We’ve heard a lot of opinions about dating. When is it appropriate to date? At what age should a person start dating? Is courtship better than dating? Is dating even healthy for a Christian? With so many views, we could get confused and frustrated in culture where dating many times over is totally acceptable.
When we get down to the root of it all, however, it’s not about dating vs. courtship, or dating only at a certain age. It’s about staying in the will of God in every area of our relationships. Though dating in general may not be sinful, a wrong heart motive behind it may be as wrong as dating the wrong person at the wrong time.
God first looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7). He always has and always will. In fact, we can’t even get saved unless we believe in our hearts (Romans 10:9,10). Many people can “date” with a pure heart motive. However, if the heart motivation behind a dating relationship is wrong in God’s eyes, that dating relationship is not from Him. Dating then is not the issue; the heart is the issue. Is the heart wrong? Then the dating is wrong.
As we read the following points ask ourselves, “What is the condition of my heart? Am I dating for the right reasons?”
- Am I motivated by filling a need like loneliness?
- Am I motivated by the thrill of accessing a certain group?
- Am I motivated by avoiding responsibilities?
- Am I motivated by ignoring a season of growth and maturing?
- Am I motivated by lustful desires?
- Am I motivated emotions, and nothing more?
- Am I disobeying God when He specifically said not to date this person?
If we answer “yes” to any of these, it’s time to step back and analyze our relationship.
We must always remember that our actions toward and with people are to be motivated by love. Love for Jesus and love for others (John 13:34). If we want to be motivated by love in dating, we can ask ourselves:
- Am I consistently looking out for their well-being?
- Am I being considerate of their time?
- Am I looking beyond the present pleasure of dating and toward the possibility of future commitment?
- Am I allowing them room to continue to do God’s will?
When we obey Jesus and His will for our lives, we are loving Him (John 14:15). We don’t ask questions, but simply do what He says, even if it means overcoming disappointment that a relationship may not happen.
When we love others, we don’t use someone’s attention and time for personal gain. Love doesn’t lead them to do something that will hurt them. Instead, it strives to lead them into a stronger relationship with God, and helping them stay in – not out – of His will for their lives. Anything less is selfishness.
So when is dating wrong? When it’s not motivated by love. When is dating right? When it’s motivated by love . . . and love only. When this is our motivation, God’s best relationships are sure to find us . . . because our hearts can be trusted!