Wanting to honor God in your dating relationships is such a beautiful desire! The hard part, though, is that the Bible doesn’t really talk about dating, because it didn’t exist at the time! Back then, it was all arranged marriages, and there was no need to date. So in order to figure out how to honor God in dating, I think we need to look at biblical principles and apply them to our relationships.
Here are three signs that your relationship is probably God-honoring. And to be honest, I believe these signs may be much simpler than we think.
Sign #1: You both stay in community.
Have you ever known someone who got into a relationship and then suddenly disappeared from her friends? Not only have I known that girl, I’ve also been that girl.
With my first boyfriend, I got so caught up in the relationship that I stopped hanging out with my old friends. To some extent, it’s okay to spend a good amount of time with a serious boyfriend; I think that can be healthy. You’ll also find that your group of friends narrows down a bit, and you prioritize time for your closest friends rather than hanging out with everyone and anyone. That too is okay.
But the problem was a lot of my friends and family didn’t approve of my first boyfriend—and instead of dumping him, I dumped them. I joined a different church, spent all my time with my boyfriend’s friends and didn’t have a lot of connection with the community of people who had been deeply invested in my life for years.
The Bible talks a lot about the importance of community—having people who pray for us, encourage us, know our weaknesses and give wise advice. (See Proverbs 11:14, Hebrews 10:25 and James 5:16 for examples of this.) I think one of the best ways we can apply this principle to dating is by staying in close contact with our community.
Invite your closest friends, family and mentors into your dating relationship. Instead of pushing them away, ask for their input. Welcome them to get to know both of you as a couple, and ask for their honest feedback. I can’t tell you how much safety is in community. When you’re in a bad relationship, you’re the last one to know. So enjoy the safety of community.
Sign #2: You enjoy the relationship WITH God.
When I started dating my now-husband, I could hardly think about anything else but him. I remember praying, “God I’m so sorry! I keep trying to pray, but all I can think about is James!” I felt like a terrible Christian.
But I felt like God showed me the most surprising thing; I felt like He was saying, “Tiffany, enjoy this relationship WITH me.”
I realized that this was an exciting time of my life, and I shouldn’t feel guilty for being excited; I shouldn’t feel bad that I kept thinking about James. Instead, I should turn all of that into a sense of closeness with God, or a form of prayer that I’d never known before, because it was so simple. I’d just say, “God, last night’s date was so amazing! This guy is so great! Thank you so much for this relationship!” And honestly, this helped me learn how to abide in Christ in a whole new way.
Another biblical principle is that God wants us to abide in Him. I think part of that means sharing each detail, each moment of our lives with Him. (See Psalm 139:17-18, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and John 15:1-11 for examples of this.)
I realized that if my relationship was not God-honoring, I would want to hide it from God. I’d want to enjoy it—but all on my own, apart from God. Now, I think a good sign in relationships is that you want to enjoy them with your Father God, who delights in you and who loves to bless you with good gifts.
Sign #3: You encourage each other to be all God made you to be.
A lot of girls think that compromising means changing who they are to fit better with their boyfriend. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, all relationships involve compromise, but that doesn’t mean changing the core of who you are.
For example, my husband loves basketball, whereas I couldn’t care less about sports. Healthy compromise for us meant that I learned a little about basketball and watched some games with him. Unhealthy compromise would have been James saying, “Well, Tiffany doesn’t like basketball, so I’ll stop watching and playing it.”
I used to think that when I got married, my husband and I would change to become more like clones of each other. Instead, I’ve learned that marriage is about both of us helping each other become all that God made us to be. Marriage helps us become more fully ourselves.
The Bible talks about how God has gifted each of us in particular ways and spent all this time creating us just how He wanted us to be. (See Psalm 139, Romans 9:20-26 and 1 Corinthians 12 for examples of this.) And while He will continue to grow and mature us to be more like Jesus, I think that transformation just helps us become more fully the people He made us to be.
It makes me really sad when I see someone in a relationship that asks them to change drastically into another person. I think that’s a sign that the relationship isn’t healthy, and also that you’re not honoring the people God made each of you to be.
So look at your relationship and ask, “Are we both encouraging the other to be exactly who God made us to be?” If the answer is yes, then that’s a good sign.
Now it’s your turn! What other biblical principles would be helpful to apply to your dating relationships?