Some singles dislike dating widely the way God’s Church promotes. They think it’s a hassle. They want to date only those they are pretty sure they want to marry. They consider it a waste of time to date someone they have no intention of marrying.
But in truth, God’s way of dating protects us in some wonderful and valuable ways. If you do it God’s way, you can navigate the tricky waters of dating—even serious dating and courtship—and lay the groundwork for a successful, happy marriage.
When we enter into a relationship, even a friendship, we make ourselves vulnerable. The more intimate the relationship, the greater the opportunity for both joy and pain. The more of yourself you invest in a relationship, the more you have at stake. And once you are in a one-on-one relationship, you’re either going to marry or you’re going to break up. Marrying is very serious. Breaking up is very painful.
Read Psalm 73 in the context of being single. The psalmist speaks of being jealous of the world (verse 3). Some singles in God’s Church want so badly to be in a relationship that they leave the Church to make it happen! You might see the “fun” that worldly singles are having and think they are getting away with it (verses 11-12). You might feel that keeping yourself pure and unspotted is getting you nowhere (verse 13). You can focus on all that you have to give up for God. Intellectually, you can understand that this thinking is wrong. But sometimes, if we allow it, our emotions get the better of us.
This psalmist got into that self-pitying attitude. But then he recognized he was off and corrected it. He thought about the end results of the way of sin (verses 16-17).
When you look at the world’s singles’ scene, it doesn’t take much vision to see where it is leading. Look at the way people date, and even marry. They get into and out of relationships casually and quickly—usually with sex. As they do that, they are deadening their lives and handicapping their ability to truly connect with someone!
Though many people in the world want to pretend this isn’t the case, whenever a close relationship falls apart or is severed, you pay a price. Emotionally it can be devastating. Depending on the circumstances, it can cause you to grow more defensive around people. You lose some of your trust and innocence. You build more protective barriers between you and other people. Those individuals who float in and out of one relationship after another learn to keep those protective barriers up even while in a relationship! They simply don’t draw close to anyone—in order to protect themselves from the pain that comes from separation!
Even in God’s Church, if you have been single for a long time, you probably understand this. If you have had a relationship that you hoped would lead to marriage and it fell apart, you know how painful that can be. And the older you become, the likelier it is that you have had experiences that have erected these emotional and mental barriers. In a sense, it has to be this way—or else the chances for greater pain, hurt, frustration, disappointment, disillusionment, grow.
This is why God’s Church—and really, God—advocates the type of dating we do. God wants to preserve our innocence, our trust, in our relationships with one another.
God Comes First
Asaph repented of his attitude of being envious of the world (Psalm 73:21-22). He realized that he needed to trust God to guide his life; he needed to keep his eyes on the ultimate prize: the glory awaiting us (verses 23-24). We are going to marry Jesus Christ and be His Bride forever!
God has to know that He comes first in your life. Would you ever put a potential mate above God? So many people have. That shows just how strong our human nature can be, and how easy it is for our emotions to short-circuit this process. How many people have left God’s Church over this exact issue? Odds are, you personally have known someone who has done this.
God must be confident that you would never prioritize a person—a relationship, a potential marriage or an actual marriage—over your relationship with Him (verse 25). God is all we need! There should be nothing or no one we put before God (Matthew 10:37). If you have to give up everything and everyone in order to follow God, you will be OK! He supplies everything you need (Psalm 73:26). Draw near to Him—put your trust in Him—be content in Him (verses 27-28). Build a strong desire for God!
Can you put your dating in that context? If so, you will be far less susceptible to getting hurt. You’re putting yourself in a position to receive far more joy in your dating, in courtship and in marriage.
Dating for Marriage
In the coming weeks, we will publish a number of articles about dating for marriage, courtship and engagement. We will talk about things to keep in mind as you consider potential spouses, and how to prevent wrong emotions from short-circuiting your judgment and driving God out of the process.
We will talk about how to have a godly courtship—that period between dating exclusively and exchanging vows at the altar. A courtship lays the foundation for a marriage. A godly courtship lays the foundation for a godly marriage.
The beautiful thing is, all the lessons you learn through the process of dating widely still apply in more serious dating. And having a picture of what serious dating should be can even help you in the dating that leads up to it.
And if you do the whole process God’s way, always keeping Him at the center of it, you will save yourself tremendous heartache and pain. You will have a far more productive and successful life as a godly single and prepare yourself far better for a godly marriage!