If you want Christian dating advice on long-distance relationships, you will want to study Philippians 6:18 as this is where long-distance dating is specifically mentioned. It reads in the KJV, “Thou shall only date long-distance if thy . . . are you still reading this . . . I’m obviously joking.”
Of course the Bible does not give direct Christian dating advice on long-distance relationships. However, just because the Bible doesn’t mention something by name or in a direct way, that does not mean you should no longer study the Scriptures to get answers about that topic.
By applying biblical principles and advice, you can give yourself the best opportunity to have the healthiest long-distances Christian relationship possible.
Advice: Enjoy the Pros to Dating Long-Distance
My wife and I dated long-distance for a year. It had its pros and cons for sure. One of the best parts of starting our Christian dating relationship when we were living in two different states was that it helped us get more connected through communication.
Since we were only able to make weekend road trips to see each other once or twice a month (at most), talking on the phone was our primary way of “dating” each other (this was before Skype and Facetime were easily accessible). I believe the whole point of Christian dating is to get to know someone better for the purpose of seeing if the two of you want to progress into marriage.
While accomplishing this goal is traditionally done in person, talking on the phone for extended periods of time can help you decide really quick if the two of you are going to work out or not. If you just are physically attracted to someone, if you just like having a boyfriend or girlfriend so you don’t feel lonely, or if you just like the status of showing up to parties with someone, dating long-distance is going to expose these poor Christian dating motives quite quickly.
Other pros to dating long-distance is that the exposure to physical temptation is lessened. Hanging out with someone all the time inevitability presents opportunity for physical intimacy, which can quickly cross healthy boundaries in Christian dating. While the solution to this temptation is not to simply never hangout, dating long-distance does have its advantages here for Christians.
When you date long-distance as a Christian, you will also be less tempted to be totally consumed by this new relationship. Many people disappear from the face of the earth when they start dating someone. When your boyfriend or girlfriend is not always present, you will be able to more easily continue in other healthy relationships within your Christian community.
We could list many more advantages to dating long-distance. One more worth mentioning that Bethany and I experienced is that it forces you to be creative and more thoughtful. We would send each other fun packages, we would write each other Q&A emails, we would do a “book club” type of thing where we read a book and discussed it over the phone, and when we did visit each other we made sure to make the most of every minute together.
So bottom line, one piece of Christian dating advice on long-distance relationships is to embrace the positives rather than complaining about the negatives (Philippians 2:14). It will be easy to focus on the hard parts and to constantly complain to your friends how much you miss your boyfriend or girlfriend. And of course you should miss each other. But in the long run, dating long-distance can really help you build a healthy foundation for your future marriage if the Lord does lead you to take that next step.
Advice: Be Aware of the Cons to Dating Long-Distance
But let’s not kid ourselves here. Dating long-distance is a challenge to your Christian dating experience. So while you should try to embrace the positives, another piece of Christian dating advice for long-distance relationships is to be aware of the hardships ahead.
1 Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” If you are seeking to have a godly dating relationship, you better be alert, knowing that the devil is going to try and screw it up. One of the last things Satan wants is another healthy Christian marriage.
Some cons to be aware of when dating long-distance is that you will be tempted to idolize being with that person, thus ruining your joy in God in your present moments. While its’ completely appropriate to miss someone, the Bible says to “Rejoice in the Lord always, “(Philippians 4:4).
So you can be discontent with your circumstances. However, you must learn to be content “in” your circumstances no matter what, seeking your ultimate joy in God alone. If you allow your boyfriend or girlfriend’s presence to control your joy, you are turning them into an idol. (For more on that topic, read this article I wrote for Desiring God: Is It Sin to Be Sad?)
Another con to dating long-distance as Christians is that when you are together, the sexual temptation will be heightened. While you will have less opportunity to fall to sexual temptation because you see each other less, the temptation you are exposed to will be greater. To have a sexual desire for the person you are dating is good. Why? Because it is a sign that you should be progressing towards marriage (1 Corinthians 7:9). If you act on that sexual desire in the dating relationship, however, that’s when sin occurs.
So be on guard when you do finally get to see each other. Stay in open places. Accept that you will not be able to spend enough time together so you don’t overdo it when you do see each other. Nothing good usually happens at 2am. Go to bed and enjoy the time you do have rather than trying to make up for lost time. You never will. You will just get yourself into trouble. (For more on this, read, “How Far Is Too Far In Christian Dating?”
There are many other cons to dating long-distance as Christians, but one more worth mentioning is that you really do need to spend time together before getting married. My wife and I had a running joke when we were dating long-distance about, “What if there is a 5th day thing?” What we meant by that is that we usually only saw each other for 4 days at a time. So what if there was some annoying trait about the other person that would only come out on the 5th day?
All that to say, before getting married I would recommend someone moving so you can date traditionally for a little bit at least. I’m not saying this is a must. I just think it is wise. After a year of dating, Bethany moved to Cleveland because I was still in school here. We dated for four months, then got engaged, and then got married four months after that.
While it will be risky to move for your boyfriend or girlfriend, I do think it is good advice to do so before getting engaged.
Christian Dating Advice on Long-Distance Relationships
In summary, Christians dating long-distances will experience many pros and cons that those in traditional dating relationships will not. Both the good and the bad will be helpful in accomplishing the goal of Christian dating, which is to determine whether or not you two want to progress into marriage.
My advice is to use both the positives and the negatives to your advantage. Embrace the pros, prepare for the cons, and seek to glorify God in every situation God has planned for you through your long-distance dating season.