I've been kind of by the way, maybe slightly haphazardly, making a conscious effort to build some sort of foundational beliefs and convictions on Christian dating, and what the Bible says. My conclusion: While anything, when misused, misunderstood, and ill-represented, can be a matter of salvation, dating in and of itself, doesn't quite fall into that category for me. However, because I really do believe the Bible and the existence of an omnipotent, omnipresent, all-knowing God, with deep, intense, concrete conviction, its important for me to lay a foundation for what matters to me and my God in matters of the heart.
I've read a few books, so over the next few weeks I hope to share my reviews with you....succinctly, 'cause Lord knows I can ramble ya'll. :) The first book was "Choosing God's Best" by Don Ranikaur. The book has a few things I agree with and some I disagree with. But the overall gist is that the Bible promotes "courtship" over dating, when it comes to relationships. Ranikaur talks about various stages of friendship: acquaintance, casual, close, and then intimate as a foundation that forces people to develop patience and time to really build something worth standing on. I agree with that because once the looks fade, and all you're left with is a flabby, saggy, baggy ex-supermodel, you'll really wish you had something more substantial to stand on (and maybe something better to look at, or at least some sunglasses). The Proverbs actually mention this reality: "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting.." (Prv.31:30a).
Ranikaur then goes on discuss the stages following intimate friendship, the next being courtship, where one's church family and physical family (given that they are righteously minded, or void of detrimental relational issues) are involved in the entire process. Courtship is a public affair, think of your favorite Jane Austen book, where everyone is made aware of the interest between the couple and nothing is hidden, no seclusion, nor any excessive one-on-on interactions. The courtship process is short and is time for building strong ties with family, friends, and strengthening bonds with each other. Courtship is then followed by engagement which is also short, basically enough time to plan a wedding and develop a deeper emotional oneness. And then comes the wedding union and physical oneness. The premise of Ranikaur's suggestions assumes that you are a Christian who is wholehearted about following God and the bible and that you have your spiritual, emotional, relational, and vocational foundation laid and solid before considering a spouse. Ranikaur also presents the fact that God gives us free will, but wants us to wait on Him to bring us the best choice, in oppose to simply settling for a "good" choice. God will never make the decision for you, but He will expect you to seek him and advisers, wait on Him, and trust Him through the entire process.
How do I feel about this?
I think that aside from a solid and secure relationship with God, a great friendship is the second best foundation of anything worth having, especially male- female relationships. I also believe that if Jacob had the love, patience, and trust to wait 14 years for the woman he loved (Gen.29), what are we rushing for? I desire the next man I date to be the man I marry, so I'd rather someone know me and all my jacked-up flaws and exactly what they're getting, instead of dating for 3mos and realizing they rushed into it...or worse get married and divorce because they didn't count the costs of making the commitment (Lk.14:28).
God made a commitment to unconditionally love a jacked-up person, faithfully and flawlessly, no matter what...shouldn't we also hold ourselves to that same standard in friendships and relationships (Jn.13:34)?