What does the Bible say about dating? As a Christian single, this is an important question to ask. However, as we will see in this article, questions regarding what the Bible says about dating are not as straight forward as you might think.
You will need to apply biblical wisdom if you want to engage in godly Christian dating.
The Bible Doesn’t Say Anything Directly About Dating, Therefore There Is Not One Rigid Christian Dating Path
What many Christian singles may be surprised to realize is that the Bible does not say anything directly about dating. The words “dating,” “courting,” “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” or “going out” are not words you will find anywhere in the Bible.
So how on earth can we answer, “What does the Bible say about dating?” What we must do is study what the Bible does talk about and then apply those biblical principles to Christian dating. Likewise the Bible doesn’t say anything about mutual funds or your Roth IRA, but the Bible does talk a lot about saving and being wise with your money. Just as you can apply biblical wisdom to current financial questions, we can do the same thing when it comes to questions about Christian dating.
It’s also important to note that although the Bible does not directly say anything about our modern style of dating, it also does not condemn this practice either. Whenever the Bible is silent on a topic, it means God expects Christians to apply what he has said generally and apply those truths to the specific questions we have (James 1:5).
Since the Bible does not say anything about dating directly, Christians must be careful not to over dogmatize any Christian teaching on dating. For example, when the book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” came out, the American church seemed to preach the concepts in that books as Scripture. Many years later, people are realizing the damaging effects of overemphasizing ideas not found directly in Scripture.
There are some concepts in the Bible that are so obvious we know they should always be applied to Christian dating, like no premarital sex for example. But it is a good rule of thumb to not make laws where the Bible does not make laws. We should do our best to apply biblical wisdom while also allowing room for other people to see things differently.
The Bible Says Marriage Is Good, Therefore Pursuing Marriage Through Dating Is Good.
My belief is that Christians should only start dating when they are ready to pursue marriage. I don’t mean that you need to know you want to marry the person you want to date. I just believe that to start dating anyone you should be in a season of life where you are prepared to get married if the right person came along.
I certainly don’t mean you need to be ready to be the perfect spouse. I don’t mean you need to be finished with college, ready to purchase a home, and have the biggest wedding imaginable. I just mean that you are ready to commit to one person and you are ready to learn how to be a biblical wife or husband in a Christ-centered marriage.
If you know you are not in a season where you are ready to get married, then I don’t believe it is the most biblically wise decision to date at all. Dating to just date without any intention of moving towards marriage in a reasonable amount of time is simply unwise and will lead to lots of temptation.
The Bible doesn’t give us a formula for how marriages are supposed to happen. What the Bible does make clear, however, is that God wants healthy marriages to happen between two Christians (1 Corinthians 7:2, Proverbs 18:22). This is why I believe the main guiding principal for all dating relationships is that they should have a goal of figuring out whether marriage is or is not going to happen between two people.
For more on the purpose of dating and when you should start dating, you can read, When Should a Christian Start Dating?
The Bible Says Intimacy Without Commitment Is Sin, Therefore Dating Towards Marriage Is the Wisest Approach
Another reason I believe the most biblical use of dating is to find a Christian spouse is because romance, while a gift from God, also is difficult to experience without walking into temptation eventually. One of the primary biblical principles that I believe should govern the way Christian singles date is that intimacy and commitment are always linked within the Bible.
Dating will cause you to learn more and more about the person you are dating. The longer the relationship lasts, naturally the more intimate the two of you will become. In fact, if the relationship stops growing and the two of you are not becoming more intimate (emotionally, not physically), this is a sign that something is wrong. I’ll even go as far to say that if there is no sexual attraction between two people, this is a red flag. Of course there should be no sexual experiences in dating, but there should be sexual attraction.
My point is that the longer you date, the harder it will be not to engage in activities strictly reserved for marriage. You will find it harder and harder to not act like you are a husband and wife the longer the dating relationship goes on. This growth is good up to a certain point, but when it goes too far sin occurs.
In other words, the intimacy level and the commitment level should always be equal in a Christian relationship. When you date, your intimacy level will naturally increase. Therefore you must appropriately increase your commitment level as well. This is why Christian dating and engagement should not be long seasons. If things are going really well, marriage should occur. If things are not going well, you should break up. Either way, the dating season should not last too long. Again, I don’t want to make rules, but in my opinion anywhere between six months and two years feels like a good time frame for Christian dating.
For more on this, these resources will be helpful:
The Bible Says Marrying a Non-Christian Is Sin, Therefore Dating Non-Believers Is Unwise
Since dating to find a spouse seems like the most obvious biblical approach to me, I also believe it is unbiblical to date a nonbeliever. Dating someone who is not fit for marriage is not wise. Why go into a store where you know you should not buy anything? There’s no point to try on clothes from a store if you really do not want to buy anything from that store. Likewise, dating someone you know God does not want you to marry is a very bad idea.
Additionally, the Bible says that Christians should not be friends with the world nor should they be unequally yoked with unbelievers (James 4:4, 2 Corinthians 6:14). While dating is a lesser yoke than marriage, I don’t know how you can say it is not being yoked still.
For more on what the Bible says about dating nonbelievers, these resources will be helpful:
The Bible Emphasizes God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Free Will, Therefore Christians Should Trust God and Actively Pursue Marriage If They Want to Be Married
Perhaps the area where the most wiggle room occurs in answering “What does the Bible say about dating?” is when it comes to the “how to date” and “how to find a spouse” types of questions.
Generally there are two camps of thoughts when it comes to approaching Christian dating. There are those who emphasize the “wait and pray” approach. But there are also those in the “God helps those who help themselves” camp.
I believe both approaches are fine, it just depends on what season of life you are in and what God is actually leading you to do. The biggest problem I see is that people often think they are following the Holy Spirit but in actuality they are just following their personal preference and personality traits.
Some Christian guys and girls are still single because they think God wants them to just wait and do nothing when in actuality he wants them to be much more proactive. Likewise, some Christians are still single because God is telling them to slow down, stop dating so much, and to trust him more.
For more on this topic of how to find a godly spouse and how to approach Christian dating, these resources will be helpful: