Fervr interviews regular contributor Alex Greaves for his thoughts on Christians, dating, and sexual purity.
Q: Alex, what does the Bible say about dating?
A: The Bible doesn’t say anything specific about dating. When the Bible was written, the only people who had any real choice over who they married were widows and widowers, so dating didn’t really occur.
Q: Okay, does the Bible say anything that might impact Christians when they begin thinking about dating and sexual purity?
A: It definitely does! In Genesis 2:24-25, we read:
A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. So, sex (“becoming one flesh”) is a good thing that God created, but it’s designed for a husband and wife only.
For those who are not married, we get this command from 1 Timothy 5:1-2: Treat younger men like brothers, older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity. While the passage isn’t specifically addressing sex, sex does fall within its scope. Christians are meant to treat other people with all purity, including their boyfriend or girlfriend.
Q: A common question people ask about sexual purity is 'how far can I go?' What are you thoughts on that?
A: 1 Corinthians 6:18 tells us to “flee from sexual immorality”.
So asking how far you can go with your boyfriend/girlfriend is exactly the wrong question to be asking. It’s like playing a game of soccer, and trying to see how close to your own goal you can get the ball. It’s just not what you’re supposed to do – you should try to keep the ball as far away as possible. In the same way, you should try to stay as far away from doing something wrong sexually when you are dating.
Q: So do you think that it may be better if Christians don’t date at all?
A: 1 Corinthians 7:6-7 and 7:25-35 say that singleness can be a good thing, a gift from God .
However, I think that a ban on Christians dating is taking 1 Corinthians 6:18 a bit too far. Nowadays, it would be very hard for a Christian to marry someone without dating him/her first, so I’d say that Christians are free to date, but they should do it biblically, dating the right person at the right time, and staying pure throughout the process.
Q: You said that Christian dating is about when and who? Okay, when should someone date?
A: Christians should only date if they can see themselves getting married in the near future, and should only date to see if this person is the right person to spend the rest of their lives with.
Dating “because it feels good”, “because he/she’s hot”, “because I feel lonely” or “because I don’t want to feel left out” are essentially selfish reasons. On top of that, you’re risking putting each other in a situation where you won’t be treating each other with purity.
Q: Okay, then, who should Christians date/marry?
A: The Bible sets a few rules for who Christians can marry, and therefore who Christians should date. Prospective partners should not be already married, and should be of the opposite gender. As a very strong guideline, it’s also best for Christians to only date other Christians.
Q: So do you have any other practical tips on dating while still “fleeing sexual immorality”?
A: These are some tips I’ve heard from mature Christians (often ones who have married). These are not rules – they’re guidelines – but I’d recommend them to any Christian who wants to date:
- Always pray about remaining pure – by yourself and with another, mature Christian friend of the same gender.
- Don’t be alone together. Go out in groups or meet in open, public places (e.g. coffee shops).
- Set up boundaries to make sure you don’t fall into sexual impurity, even accidentally. Some people I know who take this seriously won't even kiss during dating – they have a fantastic relationship!
- Take dating as a time to practice being faithful, and develop self-control.
- Ask another mature Christian friend (of the same gender) to keep you accountable.
- Keep your eyes on the end – if you don’t see yourself marrying the other person, you should break it off. Do this lovingly and respectfully. Respect the other person’s decision if he/she wants to break up with you for this reason.
Christian dating is almost completely counter-cultural. It’s often very hard to keep to what the Bible says. However, with effort and God’s help, we can keep sexually pure. You can even use your relationship to show others the impact that God has had on your lives! Above all, keep your eyes on the ultimate prize: Jesus our King, the forgiveness of sins and the hope that he’s given us, and the service that we can render to him in response.