There’s so much great content circulating the Christian world on courting, dating and doing it “God’s way.” Most of what we emphasize is wise and aims to put us on the best path for long-lasting relationships that eventually lead to a foundational marriage. In reality, things don’t always work out so perfectly as there are a lot of dynamics between two people. That said, here are five things about Christian dating we need to take into consideration when we’re on the journey to finding the ideal mate.
1. Just because you’re both Christians doesn’t necessarily make you compatible.
“I’m a Christian, you’re a Christian, boom—we have all we need.” This tends to be the thinking many times when we consider a new relationship. However, while sharing the same beliefs/doctrine is foundational, there are many dynamics involved when two people come together, including their personalities, goals and even cultural beliefs from our upbringing that we bring into the relationship. For example, let’s say you meet someone who’s highly dedicated to missions and sees himself living overseas, but you’re strongly of the belief that’s not where God is leading you. That’s a contradiction to really pray and seek counsel about, because that person may not be right for you in the long run. While it’s ideal to work through many of these things and find a compromise, sometimes two people just aren’t right for each other even though they’re both Christians, and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to look at the other factors in play.
2. Not all relationships should lead to marriage.
While it’s the goal for our relationships to lead to marriage, not all of them will and not all of them should. You should not ignore seriously problematic red flags in an effort to maintain an image or a status, especially for those around you who will not have to live with the consequences. A lot of people think being married will resolve their problems when the opposite tends to be true. As couples get more comfortable with each other and feel more secure in their commitment, their truest selves come out and there is less inclination to change. As one quote says, “It’s better to wait long than marry wrong.”
3. Finding the right mate isn’t an exchange for “doing all the perfect Christian things.”
When we set up the narrative that a spouse is a reward for doing all the right Christian things, then it would follow that everyone who’s married right now reached an exceptional level of Christianity that the rest did not. Hopefully, you can already see the flaws in this logic. Of course it’s ideal to grow more into being the type of person you’d want to be with, who is devoted to the Lord and walks out their faith. However, no matter what, every relationship is going to be comprised of two sinners coming together who will continuously have to work out their faith, both individually and together. It will always be a work in progress, and prayerfully someone will come along who chooses to go through this process with you.
4. You can both be Christian and still be on two different timelines.
One time, there was a guy who pursued me who was clearly looking for a wife to settle down with in the very near future. At the time, there was a lot I was still trying to work on within myself (I’d vowed to be single for at least that year). I also wasn’t sure about the guy yet, as I didn’t feel I knew him well enough, and I truly didn’t feel that I was in a place for marriage so soon. I would have gotten into that relationship for all the wrong reasons. He was a solid Christian guy, but we were in two different places and moving at two different paces in life. Again, that’s okay. Sometimes you may find yourselves on two different timelines, and at some point it becomes important to talk about this so both parties aren’t left hurt and frustrated in the end. We closed things on good terms because we were intentional about this conversation as two people in Christ who had the consideration of guarding each other’s heart. Side note: Now he’s in a relationship with someone on the same page as him, and I’m very happy for them.
5. Use serious discernment on getting “signs from God.”
I know how easy it is to get caught up in seeking signs from God to confirm if a person is “The One.” But the flip side is that we can see what we want to see and anything can become “a sign.” Or there may be other people who are excited and in favor of the relationship, and come to you with dreams and “words from the Lord” about you and this person. I caution you to be careful with this. In my own life and in the lives of others I’ve known, I have seen this go wrong and lead to very serious planning only to be devastating when it didn’t work out in the end. While there are differing beliefs on this, know that the signs are always in His word. God tells us the fruit of a genuine believer (Galatians 5:22-23), what a healthy display of love should look like (1 Corinthians 13:4-13) and the character of a man who is fit to lead (Titus 2). If anything, you can always start there.
Maybe some of you ladies have already learned through these pitfalls. If not, hopefully this post helped give some other dynamics to consider for those of you who are interested in a relationship. Either way, let’s continue to be in prayer and use common sense and discernment as we journey through the vulnerability of meeting someone. Amen? Amen!