by Scott Croft If you're reading this, you're interested in dating. In our society, dating has become something of an obsession. It's just something you do if you're single and of age (and that age is quickly dropping) in America. In fact, depending on which statistics one believes, the divorce rate for professing Christians may actually be higher than for Americans as a whole.
Modern dating tends to assume that a good relationship will "meet all my needs and desires," and a bad one won't — it's essentially a self-centered approach.
Biblical dating approaches relationships from a completely different perspective — one of ministry and service and bringing glory to God.
Some things it talks about explicitly, like salvation, or sanctification, or marriage, or elders.
The Bible guides us in some areas by broader, more general principles and ideas we can build on as we strive to live the Christian life in practical ways.
Modern dating tends to assume that you need to get to know a person more deeply than anyone else in the world to figure out whether you should be with him or her.
The biblical approach suggests that real commitment to the other person should precede such a high level of intimacy.
I mention the sufficiency of Scripture as part of the groundwork for this column because it's one of those doctrines that touches every area of our lives, and it is at the heart of the approach to dating (and life) that we'll talk about here. We may define biblical dating as a method of introduction and carrying out of a pre-marital relationship between a single man and a single woman: The Scriptural support for the idea of biblical dating is largely by example and implication.
No matter how practical or specific your questions or my answers get in the coming months, I will strive to have biblical support at some level for everything I say. We will look at a number of passages over the course of our discussions that support various aspects of biblical dating, but for the moment, let me just give you some references to study: Again, we'll talk more about these and other passages as we deal with specific questions. The very idea of extended romantic or sexual involvement outside of marriage doesn't even appear in Scripture unless it is described as illicit (sinful).
How can Christians think differently about this pervasive issue in media and culture? The answer to that last question is "not well." Surveys consistently indicate that professing Christians behave almost exactly like non-Christians in terms of sexual involvement outside of marriage (in both percentage of people involved and how deeply involved they are — how far they're going), living together before marriage, and infidelity and divorce after marriage.