In talking about dating, one has to go back to puberty, where a child’s body begins to develop into that of an adult. Puberty no doubt is both an exciting and confusing time for many. It is exciting in the sense that it is at this time that persons become aware of the opposite sex, and they start being attracted to the opposite sex. As persons continue to grow up, this attraction becomes even more compelling, demanding to be dealt with. Now, how one deals with the compelling urge to be with the opposite sex portends consequences thus demanding careful observation and a setting of standard. A standard in essence is a set of moral guidelines by which a person follows. When it comes to dating, it is of paramount importance that one has standards; whether high or low, it is up to a person to choose. In the impending discussion, we look at dating and mating and in specific, the standards the world sets for dating and mating and on the other hand, those of the bible.
Dating can be said to be a newfound modern concept that only just began around the 1930s. Prior to this time and for centuries, there was really no dating as we know it in modern times. What was initially there was a parental controlled process known as courting. This is whereby men and women were brought together by their parents, and prepared for marriage with no other prior encounters. As the culture and values of people began to change, the modern dating system emerged whereby young adults and teenagers themselves began to control the process of dating with no parental interference (Ellis & Harper, 2003). The advancement in technology has no doubt also helped to change the concept of dating especially with the entrance of television and the internet. Each of these media tools goes to advance to young people how they should date if they want to be current with modern times. According to the world and with the media being used as the propelling tool, the rules of dating are clearly spelt out. In looking at what is out there, worldly dating in a nutshell can be summarizes as the modern game of love, where intimacy comes prior to commitment. Dating as per the dictates of the modern times and the world involves a boy and a girl holding hands, talking romantically, kissing, making out, petting and for some, eventually even sex (Ellis & Harper, 2003). The world and especially the media portray dating to be that which is sensual, and inflaming to the flesh. The flesh in the worldly form of dating is at the center and must be pleased. Now I previously used the words boy and girl intentionally to make the point that these days, the age bar on dating has been lowered. Where as aforementioned in olden times it was mature men and women who were brought together by their parents for marriage; these days, young boys and girls starting even at the age of 12 start to date. Of course when they start to date at such a young age, the media no doubt being as powerful and as accepted as it is in the eyes of many guides their standards on dating. This has been disastrous of course and one need not look further than the current statistics of teenage pregnancies. Of course as we know it, the consequences of teenage pregnancies are school drop outs, abortion, suicide, and social annihilation among others. All this clearly goes to show that the worldly form of dating seems to have standards that lead to negative consequences.
When it comes to the Bible and dating, a stark contrast can be seen in comparison to the world’s standards. The difference is of such magnitude that even the word dating is not found in the Bible. What is found in the Bible is known as courtship. Courtship is what was ordained by God from the beginning for a man and a woman and it is the process of briefly getting to learn someone, so as to garner whether or not there exists compatibility on the level of marriage (Ellis & Harper, 2003). Courtship in stark difference to dating involves none of those fleshly dictates of the world. In contrast, men and women in courtship first get to be friends after which they discuss their future plans, meet the significant parents, and if all goes well, end up marrying (Ellis & Harper, 2003). Intimacy in courtship as per biblical dictates is not allowed and the two persons courting are supposed to hold off until marriage. Where as indulging the flesh is at the center of the worldly dictates of dating and finding a mate, the Bible on the other hand stands for sexual purity. This can be seen through the biblical verse which says:
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should lean to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 Zondervan NIV Study Bible).
As seen from this verse, God the creator of man and woman and even of sex itself expects us to not indulge the flesh in a way that is immoral. Sex as per the dictates of the Bible is only to be practiced in the marriage bed. Now as aforementioned, the consequences of indulging in the worldly form of dating are many such as teenage and even unplanned pregnancies for those who are not teenagers among other consequences we are all aware of. Following the biblical dictates of courtship deter us from such consequences for if one cannot have sex while courting, no such consequences can befall them.
As seen above, dating in the modern times has emerged to be something completely different from that which God intended it to be. In modern times, dating as seen puts flesh as the center of it all. The Bible in contrast does not even mention dating but rather courtship, whereby the flesh is not the center and sex before marriage is not permitted. What we have here are two standards on mating and dating as we may call it, the worldly standards and the biblical standards. It is up to a person to choose which standards to apply in their own lives, keeping in mind the consequences of each.
Ellis, Albert & Harper, Robert. (2003). Dating, Mating, and Relating: How to Build a Healthy Relationship. Citadel Press.
Zondervan NIV Study Bible. (2002), Fully rev. Ed. Kenneth L. Barker, gen. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.