Here are 3 signs you have been using bad Christian dating advice.
1. If You Feel Guilty Even Though You Have Not Broken a Command in the Bible, You Probably Have Been Given Bad Christian Dating Advice
Whether we are talking about dating or something else, anytime we start teaching human rules as though they were laws in the Bible, we are really getting off track. Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 15:7-9 (NIV):
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”
Jesus condemned the practice of teaching human rules as biblical truth. One of the biggest mistakes Christians make when it comes to dating is thinking that there is only one right way. Of course any type of dating that would contradict an explicit command in Scripture would be wrong, but the reality is that most dating advice is not a matter of morality; rather it is more so about methodology.
As I talk a lot about on this channel, the Bible does not specifically say anything about dating. Therefore we must take biblical truth and wisely apply it to our dating methods. The danger is when we start making laws out of desire to date in wise ways. For example, following a traditional courting model might be wise for some people. But for other people, perhaps God is asking them to take a step of faith and try online dating.
To label one method as sinful and another method as holy is simply stretching Scripture too far. As Christians, we like clear rules to follow in black and white. Unfortunately, when it comes to dating this is not always possible.
So if you feel guilty for not following a specific dating methodology created by man, this is a sign you have been given bad advice. Biblical advice will help you apply the Bible freely rather than coerce you into following rules that are based in societal norms rather than in the eternal pages of Scripture.
2. If You Feel Like You Must Only Wait or If You Feel Like God Only Helps Those Who Help Themselves, You Have Received Bad Dating Advice
Perhaps the most polarizing issue when it comes to Christian dating advice is when it comes to waiting on the Lord or stepping out in faith.
Oftentimes there are two extreme camps in the church when it comes to dating. There are those who emphasize the sovereignty of God over man’s free will in such way where they claim you don’t need to do anything to receive God’s blessing because whatever he wills will happen. On the other hand, there are those who emphasize the free will of man so much they claim that God will only help those who help themselves.
At its core, the reason this debate causes such division is because neither side is viewing the Bible accurately. Nowhere in the Bible does God pit his sovereignty against man’s freedom. As Charles Spurgeon famously answered when he was asked how he reconciles God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, “I wouldn’t try,” he replied. “I never reconcile friends.”
I can’t fully explain how God sovereignly brings about his will through the free choices of human beings. No one can. We can grasp it a little when we really study it deeply. But the important thing to do is to accept that they are both present in the Bible. God really does have a specific plan for your life and your choices really do have eternal consequences.
So when it comes to dating, you should not lean religiously on one side or other in this debate about waiting for a spouse or stepping out in faith. You must do both. You should wait when God tells you to wait and you should act when God tells you to act. Any advice that tells you otherwise is just bad Christian dating advice.
3. If You Are Allowing Someone Else to Make Important Relationship Decisions in Your Life Rather Than Taking Ownership for Your Own Choices, You Are Getting Bad Christian Dating Advice
One of the best parts about being a part of a local church is that you don’t have to do life alone. God designed the human heart to need other humans. This is why the local church is so important for Christian singles who want to honor God in dating. As Galatians 6:1-2 states:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
We need others to lovingly and humbly correct us when we are straying. We need others to gently offer us a different perspective when they can tell we are seeing things incorrectly. And we need our local pastors and mentors to teach us how to interpret and apply the word of God to our lives.
Sadly, however, many church leaders and authority figures abuse their power and overstep their rights in the lives of other people. A pastor or mentor should never lord their authority over you like 1 Peter 5:3 warns against. A good Christian leader will not forcibly try to make decisions in the lives of others that they have no right to make.
Therefore, if anyone is giving you advice that is taking power out of your hands and giving it to someone else, you are getting dangerous dating advice. God will judge us for the choices we do or don’t make in dating regardless if we are only doing what someone else told us to do.
Listen to wise, biblical advice from those who love you. But in the end, you have to remember that this is your life and we all need to take responsibility for our own choices.