An anthropologist, a writer, and a ministry leader consider Christian dating websites. Biblical Dating: How It's Different From Modern Dating. few of these outfits claiming to be Christian, emotional involvement in a dating relationship. Are you a Christian? but it still gels well with attempts to carry out a godly dating relationship — especially Biblical Dating: Men Initiate, Women Respond;.
Matt Chandler is a husband, father, lead pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, and author of several books, including The Mingling of Souls: Matt was our recent guest on the Ask Pastor John podcast and answered ten questions on singleness and dating. To help find the right questions, we called on three not-yet-married friends who gave some time to thinking about the challenges faced by singles: Lore Ferguson, Paul Maxwell, and the recently engaged Marshall Segal.
We ended up with these questions:. What follows is an edited transcript of the full conversation with Chandler. Feel free to browse for the relevant questions to your life. But in a day when so much nominalism passes for authentic maturity, give us a few simple marks of spiritual growth that a man or woman should be looking for in a potential spouse. And so I think the church really serves and helps Christian singles consider marriage and consider dating.
Within the covenant community of faith, there should be those around a person that can speak of their reputation and whether they are serious about growing in the Lord and putting sin to death in their life.
Is there seriousness in this person to grow in their relationship and understanding with the Lord? Because what I have tragically found is that Christian singles hit an area of desperation, particularly young women, and they will go: Now practically speaking, this means singles are seeking out people to speak into their lives. And I think those pieces are a much safer gauge than whether they highlight passages in their Bible and show up to service every week.
How do you know if a dating relationship is moving too quickly emotionally, or too quickly toward marriage? If mere physical attraction or some kind of emotive, frilly, this-is-the-one weirdness is driving the speed, then, yes. If the relationship is outpacing knowledge of character, reputation, and knowledge of godliness, then that is way too quick. We have a staff person here who met and married her husband in a matter of months. She had watched him do ministry at The Village.
She knew his reputation. Rather, there was knowledge of his faithfulness to God, his desire to serve the Lord, and his seriousness about the things of God. In your experience, in what ways has technology changed the way young people date today?
Do these trends encourage or concern you? If we are talking about a young man and a young woman who are actively dating, who have defined their relationship, and who know they are in a growing and committed relationship with one another, then I think technology creates an avenue to encourage one another and to connect more frequently. If, though, we are saying that technology has changed the game in regards to how single young men and women approach one another, before that relationship is defined, then I have a lot of concern about technology.
And so, in that regard, when you have not established what the relationship is, I think it can be hurtful to constantly be involved in the technological realm, rather than the face-to-face realm. Any advice for inviting others into a relationship to that end?
But I think what we want to do is work really hard in our churches to create a culture of discipleship. In this culture, the norm, the air we breathe, is that older men are serious about seeking out younger men to train them; not just train them in the Bible, but really train them in what it looks like to apply the Scriptures to their lives.
What does it look like to serve, love, and encourage your wife? What does it look like to romance her? What does it look like to be a man of God in relation to your wife? Personally, I try to do this by having single men into our home. Lauren will almost always cook the meal. I will help set the table, and then afterwards that young man gets to help me do the dishes.
And that is just my way of going: So, this is an intentional, organic kind of culture of discipleship that I hope is woven into the life of The Village.
On top of that, my hope would be that young men would seek out older men. And I have told them before: Can I get in your space? Whatever you normally do, can I just come and join you in that? The appeal of youthfulness in churches is so heavy and celebrated, and yet I have found, without a good mix of generations, you are going to get lopsided and silly.
And the worst possible thing imaginable in my mind is a bunch of year-olds sitting around talking about life. If I can get that year-old single guy with a year-old married man, then I have high hopes for how that year-old will see, understand, and desire marriage. But then on top of that I think what you celebrate and how you celebrate is important. So, we want to celebrate marriages at The Village Church.
And I want to celebrate women and men who have given themselves over to make disciples, whether they are married or not. They are still desiring marriage, and desiring a spouse, but they are not sitting on their hands until they get one. A common question from single men: If I am not physically attracted to a godly woman, should I still try to romantically pursue her in order to cultivate those feelings? If so, for how long: But I do adamantly encourage young single men to pursue godly women for friendships in the hopes that it grows into more.
But he loved hanging out with her. So, I just encouraged him to stay in proximity, to grow in his friendship with her, and to hope something would grow from there. I keep saying it: Godliness is sexy to godly people. And so, if you get in proximity, and you see the godliness and character of a woman, you begin to take compatibility and godliness and gospel partnership more seriously than just physical attraction.
In the first part of Mingling , I really address attraction as a good thing, but not at the level to where our culture has put it. We are all wrinkling. Our nose and ears never quit growing. It is only a matter of time till that little component that we are basing so much on starts to vanish and must be replaced by attraction founded on character and covenant.
When I got cancer, everything that was sexy about me vanished — my strength, my vibrancy, my sense of humor, my creative romantic pursuit of Lauren. All of that was gone for two years.
And my hair was gone. I became a shriveled up version of what I was before the cancer. Lauren entered into covenant with me, loved the character that God had formed in my heart, and now it was my character and godliness that fueled her attraction to me physically.
I think we get it backwards. I think once character, compatibility, and godliness are there, those fuel attraction in the way that pleases God, and is much safer for our souls. But at the same time, I want to protect the hearts particularly of young women from godly men teasing them with pursuit. So, pursue them as friends and hope that it grows into more.
Want it to grow into more. And I am confident that, over time, character and godliness will win the day. Should a dating relationship reflect the complementary structure of marriage to any degree? It seems biblically and practically wise, but it also seems covenantally inappropriate at this stage. What would you say? Yes, a boyfriend should lead his girlfriend in some ways, but definitely not to the degree that a husband leads his wife.
So, what I possess, when it comes to the covenant I am in with Lauren in marriage, is headship. I have been called by God to lead, to cover, to provide, to protect in ways over Lauren that a boyfriend is not. However, a boyfriend should be leading his girlfriend in regards to godliness, and encouraging her in regards to her giftedness. I think he should be encouraging her in prayerfulness and encouraging her towards an understanding and growing knowledge of the word of God.
I can get my own preferences mixed up in this, so let me just kind of put a little asterisk here. Speaking of sexual purity, what are a couple of practical helps for staying sexually pure in a dating relationship that actually work?
Maybe because I have been married for fifteen years, but this question of purity feels like common sense. One of the things I say at The Village, on repeat, is that nothing good has ever come from a boyfriend and girlfriend cuddling on the couch watching a movie from 11pm to 1am. It has never ended in a discussion about cinematography in the history of watching movies on couches. To put yourself in that position to begin with is a foolish one. What works is being in public, guarding space alone, not putting yourself in situations.
I think singles have a tendency to think more highly of their own self-control than they should. So, I think dating in groups, or dating in public, is important, and we see that in Scripture. In Song of Solomon you see a growing desire to be physically intimate, and yet she describes their date as being under this canopy of leaves and this rug of grass Song 1: They are at a park. They are in a forest. They are in the public eye, because they have a growing passion to be intimate physically.
And so, they have positioned themselves publicly so as to not give themselves over to their lusts. If a man or woman is trying to stop looking at pornography, but seems they cannot many Christian men struggle here , are they ready to date, or not?
If not, what is the line between ready and not ready to date for a Christian porn addict? This is an extremely complex question that is hard to answer outside of actually knowing the people involved. My knee-jerk reaction is: No, you are not ready.