If you ever want to make things interesting, get Christians to talk about dating. Heads will be scratched. Questions will be asked. Opinions shall abound. Voices may even rise. With a hot donut and some coffee, it could be a good time.
Amidst the numerous (and often militantly held) opinions, I find it helpful to try and ask simple questions in hopes to gain some simple answers. That’s what I would like to do here to help brothers and sisters navigate their way through the stormy and tumultuous seas of dating.
My question: why do we date?
What could possibly make us participate in something that often causes anxiety, costs money, and could lead to heartbreak? What are the purposes of our dating endeavors? Although there may be others that I miss, allow me to offer what I think the two major purposes of dating are.
1) Gain Relevant Knowledge. The most fundamental purpose of dating is to learn important information about your dating counterpart. Marshall Segall says it well, “The purpose of our dating is determining whether the two of us should get married, so we should focus our effort there.” Above all else, our dates and dating relationship should be geared toward learning. Dating is a school where the teacher and the subject are the same thing: the other person.
With this in mind I think it is important that daters be diligent in intentionally researching and studying your compeer to learn about their personality, future plans, present preferences, and far off hopes and dreams. Dating should bring out the answers to questions like: “How big of a family do you want to have?” “What kind of life do you want to live?” “What kind of church do you want to be a part of?” “What are your beliefs about God?” “What do you think the meaning and purpose of life is?” Amidst the butterflies and chemistry, the dinner and movies, and all fun, getting answers to questions like these should be the central purpose of all our dating.
But, you may ask, why do we need to know all this stuff? Well, that leads us to the next purpose of dating.
2) Get An Answer. The whole reason for purpose number one (to gain knowledge) is so one can confidently answer this question, “Should I marry this person?” Although many people don’t think this way, I think it is essential to know that dating is not a goal, but a means. It is not a destination to arrive at, it is a road to travel on. Just as no one goes camping on the I5 freeway, nor should anyone make dating an end in itself. Knowing whether or not you should marry someone is the destination that the road of dating should help us arrive at. After gaining all the right information, daters should be serious in asking and confidently answering the question, “Should I marry this person?”
There most definitely is more to be said here. Fro example, we need to understand what marriage is and what it should look like in order to know whether or not we should marry someone. But the reason for this post was to get down to the most basic reasons for dating. In the maze and haze of intentional pre-marital relationships, I have found these two purposes to be extremely helpful in cutting through the fog and providing good direction for daters everywhere.
For some other great pieces on dating, check out these pieces:
- Dating to Display Jesus by Marshall Segall
- Spiritually & Emotionally, How Far Is Too Far Before Marriage? by John Piper
- Nine Lessons for Breakups by Marshall Segall