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10 Rules of Christian Dating

And here's why that person isn't "the one."
And here's why that person isn't "the one." (Charisma archives)

These 10 dating rules could change your future for the better. Trust me.

It is time for Christians to start talking about dating. The trajectory of lives and eternities are in the balance.

"Careful, there, cowboy. You startin' kinda strong!"

Yes, I am. Church, this issue shapes our young people, friends and family more than we could ever imagine. And we have been passive too long. "Let's just sit back and see what happens" might work in certain scenarios, but Christian dating isn't one of them.

Establishing principles for Christian dating could set men and women on a course toward Christ-centered marriages. Laying out guidelines for dating as followers of Jesus could alter the lives of men and women by keeping them out of toxic and unhealthy relationships (and ultimately marriages).

Most importantly, guidelines and principles for dating could transform lives and shape eternities.

So, this is incredibly important. And we have a responsibility as men and women of God to be pro-active. But we can't be pro-active unless principles are established. So I am starting the conversation.

I hope and pray the words from this post will spark further conversations in your ministries, relationships and homes. Here are 10 really important principles for Christian dating.

1. Stop Looking for "the One"

"Frank, how will I know when I find 'the one'?"

You won't. Mostly because "the one" doesn't exist. The truth is you could spend your life with more than one person. If you need to take a minute to let that sink in, I will be here when you get back.

Alright, glad you returned. Here's the deal: God doesn't set up marriage as a divine lottery where every person has one winning ticket. That would make God a gambler, and the Bible clearly says gambling is from the devil (only joking). But "the one" very much paints God this way.

Look, marriage isn't as much about finding someone totally compatible as it is about committing to someone despite difficulties and differences.

"The one" says you need to find the perfect person. And discovering one flaw means it's time to move on.

But the beauty of marriage is God sustains you despite your flaws. The brokenness you see in yourself and the brokenness you experience from your spouse point both of you to the only perfect one, God.

2. Date with a Trajectory Toward Marriage

This quote sums it up:

"Dating without the intent of getting married is like going to the grocery store with no money. You either leave unsatisfied or you take something that isn't yours."—Jefferson Bethke

That'll preach right there. If you are a Christian, there is no reason to date without a trajectory towards marriage. Now, I want to clarify what I mean.

Dating with a trajectory toward marriage means dating with a purpose. It means dating with an understanding of the gospel. It means dating someone who meets the values and goals you have for a future spouse (more on that later).

Casual or purposeless dating has no benefit for Christians. We are intentional beings. We are designed to know why we do stuff and where we are going. Dating is no different.

Now, please, please, please don't be a freakish weirdo. Dating with a trajectory towards marriage doesn't mean you only date one person ever. That would be awesome, but it's not always realistic.

You might get into a relationship with someone who loves Jesus, meets the values you have in a future spouse and is compatible with you. But once you get into the relationship, you realize things aren't as they seemed. Maybe they like to cuddle with cats or something. That's always a deal breaker.

Just end the relationship and continue to seek the Lord.

Disclaimer: A date is not dating. Again, please don't be a freakish weirdo and give Christians a negative label. Having coffee or going to eat dinner with the opposite sex is not dating. That's a date. Dating is more intimate. Dating involves D.T.R. talks. It involves sharing personal struggles and vulnerability.

So if you choose not to get coffee or watch a movie with the opposite sex, then whatever. But don't place that expectation on others.

3. Don't Date Non-Christians

The ultimate purpose of marriage is sanctification (becoming like God). So, my question is, "How does dating a non-Christian aid you in this?"

If you are a Christian, God isn't a piece of your pie. He is the pie. Why date someone who doesn't even have God as a piece of the pie?

My wife loves the Lord, and I can say with all certainty I wouldn't be following Jesus without her. There will be days when life is crashing down, your faith is wavering, and the only thing left will be your spouse. This is the beauty of a sanctifying marriage. In this scenario, your spouse is there to pray for you, put his or her arm around you and walk with you.

Without a Christian spouse, one of two things will happen: You will drift away from God or your spouse will become a functional god (more on this later). Both of these are bad.

There is another dangerous mentality in Christian circles I want to address ... "flirting to convert."

Look, Christians are called to be missionaries. The dating world, however, is not the place to be a missionary. Don't allow pride to deceive you. You can't change someone. That's God job.

So date Christians. Marry someone who loves Jesus. And spread the gospel as missionaries together.

4. Have a List of Values and Don't Compromise Them

If you have no idea what values are important to you in a future spouse, exit the road to marriage at the next off-ramp. Pull over at the closest gas station and decide what you want in a future spouse. It's dangerous riding on the road to marriage without an idea of where you are going.

Now, when you form this list, don't be legalistic. Don't sit someone down on the first date and interview them to make sure they meet all of the qualities. That's freakish, weirdo stuff. Again, don't give the rest of us a bad name. Your list is designed to give you a framework for dating, not be a checklist for it.

On the other hand, don't compromise. Your heart and the holiness of marriage are too important to flippantly give away because you are frustrated, impatient or settling.

One more thing: have primary and secondary values. And filter appropriately.

Let's practice. If you believe God is preparing you for foreign missions, is it important the person you marry shares this passion? Yes ... this is a primary value. If you love the Cowboys and your future spouse loves the Packers, is it important to work through this before marriage? No ... this is a secondary value.

Primary values are probably deal breakers. Secondary values are probably not.

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