If Christians are ever to develop a proper system of dating for the body of Christ, we have to go back and explore what God's original intent for relationships was when He created the world.
Now this is an interesting concept to explore. If we want to understand its purpose, we have to first discern the mind of God as it relates to dating. We have to ask two questions in which to begin (1) first is dating necessary, and (2) when did it become necessary. The answers lies in the bible beginning with Adam and Eve.
It must first be noted that the word "dating" does not exist in the bible, and neither does God provide any guidelines for it. With that being said, the Bible does have a lot to say about relationships, partnerships, and teamwork; and these terms will provide the foundational principles necessary for understanding how to have a successful dating relationship. For this reason I have found this definition to be the most effective to define Christian dating:
"It is the process by which individuals explore potential mates for the purpose of developing deeper relationships in preparation for marriage - a lifelong partnership".
With this definition in mind, the terms that we have identified as relationships, partnership, and teamwork will be used interchangeably throughout this book. We will begin with exploring the Bible to uncover answers to the previously mentioned questions about dating.
In Genesis 1, we find that God by creating Eve arranged the first marriage between man and woman. This is the pattern which we will see continued throughout the bible. This was evident in cultures of nobility where children were promised to each other to ensure alliances and treaties between countries, such as the marriage between King Solomon and Pharaoh's daughter. This also occurred with Abraham sending his steward Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac. The thing of most importance here is to realize that during the biblical era there was no need for dating as marital relationships were arranged. The responsibility for finding a suitable mate for the children rested with the parents. Throughout history women did not have the right to choose their husbands. In the current era of women's liberation, a young woman may even find this offensive as it takes away her right to choose. Given this history, I find it very hard to believe that you would find anyone who would want to have their parents arrange their marriages. However, taking into consideration the divorce rates in countries such as India, Africa, and some countries which still adhere to this ancient principle, something is to be said for arranged marriages.
According to the Everything Engagement website, India has a divorce rate of 1.1 percent, and the United States and Canada has a divorce rate of 40-50%. While these numbers are inconclusive, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the divorce rate when people have the right to choose has been pretty high.
Returning to the two questions that we are exploring about dating (is it necessary and when did it become necessary), we find that dating is necessary in todayâ€™s culture, and it became necessary when arranged marriages stopped being the means for finding potential mates. Unfortunately Christians are no different than non-Christians when we consider statistics in the area of divorce rates. For this reason, it is plain for us to see that education in this area is necessary for the body of Christ. Only when we have the proper training and tools can future generations be taught how to avoid the many problems which are created from marrying the wrong individual.
When we look at the problems associated with marrying the wrong individuals, we must remember that marriage is not operating in a vacuum. All individuals involved in the relationship are impacted mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually; and this is most often associated with negative emotions.
Children are impacted as they grow up in broken and unhappy homes, and ultimately society is impacted as these individuals are the ones who grow and fulfill the leadership roles within our communities. As a result, we are currently experiencing high teenage pregnancy rates, increased instances of violence, and a decrease in morality. Children are now growing up in a depraved world which does not value life, much less the word of God. Christians cannot afford to fall prey to these worldly principles when it comes to educating our people in this area because too much is at stake. We must never forget that the only way to make right decisions is to rely solely on the word of God for guidance. As I have heard my Pastor Apostle Bret Wade say many times, "It is not who is right but, it is what is right". The word of God must once again become the place that we go to seek answers to the many questions we have in life. We must begin to base our very lives upon these very principles. So what exactly is the true purpose of dating for the Christian, and what does the term "Christian dating" really mean? These are just a few of the questions that we will seek to find an answer to.