Even though I’m relatively new to the dating scene I’ve thought about it from some time now. A lot of what I have learned has been from negative example – both from myself and those around me. Now, fourth months into my relationship with Lindsey, I think it could be useful to jot down some thoughts on dating “reformed.” The title cut two different ways. Our dating needs to be reformed, meaning that how swaths of Christians have gone about dating has only served to bring reproach on the Lord Jesus. The other meaning refers to that wonderful summation of biblical theology commonly characterized as “Reformed.” One would think that those who have seen such glory, those who have seen the depths of their depravity and the heights of God’s love in Christ, would be those most God-honoring in their dating relationships. But we know that is not always the case. Unfortunately, none of us can live as well as we confess. The gospel continues to be good news. That is not the whole story though. Paul calls us to live lives worthy of the gospel in Ephesians. Not perfectly, but really, we can use our dating relationships in holiness and in hopes that it would be another matrix in which God would be magnified.
The gospel should have an effect on how we date. Jesus becomes Lord over all areas of life when we are converted and his saving grace pervades as many areas of our lives that sin once had dominion over. To get all of my cards out on the table, there is not a whole lot about dating in the Bible. You could even say that it is not addressed by the Bible at all. This will play a big role in discussions to come. What I am advocating is a heart posture. How do we think about dating? Just like we think about everything else. Dating should be unto the glory of God. I don’t doubt you would agree. However certain things necessarily follow from such a declaration. How do we glorify God? God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Or, for our purposes, God is most glorified in our dating relationships when our dating relationships show forth our superior satisfaction in Him. We are dating coram deo. Dating is not a gift that we are left to define for ourselves and do with it what we will. Our hearts, if we are to date well, must be enamored with the beauty and holiness of our Triune Savior.
Now please allow me to admit that I am the last person person who you would expect to write anything on how to approach biblical dating. Much like you, I was an enemy of God who hated His Word and loved His enemies. Relationships served as a god for me. My entire world was dedicated to the passionate pursuit of relationships in order to fulfill ungodly lusts and to provide something to delight in. I used women like they were tools in order to gratify myself. God stood only to give me what I wanted, when I wanted. But God intervened. Two thousand years ago my sin of dissatisfaction in God was punished on the cross of Christ. The wrath that was due my sin was satisfied by the eternal Son of God made flesh. Jesus never disobeyed, fully imaging His Father, and He exchanged my filthy rags for His righteousness before God. The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see the beauty of Jesus and the heinous nature of my sin. The risen Christ saved my life from hell and lesser joys. God is my God and I am His adopted son.
Anything right that I do in dating is owing completely to the grace of God. I continue to do things wrong, to think wrong thoughts, and to desire wrong desires. By God’s grace though I think I can help you date better. This gospel changes everything, including how we date.
Lindsey is not my supreme treasure. I’m not hers either. The gospel I just explained has freed me to enjoy my relationship with her in a way that shows that God is God and that He is so much better. The blood of Jesus allows us to encourage one another in holiness and happiness in God. Lord willing, Linds and I may get to portray a picture of the gospel together in marriage. Until then it is my prayer (and I covet your prayers as well) that we would date “reformed.”
What will follow are a series of meditations on how to date in a God-honoring way. Consider this your invitation to swallow the meat and spit out the bones. Let’s see what God might have for us as we date in preparation for marriage, for our joy in His glory.