Ok, I'm going to ask you a question: what is dating? How would you articulate it into a sentence?
You: "It's uhhh when you're sort of hanging out with a person you like a lot..."
Me: "What do you mean 'like'?"
You: "Like...have romantic feelings for. Like butterflies. You know. And it's exclusive."
Me: "What do you mean? They can't hang out with anyone else?"
You: "No. I mean, yes. They can hang out with other people. Just not, like, the opposite sex."
Me: "They can't hang out with the opposite sex?"
You: "No, wait, they can. It's just like... I don't know."
Alright I'm just going to say it. You can throw tomatoes at me later:
DATING IS WEIRD!
It's weird because we have trouble defining what it actually is. Which means we're unsure of what the expectations of both parties are. And if you're unsure of what the expectations are, it's difficult to honour the other person, yourself, and the relationship you're in.
There's no dating chapter in the bible.
The reason it's not clearly defined is because the bible doesn't clearly define it. Even if you could articulate your version of "dating" into a sentence - may I politely ask - how did you come to that conclusion? Is it biblical truth or your truth? Food for thought ....
What is clearly defined in the bible, however, is the difference between singleness and marriage. Marriage is defined as a covenant between two people, which includes expectations, promises (vows) and commitment. It has a time span - our whole lives! Singleness, is simply defined as "unmarried". That's it.
So what is dating? Answer: I don't know. But there is a word in the bible that I do know: FRIENDSHIP. Friendship can be defined. Friendship can be understood. Friendship can be honoured. What if we pursued friendship with the opposite sex instead of trying to "date" them? What if, instead of diving head-first into a weird boyfriend-girlfriend-type status with that person we like, we pursued friendship instead? Friendship: where there is no pressure for the relationship to look like SOMEthing yet neither party is exactly sure what...
So let's just drop the idea of "dating" for a second and get to know each other as FRIENDS. Because I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to marry you’re FRIEND, right? Your very BEST friend. If not… who are you going to marry? A stranger? No. You want a companion, a best friend, for life.
Interestingly, the word “friend” comes from the bible. In the Hebrew: “chesed”. It means COVENANT PARTNER! Haha. A covenant is an unbreakable promise, by the way. Things just got real.
God aint got no time for shallow friendships.
Covenant partnership isn't restricted to marriage - Jonathon and David were covenant FRIENDS. They were best mates and soul-friends. Read about it in 1 Samuel 18:1-5.
Friendship is so important because it's the foundation upon which all deeper relationships are built. Get to know each other on a friendship level where there is no pressure for any one to try and be someone or something they’re not. Do friendship, not dating.
Dating in the Western world is kinda weird. I don’t know why we’ve tried to normalise it. I think it's only logical to pursue friendship with that person you have feelings for - before anything else! If you're going to test whether this person is worthy of your heart, emotions, thought-life, mind, time and energy - surely the greatest tester would be through the distiller of friendship?
So the question is: can you build friendship with someone you have romantic feelings for? Absolutely.
It's called FRIENDSHIP with INTENTION.
It's friendship with an agenda, so to speak. It's an intention to get to know somebody with a desire for a greater commitment in mind down the track - within the safe boundaries of a platonic friendship where there is no sexual or emotional expectations and pressure involved. (For more on this, check out HOW TO HAVE FRIENDSHIPS WITH FEELINGS )
That "greater commitment down the track" would be called marriage. That may sound dramatic to your Western ears. But here's a question: if you're pursuing someone you have feelings for WITHOUT the intention to eventually get married somewhere in the back of your mind...Why are you pursuing them? Where will it end? Where is it leading? Who are you placing value on? You don't have to be ready to put a ring on it straight away - I'm simply saying that marriage should be in our long-term agenda when we're pursuing the opposite sex. Otherwise, you're toying with someone else's future spouse.
The bible doesn't teach us how to date someone. It teaches us how to love someone.
The bible is clear on how to do friendship. It's a book about friendship with God and people. Part of the saving work of Jesus Christ is the fact that we can love people better.
/// PHILIPPIANS 1 : 9 - 1 1 ///
So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
BOOM. Loving people sincerely and intelligently GLORIFIES God and makes him ATTRACTIVE. Is your relationship doing that? Are you loving that person you have a crush on or are you playing with their feelings? Is your conduct and interaction with that person glorifying God or are you distracting them (or yourself) from Him?
1 Corinthians 13 is the famous "love chapter" read out at almost every wedding these days (except for my own!) But it was never written for marriage. It was written as a rebuke to the church of Corinth, who at the time were not loving WELL. They were not honouring each other in their relationships and conduct with one another. So Paul the apostle hits them with some straight up relationship-theology.
/// 1 COR 13 : 4 - 7 ///
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Husband and I were friends and surf buddies for 2 years. Over that time we grew into best friends. By the time we stood at the altar - we knew who each other were, and were passionate to find out more within the realms of marriage. We’d already developed a deep love for each other as FRIENDS. We felt safe. We felt valued. We felt honoured. We trusted each other with our hearts, minds, and lives. By the time we stepped up to the altar, exchanged forever-vows and shared our first kiss - we were best friends.
It's still my favourite love story.
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