How Should Christians Approach Dating

I’m not looking to date anyone until after I graduate from college, but I do ponder how Christian should go about dating in our app based dating society where everyone bases who they want to date just on how they look on the outside and not what makes them who they really are on the inside…I know this sounds “cheesy”, but I hope that the man I marry loves me for me and not for anything other than that.

Among modern evangelical Christians, there have been multiple books, movements, and rules presented as the “biblical” approach or method to dating. From Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye in the early 2000s to the many rules for dating in contemporary Christian circles, there is no end to supposed scriptural views on dating.

Amid this overwhelming sea of methods and rules, many Christians wonder what the Bible says about this overly discussed topic and how they should approach dating.

Specifically, there is nothing in the Bible about dating. In fact, none of the people mentioned in the Bible ever dated but rather participated in prearranged marriages and betrothals. The modern Western idea of dating did not exist in biblical times and even many cultures today do not practice dating either.

Scripture, however, does provide a few general principles that can be applied to the modern practice of dating and courtship, including maintaining a proper perspective while dating and focusing on purity in romantic relationships.

Common ‘Biblical’ Methods and Rules for Dating
In churches and Christian culture, there are many popular rules for dating. Some of these include not holding hands or not showing affection, only dating someone with the intention of marrying them, only dating for a set period, having a required chaperone on dates, or not dating at all in order to wait for a person’s “one true love” to come.

These rules are not found in the Bible since Scripture does not discuss dating. Instead, these assumptions have developed over time due to major movements in Christian culture.

In the early 2000s, Joshua Harris’ book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, swept through the Christian world and encouraged Christians to no longer date, but wait for the one person whom they would marry.

Many believers followed the teachings found in the book and refused to date anyone to instead wait for the divinely chosen person whom God intended for them to marry. Such teachings gradually declined in popularity and Joshua Harris recanted his book in 2016 and announced he was no longer a Christian in 2019.

Currently, the popular trend among evangelical Christians is to prepare and pray for their future spouse. This is especially popular among Christian girls and women who are encouraged to prepare, pray, and dream about their future husbands. Dating is not discouraged but is rather pushed into strict seriousness by requiring Christians to date with the intention of marrying.

The problem with this view, however, is that there is nothing in Scripture about praying for one’s future spouse, someone that is unknown or may not even exist. While Christians can participate in dating, there is no biblical promise or guarantee that every Christian will have a spouse.

Maintaining a Proper Perspective While Dating
For Christians, their first priority in all situations should always be the Lord (Matthew 6:33; Luke 10:27). Oftentimes in dating, people become infatuated and almost obsessed with their new boyfriend or girlfriend. Other important relationships often take a back seat to the new person they are dating.

Even a Christian’s relationship with the Lord can be negatively impacted by putting too much focus, time, and energy into pursuing dating or a new relationship. As Marshall Segel states in his article about dating, “The first step in dating should always be the step of faith we take toward our Lord, Savior, and greatest Treasure, King Jesus” (“The Golden Rule in Christian Dating,” Desiring God).

Just as each individual Christian should be deliberate about their relationship with the Lord, seeking to glorify Him in their life, they should also ensure that the person they are dating is completely in love with the Lord. Believers should not date unbelievers because of the possibility of marriage in any dating relationship (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).

Also, even if a Christian is dating a believer, they need to be aware of the other person’s relationship with God. Are they actively growing in their walk with Christ? Do they desire to love Him more than anything in the world, including being in a relationship or getting married? Believers should be aware of the spiritual state of the person they are seriously dating.

Finally, in regard to keeping a proper perspective while dating, Christians should also avoid falling into the trap of desperation. The church culture in the Western world, especially America, places a large emphasis on marriage, which places pressure on single believers to get married.

This often causes single Christians to become desperate and to date anyone because of the pressure to be married often just to have sex within the confines of marriage. Such a mindset goes against the Bible, which urges believers to seriously consider marriage or singleness based on legitimate reasons and not because of external pressure (1 Corinthians 7:35).

Although these Christians can still date with the intention of finding someone to marry, there is still the possibility that they will remain single for a part or the rest of their life. Being single is not a lesser state but has many great benefits in serving the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32, 34).

Believers would be wise not to waste the time they have as single individuals, but instead pray and be open to God’s guidance about when, who, and if they should be dating.

The Need for Biblical Purity
While Scripture does not give any rules for how a person should date, the Bible does teach about the need to maintain purity in romantic relationships (1 Corinthians 6:13). Purity is a foreign idea to the worldly system, which promotes sexual immorality.

Many unbelievers and even some believers will commonly date someone, live with them for a while, and then find another boyfriend or girlfriend. However, Christians who want to live glorifying lives for Christ according to the Bible should avoid the temptation of living with their girlfriend or boyfriend and instead maintain celibacy until marriage.

Teenagers and young adults are especially susceptible to the temptation of sexual relations outside of marriage because of the inundation of lust-inducing messages from movies, TV shows, music, and celebrities.

Scripture speaks against this, however, by stating, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (2 Timothy 2:22, NLT). Sexual relations should only occur within the bonds of marriage, between a husband and his wife (Matthew 19:4-6; Hebrews 13:4).

Thus, Christians who are dating should avoid any situations for the temptation to sin (1 Corinthians 6:18). Having accountability to godly family members and friends can help protect against sinning against the Lord and the person one is dating.

Also, asking for friends to double date could also be helpful in some situations. Believers should be aware of their hearts and know what will cause temptation, which can help prevent compromising situations of impurity.

If a Christian is tempted during a date, they should pray and seek to leave the situation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Both men and women followers of Christ should pursue purity in their dating relationships to glorify the Lord and follow His Word (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Christians and Dating
Though there are many dating methods and rules suggested in Christian circles, the Bible does not explicitly discuss how a Christian should approach dating. However, Christians need to view dating differently than those in the world, which promotes impurity and sexual immorality.

Instead of merely thinking about their own preferences in finding a boyfriend or girlfriend with the intention of marrying, believers should place God first in their lives and seek to be pleasing to Him in all they do, including dating.

Staying focused on one’s love for God will provide a proper perspective for romantic relationships since God is the one who provides ultimate fulfillment and love.

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A Call to Urgency for Christians to Reach People for Christ

Most of us are familiar with the concept of urgency. It has to do with something that needs immediate attention because of its gravity. One of the challenges facing evangelical Christianity is that we do not seem to feel it is urgent to reach people for Christ. This despite an explicit effort from Jesus to generate such urgency:

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’” (Luke 16:19-28)

Either Heaven or Hell
When we die, we face either heaven or hell. While the great and final judgment was yet to come for both men in Jesus’ story, it’s clear that immediately upon our death, the fate of our lives is not only sealed but the verdict of that inevitable judgment is set in motion.

The beggar Lazarus was by Abraham’s side which, along with the concept of paradise, is mentioned in the Talmud as the home of the righteous—the place where the righteous dead go to await their future redemption and vindication. The rich man was in hell (in the original Greek, hades) the place where the wicked dead go to await their final judgment.

And the chasm between the two cannot be crossed.

We do not often let our thoughts travel to such realities. It is uncomfortable. Even chilling. But one person in Jesus’ story had it envelop every fiber of his being: the man in hell.

To such a degree that he experienced a remarkable change in priorities. As I once heard someone observe, five minutes in hell made the rich man a flaming evangelist. Why? Because suddenly he knew it was all for real.

And once he knew this, nothing mattered more than warning those he cared about. He knew that hell was not a figment of someone’s imagination. It was real, and real people go there for eternity. And the man in hell knew that it would take someone going to them, talking to them, making it clear to them.

Hell has a way of making that clear.

Meeting Needs, and Realizing What Produced Them
We must realize that our friends, our family members, that person in our neighborhood, the person we work with who does not know Christ is in real trouble. We must not see the needs of the world solely in terms of food and clothing, justice and mercy, shelter and companionship.

We must see those needs, to be sure, and meet them—but we must see beyond them to the fallen nature of a world and humanity that produced those needs. We must see eternity waiting to be written in their hearts.

I know of a ministry to young male prostitutes working the streets of Chicago that offers food, shelter, counseling, and an array of other social services to help men move out of that degrading lifestyle. Most of us would think that is more than enough, that the greatest issue had been addressed. But not John Green, the founder of Emmaus Ministries, who said, “We do violence to the poor if we don’t share Christ with them.”

And he’s right.

Live with Urgency, Not Passivity
It is difficult to imagine passivity regarding those who have yet to embrace the Christian faith. The Scriptures do not simply speak; they thunder:

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

“I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

Passivity was not the model of Jesus.

He went into the world. He spent time with those who were far apart from God. He reached out relationally, built friendships, went into their homes, attended their parties, broke bread at their tables.

His was a life of urgency.

Trump Administration Will Spare Bibles from Tariffs on Chinese Goods

The Trump administration has decided to give Bibles a free pass amid an escalating tariff war between the U.S. and China.

In May, Christian publishers began to panic as bibles and other religious texts printed in China, together totaling some 65 percent of the 2018 U.S. brochures and leaflet imports, were set to be slapped with tariffs of up to 25 percent.

On Tuesday, however, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) published two lists of items that will be subjected to a 10% hike in tariff charge starting in September and December respectively — the Bible, USTR said, will be spared from both.

“Bibles and other religious literature are among the items removed from the tariff list and will not face additional tariffs of 10 percent,” USTR confirmed to Christianity Today in a statement.

Christian publishers and Bible translators were becoming increasingly concerned by the Trump administration’s refusal to back down from a trade war with China and repeatedly warned that financial restrictions on the printing of the good book would restrict its proliferation across the globe.

“For the past several months, there has been great concern among the Christian publishing community that our important work would be threatened by proposed tariff schedules,” the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, Ben Mandrell, told CT. “Today’s announcement by [USTR] has given us hope that the administration has heard our concern.”

Mandrell did, however, express concern at the word of God being “taken hostage in an international trade dispute.”

Other items that evaded the tariff charge included child safety seats, cranes used in ports and construction, shipping containers and certain types of fish, according to Reuters. Interestingly, rosaries, which are a staple in Catholic religious practice, remain on the earlier tariff list — they will fall victim to a 10% tax when the new charges come into effect September 1.

Still, the decision to axe tariffs on the importing of Bibles has been widely celebrated by Christian leaders. “I am pleased to see today that US tariffs on China will now exempt the Bibles printed in China,” tweeted Russell Moore, President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. The announcement is “welcome news” for many publishers and ministries, he added.

The ERLC also clarified why such an overwhelming proportion of American Bibles are printed in China as opposed to at home in the United States.

“Like encyclopedias and textbooks, Bibles contain a large amount of text that must be formatted to a bound book on thin paper. China has been specializing in this printing technology for decades and is home to the world’s largest Bible-printing company, printing at least 150 million Bibles in 2016,” the ERLC explained. “To import Bibles from a country other than China would require time, extensive quality tests, and higher prices incompatible with the high and consistent demand for Bibles in the United States.”

Source:
https://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/will-maule/trump-administration-spares-bibles-from-tariffs-on-chinese-goods.html

The U.S. Church Isn’t Dying and Young People Aren’t Fleeing, Says Myth-Busting Book

You’ve likely heard the conventional wisdom: The U.S. church is shrinking. Teenagers and young adults are leaving in droves. Atheism and unbelief are growing rapidly.

But a new book challenges those assumptions – and even says the truth is exactly the opposite.

The book, Myth of the Dying Church: How Christianity Is Actually Thriving in America and the World by author Glenn T. Stanton, asserts that church attendance in the United States is at an all-time high, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of the population. That includes the colonial days.

Stanton also says Americans are more attracted to Bible-believing churches that discuss sin and salvation than to liberal churches that avoid both topics.

Stanton – the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family – examined multiple studies and bodies of research for the book.

Christian Headlines recently spoke to him. Following is a transcript:

We hear so often that the church is shrinking today – that young people are leaving the faith, and Christianity is disappearing. You say this is not so. Why?

First, as I got into the research while writing the book, I was really surprised how much stronger the data on this topic actually is. It tells this story: The best forms of Christianity, faithful, Bible-teaching churches calling its members to real discipleship and vibrant worship, are holding very strong, even growing in some ways. The most troubling forms, those that’ve compromised on things like the deity of Christ, the historicity of the resurrection, the reality of sin and miracles as well as caving on issues of sexuality, abortion and homosexuality, those churches are hemorrhaging members by the millions and have been for decades. So the story here is a separating of the wheat and the tares, but certainly not a decline of Christianity.

So America is not becoming more secular, more unbelieving?

Not in terms of the people themselves. Yes, our culture seems to be in terms of media, Hollywood and journalists. But when it comes to people themselves, there is certainly not a mass move toward unbelief. I read an article recently from a major conservative news source that said atheism is the largest “religious” group in our nation. Not even close, for goodness sake. The Pew Research Center tells us that only 3 percent of the U.S. population is atheist. Only 4 percent are agnostics. For the people of truth, we can spread a great deal of falsehood. I’m trying to change that through this book.

We hear so much about the growth of the so-called “nones” – those who say they no longer identify with any institutional church. You say these “nones” are not what most people have been told–that they don’t represent a growing population of new unbelievers. Explain what you mean.

The nones are certainly the most misunderstood, and therefore most misreported, part of the story in all of this. Most leading, university-based sociologists of religion explain these are certainly not a new and growing category of unbelievers. The nones are largely those who were never really attached to a church in the first place. They are folks who might have said, “Yes, I’m Methodist” or “I’m Baptist” but they were actually only CEO Christians… Christmas and Easter Only types. Their pastor never knew who they were. But now, based on how survey questions are being asked, they are more comfortable being honest, saying they have no real connection to any institutional church.

Thus, the nones only mark a new categorization, not new unbelievers. Again, like the Harvard/Indiana research and other sources explain, there is not a growing secularization among people in the United States.

We also hear about young people leaving the church in largenumbers–that they are losing interest in matters of faith. You say that’s not true. What did you discover?

This is a very interesting finding of the book. First, we must know that every generation has seen their young people cool their faith practices. If you read the Puritans of the colonial days, they complained about the very troubling secularization of their young people. There never was a golden age of stalwart young believers. Goodness, look at the kids of the parents that had direct, audible intimacy with God. Cain killing Abel could be understood as “walking away from the faith.” The Prodigal Son also. So this age of development has always seen more “independence” in many areas of life. It’s the nature of moving into one’s own adulthood. Nothing new there.

But the truth is that we have more young people, age 18-29, regularly attending church today than in the early 1970s. That was the time of the really remarkable revival of the Jesus Movement. And where are they going? To the more conservative, vibrant evangelical churches.

Young people are not bailing on biblical Christianity. It speaks to the emptiness of the human heart and soul, and it does so to young adults.

People will often tell Christians they need to get with the times, stop talking about sin, miracles, salvation and start accepting things like gay marriage, sexual freedom and abortion or the church will die. You claim the exact opposite is true. Why?

This is one of the strongest and most interesting findings of the book. I included a chapter in the book, one I didn’t originally plan on, entitled “Stick a Fork in It: The Major Fail of Liberal Christianity.” It’s time to call the liberalizing effort in the church a major failure. People are voting with their feet. They are leaving the liberal, compromising churches in massive numbers. Some of those are just tossing the faith while others are going across the street to the more faithful evangelical churches, those that actually believe Christianity is true.

Get this very interesting finding: Two scholars from Columbia University and UCLA investigated where same-sex attracted individuals who attend church, choose to go. To their utter shock –they are very pro-gay researchers –they found that such people are 2.5 times more likely to attend more conservative churches, those holding an unapologetically biblical stance on sexuality. These scholars could not understand why gay- and lesbian-identified folks would choose to go to such “gay-hostile” churches. Well, maybe they find them to be quite kind and gracious, and the Bible teaching and worship enriching to their lives. The very people the rainbow flag-waving “we welcome all” churches are trying to attract are not interested in their liberalizing compromises. We must never forget that people will be attracted to the loving and truthful presentation of Christ’s life-giving Gospel.

What’s happening with the Christian church around the globe? Is there any good news there?

Oh goodness. Philip Jenkins from Baylor University is perhaps the leading sociologist of religion on the global picture. He says the Christian Church is absolutely exploding in most parts of the world, particularly what scholars call the Global South. It is exploding on the African continent, South America, China and throughout many parts of Asia. God’s Word is doing everything but returning void.

It is important for us to have faith in the unquenchable work of the Holy Spirit. What He did at Pentecost, where “many were being continually added to their numbers daily,” He is still doing today. His character and power dictates that He cannot do otherwise. The Church is in very good hands.

So not only is the “church is dying” mantra bad sociology, but it’s also bad theology.

Source:
https://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/the-u-s-church-isn-t-dying-and-young-people-aren-t-fleeing-says-myth-busting-book.html