Straight Talk for Single Ladies - The "Don'ts"
Yesterday, I gave some general guidelines for single women as they enter the dating scene. To begin, we asked what is obedient, what is wise, and what helps us flee temptation.
Answering those questions certainly helps establish what to do in a dating situation. In addition to that, it helps to know what not to do:
Don't date someone you shouldn't marry.
Scripture tells us not to be "yoked together" with non-believers (2 Corinthians 6:14). A yoke refers to a crosspiece that keeps two animals together as they work. Much like a yoke, marriage binds two people together. If they don't agree on the most fundamental things (like Jesus!), they will be constantly pulling against one another. This principle applies not only to marriage, but to dating. Even if you don't agree with that statement, the easiest way not to marry someone who isn't a believer is not to date someone who isn't.
Don't idolize relationships or marriage.
Ever gone grocery shopping on an empty stomach? Came back with cookie dough, CheezWhiz and Cool Whip, then wound up sick for a week? That’s what it’s like when you idolize relationships. You end up trying to fill up your hunger with things that ultimately won’t satisfy. That guy you like? Even if he’s wonderful, he’s won’t fill you up. He won’t complete you. Only God can do that, and if you try to put him in the place of God, it will only lead to heartache for you and for him.
Don’t date a loser.
The Bible is clear that he who can’t be trusted with small things shouldn’t be trusted with big things (Luke 16:10-12). Leading a home, a wife, and children is a big thing! If he doesn’t exhibit character and faithfulness, don’t date him. If he lives in his parents’ basement, has no job (and doesn’t care to have one), and spends 90% of his waking hours playing video games, then he’s not the one.
Don’t be his buddy.
As Suzanne Hadley Gosselin observes, guys often lead women on, intentionally or unintentionally, by giving them one-on-one attention without intending to commit. With the prevalence of texting, this is easier than ever. Be careful; emotional attachment forms ever so gradually through these interactions. Often in this situation, the woman allows it, hoping the attention will grow into something more. But, as Gosselin argues, “If a woman feels her heart longing for a man who’s not pursuing her, indulging those feelings is unwise.” Be careful with your heart; don’t give guys unlimited access to you without any commitment.
Don’t make provision for the flesh.
Marriage is God’s context for sex. We are implored not to awaken desire before it is ready (Song of Solomon 2:7), exhorted to control our bodies in holiness and honor (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5), and warned that sexual sin is a sin against our own bodies (1 Cor. 6:18). But, as a relationship between a man and a woman grows deeper, intimacy and desire naturally develop. Even in a relationship that is otherwise God-honoring, it is easy to be tempted to act on those desires. In order to avoid this, it’s essential to put some safeguards in place. Pursue modesty. Avoid being alone together in private places (like your apartment). Surround yourself with accountability. It’s hard not to give in to temptation in the moment, so give sin a wide berth.
Don’t date if you’re not ready for marriage.
The longer you date, the more difficult it is to remain pure. As I mentioned above, the longer you are in a relationship with someone, the more desire naturally develops. It’s hard to stay pure over the long haul because our bodies are wired to act on those desires. In this way, indefinite relationships open the door to temptation, so I believe that dating is best saved for when you are closer to the age that you can marry (which, by the way, might be younger than you think).
Because dating is exciting and fun, it is easy to treat it less seriously than we should. But who and how you date matter a great deal. Failing to heed God’s boundaries and act wisely not only leads to heartache but pulls you away from Him. Our God is a redeemer and he works all things, even our failures, for our good and his glory (Romans 8:28). Seeking to date God’s way, however, has a glory all its own. A courtship marked by love, obedience, purity, and mutual honor sets the stage for a marriage that reveals the beauty of God’s will.