3. Don’t Date Non-Christians
The ultimate purpose of marriage is sanctification (becoming like God). So, my question is, “How does dating a non-Christian aid you in this?”
If you are a Christian, God isn’t a piece of your pie. He is the pie. Why date someone who doesn’t even have God as a piece of the pie?
My wife loves the Lord, and I can say with all certainty I wouldn’t be following Jesus without her. There will be days when life is crashing down, your faith is wavering, and the only thing left will be your spouse. This is the beauty of a sanctifying marriage. In this scenario, your spouse is there to pray for you, put his or her arm around you, and walk with you.
Without a Christian spouse, one of two things will happen: you will drift away from God or your spouse will become a functional god (more on this later). Both of these are bad.
Without a Christian spouse you will either drift away from God or make your spouse a functional god.
There is another dangerous mentality in Christian circles I want to address…”flirting to convert.”
Look…Christians are called to be missionaries. The dating world, however, is not the place to be a missionary. Don’t allow pride to deceive you. You can’t change someone. That’s God job.
So, date Christians. Marry someone who loves Jesus. And spread the gospel as missionaries together.
4. Have a list of values and don’t compromise them
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. Pull over at the closest gas station and decide what you want in a future spouse. It’s dangerous riding on the road to marriage without an idea of where you are going.
Now, when you form this list, don’t be legalistic. Don’t sit someone down on the first date and interview them to make sure they meet all of the qualities. That’s freakish, weirdo stuff. Again, don’t give the rest of us bad name. Your list is designed to give you a framework for dating, not be a checklist for it.
On the other hand, don’t compromise. Your heart and the holiness of marriage are too important to flippantly give away because you are frustrated, impatient, or settling.
One more thing: have primary and secondary values. And filter appropriately.
Let’s practice. If you believe God is preparing you for foreign missions, is it important the person you marry shares this passion? Yes…this is a primary value. If you love the Cowboys and your future spouse loves the Packers, is it important to work through this before marriage? No…this is a secondary value.
Primary values are probably deal breakers. Secondary values are probably not.
5. Don’t “Shotgun” Date
Ever handled a shotgun? If not, let me fill you in. The shells of a shotgun are stuffed with tiny round balls. When you pull the trigger, these balls spread over a large range, increasing the chance you hit the target. It’s great for hunting…it’s terrible for dating.
“Let’s see. I am going to ask 20 people on a date. Five of those should be keepers. Hopefully one will end up as my spouse.”
Not a good idea. I fear this mentality in the dating culture is actually promoting divorce. Let me explain.
The culture says, “Date around. It’s okay. Get to know yourself.” And as soon as the person you are dating smacks his or her gum the wrong way, you are out. So, the default for years is to leave as soon as a flaw arises. Suddenly, when marriage begins, you are asked to flip a switch.
You are asked to go from a mentality that says “End a relationship as soon as difficulty arises,” to one that says, “Don’t end the relationship regardless of the difficulty that arises.”
That’s a tough switch to flip. Date with a trajectory towards marriage. Date intentionally.
6. It’s OK to Want to Get Married
You desire marriage. Praise God. He gives you the desire. Let me prove it.
The first instance in the Bible where God is not pleased comes when God sees Adam living in the Garden of Eden alone (Gen. 2:18). God knows it is not good for man to be by himself. Enter Eve, pro-creation, and marriage (not necessarily in that order).
People are created to be in community. And the most intimate community on earth is the relationship you will have with your spouse. So, pray for God to send you a spouse. But don’t allow the desire to consume your life.
Be patient. Wait on the Lord. If you are confident God called you to marry, he will deliver.