Different people have different perspectives on dating and courtship, which determine our priorities for relationships. Personally, I prefer a courtship model for relationships rather than the typical idea of dating. Many people see dating as a pastime, something to do simply for the fun of it. I believe that dating/courtship is best used as a prelude for marriage. I’ll get into that shortly!
I also have a Bible-based view of dating and courtship. In all things, it’s best to do things God’s way. The Bible contains guidelines for how we should treat each other, loving each other in response to Christ’s incredible love for us.
Five Rules for Relationships:
1. Determine your purpose. If you’re only dating for the fun of it, what’s the point? Ideally, in entering a serious relationship you will be doing so in order to prepare to marry that person. Think about it this way: When you start dating, there are only two possible conclusions to the relationship–breaking up or getting married. Breaking up is no fun, so why date if you don’t intend for the relationship to be permanent?
2. Keep your families involved. If at all possible, spend time with your family and your significant other’s regularly. Eat meals together, go to museums or parks together, and maybe spend some time together during holidays. This is especially helpful if you are indeed preparing for marriage.
3. Set boundaries and keep them. This should be pretty obvious, but it’s so important! When it comes to physical stuff, what is acceptable and what is not? Obviously sex is not an option, but consider other expressions of physical affection. Are you going to save kissing for after engagement or even until your wedding day?
My best advice is this: stay vertical and stay (at least mostly) public. Don’t hang out alone behind closed doors. Keep yourselves accountable (to parents, siblings or friends). It’s easier to keep your integrity and stick to your commitment to sexual purity if you have others encouraging you and keeping you accountable.
4. Learn what it really means to love. “Love” is not a feeling. Choose to love someone whether or not they always act in a loving manner toward you. Love is selfless—you shouldn’t be in a relationship for what you can get out of it, but for what you can give the other person. Learn how to truly respect your significant other. Remember, love comes from God and it’s only possible to love one another when we have His love in our hearts. Read the following passages to learn how Jesus loves us: John 13:34-35, 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 3.
5. Keep both eyes wide open. Learn as much about the other person as you can. What things do you agree about? On what topics do you disagree? Do your personalities mesh? Is there anything about your significant other that gives you some considerable doubt? If you intend to marry them, seek wisdom: from your parents, from wise adults (preferably ones who have a healthy marriage) and especially from Scripture. As much as your families should be part of your relationship, God needs to be a bigger part. In fact, He needs to be at the center of your relationship: now, as you determine whether or not you want to make a lifetime commitment to each other, and in the future if and when you get married. Every relationship can reach its full potential when God is the center and the focus of that relationship.
To tie it all together: When it comes to relationships, determine your purpose, keep your families involved, set boundaries, learn how to love and keep your eyes open. I can’t guarantee your relationship will be perfect, but following these guidelines will help keep it strong, wise and Christ-centered.