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  • Writer's pictureZack DeBruyne

Real Realtionships: Why Date?


Dating in 2023: Is There a Christian Way to Do it?

Relationship Goals


I scrolled and scrolled Google, after searching ‘Christian Relationships’, and found a long list of articles that were filled with really unhelpful, cheesy lists. So where do we actually find our advice and guidance on relationships?


What sort of relationship advice have you received in your life? From your church? From your parents? From your roommates? From your friends? From those who you follow on social media?


What has been helpful to you? What has been unhelpful to you?


What questions and wonderings do you have about dating and relationships?


Three Places where we Learn about Dating and Sexuality

  1. Home - Cute language around dating, and not common to have a thorough language around sexuality.

    1. Don’t talk about this -- it is a scary subject don’t go there.

  2. Church - Not often super helpful to single Chrsitians, and gives the common teaching of don’t have sex before marriage without much context.

  3. Culture - Our world celebrates a hyper sexualized approach to dating and sexuality.


How do we decipher these different competing voices? How do we come to better understand what it is that we are called to as Christians, while practically learning how to approach dating, desire, and self-control in a world where self-control is considered a bad thing?


For the next 4 weeks we are going to talk about:

  1. Why Date? Relationships/Dating in our World Today

  2. Why Me? Seeking to Understand Ourselves before Giving Ourselves to Others

  3. Why Stop? Navigating Desire and Intimacy

  4. Why Wait? Self-Control in a World Without It


Why Dating Today Sucks

  1. Impersonal – Online dating makes ‘dating’ possible on a large scale, with multiple people, all through our cell phones.

  2. Pressure - Coming off as a prude or disconnected from the world today for not wanting to sleep with someone, or putting your body out as being a central part of the dating scene.

  3. Objectification - In today’s world, humans have become objects whose primary role is to give and receive pleasure. This is perpetuated by mass pornography use inside and outside of the church. This depersonalization overflows into the intentions of those seeking not to pursue someone holistically, but for their own selfish physical means and ends.

  4. Specificity - Due to online dating, we look for a very specific type of person who has certain physical traits and notes in their bio, photos on social media. This is our first experience with that person, and we often pass others over because they do not meet our personal criteria.

    1. In the outside world, we come to know someone’s personality alongside their physical and character traits.

    2. This specificity adds an enormous amount of pressure to finding someone that is just right for you and meets all of your expectations; many of which can be unrealistic in an online dating outlet.

    3. ‘Matches’ aren’t actual matches of human compatibility.

  5. Illusion of Options & Fear of Commitment - Apps give us the idea that there is always something better than what is before us, and with a swipe or a ghosting, we can leave that person without any ramifications. The reality is that all of those on the apps are not dating potential, particularly for those with a religious or spiritual ideology that shapes their views or expectations that one has of another.

    1. Grass is greener somewhere else, with someone else.

    2. This perspective is also what leads to heightened divorce rates – that person doesn’t carry the same drama or baggage with them, the grass is greener somewhere else.

  6. Compartmentalization - Due to the private nature of dating you can compartmentalise dating in “its own space and time”, separating it from the rest of your social and family life. Rather than dating someone from your relational or social circles that you met through leisure activities or community, you date individuals completely separate from your outside life which isolates the dating experience.

  7. No Confrontation - Often times when we are dating someone or in the early stages of getting to know someone we want to date, we come into some confrontation on something. Whether it is surface level or serious, either way we come to learn more about those things that are non-negotiables for the other. If this comes up in the online world we just ghost them.

  8. Sexualization - Studies show that relationships formed on online dating platforms tend to become sexual much faster than other relationships. A French survey found that 56% of couples start having sex less than a month after they meet online, and a third first have sex when they have known each other less than a week. By comparison, 8% of couples who meet at work become sexual partners within a week – most wait several months.

  9. Lack of Consequences - Due to the fact that these relationships are often born outside of our social circle, individuals do not daily interact with one another. In that way, “It is easier to have a short-term relationship, not just because it’s easier to engage with partners – but because it’s easier to disengage, too. “These are people who you do not know from elsewhere, that you do not need to see again.”

    1. Unlike if you worked with someone, or they were in all of your classes, or you attended Church together, or were roommates with one of your friends.

  10. Perpetuates an Unhealthy Pace - There’s an expectation that you should meet a total stranger, go on a couple of dates, have sex, and decide if that person is right for you or not.

  11. Fully Fulfilled - We place insane expectations on our romantic partners. We want them to meet all of our emotional, spiritual, relationship, intellectual, and physical needs.

    1. Esther Perel: “Modern relationships are cauldrons of contradictory longings: safety and excitement, grounding and transcendence, the comfort of love and the heat of passion. We want it all, and we want it with one person.”

  12. Talking to Actual People - We have a sense of social anxiety. Meeting what really is a stranger to interact with in-person, after you’ve been interacting online leads to a lot of expectation. It makes for added pressure and expectation on the meeting and interaction with the other.

  13. Safety - There is a sense of fear for safety when meeting an individual in this way.

    1. Increased physical and emotional risk is commonly cited as a reason dating has gotten harder.


So, Why Date?

What is the reasoning or purpose behind our desire to date?

  • Companionship

    • To combat loneliness, to have someone to do the things we like to do together, to have a friend.

    • Pitfall: Fully Fulfilled - We place insane expectations on our romantic partners. We want them to meet all of our emotional, spiritual, relationship, intellectual, and physical needs.

      • Esther Perel: “Modern relationships are cauldrons of contradictory longings: safety and excitement, grounding and transcendence, the comfort of love and the heat of passion. We want it all, and we want it with one person.”


  • Emotional Connection

    • To have someone to be open and honest with

    • To build an emotional connection with and grow in our emotional awareness and ability.

    • Pitfall: Unreciprocated Vulnerability - Oftentimes, due to the instantaneous, infinite option illusion that is presented to us in dating today, we are unwilling to be honest, vulnerable, and emotional. In a lot of ways this is rightfully so. I mean, we barely know the person, and they could ghost us at any given moment, why would I be vulnerable with them? Why open myself up to something that will most likely be temporary? What’s more is that an individual's intentions when dating in today’s society is not about emotional connection or availability, but instead focused on physical connection as the primary goal.


  • Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Intimacy.

    • To have someone to be relationally intimate with and to share ourselves with. This includes physical touch, emotional connection, and spiritual intimacy with another.

    • Pitfall: Pressure, Objectification, Unhealthy Physical Pace - Because of our desire to have intimacy, we put that desire above other rational and reasonable reactions when it is freely offered to us – as it is in the online dating world today.

      • But, If an individual shares their desire to wait until marriage, or communicates clear physical boundaries, others may comment that they are coming off as a prude or disconnected from the world today for not wanting to sleep with someone.

      • Objectification - In today’s world, humans have become objects whose primary role is to give and receive pleasure. This depersonalization overflows into the intentions of those seeking not to pursue someone holistically, but for their own selfish physical means and ends.

      • Perpetuates an Unhealthy Pace - There’s an expectation that you should meet a total stranger, go on a couple of dates, have sex, and decide if that person is right for you or not. This is an insanely unhealthy pursuit of intimacy and a way to start a long lasting, meaningful, Christ-seeking relationship.


  • Practice in Selflessness: Learning Our Identity

    • We are swimming in the water of a world that gives the facade of prioritizing the needs of the other, or of the world around us, but primarily focuses instead on what we want, how we want it, and when we want it.

    • When you find yourself in a relationship with another human being, you begin to realize that you are responsible for caring for and prioritizing the needs of someone other than yourself.

      • Pitfall: Some people take this reality and turn dating into a practice to further their selfishness, by putting unrealistic expectations on the person they are dating. This can lead to toxic dating situations.


  • Marriage

    • As believers in Christ, who understand marriage as part of God’s created intention for His people to find earthly intimacy, companionship, and to better serve creation collectively, marriage has to be a part of the picture, right?

    • How many of you are thinking: could I marry this person? Or how many of you who are single and looking for a partner desire a significant other with the intention of marriage?

      • Issue with Marriage: Marriages end in divorce. So many marriages (roughly 40% in Canada) end in divorce, so why be married in the first place? A lot of young people are opting to not be formally married, or to forego marriage altogether. Why not just live together if we are dating before we get married to feel things out? Or just live together and never get married. I mean, we are sleeping together anyway, so what does it matter if we live together before marriage?


What Does the Bible Even Say?

Is there such a thing as Christian dating? What’s the difference anyway? How do I know if I’m doing it right?


First off, there is an unrealistic expectation within the whole idea of Christian dating that says that the other person needs to display all of the fruits of the Spirit, must be entirely selfless, must never want anything material, cannot ever swear, have a tattoo, or look at anyone with any sort of anger.


When we use the term Christian dating we are already heightening the expectations of the other person, we are in some way, saying that as Christians dating Christians we have to be perfect.


We cannot be the true sinful, distant spiritually, tattoo covered, foul mouthed, materialistic people that we are a lot of the time.


What I want to do is reframe the question a bit.


Christian dating is not that you are just dating people who have everything together and say they love Jesus. Those people are few and far between.


Christian dating is coming into the pursuit of another, with full knowledge and awareness of the brokenness of all of us. Understanding that we live in a fallen, imperfect world, and that no person is capable of fulfilling all of the things you want them to fulfill. Instead, Christian dating is the pursuit of another that spurs you on to pursue Jesus more fully.


“...Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” Hebrews 10:22-24


I know not a very romantic verse about two people in love.


But that is not exactly what a Christian relationship is based on.


A Christian relationship is a relationship with another person, but focused entirely on the faithfulness of Christ as the basis of even offering oneself to another. It is a drawing near to God together. It is a reminder of the other of who they are, as forgiven, freed, children of God. It is holding unswervingly together to the hope that only God can provide. It is spurring each other on to deeper love for one another, for God, and for the world around us.


Now that does seem like high standards.


But, these things are not dependent on how nice of a fade or muscles someone has, or how physically attractive and beautiful our significant other is. These things hold worth, yes.


But, the ultimate purpose of Christian dating is to point the other person to Christ daily. And from Christ to lead a life together that seeks the betterment of the other and of those around you.


So What Does the Bible Say about Dating?


  1. Nothing - This is just click-bait. However, our English translations of the Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic texts do not ever include the word dating. Now, this does not mean that the Bible does not speak to the topic of dating, however, it does mean that the contexts in which we understand what dating is today would have looked a little different in the Ancient Near East to say the least.


  1. To Love the Right Things - The Bible tells us that we worship what we love. “Where your heart is, your treasure is also…” (Matt. 6:21). It speaks at length on a number of occasions about the pitfalls of the human heart, and our inability to truly know what is good and right without the redemption of Jesus. So the Bible does directly address the need for us to get our hearts right before God, and from this place, bringing a rightly ordered heart into a relationship with another.

    1. What is a rightly ordered heart? One that trusts wholeheartedly and fully loves the Lord.

      1. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6.

      2. “... Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength…”, Mark 6:30-31.


What does it mean to love the Lord? What does it mean to love Him with all of your heart?


  1. To Guard Our Hearts, and Guard Ourselves from Them: “...Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it…” Proverbs 4:23.

    1. “...The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it…”, Jeremiah 17:9.

Have you ever been deceived by your heart? Interested in someone, maybe even developed feelings for them, but there was never anything reciprocated? Your heart wanted to believe something that was never there.

  1. That We are Not Meant to Be Alone: “...The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him…” Genesis 2:18.

    1. God created humankind to have a relationship with Him.

    2. God created Eve, so that Adam would not be alone. This is the primary purpose for the creation of the first relationship, to stave off aloneness.

    3. This is where our created human desire for companionship comes from. We have a deep created need to be with others.


No matter how introverted you might be, we all experience a desire to be with others. How does this idea that we are created for relationships frame our desire to be in a relationship helpfully?


Prayer






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