We can divide questions singles ask into several categories. The most important are dating, marriage, sexual purity, and general singleness. Some questions overlap, but the categorization can still remain clear.
What are Christian Views on Dating?
The Bible, especially the Old Testament, reveals that it was parental responsibility to look for a spouse for their son. We see that with Abraham seeking a wife for Isaac and Hagar marrying a girl for her son, Ishmael.
When a young man loved a girl, he would send his parents to propose to her parents like Shechem did for Jacob’s daughter, Dinah.
A man could also give his daughter to an outstanding man such as Moses or David, or to whomsoever pleased him
In all these cases, the girl’s consent was never considered important. Marriage was contracted between the families, usually cemented by the payment bride price, with the male relatives having the authority to decide what happens.
This is a sharp contrast to our society today where a man and woman get attracted to each other, spend a season knowing themselves in what we call dating. This can include meeting families and friends, and getting parental approval of the dating relationship.
If things work well, there is the proposal, usually with a ring, and finally the wedding. If things sour, there’s a breakup, usually painful.
With the rise in popularity of online dating and speed dating (wiki link), many Christians want to know if these are valid ways to get a mate. Is today’s culture wrong.
Dating and its practices have more to do with culture, with subcultures existing even among Christians.
In some areas or Christian communities, two people get to study each other for marriage compatibility by spending time together in social activities, while in others, a young man, having prayed, approaches a girl with a direct marriage proposal, which she also prays about and gives him a response later.
The response could be negative or positive. Yet a positive answer doesn’t mean the relationship will mature into marriage. A breakup can still happen.
What American Christians tolerate during dating, an African Christian will find offensive or sinful, even if she indulges it.
Notwithstanding, there are generally accepted Christian dating rules which center mostly on the purpose of dating and the pursuit of purity in the relationship.
Date with purpose and purity.
What is the difference between dating and courtship?
It’s hard to draw a simple line. Many people agree that dating is when two people with attraction for each other spend a season determining their compatibility for marriage. They can do this especially through social activities where they spend time alone and or with friends and family.
If they believe they are compatible, they proceed to courtship where talks about marriage and wedding are more prominent.
Christians with a dislike for dating prefer courtship where the man gets approval from the woman’s parents to court their daughter for marriage. The belief is that the method eliminates some perceived dangers of dating such as sexual immorality or lack of commitment and accountability.
Should I wait or date?
Seek God first. Get your instructions from him. If he tells you to wait, wait. If he instructs you to date, including online, obey. Each person is unique and so are individual journeys to marriage. Most Christian singles jump on the dating wagon without God’s approval. Then they suffer heartbreak or other emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences of relationships out of the will of God.
What does the Bible say about kissing before marriage?
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (revised edition) defines kissing as, “Touching with the lips, a gesture of affection or homage usually devoid of erotic content in the Bible.”
This touching with the lips mustn’t be lip to lip. It could be lip to beard, feet, or cheek. Thus, friends could kiss, enemies kissed as a sign of reconciliation, and parents kiss their children to show affection.
There’s hardly any mention in the Bible of opposite sexes kissing in an erotic context, which I assume is because it is a sexual act. Lip to lip kissing in romantic relationships is stimulated by or can lead to sexual arousal, with many singles going beyond the kiss to full-blown sexual intercourse.
To maintain sexual purity during dating, it is safer not to indulge in kissing before marriage. Wait and enjoy the thrill in marriage.
When should I tell my parents about my dating relationship?
It depends on several factors. Your culture, your spiritual maturity, your relationship with your parents, and their spiritual maturity.
Parents can play accountability roles, or they can be a source of temptation. Knowing what role your parents can play in your relationship will determine whether you inform them earlier or later.
For accountability, you should tell your parents immediately you begin dating. But if they have been pressuring you to get married, it is likely they wouldn’t be patient to pray with you through the relationship. It is preferable then to meet with a premarital counselor first and be fully assured of God’s will, before bringing in parents into the picture.
How long should we date before proposing?
For cultures where the romantic relationship begins with the man proposing, the question is how long before marriage?
But if you date first, length of time before proposing varies, but the shorter the better.
Short time is subjective, but it is generally agreed that relationships above 4, 5 years are aimless. It shows you aren’t dating with purpose. In addition, long dating or courtship periods can breed immoral behavior.
Two years seems like an average time from dating to marriage. Proposal means that wedding is a few months away.
What if my parents disapprove of the person I’m dating?
Not only parents, but spiritual leaders and friends can disapprove of your choice. The best response is not to ignore them or tell them, they’re wrong.
Find out the reason for their rejection, and test it with Scriptures. Does the person you are dating have an unpleasant character? Are they a non-Christian pretending to be a believer?
Such things happen. While emotions may blind you, your parents, pastor, and others can see better.
However, parents and spiritual leaders may disapprove of some choices for wrong reasons: Maybe educational and social status or they hate the region or part of the world the person comes from.
Try as much as it lies in your power to make peace with your parents before marriage. Although, as an adult, you can get married without parental consent, that shouldn’t be your first line of action until all your options at reconciliation fail.
How do we handle each other’s past?
Everyone has a past but some people’s pasts are uglier and have permanent consequences which must be made known before marriage so you accept the person with full knowledge of what to expect or what miracle to believe God for.
Not every past must be dug up. Tell each other only the past that still haunts today. For example, it is unnecessary to name every man or woman you’ve ever slept with. You can summarize all those experiences in a simple statement, “I’m not a virgin.”
Pasts that must be revealed to your partner include prostitution, involvement in porn, abortions, or sexually transmissible infections with potential to affect your fertility.
It is wrong to allow fear to hinder you from exposing an ugly past to your potential mate. They may reject you for that past, but it is better to be rejected now for who you are, than to deceive someone to accept you now but later reject you. That stings more. If someone loves you, they would accept your past.
After you discuss the past and proceed with marriage plans, bury that past. Never dig it up as a weapon against your partner.
What should I look for in a mate?
Pray and God will show you who to marry. End of story.
I hope you took that as a comic half-truth.
God can and will show you who to marry, but ignoring certain
guidelines, some Christians have made terrible mistakes in choosing a mate. Never choose a mate based on what you
believe God told you. Why. Because you can hear God wrongly about who to marry
Before you propose to a woman, or if you are a woman, before you accept to marry a man, three forces of attraction should inform your decision.
a. Spiritual attraction
The person must be a Christian with similar beliefs. Disagreements over major doctrines can strain a marriage.
Major doctrines include Salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, the after-life, stances on abortion, homosexuality, polygamy. A Christian couple should have no disagreements over these.
But you can agree to disagree over type of music in church, Christian involvement in politics, minor doctrines that have little consequence on personal salvation and relationship with God.
Another aspect of spiritual attraction is character and morality. Your potential spouse should live out what they believe and desire to build a godly home. It is not enough to believe the right things.
A word of caution: you are not looking for a flawless mate but a Jesus-loving man or woman.
b. Physical attraction
The person you marry must be physically attractive to you. Some Christians have married people they don’t like because ‘God told them to’.
Because sex and procreation are central to a marriage, it is important that you find that person physically appealing, and their resemblance what you would love to see reprinted in your children.
Marry someone you would not be ashamed of being with in public.
Included in physical attraction is the person’s health.
Although serious medical conditions should not break a relationship, assess your readiness to deal with the inconveniences.
Do not marry a health-challenged person out of pity. Choose them because you love them despite their condition.
c. Mental attraction
Biologic maturity is not a qualification for marriage. A potential mate must show proof of mental maturity to withstand the challenges of marriage.
Their reasoning capacity and articulation count. A deficit doesn’t disqualify them, but shows they need help to improve.
Your potential mate doesn’t have to be perfect in these attractions, but they should score high in each category or improve in areas of weakness. Overall, you should ‘like and be proud’ of who you marry.
Can I marry a non-Christian and change him or her?
No. You can’t change a person. You might influence them to change, but there is no guarantee.
To marry a non-Christian is to violate scriptural principles. Christians are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
One area of compatibility in marriage is spiritual compatibility. Even between two Christians seeking marriage, differences in theology and perspectives may break the dating relationship.
If there’s no Christian single available where you are, seek God to understand what to do.
Is it reasonable to hope for a godly mate when so few singles are seeking God?
Yes, it is reasonable whether there is an overage or shortage of godly singles. Understand that to stay married is more important than getting married. To enjoy marriage is better than merely being married.
Marriage is a sacred institution. It is a ministry. Your spousal responsibilities are a vocation.
It is essential to engage in that institution, that ministry, that vocation, with someone who resembles you–your beliefs, your goals, your purpose.
This doesn’t mean an exact copy of you, but there should be agreement on indispensible qualities, because two cannot walk together unless they agree (Amos 3:3).
Must we wed in church?
Marriage is a cultural thing. Nonetheless, register your marriage with the state.
Why should I wait until marriage for sex?
Because the Bible calls sex out of marriage a sin. Fornication.
Even if you plan to and will marry the person you are dating, until you do so, they are not your spouse.
Therefore, honor God with your body. Practice self-control and take all the necessary steps to marriage. Then, enjoy sex there, because God limited that enjoyment within the context of a heterosexual marriage.
She (he) wants sex. What should I do?
Run for your dear life! The right person will respect your body and wait until marriage. They will honor God and help you do the same.
Is it possible to live sexually pure? For how long?
Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone is having sex out of marriage. And this includes people who don’t masturbate, either.
God calls sexual pleasure out of a heterosexual marriage sin. Would he command something impossible to obey? No.
Recommended reading–You can win the battle for sexual purity.
Can we have sex before wedding if we have paid the bride price?
The payment of the bride price, or service in place of the price, contracts a marriage. Even without a civil or church wedding, the couple is considered married.
In cultures where they don’t refund the bride price, the woman cannot marry another man even if something happens and they break up before they had registered the marriage with the state or the church. If she dies, she would be buried in the man’s property.
This shows the strength of the traditional rite. Therefore, the couple doesn’t sin if they have sex before the white wedding, especially with the consideration that wedding is not compulsory.
But that brings up moral implications for the Christian. Society expects Christians to be celibate until the wedding night. For that reason, it is best to wait until after the wedding.
To spare yourself the pain of waiting, bring the traditional marriage ceremony closer. Plan the payment of the bride price, the civil registration, and the wedding around the same period.
This may involve huge financial obligations, but it would spare you the guilt and haunting thoughts about whether you sinned in having sex before the white wedding.
If you can’t afford a wedding, don’t force yourself to go beyond your means. Settle down as a couple after paying the bride price and registering your marriage with the state.
Am I meant to be a lifelong single?
If you have sexual desire, you were not meant to remain single for life.
That doesn’t mean you must get married. Some people, for reasons such as commitment to vocation or purpose, choose to remain single. An example is the Apostle Paul.
The Lord Jesus also says that some people were born to remain celibate.
Another set of singles never finds someone to marry. This could result from a very strict attitude towards qualities to look for in a mate, in which case no one is good enough for them, or a nasty character that sends away potential mates.
If you choose to remain single, your decision must consider your sexual desire. If you cannot contain it, get married.
Why Am I still single?
Find the answer in this article.
What can I do as I wait on God’s timing for a husband or wife?
Pursue God. Discover and pursue purpose. Develop yourself and prepare for marriage.
How can I discover my God-given purpose?
Get your relationship with the Lord strong. Study His word and pray daily.
From an intimate relationship with God, it is easier to discover his purpose for you.
Read books on purpose by Christian authors. I recommend this
15-part free download audio series on how to find, follow, and fulfill God's purpose for your life.
What should I pray for my future husband or wife?
I do not encourage singles to pray for their future spouses. It can breed impatience and distraction.
I’m not saying those who do are sinning.
There are more important things singles should focus on, which they are ignoring, but we have thousands and thousands of singles praying for unknown future spouses. Misplaced priorities?
God knows who fits you better than you do. So, focus on your purpose and trust him to bring your suitable mate to you.
“Wait, some people got exactly what they prayed for.”
This is my opinion: people who prayed got more aware and firm about what they want in a mate. It doesn’t mean that if you never pray for your future spouse, you would get a terrible mate.
How can I find a husband after 35?
I don’t think it’s any different from finding a husband at a younger age. You might get fewer prospects, but you only get married to one man.
Focus on God. Build your spiritual life and trust him to lead you to a suitable mate. Get your instructions from God, not from worldly wisdom.
Do you have a question you wished should have been on the list? Drop it in the comments section below.
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