My husband is the youth and family minister at our congregation and I work closely with the teenage girls. I love these girls with all of my heart and pray continually for each of them and their futures. Unfortunately, I have seen many teen girls I work with fall into trouble and temptation when it comes to dating. I try to encourage them to keep a Godly mindset when it comes to dating (and everything else). Here are some of the guidelines that I teach them to abide by when thinking about dating.
Realize the purpose: As Christians our purpose in dating looks very different from the world’s perspective. The world tells us dating is a natural rite of passage and something our children should do to “have a good time.” Christians should be dating for the sole purpose of finding a spouse. This means that you should wait to start dating until you are old enough to seriously consider marriage as a potential outcome.
Ground yourself: Before you start your search for a spouse it is very important that you be spiritually grounded yourself. While you will never be done growing in your Christian walk, you should have a good grasp on your salvation and what that means to the way you live your life now and the way you will continue to live in the future. Study with your mother about what God expects from a Christian wife. Knowing these things will make it easier to determine what kind of man you need in your life.
Choose wisely: Sit down with your parents and decide what your future spouse will look like. I don’t mean if he will have dark hair and blue eyes; I’m talking about the characteristics that matter to God such as kindness, faithfulness, compassion, etc. Don’t just settle for someone who simply attends church services; look for a spiritual leader for your home. Once you have decided on what you are looking for in a spouse, be patient. Wait and only date men who meet these qualifications. There is nothing more important than making it to heaven, so make sure your husband is going to help you get there, not make it more difficult.
Bring him home: Once you have decided on someone you are interested in dating bring him home to meet your parents. Remember, no one knows you better than your parents. They want to see you happy and more importantly, they want to see you in heaven! Your parents will be able to give you insight into this man that you may not otherwise see through “love-sick” eyes. You should also meet his parents and pay attention to how he treats his mother; this is likely how he will treat you once you are married. Knowing his parents will also give you insight into how he was raised and what his priorities will likely be.
Group dates: When you start to date this man make sure that you go out with others and make sure these are people who will hold you accountable. It is best to go places where you can spend time talking to each other. You will need to get to know this man very well if he is to be your spouse.
Ask important questions: Do not just assume that because you know him you automatically know how he will answer certain questions. Here are some examples of things you need to discuss while you are dating: How many children do you want to have? In what ways will we as a couple serve at our local congregation? What career do you see yourself in 10 years from now? What does being the head of the household mean to you? What do you expect from me as your helpmeet?
Bring God into your relationship: Start each date with a prayer. Ask God to help keep you pure and to help you both focus on your ultimate goal. Spend time together studying God’s word. When you really study Scripture with someone you will learn a great deal about them; their strengths, weaknesses and whether or not they have a pliable heart. There is no better way to build a relationship with another person than to build it on the foundation of God!
These guidelines don’t necessarily guarantee that you will have a perfect dating experience; however, they will greatly help you keep a Godly perspective about dating. You are much more likely to marry the kind of man God would be proud of if you keep these things in mind. After all, what could be more important than marrying someone who will make your journey to heaven as simple as possible?