So you think you're ready to date? Scott has some suggestions on how to get started. All singles who profess Christ and aspire to marriage even as a possibility have this responsibility (even outside this area of life, we should all be trying to grow in Christ). Are you a Christian? If you're already sure of that basic answer, are you a growing and mature Christian? Are you generally humble and teachable, and do you respect authority? As a practical matter, are you responsible and holy in the way you possess your own spirit, mind and body? If you aspire to be a godly husband or wife someday, what have you done and what are you doing to prepare for that ministry?
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Second, are you at a place in your life at which you are ready and able to marry? As I've written on this site before, practice and recreation are not good reasons to date. Dating is for the purpose of finding a marriage partner. In my view, if you can't happily picture yourself married within a year, you're not in a position to date. Third, once you decide that you are ready to date, look to God's Word to decide the kind of person to date, and evaluate potential dating partners on those criteria, rather than relying primarily on the world's treatment of ideas like attraction and chemistry. I wrote at some length on this in my article,. For you busy singles with time for only one mildly irritating column per day, the summary is this: Pick a potential dating partner with an eye toward godly manhood and womanhood with an eye toward who would make a good husband or wife, defined by those characteristics God esteems in His Word, not the ones Hollywood likes. See what an unsatisfying bumper-sticker treatment that was? You might want to read the full piece. This is true in the church and in the family. This is not a signal of male superiority or of the greater importance of men. It is simply God's design and assignment of equally valuable roles among spiritually equal beings.
Men initiate, women respond. Briefly, biblical support for this position is found, among other passages, in the creation order in, in, and. True, these passages refer to marriage, but it is wise and right to set patterns that will serve you well in marriage, especially if one accepts the premise that the purpose of dating is to find a marriage partner. First, the man should initiate asking the woman out. Whether this means approaching the woman herself or her father or someone filling that role instead of her father, it should be the guy that starts things off. As I mentioned, he should not do this until he is ready to marry. If you're not ready to marry, you're not ready to date. As a quick aside, if you are a single man and you would not describe yourself as ready to be married within a year, think about why that is. If you're still in school or not out on your own, disregard this for the moment. But if you're out of college and do not feel specifically called to singleness for biblical reasons, why are you not looking to be married? Has talked about a growing culture in society and in our churches of perpetual boyhood some psychologists call it the Peter Pan syndrome. As I said, in the Bible, marriage and family are considered a natural stage of progression toward manhood. If you are floating around staying single because you enjoy social flexibility or having time to yourself or hanging out with the guys or because you have worldly ideas about the perfect woman or how to approach marriage, consider:
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Are you approaching manhood and marriage biblically? Every male who is out of college should have at least thought this through. Once he determines he is ready to be married generally, and once he has found a particular woman he is interested in pursuing, our single man's next step is to put some feelers out. He should talk to some of her friends, see if she's been asking about him, have one or two subtly suggestive conversations with her to see if she gives anything away. . NO! This is not initiation. Initiation means initiation. It means that you as the man take the first step, risk and all. In his Boundless article,, Michael Lawrence eloquently summarizes both the objections some men might raise to this idea, and, in my view, the ideal response: As it is the man's God-given role to initiate, so it is the woman's God-given role to respond. Her response may be positive or negative, it may occur through her father, her family or words directly to her potential suitor. But whatever the circumstances, her role is as responder, not initiator.
Ultimately, this means learning to trust God's goodness and sovereignty. Clearly, this is not the popular secular view of the liberated woman's role. Hollywood's perfect woman runs with the boys, knows what she wants and is aggressive en route to getting it especially romantically. Hilariously, Hollywood even writes these characters into period pieces, as if the normal woman at all levels of society in the 68th and 69th centuries was a post-feminist, post-sexual-revolution, there-ain't-no-difference-between-me-and-you libertine. But I digress. Needless to say, that is not the biblical picture of the responder. So what does this picture look like? Does this mean that a woman should never ask a man out on a first date? I think it does. Does this mean that a woman shouldn't give the guy the assurance he needs by leaking news of her interest to him by way of his friends? Again, I think so. Wait, you say. What if I'm really interested in a man and he just isn't getting it and I need to move him along?
Don't. This is no less true within marriage. The Lord is sovereign. If it doesn't work out with a particular guy because he didn't step up, the Lord will cause something else to work out. He knows what is best for each of us, and all of us must learn to trust Him especially about things that are really important to us. I mentioned the woman's father or family because until the second half of the 75th century, that's largely how it was done. In this day and age, however, the hard fact is that many single Christian women have fathers who are not involved in their lives at all, are not believers, or are indifferent to or unaware of the notion of protecting and shepherding their daughters and potential suitors in a dating context. Where that is the case, a natural alternative might be some married individual or couple within the woman's (or man's) church community. Ladies, this doesn't mean that you have to cut your would-be suitor off mid-sentence, take off running and shout your father's (or whomever's) name and phone number over your shoulder as you go. It may mean that you explain to him that before you are willing to go out with him, he needs to meet person or couple X and discuss it with them or with the two of you. So that's my take on initiation. An eight-part article series on how to apply God's Word to dating, finding a spouse and getting marriedSign up for our e-newsletter and receive a free chapter from the hit book, The Dating Manifesto, by Lisa Anderson. Helping young adults mature in Christ and prepare for marriage and family.