There is a saying: "A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still." This is never more true when applied to matters of the Christian faith. So, how does this apply to dating and relationships for Christians? The Bible tells us that the heart is "deceitful" above all things. Emotions can easily convince us that the person of our desire is the one whom we need, and must have, regardless of their beliefs. This is at the root of the failure of most relationships between Christians and non-Christians because you can become blinded by emotional need and ignore what the Bible teaches about relationships. Eventually, the spiritual conflict becomes unbearable. Our emotional needs make getting solid Christian relationship advice more critical today than it has ever been. Society is throwing a multitude of conflicting messages at us each day.
The dating message is confusing enough for Christians without adding the influence of TV sitcoms, Hollywood movies, and pop culture magazines who set the tone for what is acceptable in relationships and marriage. By ignoring the worldly messages and following biblical moral guidelines you will stay on the right path but you will invariably be challenged because you will be counter to what the majority of society considers normal. As a Christian, you are called to be "in the world" but not "of the world" in every decision you make. This includes your dating relationships and marriage. You risk heart break when you choose to become "of the world." It is true that Christian relationship advice can seem confusing, but, there can be no confusion about what the Bible has to say about marriage and morals. With Bible teachings in mind, here are some suggestions to keep you on the right path:
1. Ignore peer pressure! No doubt you have non-Christian friends and acquaintances. We do not live in a spiritual bubble. But, you are the only one who is responsible for your choices. No one can force you to ignore your Christian values. Yes, it can be difficult to resist a night out with friends who think that bars and clubs are fun or that casual physical intimacy is acceptable behavior. Yes, these so-called friends may even try to make you feel like a "Jesus freak" in order to convince you that a little "sin" will not hurt you. But, if you really want to be a "light in the world" then show these friends that you value your Christian morals more than what they offer and you are not the least bit ashamed of it. The serious downside of giving in is, you will immediately feel the admonition of the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us "there is pleasure in sin for a season, then comes the judgement." You may even be deeply disappointed in yourself and you could end up in a relationship with someone who will only cause you emotional pain. As you can see, there is no profit in for you by giving in.
2. There is wisdom in a multitude of Christian counselors! When seeking relationship advice, the worst thing you can do is seek Christian relationship advice from secular self-help books, people like Dr. Phil, Oprah, and other daytime talk shows. Theirs is worldly advice that will not serve you well. If you want truly helpful relationship advice, seek out a Christian counselor or material specifically created for Christians. Since you are a Christian, only a Christian can give you advice about dating someone from another Christian denomination or dating an unbeliever. You may be advised that a Roman Catholic dating a Baptist may not work. From Christian sources you will also hear trustworthy advice about physical intimacy and marriage that will make sense from a biblical perspective. The whole point of only getting Christian relationship advice is the same as getting advice from a poor man about how you can become rich. The poor man will not know what he is talking about will he? Why then would you follow the advice of a non-Christian in matters of the heart? They simply do not know what they are talking about from a Christian perspective. That said, be careful of Christian advice that is dogmatic or that cannot be reconciled by your personal study of scripture. When Paul preached, the Bereans said: "Let us study the scriptures to see if these things are true." You should follow that advice.
3. Your true friends should be an obvious choice! Do I need to remind you that the only crowd you should hang with are other Christians? You can have secular friends, as well, but choose them wisely. Limit the level of your secular relationships to those that respect the fact that you are a Christian and who do not attempt to corrupt your values. You need to seek out places where your fellow believers hang out. This may involve becoming more active in church functions, attending Christian events, or just hanging out at a Christian coffee house. Your faith will be strengthened and your light will shine even brighter in the world.
4. Marriage may be your goal but...! It's a mistake to date if your only goal is marriage. Dating is a complex exercise of discovery and needs to be conducted as such. It's an ideal situation if you find the right person right off but life is not that simple. You should interact with several people of the opposite sex in order to learn the following valuable lesson: We are in the flesh and the flesh can be misleading. Get to know people, what makes them tick, before you get into a serious relationship.
5. Be cautious of "love at first sight." It's easy to misinterpret the Holy Spirit's leading if we choose a mate based on physical or emotional attraction at first sight. The fact is, most successful marriages begin with friendship. Friendship gives each person time to find out whether they compliment each other. Physical or emotional attraction should never be the main factors. We all grow old eventually so we certainly want true love to be there when the bloom finally falls off the rose! The inner person is the one you will want to marry (and spend your life with) regardless of outward appearances. 6. Physical intimacy before marriage. Be careful if your date tries to push you into physical intimacy before marriage. Just because he or she is a Christian does not mean they have control of their lust. We are in the flesh, remember? Your date may just want to have some fun at your expense and move on once you ask for a lifelong commitment.
Finally, let me encourage you. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to another committed Christian with whom you can have a lifelong, loving relationship. Expect that there is someone out there looking for a Christian mate like you, too. When you ask, resist telling the Holy Spirit how that person should look, or that they should be a person with material wealth, or anything else for that matter. Leave it to the Holy Spirit and He will bring you the person that He knows is right for you. Ask and be patient. You shall receive.