What’s Your Vision for Dating?
Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law. – Proverbs 29:18 (NASB)
And in one sentence we discover where we went wrong with dating.
No idea of what dating is supposed to accomplish.
Confused and muddled intentions leading to even even more confusing and muddled relationships.
“It’s complicated,” we state matter-of-factly in our social media profile and leave it at that. As if it can’t be helped. As if it doesn’t bother us that much anyway.
And if that’s your perspective then this isn’t your post, but if you believe that God just might have called you to a dating life marked by both passion and purpose then please read on!
Do you have a vision for dating?
What intentions do you have for your dating life (or your future dating life)? Does it even make sense to launch off on an endeavor as noble as dating without first casting a vision for where you’d like it to lead you and then settling your intentions in advance?
Several years ago I started sharing a talk called the TOP10 Dumbest Reasons to Date where I presented ten of what I believed were popular and yet painfully inadequate motivations for dating.
But then I started having wise individuals ask, “Well what are the right reasons for dating?”
In answer to that question I eventually wrote a 10-part series, Dating 101.
More than that, since vision should direct your goals, my purpose for this series was to cast a vision for dating that was at once both sensible and inspiring.
Now, for your dating health, I summarize each post in that series here, complete with hyperlinks to enable you to read more about whichever idea inspires you.
So instead of the TOP10 Dumbest Reasons to Date, I call this the TOP10 Dating InTENtions.
#10: Date Because You’re Called
How different would our relationship life be if we dated because we were called? I don’t mean, because someone called you and asked you out. I mean, what if we dated because we sensed a calling to pursue a relationship where we would partner with another human being in a life-giving, life-long marriage?
No, I don’t mean we wait until we know someone is the person we will marry before we date them (although, many love birds believe they’re sure of it from day one). The idea is that we date only once we know we are ready to start pursuing marriage as a life goal. Then dating becomes part of the process by which we discern God’s will.
#9: Date Like No One’s Doing It
Of course, what’s funny about that is they aren’t… That said, do you know what would be fun? Even better, know what would be totally cool?
Instead of aspiring to join some imaginary herd of happy daters on the other side of the fence, frolicking through strawberry fields of aimless relationships, what if you determined to do something truly adventurous?
How about taking this dumb reason to date – everyone’s doing it – and turning it on its head? Why don’t you date like no one’s doing it?
#8: Date to Make Friends
Unless you’re going with arranged marriage, you have to take your relationship life one date at a time. You can’t expect to know if you’re going to marry someone after only one date… or two… or three….
But you can expect to discover if that person is someone with whom you’d like to grow a friendship.
And the cool thing about this perspective on dating? It’s fun! It’s fun to make good friends!
#7: Date for the Adventure
Well first, as with any great endeavor, you need to determine your goal; your your worthy aim.
With purpose-driven dating, we dare to suggest the aim of dating should be marriage, but before you start having a panic attack, take a deep breath. No adventure takes place overnight. Or in a month. An adventure is about months, perhaps years of journeying into the unknown. Yes, the unknown.
#6: Date and Change the World
It’s a curious culture we’ve created. One where millions of teens and 20-somethings would rather change the world than get married and start a family.
But what’s wrong with that? Why not swear off dating and join Jesus and the Apostle Paul in living for something greater?
Because it’s a false dilemma. Furthermore, looking at your future that way has the potential of keeping you from ever accomplishing either goal: getting married or changing the world.
Indeed, if leaving the world a better place is high on your priority list, I would argue that getting married and starting a family is more likely to get you there than digging wells in Africa, feeding children in India, or saving the lost in the inner city.
#5: Date to Serve
How? Not by making it up as you go along, but by submitting to the teaching of God’s word and His church. Then, instead of spending your time trying to please yourself, or assess the worthiness of your date, or worse – take advantage of them – you give your all for them. You show them honor, by seeking their best interests, protecting their reputation and making each date as enjoyable for them as possible.
And you do all this in the belief that your sacrifice will matter, not only to the person who eventually becomes your spouse, but every person you date who does not.
This is dating like Jesus would.
No. Jesus never dated. He was never a soldier nor wielded any weapon either. However, He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.
#4: Date like You’re Never Alone
One of the most powerful forces which drove me to date was this insatiable desire to belong to someone. I longed for (and continually fantasized about) the day when one of my pretty female friends would agree to promote me to the position of boyfriend.
Then I would be able to name drop her all the time:
“Oh I just got off the phone with my girlfriend.”
“Going out with my girlfriend tonight.”
“Let me check with my girlfriend and get back with you.”
“Have you met my girlfriend? She’s my girlfriend, you know.”
Though that longing appears totes adorbs in everything from Disney Channel programming to chick flicks, underneath this kitten-like cuteness is a beastly loneliness born of a terrible lie: I am not complete until I have a significant other.
Without “that special someone” I am ultimately alone.
#3: Date with Your Brain
And that’s why, I want to urge you to date with your brain!
Yes, enjoy the wonder of romance, but do so WISELY! Your heart is at stake! The hearts of everyone you date are at stake! And, most importantly, the hearts of the children your love life will produce are at stake!
So how do you balance the romance your heart longs to enjoy with the wisdom your heart needs to rest secure?
#2: Date to Enjoy Verbal Intercourse
I know when you’re engaged in mouth-to-mouth marathons and physical examinations, it makes you feel so close, because in a way you are. Beyond the close proximity of your bodies you are also growing in sexual intimacy. And although that’s not the intimacy for which your soul most longs, it is still intimacy, and a potent one at that.
However, check out this recent epiphany. There’s an opportunity cost for every decision we make. In other words, making one choice necessitates that you forego all other choices in that moment. It also means you forego all the potential benefits you could have derived from making another choice.
If you didn’t fully grasp that concept on first read, PLEASE re-read that last little paragraph. Then consider this question: while you’re exploring your date’s body, what are you not doing? What’s the opportunity cost?
It is simply (and quite sadly) this: you’re not growing in the knowledge of your beloved’s soul.
#1: Date in the Delight of Your First Love
Would you like a dating life defined by calm instead of confusion, peace instead of apprehension, and redemption instead of regret? How about one that is deeply meaningful, but also a ton of fun; guided by wisdom, but still filled with wonder?
And yes, a dating life that eventually leads you into a life-giving, life-long marriage. A marriage which you look back on as the best decision you ever made (after surrendering to Christ). A marriage to the one who becomes the single most encouraging, understanding and empowering person in your life (in human skin).
If the thought of a dating life like that makes your heart beat a bit faster, you need to grasp two important truths:
- This is precisely the kind of dating life your Heavenly Father would like for you.
- Doing all the right things isn’t enough.
Hope one of those 10 posts gives you a vision for dating that empowers you to grow and thrive in life-giving relationships! If one in particular speaks to you, let us know!
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better? And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!