Does God care if you date? Does He care who you date? Is dating even okay?
When it comes to relating to boys, here are the ground rules.
1. Find Your Fulfillment in Christ Alone
John 4:13–14 says this, "Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Only Jesus has the ability to fully satisfy. He used water to prove this point, but we can easily replace the water with boys in this analogy. No person—including your friends, your family members or your boyfriend—can meet your needs so completely that you will be fully satisfied. They weren't designed to do so. But Christ is able to fulfill every need.
Anytime we seek satisfaction, fulfillment, or happiness from a source other than God, we are bound to be disappointed. Until you have reached a place where Christ is your source of fulfillment, you probably aren't ready for a relationship.
2. Wait for God's Timing
"Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you ... Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" (Song of Solomon 2:7).
"Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you ... Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" (Song of Solomon 3:5).
"Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" (Song of Solomon 8:4).
Why do you suppose that the author of this book chose to repeat that phrase three times? This is an important point, and the author of Song of Solomon didn't want us to miss it. I don't want you to miss it either.
A relationship with a guy in God's timing can be one of the greatest blessings we receive in life. I can still fondly remember the season of my life when I was falling in love with my husband. The whole world seemed sweeter and my heart filled to overflowing with love and affection. I can also remember times when I chased love and intimacy prematurely. The guys I was chasing were not who God intended me to marry, and the timing was all wrong. I had my first boyfriend in preschool and I stayed in relationships from that point on. Obviously in preschool I wasn't ready to start a relationship with the purpose of heading toward marriage. The truth is, I wouldn't be ready for that kind of relationship for another two decades. The results of "awakening love" before the appropriate time were painful. I experienced many broken hearts, disappointments, and compromises along the way.
So when is the right time to pursue this kind of relationship? There are two important factors. The timing is right when you are in a stage of life when you are ready to consider getting married and when God has brought a man into your life that you are ready to commit to for a lifetime. Until these two pieces are in place, it is better to wait.
3. Honor Your Parents
Exodus 20:12 says, "Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."
Matthew 19:19 says, "‘Honor your father and mother,' and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Ephesians 6:1–3 says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother'—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.'"
This is just a sampling of the scriptures that tell us to honor our parents. There are more, and the theme is the same. As Christians, we are to honor the wishes of our parents. For some of you this means that you won't be allowed to date at all. Maybe your family has chosen to follow a courtship model instead. For some of you this means that you won't be able to date until you reach a certain age. Honoring your parents means to respect these parameters. Trust that their decision to have you wait is wise and the result of much thought and prayer. For some of you, this means that you aren't allowed to date a certain guy. If your parents disapprove, and especially if they have forbidden you to continue a relationship, the Bible is clear—your job is to honor them.
4. Pursue Emotional Purity
The truth is that no matter what model you use for your relationships with the opposite sex, you can get into trouble if you don't guard your heart. The Bible tells us to pay attention to this possibility "above all else.”
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (Proverbs 4:23).
You can experience a broken heart at any age. And while certain boundaries may limit the possibility of physical compromise, they may not protect you from emotional compromise.
This brings us back to guideline #2. Until you are ready to give your heart to a man for a lifetime and until God has brought the right guy into your life, it is dangerous to awaken love. Waiting is the best way to guard your heart.
4. Only Link Your Life with Another Christian
Second Corinthians 6:14–17 says, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said; ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.' Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.'"
To be "yoked" is to join your life with another. This certainly doesn't mean that we aren't ever to interact with non-believers, but we aren't to choose them as our partners to walk through life with. Additionally, verse 15 asks, "What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" If Christ is the center of your life, if you are seeking to please Him with your choices, if your ultimate goal is to serve Him and grow to be more like Him, you won't have much in common with someone who doesn't believe in Him at all. If your ultimate goal for your dating relationships is to head toward marriage, there is no room for intimate relationships with non-Christians.
The bottom line on this issue is that God is good (Psalm 84:11). His timing is perfect (Ecclesiastes 3:11, 2 Peter 3:9). You can trust Him with this area of your life (Proverbs 3:5–6, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 18:2). His truth is the solid rock on which you can build the foundation of every corner of your heart.