Over at the Desiring God blog, Marshall Segal has a wonderful article entitled, When the Not-Yet Married Meet: Dating to Display Jesus. His opening words are:
Dating is dead.
So says the media. Girls, stop expecting guys to make any formal attempt at winning your affections. Don’t sit around waiting for a boy to make you a priority, communicate his intentions, or even call you on the phone. Exclusivity and intentionality are ancient rituals, things of the past, and misplaced hopes.
I beg to differ. It’s not that this new line of thinking is necessarily untrue today, or that it’s not the current and corrupt trend of our culture. It’s wrong. One of our most precious pursuits, that of a life-long partner for all of life, is tragically being relegated to tweets, texts, and Facebook pokes, to ambiguous flirtation and fooling around. It’s wrong.
After helpfully opening up the natural of dating (“where does marriage come from?”) he then goes on to write several paragraphs under each of these headings, explaining how one should date and how dating ought to look forward to marriage:
1. It really is as simple as they say (reminding us that “marriage really is less about compatibility than commitment”).
2. Know what makes a marriage worth having. (hint, it has to do with helping you learn more about God)
3. Look for clarity more than intimacy. Here’s the whole of this incredibly wise section (soak up that second paragraph) —
The greatest danger of dating is giving parts of our hearts and lives to someone to whom we’re not married. It is a significant risk, and many, many men and women have deep and lasting wounds from relationships because a couple enjoyed emotional or physical closeness without a lasting, durable commitment. Cheap intimacy feels real for the moment, but you get what you pay for.
While the great prize in marriage is Christ-centered intimacy, the great prize in dating is Christ-centered clarity. Intimacy is safest in the context of marriage, and marriage is safest in the context of clarity. The purpose of our dating is determining whether the two of us should get married, so we should focus our effort there.
In our pursuit of clarity, we will undoubtedly develop intimacy, but we ought not do so too quickly or too naively. Be intentional and outspoken to one another that, as Christians, intimacy before marriage is dangerous, while clarity is unbelievably precious.
4. Find a fiancé on the frontlines. (this refers to finding someone who is serving God too)
5. Don’t let your mind marry him before the rest of you can. (Here Marshall writes, “The trajectory of all truly Christian romance ought to be marriage, so it should not surprise us that our dreams and expectations, our hearts, race out ahead of everything else.”)
6. Boundaries make for the best of friends. (“Boundaries are necessary because on the road to marriage and its consummation, the appetite for intimacy only grows as you feed it.”)
7. Consistently include your community. (He says make sure other people [eg, church] are involved as you develop your relationship).
8. Let all your dating be missionary dating. (No, he doesn’t mean date non-Christians; rather, “dating that displays and promotes faith in Jesus and his good news, a dating that is in step with the gospel before the watching world.”)
Now, go read the WHOLE THING HERE for your own benefit, or to share with another. I pray for all who want God’s will for their relationships (and marriage) will think along these lines.