How long should a Christian date before getting married? What is enough time in Christian courting before marriage occurs? Is 6 months too soon to get married? Is 3 years too long to wait to get married? What does the Bible say about how long dating should occur before marriage?
Questions like these are extremely subjective. Much like most dating questions, there is not a definitive answer found in the Bible. The best approach, therefore, is to apply relevant biblical truth to this question, “How long should a Christian date before getting married?”
You Should Date for the Period of Time Needed to Accomplish the Goal of Christian Dating
My belief is that Christian dating should be used to accomplish a specific goal. That goal is to determine if a man and woman feel led by God to become a husband and wife. Dating is not a relationship that should stand still for too long.
Through dating, the man and woman should be learning if they do or do not want to get married. When they have gathered enough evidence to make the conclusion that they should not get married, then they should immediately breakup as dating would no longer be necessary. The goal of dating, to figure out if marriage should happen, has now been accomplished. If they gather enough evidence to conclude that they should get married, then they should move into engagement and get married in a relatively short time.
If the man and woman are not sure if they should get married or not, then they should keep dating. That’s the point of dating, to answer that question.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
You Should Date for Enough Time So You Can Confidently Answer These Three Questions
So how much time should it take for a man and woman to answer the question of “Should we get married?” It will be different for each couple. I personally believe that when a Christian chooses to get married, they should be able to answer at least three biblical questions. Are we both Christians (1 Corinthians 7:39)? Are we both bearing fruit that is evidence for our salvation (Galatians 5:22-23)? And are we both ready to fulfill the biblical roles of a husband and wife (Ephesians 5:22-33)?
Therefore, you should date for however long you need to date to answer those three questions. While those are the most biblical questions to answer, I believe dating also serves to answer very practical questions as well: Do you both enjoy each other? Do you both have similar goals in life? And is God actually leading you to get married?
Sometimes you can check all the boxes but the relationship is still not meant to be. Through dating God will speak to you about this relationship. For more on how God will tell you who to marry, you can watch/read How Will God Tell You Who to Marry?
Dating Somewhere Between 6 Months and 2 Years Is Usually the Right Amount of Time for Christians
I know some of you came here for more concrete answers. If you were asking me what I thought was a good amount of time for Christians to date before getting married, I would say that anywhere between 6 months to 2 years is usually about right.
I think the relationship itself should determine how long Christians date before getting married. For example, if a Christian guy and girl have been friends and have attended the same church for many years together, then perhaps a shorter dating season would make sense. But if you just met somebody and no one from your circle of trust knows him or her, then it would be wiser to date for longer so you can make sure you truly know this person well.
It’s easier to be deceitful over shorter periods of time. The longer you see someone behave in a certain way, the more confident you can be that this person is truly that way. While no one believes that the person they want to marry is being fake and will turn into an evil person later in life, it does happen. Even if you are very confident you really know someone, the wise thing to do is to date for a healthy amount of time.
If you really are going to be married for the rest of your lives, what’s 6 more months in the big picture? I don’t recommend getting engaged before at least 6 months of dating. I believe the ideal time for most couples would be to date somewhere between 1 and 2 years. This gives you enough time to really get to know someone but it is also not too much time for unnecessary temptation to develop.
When you wait too long to get married, you end up hurting the relationship and stalling it. Sexual desire is good, it just needs to be expressed in marriage. When you suppress that desire for too long bad things start to happen. Usually the couple doesn’t suppress it and they starts sinning sexually.
If You Know You Are Going to Get Married, Get Married Sooner Rather Than Later
Lastly, if a couple knows they are going to get married to each other but they feel like there are practical things holding them back from actually doing it, I would recommend erring on the side of getting married too soon rather than waiting too long.
If you don’t know this is the person God has for you, then I would error on the side of caution. But if you are confident God wants you two to get married but you are just not sure of when, I would error on getting married too soon.
Perhaps you are finishing up college. Perhaps you wish you had a better job. Perhaps you wish you could save more money for the wedding day and honeymoon. Perhaps you are afraid of the possibility of becoming parents too early in life. These are not worth falling into temptation over or causing unnecessary harm to your relationship because you are not moving forward at the pace the relationship is requiring.
Sometimes real life and a relationship connection don’t always match up perfectly. Your relationship is more important than your external circumstances like what house you live in or what cars you drive. If you can support yourselves and you are ready to fulfill the biblical roles in marriage, then I would get married if I were you. Even if things are not perfect, I believe you will cause yourself less damage by getting married a little too soon rather than too late.
So how long should a Christian couple date before getting married? As long as needed to accomplish the purpose of Christian dating, which usually is somewhere between 6 months and 2 years for most couples.
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