Most dating relationships do not start as mere friendships. If they did, then both people would have better respect for each other rather than creating a relationship that is mainly physical and, as a result, superficial.
As Charlotte Bronté once said, “If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love friends for their sake rather than for our own.” The strongest relationships are built on friendship. As soon as physical intimacy progresses, the potential depth of the relationship decreases.
So, if a relationship begins as a physical relationship, say, a good night kiss after a first date, that physical act decreases the couple’s ability to really get to know each other. Is a physical act of “love” really love, at all? According to the Bible, no. 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Love suffers long and is kind… does not seek its own… thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity…”
“Suffering long” is another term for patience, which means that love will wait. Love will wait until the time is right to express a physical act of love. The Bible makes it clear that the time for that is after marriage, not before. Fornication is among things to be put away from believers (Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5), a thing of the flesh (Galatians 5:19), and a subject of God’s wrath (Revelation 14:8; 18:3).
“If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love friends for their sake rather than for our own.”Charlotte Bronté
Clearly, this is not a Biblical behavior. In fact, since Christlike love thinks no evil, they will not even think of committing fornication before marriage and, if they do, they will not rejoice in it. If they do not turn from this idea, it will hinder their walk with God.
During a dating relationship, so much emphasis is placed on the couple spending time together and pouring themselves into each other. Not only does this time get squandered by the temptations and sins of fornication, they are not truly getting to know each other. They are learning how to be compatible and put on a facade to please their boy/girlfriend.
There are numerous downsides to this arrangement, the main two being that: 1) It creates an artificial environment that does not prepare the couple for life in the real world, and 2) They are no longer living for God, but for each other.
When they are busy pouring themselves into each other, they cannot be pouring themselves out as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord. In addition, if the sole purpose of the relationship is not to give glory to God, then the truth is that you are not serving God, but yourself. “You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24).
“Love suffers long and is kind… does not seek its own… thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity…”1 Corinthians 13
The final problem with the selfishness of dating is that it often becomes an end in itself.
Ernie Baker speaks of this issue in Marry Wisely, Marry Well. He claims that, for men especially, when couples can date and co-inhabit, there is very little draw for them to marry. They have no reason to commit when they can enjoy the “benefits” of both marriage and singleness without it.
Unfortunately, they do not realize the full joys of having made a commitment one way or the other, either. They are trying to balance both, even though mankind was not created to do both. God has created some people for marriage and others for singleness.
The purpose for everyone, though, whether single or married, is to bring glory to God by living out a Christian example and to discipline ourselves for holiness. This cannot be done through dating as a selfish practice.
We hope this installment was helpful for you. Our goal is to point toward Christ and to point out fault lines in our common way of thinking. Next week, we’ll be laying out the guidelines and benefits of courtship based on their original intent. See you then!
*Note: A full bibliography from this series will be released at the end of the series. Any statistics, articles, books, or websites will be included.
*DISCLAIMER: In light of the controversy over Joshua Harris’ book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” I considered removing it from this series. However, during the time that he wrote it, he was seeking the Lord and His will for Christian romance. It is for that reason that I decided to retain his quotes. I do not agree with his recent choices and apostasy from the faith.