Crazy things happen when Christians start talking about dating. As soon as you start talking about dating and actually get specific about how you think it should look, the claws come out and defenses quickly go up. Given that, in order to avoid getting scratched or shut out, I have found it helpful to think about dating by means of questions instead of commands. Not that I think we shouldn’t lay down clear guidelines/commands, but sometimes good questions can get straight to the heart of an issue in ways that propositions don’t.
The intention of these questions is to give guidance as you (or your loved ones) find their way through the tumultuous and often confusing land of dating. Additionally, these questions often help us see through our weak opinions of what does or doesn’t constitute sexual immorality. I think, as these questions often reveal, we all know, in our heart of hearts, that sexual immorality is a lot more obvious than we like to confess.
So here are four questions I have found to be particularly powerful and helpful when we think about how we ought to conduct ourselves toward those we date.
Would I do this in front of her father? This question alone probably takes most things clear off the table. You may be willing to flirt with the edges of sexual immorality when you’re alone or even around friends, but it’s a different story when Daddy is around. To put it simply, if you would be uncomfortable doing something in front of her dad that probably means you shouldn’t do it at all. So, in your conduct with your date, are you respecting her father’s authority and responsibility for her?
Would I do this in front of my pastor(s)? Hopefully you have a pastor who knows your name and oversees your walk with Jesus (1 Peter 5:1-4). If you don’t, in all seriousness, get one. Or two. The Bible assumes and God commands that you be a member of a local church and under the care of his pastors (Hebrews 13:17). But I digress. The point here is, when you are tempted to do something with your girlfriend/fiancé that you’re not sure you should do, ask yourself: Would I be comfortable doing this in front of my pastor? That is, the man who fights for my joy (2 Cor. 1:24) and labors for my life in Christ? To be blunt: is your conduct with your date a slap in the face to the overseer of your soul?
Would I be ok if this were done to my own daughter? We may be able to make justifications when it comes to fathers and pastors (e.g. he’s too strict, he’s too idealistic, etc.), but once we begin to think about our own bright eyed, pony-tailed, hypothetical daughters, things get real. I have always found it very interesting that parents often put far greater standards on their children then they ever dreamed of obeying in the days of their own youth. I think this is a good thing that simply shows that often times love (that is, the love of a parent for a child) makes people think a bit more clearly and honestly. When you are the one caught up in the intoxication of ‘young love’, boundaries are easily stretched, but when your daughter starts getting phone calls from interested boys, on goes the chastity belt and out come the guns. Our high standards for our children’s sexual purity proves we know more about sexual immorality than we often like to confess. So ask yourself, would I be ok if someone did this to my own daughter. Is your conduct with your date something you would despise as a father?
Would I be ok to do this in front of the incarnate Lord Jesus? This is the most important question to ask for two main reasons: Jesus is the Lord of All (including your body and hers) and He actually does see all things (Hebrews 4:13). So, if the incarnate Lord Jesus was in standing among you, would that change the way you treat your lady friend? Are you using your hands to lift up in holy prayer (1 Timothy 2:8) or something else? Are you treating her as a sister in the Lord (1 Timothy 5:1) or someone else? Are the eyes of Jesus factoring into how you treat your date? If they are not, you either (a) disbelieve that Jesus sees what’s going on or (b) you gladly rebelling against Him. None of which are good options.
These are not the final say about anything, but helpful guides along the way. Personally, I have found these questions to be helpful when speaking with students and especially in getting them to drop their justifications and rationalizations about how they choose to go about their dating relationships.
What about you? What have you found to be helpful in guiding daters safely through pre-marital waters?