By Michelle Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
1. Think Marriage, Not Just Dating for Fun
This may seem extreme, but considering more than fifty-percent of marriages end in divorce, Christians have to think about the person they're dating as someone with whom they could be with long-term. Parents would benefit from praying for their children’s future spouses from an early age. When your kid starts to date someone who would make a great fit for them, a parent can help guide their child toward finding someone who not only makes a good boyfriend or girlfriend but the person who will be their better half for better or for worse.
2. Draw Boundaries for Intimacy in Dating Relationship
Like any area of our lives, Christians must exhibit self-control when it comes to what they will do and won’t do with a significant other before marriage. This is especially important when it comes to sexual boundaries. In this overly sexualized world where teens and adults can view pornography with a simple click, Christians need to know that sex is only appropriate within the confines of marriage. As always, kids will rely on parents, youth leaders and other people in authority to help them draw those boundaries. It is important to be a part of a local church that will know and love your children enough to help them navigate those difficult but necessary waters.
3. Do Not Be Unequally Yoked
2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” A yoke is a harness that farmers use to place two oxen together. The harness is placed around both of their necks and this forces the oxen to walk in step with each other. If one ox goes too fast, it will pull on the other ox’s neck, forcing them to go the same way and at the same pace. Too slow and one ox will be forced to slow their speed. It’s the same way with Christians. Christians dating someone who is not on the same page spiritually will suffer later when they disagree on important topics and life choices. Make sure you're yoked with someone who is committed to going the same way—and at the same speed—as you.
4. Consider Someone Who Loves the Lord
Although it is not a foolproof plan, help your child discern if the person he/she wants to date is someone who loves the Lord. Just because someone has stated he/she has accepted Jesus does not mean he/she is yielding their lives to Him. Parents can help with this by taking a close look at the person’s actions, and those who are older can seek the advice of close friends and those who have interacted with both of you. Does this person exhibit the fruits of the Spirit? Does he/she attend church regularly? Does he/she have a heart for service? Answering these questions may seem judgmental, but these judgments must be made to choose the person whom you are going to spend the rest of their lives with.
5. Not Netflix and Chill . . . But Just Be Still
While “Netflix and chill” is a slang term for both hanging out and watching movies together or sexual activity, neither is at the center of a deep, meaningful relationship. While there is nothing wrong with spending time together just watching movies and having fun, Christians need to take some time to be still and let the Lord guide them when it comes to finding the right mate. This is both a lesson in self-control and patience as well as a commitment that nothing is going to come between you and a solid relationship with the Lord—including your significant other.
6. The Dating Couple That Prays Together, Stays Together
Although there is no formula for the perfect relationship, couples that get in the habit of doing devotions together or praying together are more likely to stay together when times get tough. Christians must consider partners who are willing to get on their knees for their relationship, their future, and their commitment to follow God all the days of their life. The more committed couples are to each other the more likely they are to ask God for his help and provision in every aspect of their relationship. And that is the best place a couple can be — in the palm of God’s hand.
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7. Put on Your Armor
If a Christian has found the person they will be with for the rest of their lives, Satan will seek to break them up. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Couples need to put on the full armor of God including a clear understanding of Scripture and the truth of what the Word of God says before, during, and after the relationship. Satan’s main goal is to isolate people because having two people together doubles the amount of impact they can make for the Kingdom of God here on earth.
8. Seek the Holy Spirit
Parents and kids can pray for their future spouse together from an early age. The spirit, whose role is to convict, guide and direct His followers, will reveal whom Christians should date, and ultimately marry if Christians take the time to seek His will for their lives. During the dating relationship, both Christians should continue to seek the Holy Spirit and ask for His guidance in your life and your relationship.
Always Keep Jesus at the Center of Dating
Dating can be complicated for anyone, especially Christians who are younger. However, dating is the precursor to marriage, so it's important to have a healthy dating relationship centered on God. Although the above tips are not the only criteria to use when it comes to evaluating dating or potential dating relationships, they can be a great source to brainstorm additional ideas and questions. The most important thing through all of this is to keep Jesus at the center of every aspect of your life. When we put Jesus first, we will be particular about whom we seek to spend time with; do we want someone who strengthens our faith or someone who distracts us?