It means dating someone who meets the values and goals you have for a future spouse (more on that later).
Casual or purposeless dating has no benefit for Christians. We are designed to know why we do stuff and where we are going. Now, please, please, please don’t be a freakish weirdo. It involves sharing personal struggles and vulnerability. If you believe God is preparing you for foreign missions, is it important the person you marry shares this passion? If you love the Cowboys and your future spouse loves the Packers, is it important to work through this before marriage?
But, the authority of Christ needs to take precedence over your physical drives. If the social, emotional, spiritual dimensions are missing or lacking, you are out of balance.
Like that annoying kid at church camp who wouldn’t leave you alone. Don’t ever date someone who won’t honor purity with you. Remember…if you are dating, you haven’t entered into the sacred bond of marriage. Co-dependent dating leads to co-dependent marriages. And co-dependent marriages eventually crumble because the weight on them is too heavy. In fact, every principle discussed in this article is null and void without God at the center.
The first instance in the Bible where God is not pleased comes when God sees Adam living in the Garden of Eden alone (Gen. Singleness can be a gift from God, but don’t use it as an excuse to be lazy. And to my church’s credit, they drilled this one point home constantly. Dating and marriage are not for those who rely on another person for joy, peace, and purpose.
Enter Eve, pro-creation, and marriage (not necessarily in that order). And the most intimate community on earth is the relationship you will have with your spouse. Disclaimer: If you are single (or if you’re married), steward your time well. “Sex before marriage is bad.” This was the extent of my understanding of Christian dating as a teenager and young adult. But understand purity begins with the mind and heart.
If you aren’t ready to date, don’t allow the cultural pressure to override God’s plan. I know too many men and women who refused to listen to people around them, and their prideful arrogance resulted in a failed marriage. Find men and women you trust, and allow them to speak into your relationship.
Dating with a trajectory towards marriage doesn’t mean you only date one person ever. So, if you choose not to get coffee or watch a movie with the opposite sex, then whatever. The ultimate purpose of marriage is sanctification (becoming like God). If you have no idea what values are important to you in a future spouse, exit the road to marriage at the next off ramp.