality, which is intimate sexual activity outside of marriage.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 declares:
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, NKJV)
Other translations use the phrase “sexual immorality” for the Greek word porneia, which refers to any sexual activity outside of marriage including adultery, homosexuality, premarital sex, pornography, etc.
Paul writes in 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.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, NKJV)
These passages clearly prohibit sexual activity of any kind outside of marriage. Why does God command this? Firstly, he wants to protect individuals and marriages from the destructive consequences of sexual sin. Secondly, believers’ bodies are the Holy Spirit’s home, so Christians must honor God with sexual purity.
Therefore, Christians must diligently avoid sexual immorality in dating. They should establish physical boundaries and standards that protect the holiness and honor God intends for romantic relationships.
In order to flee sexual immorality and avoid compromise, Christians should establish intentional boundaries in dating relationships, especially physical ones. The Bible does not provide details about specific appropriate physical intimacy. Couples must prayerfully determine their own standards.
Some questions Christian couples should consider are:
- What physical actions could lead to compromise? Avoiding these will require self-control and honoring your significant other.
- What could cause regret later or hurt your ability to bond with your future spouse? Save exclusive intimacy for marriage.
- What are your personal convictions for godly behavior? Commit to honor them.
- What do other mature believers advise? Seek godly counsel.
- What brings glory to God? Flee from actions that indulge sinful lust.
Biblical principles that can guide physical boundaries are:
- Love: True love cares for the other’s holiness and wellbeing. It does not demand or insist on its own desires without restraint (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
- Self-control: Decide beforehand not to cross certain lines. Proverbs 25:28 warns “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Protect choices by pre-committing to boundaries.
- Sobriety: Avoid impaired judgment through drugs, alcohol, or anything that weakens sobriety and self-control. Make standards clear when fully sober.
- Holy Spirit guidance: ALLOW the Holy Spirit to restrain actions that grieve God. Follow his conviction rather than sinful desires.
By approaching physical intimacy prayerfully and thoughtfully, Christian couples can establish wise safeguards that honor Christ.
Flee Sexual Immorality and Pursue God
Sinful sexual desires flow from within human hearts, as Jesus explains (Mark 7:14-23). Therefore, avoiding compromise requires intentionality and vigilance.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” This verse succinctly captures how believers should approach romantic relationships. They should flee from sinful passions and rather pursue God.
Christian singles shouldparticularly note the instruction to “pursue…along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Seeking relationships with those who share the same desire for righteousness inherently encourages holy living. Their peers will encourage sexual integrity and healthy boundaries.
2 Corinthians 6:14 also warns: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” Being “unequally yoked” to a non-Christian risks compromising beliefs and spiritual health. Therefore, limiting romantic relationships to other believers is wise.
Godly relationships inspire each person to grow closer to Christ. They stimulate spiritual development, accountability, and biblical living. Dating should never distract from one’s relationship with God or undermine moral convictions.
Therefore, Christians approach dating relationships with vigilance – fleeing from compromise while actively pursuing God. This intentional focus upholds God’s standards.
Make Prayerful, God-Honoring Decisions
As Christians navigate modern dating culture, they should make prayerful and biblically-informed decisions. God’s word does not address every situation today, so wisdom and spiritual guidance are essential.
Several relevant factors to consider prayerfully are:
- Readiness for marriage: Are both individuals prepared for marriage in maturity and life circumstances? Dating just for fun risks compromising emotions and purity.
- Personal convictions: Do any aspects of the relationship violate personal convictions for godliness and holiness? Does it encourage spiritual growth?
- Accountability: Is there appropriate accountability from family, friends, or the church community regarding the relationship’s progress? Accountability breeds godliness.
- Spiritual compatibility: Are both partners pursuing Christ? If religious differences exist, they will become points of conflict affecting values and child-rearing.
- Life vision compatibility: Do both partners share a common vision for their future life? Differing visions breed relational conflict and hinder unified marriage.
- Parental guidance: Have both individuals sought counsel from godly parents regarding the relationship? Their insights should carry significant weight.
- Godly guidance: Have believers outside the relationship such as pastors, mature married couples, and mentors advised the situation? God speaks through their counsel.
Redemption Amidst Past Mistakes
Some Christians carry baggage from past relationships marked by sexual compromise and crossed boundaries. They may experience shame, regret, or confusion about how to move forward after moral failure.
However, the gospel promises full redemption and restoration for believers who have sinned sexually or otherwise.
1 John 1:9 assures God’s people: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” The blood of Christ washes clean even the worst stains when confessed in repentance.
Paul declares in Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Believers are new creations, freed from guilt (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is no sin too ugly for God’s complete forgiveness through Christ’s atonement.
Therefore, Christians looking toward future relationships can have full confidence that past mistakes do not disqualify them. God redeems all who turn to him in faith. With pure hearts, they can pursue godly relationships according to his blueprint.
Within God’s design, romantic relationships point toward biblical marriage. Honoring Christ as Redeemer and Lord means joyfully submitting all of dating to His lordship. Christians must thoughtfully establish wise boundaries that avoid compromise and sin because Jesus frees believers to walk in holiness.
Ultimately dating is not about personal fulfillment or pleasure. It is an opportunity to live out the gospel through self-sacrifice, mutual service, and patience. Dating is just one small part of the much greater calling to honor Christ with all of life. By making choices prayerfully and with spiritual wisdom, Christians can navigate dating in a God-glorifying way.