In these days of hook-ups, serial dating, friends with benefits, stay-over relationships and other such collective stupidity, I can understand how the real purpose of dating has gotten lost. Just to be clear and fill in the blank for those of you who are wondering…the whole point of dating is to find someone you love and want to build a life with and to get married. I know people “date” for all kind of reasons—anything from boredom, and loneliness, to getting sex or boosting their egos—but none of those should be the motivation to date. It’s pretty straightforward people: If you don’t want to get married, then don’t date.
I frequently hear young couples say things like this: “We’ve been dating for three years but we just can’t afford to get married yet.” “I’m just not ready to settle down.” “I want to complete my education and get established before I think about marrying.” Why in the heck are you even dating to begin with?
If you want to finish college and get a big job, if you think you don’t have the money to marry or believe you are too young to commit or settle down, if you don’t think you are “ready”…then why on earth are you dating? Because while you are out there meeting some nice girl and falling in love with her, while you are growing closer and giving your heart away to that great guy—all the time not thinking you will marry for another four or five years—your emotions and hormones are thinking otherwise.
Again, if both you and your girlfriend think you need to finish college, if neither have a job or an income at all, if you’re both living off your parents at their house and this is what your status is going to be for the next seven years, then you are right. You probably can’t afford to get married. But then you shouldn’t be dating either. That is if you are intending to do life right, to date and marry according to what God’s Word says in scripture.
I know this is very counter-cultural, but remaining pure prior to marriage should be of utmost importance to Christian men and women—young or old. Sadly, it’s not. What is of the utmost importance to far too many is money and careers, having a house and car, achieving, attaining and acquiring things. So they sell out purity and righteousness for financial security and creature comforts. They date for four, five, six, seven years and end up having sex with the other person, defying the plan of God for marriage simply because they “can’t afford” to follow His way and get married. Really? Good luck explaining your reasons to God.
My general rule of thumb on dating is this: If you can’t see yourself marrying in the next 18 months to two years, don’t date. Dating should not last more than a couple of years or you will, most assuredly, end up in sexual compromise…. which by the way is the single greatest indicator of marital success. Couples who are virgins when they marry have a fraction of the divorce rate compared to those who were sexually active prior to marriage. (See the following article for studies that show this: Premarital sex and divorce: Is there a link?)
So if you can actually fathom the idea that you don’t need to spend years of your life partying and experimenting sexually, if you don’t need to have a 3000 square foot house with an SUV in the driveway and five flat screen TVs first, if you actually think that starting out with little and building a life together but doing it God’s way by saving yourself sexually is the best way to do things, then great. Go for it! Date smart, look for character, find that person you want to have a life with and get married.
If the partying, the education, the career, the money, the material stuff all has to come first, then why date? Dating is about marriage and if you aren’t serious about marriage, don’t do it!