I was flabbergasted and altogether a little shook up, as I progressed through the book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, about four years ago. Flabbergasted, because of my amazement that couples existed who waited to kiss until their wedding day. Shook up, because, if God commanded this, then I had already blown my chance over a high school romance...
Even still...something was not sitting right with me about this premise. So I went to my pastor.
We sat in his office and talked for a solid hour about the purpose of this book and the thoughts it advocated on dating. I still have the email he wrote to me, finishing up our conversation. He said:
"I also think we need to be wise about our dating approach. To go out to dinner and a movie with a "date" is one thing. To go for a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods is putting oneself in a situation where one is more removed from helpful boundaries..."
-let's talk about them. Because, quite frankly, the Bible does not give us a clear-cut, set-apart chapter called "God's Way to Date". In the Old Testament, we see Isaac pursuing Rebekah as a response to a specific prayer...but we also see Ruth laying herself at the feet of Boaz's bed!
So how do we handle boundaries in dating? First, I think we should diagnose a problem that tends to run rampant with the mention of "boundaries":
When we do not relate helpful boundaries to the truth of the gospel, they manifest themselves as legalistic "rules"...and drudging rules are bound to be broken.
In other words, there must be a deeper point than simply "being moral people" during dating. Without a purpose, a foundation to rest upon, our "moral efforts" will be aimless and easily compromised. For example, it is motivating to run a race when you know there is a finish line; it is not motivating to run forever, to no end. I know I'd get tired real fast and find myself taking a long, lazy breather on the sidelines. Why not, if there's no point to the race?
But, see, there is a point to boundaries.
The point is the glory of God!
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image”
.-2 Corinthians 3
God knows what is best for us. He knows what will transform us into His image. He knows what will sanctify us to look like Christ. And when we look like Jesus, God gets the glory.
The gospel of Christ means that even dating can be a response to what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Our identity in Christ frees us from "motivation-sucking" boundaries to boundaries as glorifying to God! Put simply, as Dr. Henry Cloud says, "Boundaries keep good things in, and bad things out."
So what does Gospel-responsive dating look like? First, let me throw out a disclaimer: I do not fully know the answer. I am not married. I am not engaged. But I am in daily prayer about this. Because I want to date as a response to what Christ has done for me! In all my praying and processing and reading and experiencing, I believe the following holds true.
Gospel-responsive dating involves:
HOLINESS / HONOR / HUMILITY
For more about holiness, honor and humility in dating, read the whole post at The Identity Project. The rest of the dating and marriage series, “As Christ Loved Us”, is also on the blog.
May that, which is most helpful and beneficial for building others up and bringing God glory be our desire in dating as we respond to the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, You created everything and deemed it good. You made relationships for a purpose, and we want all our relationships to glorify You. Teach us your character, and transform our hearts to be like Jesus. Walk with us as we navigate dating, and grant us godly wisdom.