Biblical Dating

I work for a college ministry. One of my main goals is to talk to students about how to have an intimate relationship with Christ. Most students want to spend time talking about how to have an intimate relationship with someone of the opposite sex. The word dating is not used in the Bible but there are many principles that apply.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 may be the most important verse when thinking about what the Bible says that can be applied to the dating. (By dating, I mean the process a guy and a girl go through to get to know one another and decide if they will get married.) To paraphrase, this verse tells us that the Bible is true and tells us all we ultimately need to know to live a godly life. The Bible won’t tell you exactly what to say when you first meet a new girl (or guy). The Bible does give us guidelines about how and why to talk to one another, etc…

The Bible Applies Today

Genesis 1:26-28 tells us that one of the ways humans reflect truths about God is in our masculinity and femininity. The term “male and female,” in this context, primarily points to our sexual differences which allow us to “be fruitful and multiply.” The external differences between a male and female body point to deeper differences written on their souls.
Ultimately this is not primarily an issue about politics or which bathroom to use. Rather it is about the glory of God. There are unique ways a man can reflect the image of God and equally important unique ways a woman can reflect the image of God. Knowing these unique ways helps us to know what type of man or woman we ought to be, and what type of man or woman we ought to look for in dating. The primary goal of dating ought to be to get married, not just to have fun or be social. What are you looking for in a potential mate?

The Differences in Men and Women

The Bible may not delineate these different reflections of the glory of God in men and women as clearly as we prefer but there are hints. Genesis 2-3 shows that Adam was made first and was alone in Eden for a while. When he was first made he was directed immediately towards his work in the garden. God gave the command not to eat the forbidden fruit to Adam before Eve was made. There is no mention that God repeated the command to Eve. It seems Adam was supposed to teach the command to Eve. Although he ate the forbidden fruit second, God called him individually to account first. When he is cursed, the curse primarily falls on his place of work.

From this we can deduce that man was made to work and provide for his family. Man is to have a role of spiritual leadership and responsibility in his marriage. It is important to note that these distinctions are one of emphasis and not exclusivity. This means that women can certainly work and provide as well (The Bible never says women should be barefoot and pregnant. The Proverbs 31 woman was not.) There are plenty of times and places for a woman to lead and bear responsibility. But God does place more responsibility for leadership and provision in the marriage on the man. Men you need to be ready to provide, materially and spiritually, for a woman before asking her to marry you.

Woman was made second and immediately directed into a relationship. When she is cursed it falls on the arena of her family relationships. Whereas men tend to be more independent, women tend to have a gift of interdependence. God said it was not good for man to be alone. He was weak and inadequate without her. Eve’s being made second doesn’t point to a lack in her as much as it points to a lack in him. “She is to enrich, support and empower.”1

When God calls Eve a “helper” in Genesis 2:18, it is a word primarily used of God as our helper. It is also used to refer to strong military aid. God has given the woman a role of being an incredibly strong supporter. She is made to come along side someone and nurture their life and make them better than they could ever be alone.

The Image of God

So what does man tell us about God? Looking at a man living as God intended him to ought to tell us something of God’s strength, His strength to lead and to serve. Men should show us that God is faithful and responsible and trustworthy. He protects and provides for His people. Women, look for and pray for a man like this.

What does a woman tell us about God? Looking at a woman should tell us that God is a relational being who deeply cares for and loves us. He wants to draw near to serve, support, nurture and enrich us. Women should seek to develop these gifts. Men should pray and look for a woman that reflects God in this way.

If you are a man, is your life a living parable that tells these truths about God to a watching world? If you are a woman, does your life shout these glories of God to those around you? Understanding these truths about ourselves and the opposite sex is an important foundation for wise dating.

1 Tim Keller, What Were We Put in the World to Do? (New York, NY: Redeemer PCA, 2006) 33.