In Religion Saves: And 9 Other Misconceptions Mark Driscoll gives 16 principles for Christian dating. Guys and gals, these are some great things to keep in mind as you pursue marriage. If you’re wondering why there’s only 8 of the 16 principles below, you’ll want to read part 1.
9. Feel free to use technology wisely. While a Christian single should be careful not to troll Web sites and chat rooms where sexual sin is encouraged, there is nothing wrong with using online dating services. In the world of social networking, it is simply a new way for God’s providence to bring people together. Some Christians retain a stigma about compatibility surveys and Internet Christian-dating sites, but they should not. Many singles attend churches where there are few possible spouses, and with the confusion and perversion that persists in the greater culture, they should not feel bad for using technology to find someone who loves Jesus and with whom they are compatible. As a pastor, I could tell you of dozens and dozens of wonderful marriages that began online at a Christian dating Web site.
10. Invest in a romantic relationship only with someone you are entirely attracted to. This means more than the usual goal of finding someone rich and hot; attraction must be to the whole person. Are you sufficiently physically attracted to envision marriage to that person? Are you mentally attracted to him and enjoy talking with and learning from him? Are you spiritually attracted to her and her love for Jesus? Are you financially attracted to him so that you both agree on what lifestyle you will have? Are you “integrity attracted” to her and can see the Holy Spirit at work through her character? Are you “ministry attracted” to him and appreciate how he serves God in his ministry?
11. Only date someone who agrees with you on primary theological issues. It is not enough simply to marry a Christian. For the sake of peace and unity in your home, you need to have the same theological convictions on primary issues. For Grace and me, this means we agree on the Bible as God’s Word and our highest authority; we agree that God is Trinity and that Jesus died as our sinless God in our place for our sins; we agree on a Reformed Protestant view of the gospel. Our agreement extends to gender and family roles, and without this we would have an acrimonious marriage. We both believe that the husband is called to lovingly and sacrificially lead the family, that children are a blessing, that the wife should stay home with the children when they are young, and that solely qualified male elders should govern a church. If we disagreed on these things, even though we are Christians, we would not be able to build a life together. We would disagree on the blueprint and spend our time fighting over which one of us is right. As it is, there is great peace, unity, and cooperation in our home because we agree on primary and secondary theological issues, and as a result we are allies, not enemies.
12. Guard your heart. Getting to know someone takes time. If you give your heart away too quickly, you will find yourself either pushing to make the relationship work or being heartbroken when it falls apart. It is good to want to give your whole heart away. However, you must wait until you are in the covenant of marriage to do so, or you risk lots of heartache and trouble.
13. Be careful of legalism and libertinism. Legalists love to make lots of rules in addition to what’s found in Scripture to govern male-female relationships, but they are simply man-made and unnecessary. I know a dating legalist. She is a woman who would date only in groups, and as a result no man ever got to speak with her one-on-one, which explains, in part, why she is still single. I know a man who considers the purpose of every conversation with every Christian woman to be courtship, so that he comes off way too strong way too early and likewise remains single. Libertines love to make themselves the exception to God’s rules that govern male-female relationships, and in so doing act like their own god. Examples of dating libertines include:
- Those who cross physical boundaries
- Those who will date anyone who believes in some nebulous “god.”
- Those who fail to care about finding evidences of spiritual maturity in a potential mate, such as regular church attendance and Bible study participation.
- And those who have snuggle sleepovers that they swear include no sexual activity but are beyond the scriptural bounds of the Song of Solomon, which repeatedly tells us not to arouse or awaken love until the time of marriage.
14. Marry someone who will be a fit for every season of the life that awaits you together. As I’ve mentioned before, Grace and I met in high school, married in college, and then graduated to start Mars Hill Church together a few years later. She then quit work to stay at home and be a mother to our now five children, and we recently celebrated our sixteenth wedding anniversary and a total of over twenty years together including dating. So far, together we have been through high school, college, ministry, and parenting. One day our five children will be grown, and we will grow old together. Grace does not get to travel with me often, but when she does, we talk frequently about how great our current season of life is but also how fun it will be when the kids are grown and we can travel together for ministry and also enjoy our grand kids. Marriage is about getting old and serving one another in every season of life. So marry someone with every season in mind. Too often, Christians marry only with children in mind and do not consider that one day the kids will be gone, but the couple will be together all the time; as a result, when the kids leave home, crisis hits the marriage because the kids were the glue that held things together. We love our children, but we also love being together and growing old together.
15. Pursue only someone you love. The Bible says that husbands should love their wives and that wives should love their husbands. It is grievous when people marry who are not truly in love or willing to work on safeguarding and growing their love. Proverbs 30:21–23 says that the world cannot hold up under the weight of despair that is wrought by a married woman who is unloved. If a man and woman do not love one another and are not radically devoted to that love lasting a lifetime, then they should not marry.
16. Do not have any sexual contact until marriage. As noted earlier, single Christians are prone to ask where the line is. That question is sinful because it is asking how to get closer to sin rather than closer to Jesus. The Bible says, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality.” Paul says elsewhere that a single man should not touch any woman in any sexual way. The issue is not where the line is, but, as Song of Solomon often says, when the time is. That time is the covenant of marriage. Until then, the New Testament repeatedly says to avoid porneia, that junk-drawer term for all kinds of sexual sin. As my friend John Piper often says, by God’s grace and the Spirit’s power, “theology can conquer biology.” A marriage must be built on the worship of God so that spiritual intimacy can enable all other intimacy, such as mental, emotional, physical, and sexual, without shame and without sin.