Dating

Dating
Dating

In my posts, I refer a lot to “dating”. I often speak quite negatively about it. Here, I thought I would clarify exactly what I mean by dating, and possibly also why I don’t think it is a good thing.

When I speak of dating in and of itself, I mean going out on romantic dates with your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse to do lots of fun, exciting activities together. This will often involve getting dressed up to look very glamorous or look very attractive, eating out in nice restaurants, or maybe sometimes more laid back dates, going on walks etc.

Actually, I have no problem with this in and of itself, especially when your date partner is already your spouse. What I have a problem with is the idea of “dating as a way of choosing a spouse”. It is not that I think that it is sinful; I just don’t think that it is a good idea.

What is dating to get a spouse?
If for instance you meet someone of the opposite sex on a one-off occasion, and you are both single, and there is a spark of chemistry between you and you decide to explore the possibility of a romantic relationship, and then you go on a succession of dates “to get to know one another”, this is what I mean by “dating to choose a spouse”. By one-off occasion, I mean when you casually meet someone in a bar one day, or perhaps get chatting to someone at the supermarket. Or in a specifically Christian context, perhaps you meet someone at a nationwide Christian conference or “youth gathering” (We Christians are so very fond of our “gatherings”). Okay, perhaps it is not strictly a one-off occasion – it could be that you see someone every day at the same time in the same place at the railway station on the way to work. First you notice that he is smartly dressed, then oh my goodness you see the smile – and hallelujah, no ring! Before you know it you are looking out to make sure he is there every day – and you sense that he is doing the same for you too! Eventually between the two of you, you manage to break the ice and fumble your way through to an awkward conversation…(Oh yeah baby, I know the way this works!)…and you eventually decide to meet up for a drink.

How the romance might progress
In all these circumstances, assuming all goes well and you hit it off sufficiently you might then progress to longer dates, or spending more time together, perhaps you would start talking seriously about “the future” then you might also meet one another’s family, and then eventually – ding dong! Those wedding bells might ring and you might excitedly walk down the aisle and into your golden sunset together.

I have heard of countless couples who have met in these circumstances, and who have started off their future marriages in these ways.

Please understand that my issue with these things is not that other people are having fun that I am currently not having! It is not that I am in any way jealous that you get to dress up and look glam and flirt outrageously (or discreetly!) with attractive members of the opposite sex!

The point about all of these is that you do not necessarily know the person (that is their character) very well beforehand, and dating does not necessarily help you to discover their character. Someone’s character is who they really are; their true commitment to honesty, integrity – or self-centredness, selfishness. The longer you know someone, then the more you will get to see who they really are. However, it is human nature to put on your best performance when you are trying to impress someone like a potential employer, a potential landlord – or a potential spouse. So the way someone behaves in a dating interaction is not necessarily a reliable representation of who they really are, how they would really behave once the goal has been achieved and there is no longer the need to make so much effort.

Additionally, the nature of dating means that generally you focus more on aspects of personality and/or sexual attraction rather than on character. Personality and attraction are both crucial to a relationship. However I think that for a relationship to be excellent it truly has to be based on excellent character – personality and attraction in themselves cannot compensate for poor character.

I think that the best way to get a great marriage is to:
Find the right spouse
Marry him the right way
Pray hard!

Find the right spouse – this means that you deliberately choose a spouse based on his true character, a spouse who will be cooperative during the storms and trials of marriage; a spouse who is up to the task.
Marriage is a huge task. If you just needed someone to go the the cinema with, or to go to a restaurant with, then you would not need to insist on such excellent character. This is someone to whom you are going to be vulnerable regarding his financial decisions, his sexual self-control, control of his emotions for instance his anger and temper – pretty much everything. You cannot afford to be casual about it.

Marry him the right way – this means that you deliberately build the foundations of your relationship and marriage to withstand the rigours of life. Deliberately work on building phenomenal communication. Deliberately work on building a phenomenal prayer foundation. Anticipate and work through many of the common issues in marriage – money, sex (no practical sessions please, before your wedding!), children. It also means that as well as working to avoid these negatives (the problems), you also proactively work to build positives into your marriage – prayer, God’s word, romance, intimacy, sex (again no practical sessions please, before your wedding!). There are maybe also dozens of other things that you could positively work on to build a marriage that you could both be excited about, proud about, confident about.

Pray hard
I believe that both before your wedding and after it, throughout your marriage you could give yourself to prayer to pray that God would continue to uphold your marriage, to thank God for your spouse, to pray for protection etc etc. You could pray that God would keep you both passionate for Him and striving after Him.

And then once those things are firmly in place and you know that you’ve married the right guy, in the right way, and your foundation continues to be maintained by fervent prayer which leaves nothing to chance, you could go ahead and date him, and flirt as outrageously as you want baby! (Or at least, that’s my plan! (I should say “heart-felt prayer”!))
To be utterly clear, the exciting dating comes AFTER the wedding.

Bible Verses:
Song of Solomon 2:7:

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.

Song of Solomon 3:5:
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.

Song of Solomon 8:4
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.
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IMAGE CREDITS
Image of stars in night sky by Geralt on Pixabay
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