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This article was first published on John C. Richards’ personal blog. You can click here for the original and more great content.

What does Scripture say about dating? The simple answer? Nothing. The word “date” appears nowhere in Scripture. You won’t find it. But you will find principles on how to interact with others prior to marriage. Whether you use the word “date,” “courtship,” or any other term to express the exclusivity associated with interacting with a person of the opposite sex, Scripture is clear that we are to conduct ourselves in a way that honors both Christ and the other person. There are four ways someone entering a dating relationship can do this.

1.    Treat Anyone You Interact With as a Brother or Sister First

Yes, this sounds weird, but it’s true. Paul encouraged Timothy to treat Christian women as sisters, above all else (1 Timothy 5:1–2). This is what should distinguish Christian relationships from all the others. You treat sisters and brothers with a level of honor and respect.

2.    Temper Your Expectations

Although you should date “marriage material,” don’t always expect that you’ll marry everyone you date. You should spend time getting to know that person and determine whether it can lead to something more serious. And it’s OK to end a relationship without feeling guilty. You don’t have to go through a painful, anguish-filled breakup if you temper expectations early in the dating process.

3.    Don’t View Your Singleness as a Curse

Church culture sometimes skews our perspective when it comes to singleness. Women are told to find their Boaz. Men are asked to find their Eve. But who is echoing the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians? He tells the church there that singleness can also be a gift from God (1 Corinthians 7). When we view our singleness as a curse, we tend to want to remove that curse by rushing into unhealthy relationships to find our way to the altar. If you are single, make sure you have the right perspective. It’s not a curse. In fact, it gives you the opportunity to uniquely minister to others that married couples don’t have.

4.    Pursue Serious Relationships with Discernment and Maturity

Jesus told His disciples that they should seek God’s kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). He wanted to make sure they had the right perspective. Seeking God’s kingdom first leads to spiritual maturity, which leads to discernment and wisdom. As a result, you’ll be able to gauge when and how to pursue serious relationships. On the other hand, if you seek a marriage before God’s kingdom, then you’ll lack the discernment and maturity necessary to make a decision that ultimately brings God’s glory.

As you can see, dating isn’t specifically mentioned in Scripture, but God has a ton to say about how we interact with the opposite sex. I wanted to offer these four tools as a starting point, but make sure you connect with a church community that can help you date in healthy, God-honoring ways.

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