by Dr. Ken Matto
One of the most beautiful times of the year is Spring. It is the time when kings go out to war, young people are looking forward to summer vacation, working folks looking forward to vacation, and last but not least, the hearts of many turn to the pursuit of companionship. There is something about Spring which causes us to focus on love more intently. It is probably that all things are becoming new, or better yet, God gives us a wonderful picture of our resurrection in the yearly renewal of His beautiful creation.
The subject I wish to deal with is especially pertinent to those who are seeking a mate. When searching we must be serious and mature in our method of pursuit. I hope some of the principles will help you avoid dating the wrong person and thus leading to a disastrous marriage. The serenity of singleness is better than marriage mayhem.
Broaden your Friendship Base!
The easiest way to meet people is to expand your number of friends. This is accomplished by just becoming more involved in church or other groups where Christians gather. Don’t limit yourself to groups of singles only. Remember, many married people have single relatives. (He who has ears to hear.) Avoid the "Singles Scene" in local social clubs as these may draw you away from the Lord and normally will not yield any Christian friendships. Remember, if you are a Christian, you may only marry another Christian.
Turn the TV off and your Talents on!
One of the most destructive elements to the growth of Single Christians is TV addiction. All Christians have talents which can be put to use for Christ. Determine you will cut down on TV. Sit down and assess your talents and then discuss them with a close friend or pastor to see where you best fit in. Soon TV will be the exception and not the rule.
Seek a Friend of the Opposite Sex
YES, it is possible to have friends of different gender without falling in love. Opposite sex friendships are very valuable to gain insight from the other side about things. You will find much heartache can be avoided through this type of insight.
What about Christian Dating Services or the local Personal Ads?
BE CAUTIOUS! The 900 personal ads are out to make money and there is no screening of applicants. People can claim anything and get away with it. I have read many publications from Christian single dating services and to me they are religious flesh peddlers. If you do advertise or respond to one of these, stay local, do not become epistolary or verbally involved with someone distant. If you correspond with someone 1000 miles away, you will gain no insight into the personality or Christian beliefs of that person, you could be walking into a lion’s den that would make Daniel shutter. If God is going to match you, He will prepare a person for you. Please tread carefully and apply biblical standards to any mate search. You are not obligated to maintain any relationship you deem detrimental to you.
Don’t be too Narrow in your Physical Requirements!
Try to be open to imperfections because they sometimes can bring people closer together. I know we would all like to find a Madison Ave. specimen as a mate but that is just not reality. I have seen couples over the years who were not of the beautiful persuasion yet their relationship was solid. Don’t focus on the negative characteristics, but focus on the positive ones. The outward man fades but the inward man continues long after there is snow on the roof.
Don’t be Impatient!
If there is one umbrella word that describes our society today, it is "IMPATIENCE." Give time to build relationships. One living principle I have learned over the years is that God is never in a hurry, and we need not be either. A quick trip to the Justice of the Peace has often resulted in a quick trip to the Divorce Judge. If you are to meet that special one, you will and it will be in God’s timing. The key is to keep busy and keep your spiritual eyes and ears open.
What if I see Someone I like in Church?
If there is someone in your church you like, then hold that person up in prayer and ask God to let that person like you. Pour your entire heart out before God concerning that person. Remember, God knows the details and he may allow the situation to develop or He may not. The key is to pray. Proper relationships start with prayer. In Ecclesiastes 4:12, God speaks of a three-fold cord not being quickly broken.
(Eccl 4:12 KJV) And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
God must be in our search for a mate, our courtship, and our marriage. If God is the third cord, then our relationship will grow in the right direction.
These few principles will guide you in your initiation of a search for a partner. Now I wish to give four suggestions which will help you analyze a relationship if you start dating or courting.
Date but don’t fall in Love on the first date!
It is impossible to fall in love on the first date because you know nothing really substantive about that person unless you have known them for many years. Always keep in mind, "INFATUATION IS NOT LOVE." When your date is over, do not call that person, see if they call you. If they do, you may be reasonably sure there is interest on their part.
Test the Waters!
(Psa 11:5 KJV) The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
If God tries the righteous, namely us, we better test the waters in a relationship. Many claim they go to church but does that mean they are saved? If someone mutters a few words, does that mean they are saved? What is the center of conversation on the date? What are their aspirations? How did they act on the date? I think you know what I am driving at.
Prima Facie or Substance Dating?
Is the person you are dating interested in a real relationship or just another night out? If you are searching for a spouse, you do not want to stay with a person who lives a fragmented life. A relationship must be built on stability. If a person lives a stable life in the area of vocation, finances, basic planning, steady church life, they are a good candidate. On the other hand, if you are dating a person who has no spiritual roots, incapable of holding a job, who runs like the wind, then I would say you are dating a person that spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e. In fact this type of person would best be described as a leech. Make sure that the person you are dating is putting something into the relationship and not just taking out. Beware of the person who puts up a good front without anything backing them up. There is an adage which is apropos to dating, "The grass is always greener over the cesspool." What is meant by this is that the superficial looks good but the deeper you dig, the stronger the odor of deceit becomes.
Step Back and Analyze!
Analyze your present relationship and see if you are following biblical guidelines for dating. It never hurts to sit back and analyze where you are regarding your present relationship. Some questions to ask in your self-analysis are:
-Have I grown closer to Christ as a result of the relationship?
-Has there been sexual overtones in our conversation?
-Keep in mind this principle: Sex is the result of love, not a vehicle to find love.
-Would this person make a reliable spouse?
-How has this person responded to a down time in my life?
These are only sample questions to trigger your thought process.
Are there any hard rules in dating? There are and there are many of these rules which fall into the so-called "gray areas." Each of must be guided by the Bible in all our situations. Satan will attempt to break down our barriers by letting them become melded with passionate moments. It is these moments which must be avoided at the outset or else "sin lieth at the door." (Gen. 4:7) Let us always keep in mind the fact that Satan has no power in our life and cannot rule in a true Christian’s life. When we sin, it is because we give in to the lust of the flesh and the letting down of our spiritual guard.
(Psa 141:2-4 KJV) Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. {3} Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. {4} Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
Dating or courting can be a wonderful time in a young relationship. If you date according to the Word of God, you will have some of the best years of your life. One other question, can you act silly on a date? The answer is yes because who wants to date someone with a face as long as Interstate 80. You need not sin to have fun. Till we meet at Jesus' feet!