Jenna voiced a common concern among single Christians looking for a lifelong partner: “My spiritual beliefs and values often make dating a very risky pursuit. I’ve been set up with guys—even ones who know I’m a Christian—who expect me to go along with their lifestyle choices: sex, drugs, excessive drinking, and the rest. Other times, guys find out I’m a Christian and automatically assume I’m uptight and judgmental. The stereotypes get old.”
Of course, the problems don’t disappear when Christians choose to date only other Christians. As Brad said, “I’ve heard Christian dating advice that assumes all Christians are exactly the same. But it’s not as if every believer fits a certain profile. There’s a broad spectrum of what it means for people to call themselves a Christian—from very liberal to very conservative and everything in between. Just because a woman calls herself a Christian doesn’t mean her beliefs or lifestyle choices are the same as mine.”
Let’s be honest: Dating is complex and confusing for nearly everyone—often even more so for those who want to safeguard their spiritual beliefs and moral values in an anything-goes culture.
With this in mind, let us suggest five strategies for dating to help guide Christian singles — men and women:
Keep your inner world clean and uncluttered. A key Christian principle says that what is in a person’s heart determines how that person acts—all the decisions he or she makes, for better or worse. Lots of Christian dating advice focuses on behavior—how far is too far physically, what people of faith should or shouldn’t do in a dating relationship, and so on. Some of that advice might be helpful, but most helpful is the recognition that conduct follows convictions and actions follow attitudes. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon wrote, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (4:23). Sound judgment in matters of love and romance springs from a heart rooted in and nurtured by your most deeply held spiritual beliefs.
Define your standards in advance. The time to think through any potentially perilous situation is before it happens. If you traveled to a large city, you would get clear directions to your exact destination so you don’t end up in an unsafe area. You would plan ahead to avoid danger. The same goes for dating. If holding to your values is important to you, take time to identify them before you start dating. Fortify them in advance with your firm intentions.
Don’t hesitate to state where you stand. Some Christian singles are reluctant to voice their convictions for fear of being labeled “old-fashioned” or “narrow-minded.” But it’s best to be up-front about what is and is not acceptable to you. Many awkward and compromising situations can be avoided by simply being honest with your date about your standards. If your dating partner resists your efforts to be true to your beliefs, then do yourself a favor—gracefully bow out.
Maintain a support system. When facing any challenge, it helps to know you are not alone. Enlist others who share your commitment to moral integrity. Ask them to watch your back, encourage you hold firm to your convictions, and keep you accountable. As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers. And strength is what Christian singles need when navigating the tumultuous waters of potential romance.
Seek dating advice from a mature Christian you respect. Chances are there is someone—a pastor, mentor, teacher—whose perspectives and opinions you hold in high regard. Spend time with this person and glean all the wisdom you can. Again, it was Solomon who said, “He who walks with the wise grows wise” (Proverbs 13:20). Good counsel is available to you if you’ll ask for it.
Spiritual beliefs are a large part of who you are and will play a vital role in any lasting relationship. Define them early—and defend them strongly.