Dating is a stage of romantic and/or sexual relationships in humans whereby two or more people meet socially, possibly as friends or with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in a more committed intimate relationship or marriage according to Wikipedia. Now, if we talk about dating, what comes to your mind? Well, there are different views when it comes to the issue of dating especially believers. Some say it is not good for Christians; whilst others say it is good just like it is for any other person regardless of religious beliefs. Both arguments have valid points. However, the challenge is with the conclusion an argument draws. We shall look at the two arguments and then draw a conclusion. According to Wikipedia, dating is a stage of romantic and/or sexual relationships in humans whereby two or more people meet socially, possibly as friends or with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in a more committed intimate relationship or marriage.
The argument against dating
The conclusion against dating is as a result of the negative tendencies according to the proponents of this argument. Here are some of the tendencies:
1) Dating does not necessarily lead to commitment but to intimacy. Becoming intimate without commitment to each other is not desired for various reasons.
2) Dating tends to skip a very important stage of a relationship, which is friendship. Friendship is very important and it should precede a committed love relationship.
3) The dating couple substitutes the love relationship for a physical relationship. It has been noted some people quickly enter into a sexual relationship before understanding what true love is.
4) Dating isolates a couple from other important relationships most of the time.
5) In most cases, dating distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future.
6) God’s gift of singleness gets overlooked. Dating tends to cause discontentment with singleness and yet it is also a wonderful stage of life.
The argument for dating
May it be indicated that as much as the problems indicated in the argument against dating are valid and genuine, they are not necessarily caused by dating in itself but by the people involved in it. That means if one avoids dating, it does not mean the stated problems will be cured. The cure for such problems is the same as that of other life issues. What is the cure of life issues? The Bible is. The Bible is needed to ensure spiritual growth and maturity as much as it is needed in handling relationship issues. The problem lies with the issue of values and characters of the people involved. Avoiding dating cannot remove such problems if they exist in the lives of these people who are dating. There has to be set boundaries during the dating period.
What are the benefits of dating?
1) People get the opportunity to learn about themselves, others, and relationships before commitment. This provides a safe context. One gets time to discover the opposite sex and skills on issues of relationship. This must be done around people who care about you. This may include your parents, friends, youth pastor, coach, and others.
2) Provides a context for working through issues. That which people value now may change overtime. What you value now may not be good for you in the future. So dating allows you to discover your long term values. You might not marry the person you first loved. Why? Some changes take place as you discover yourself.
3) Relationship skills are built
Some necessary skills are not learned in families. A lot of work and skills are required in intimate relationships. Communications, trust, listening, sacrifice and honesty issues arise during the dating period. You become aware of your immaturity. You get to learn about relationship and how one function in a relationship.
4) It heals and repairs
Some people pass through hurts when they are young. They may have missed an opportunity to be loved. You find that they never experienced love. During dating they start feeling loved and accepted. That way they receive healing from someone that accepts and nurture them. The interesting thing is that many people do not marry their first love. This first relationship tends to be an environment for growth and healing to some. These singles get prepared for their final love relationship.
5) Dating is relational and has value in itself.
Some people use others selfishly in dating. They use it for self-gratification. However, some enjoy knowing the other person. So they give and receive in a godly way, interestingly not in a way that leads to marriage. Unmarried people do not share parts of themselves as they are expected to restrain from sexual intimacy. That is true love. Love that rushes to sex before knowing each other and getting married later is not true love.
6) You get to know your likes and dislikes in the opposite sex
There is so much that one learns about relationships during dating. One might desire to get something opposite what he experienced from relationship in a family situation. But he may discover that for a love relationship there is more than what he is making up for. You may discover that the attributes you thought you needed are not necessarily what is good for you.
7) You learn self-control and delay of some other gratifications
Some people think that a love relationship is just about sex. Sex needs to be forgone in dating. First learn to relate and to care for each other without sex. Once you mature in that first, there will be fewer problems once you get married. After getting married you can then climax your love with sex. Let there be boundaries in your dating and that will protect both of you. There is time for everything according to Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
There is a good reason for dating. Dating in itself is not evil or bad. Immature people overstep boundaries and then bad consequences follow. Handled with care, dating can lead to a fulfilling love life that will last. First learn each other and become friends and discover if indeed you are compatible for marriage. If you feel that you are not good together, terminate the relationship. Set boundaries help you both not to be clouded and then think you are in a true love relationship. Once you have developed the relationship and are both satisfied that you were meant for each other, you can commit to each other and then get married. After that you can start enjoying sex.