Continued from Biblical Wisdom for Dating, Part 1: 4 Insights from Scripture
Because Scripture offers so much great wisdom for the fun, confusing, and at times heartbreaking world of dating, we decided to give you three more biblical insights on the subject. Check them out below:
- Date a person, not a project (Gen. 1:26–27)
One unique thing about human beings is that we are all made in the image of God. The very first book of the Bible declares this reality. As a result, this means that all people should be treated with dignity, regardless of opinions, gender, disability, ethnicity, spirituality, or even personal life choices.
However, if we go into a relationship with someone thinking that by dating them, we will help them “get better” in some area or “grow out of” something, we are treating them like a project that needs our fixing, and we do not honor the image of God in them.
We are treating them like a patient, not a partner.
If a person we have romantic feelings for is not living their life in a manner that we believe is healthy, wise, or safe, we should not date them! Though dating can (and should!) be a place of mutual learning, growing, and even healing, we should never get into a relationship in an attempt to fix or heal someone else. This is not only unwise, but it is patronizing to the other person. If someone you are close to needs help in a more serious sense, they should seek it from a nonromantic peer or mentor, possibly even from a spiritual counselor or a professional therapist.
- Authenticity does not negate compromise (Eph. 4:15)
When we are in the early stages of a dating relationship, of course, we want to put our best face on—we probably aren’t going to talk about our deepest struggles on day one! However, we should strive to be as authentic as possible and not pretend to be someone we’re not.
Ephesians 4 says that we should speak “the truth in love” to each other. To pretend to be someone you’re not in order to appease someone else is never a loving thing to do because you are not allowing that person to get to know the real you. We can be truthful about our likes, dislikes, values, convictions, and interests while still showing love for the person. Being honest does not mean being selfish; for example, just because you have admitted to your date that you don’t enjoy country music does not mean you can command never to have it played in the car! The healthiest relationships are the ones where both parties can be authentically themselves but allow for compromise; they are both frequently willing to defer to the preferences of the other.
Of course, part of getting closer to someone is learning more about them, and as you do, your date may invite you to participate in things that you have never considered or maybe have considered, and … don’t think you’ll like! However, being open to learning about your partner’s hobbies and interests, and even getting out of your comfort zone to participate in those interests with them, does not mean that you are pretending—just be honest and kind about how you feel afterward. We may learn that we really do like tennis, after all! However, if it’s not for you, then tell them—but don’t mock, demean, or dismiss their own love for that thing when you do. We can—and should!—be truthful about who we are while being loving.
- Ego destroys; humility heals (1 Peter 5:5b)
S. Lewis wisely wrote, “to love at all is to be vulnerable.” The process of getting to know someone who is different from you and learning to care for them, respect them, bring joy to them, comfort them, serve them, and support them is an incredibly humbling experience—one we will not always get right!
No matter how much we “click” or how much fun we have with our date, we will not love that person perfectly every time. We will accidentally hurt them—and they will hurt us! We will have to say, “I’m sorry.” We will need to forgive. We will disagree on things big and small.
In these moments, we can choose to cling to our hurt pride and run away, lash out, or hold grudges—or we can choose humility. For a Christian, exercising humility is not an option. In more than one place, Scripture reminds us that God opposes the proud but gives grace and favor to the humble. Over and over again, we are called to show humility not just before God but also toward one another.
We are not infallible. We can mishear, misremember, misjudge, and misspeak. But this is not the end of the world! Often, loving one another well means admitting we are wrong, could have done better, desire to do better, and will strive to do better next time. As Christians, admitting that we are not perfect aligns us with the gospel! We will fail, yes—but we are forgiven and loved by God.
If we desire deep, lasting, true intimacy with another person, humility is the ultimate non-negotiable.