HOW TO START DATING IN GOD’S KINGDOM – Mike Patterson

 
 
 

HOW TO START DATING IN GOD’S KINGDOM

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Love is in the air at the Boston International Christian Church! Congratulations to our newest married couple Joe and Amelia Mack! Also to our engaged couples Peter Markarian and Jessica Polum and Andre Carreo and Mara Eagen! Finally, congratulations to the newest dating couples in the church Jackie Gomes and Aradhna Masih and Gianni DiFusco and Skyla Eastman. Do you feel the love?

With so many new dating, engaged, and now a married couple, it could be tempting as a single to ask “when is it going to be my turn?!” Certainly, disciples of Jesus have the conviction that disciples date and marry only disciples (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Yet even in the church, we can struggle on how to spiritually go about pursuing an interest in someone we like and desire a dating relationship with. Satan can even take things further when we allow feelings of jealousy, impatience, and lust fill our hearts. The scripture above shows that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. The condition is that we delight in the LORD! God needs to be first. God must be our ultimate desire. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. (Psalm 73:25). God must be our great reward (Genesis 15:1). Jesus commanded us to become like children to enter the kingdom of God. When you come into the kingdom, you must put away old worldly ways of dating and be completely humble to learn to date in a way that glorifies God. How do you begin a dating relationship in God’s kingdom? Here are a few biblical principles.

 

  1. Patience

“Love is patient…” 1 Corinthians 13:4

“So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” Genesis 29:20

Biblical love is long-suffering, willing to wait, and patient. Patience is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When someone is impatient, they are not qualified to date in God’s kingdom. Unspiritual impatience shows itself in many ways. It is not submissive to advice or input. Idolatry of dating itself or of the person is the root of impatience. The impatient brother or sister wants what they want right away. They are not at peace if someone tries to get in their way or encourages them to slow down. The question must be asked, why would someone not be willing to wait if advised to? The phrase “wait on the Lord” is used so many times in the Bible. Time allows what is in the heart to be revealed so that a proper foundation can be built. Are you willing to wait on God to make clear to you when it is time to start pursuing the brother or sister that you have an interest in dating? How does God do this?

  1. Advice and Community

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

In Biblical times when someone desired to marry, they sought the blessing of the community. Usually, a bride price was paid. In 1 Samuel 18:24-29, Saul (God’s anointed and yet evil king at this point) conspires to get David killed by sending him out to fight the Philistines. He tells David he will give him his daughter Michal if he brings back 100 Philistine foreskins. David trusted his God was bigger than men’s motives and submitted to God’s anointed leader. He came back with 200 foreskins and married Michal! David could submit to Saul’s direction (though ill-motivated) because he was submitted to God. The story of Jacob serving fourteen years under Laban who lies to him and takes advantage of him serves as another example of this principle (Genesis 29). The point is, you cannot stop God’s plans. If God desires you to be with someone it will happen, but you must remain submitted to leadership (Hebrews 13:17) and seek tons of advice. In the church, we strive to follow the biblical principle of seeking the blessing of the community. Everyone has a discipling partner as commanded by Jesus (Matthew 28:20) and we should seek tons of advice when it comes to making moves in pursuing a dating relationship. This helps guard hearts (Proverbs 4:23). Can you make your own decisions without seeking and submitting to advice? Absolutely! Will God bless it? Probably not. Remember, the way of a fool seems right to him. What stops someone from getting advice? Pride, and we know pride always comes before the fall. Consider these verses if you need to gain deeper convictions on seeking advice: Proverbs 12:15, 13:10, 19:20,  and 20:18. Decide today to seek the blessing of the community by seeking advice and submitting to leadership (Ephesians 5:21).

  1. Absolute Purity

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” Ephesians 5:3

The Bible teaches that we should treat our relationships as we would our own physical family, with absolute purity. If you are single in the congregation, do you in your interactions, physical touch, and in your heart, treat the opposite sex as your own physical sibling? I am very grateful to God that my first kiss and intimacy was with Chenelle (and in my life ever since I was baptized at 13 as a teen) when I was married! Maybe you can’t say that, but I want to encourage you; if you are in Christ, God sees you as a pure virgin! Chenelle’s white dress meant something since we strove for purity in our dating relationship and prior to dating. There were many shortcomings we had and times we were too close emotionally and physically but we would quickly confess and not allow it to go that far. It is complete foolishness to think you can handle being alone with the opposite sex. Paul admonished the church to make sure there is no hint of impurity. It doesn’t even have to be the act, but if it just smells or looks like it, it is a sin in God’s eyes. In the church, we encourage everyone to go on double dates. Singles should never be alone with the opposite sex to fulfill these verses. It isn’t about whether we trust each other or not, it is that we don’t trust Satan! He is a schemer and wants to take you out of the kingdom. More people fall away from God because of sexual sin. Emotional impurity can also be a huge challenge. Late night texting, flirting, talking about marriage, or spending undue amounts of time with someone does not produce a pure heart. We need to welcome correction and accountability in this area. Paul expected the church to hold each other to God’s standard of purity. Do you have absolute purity in your relationships with the opposite sex? God will only give his daughters and brothers to men or women of God he trusts.

  1. Date Often

“See to it, brothers and sisters that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:12-13

One of the most exciting parts of our church culture is “Kingdom Dates”. The Bible tells us that we need encouragement to prevent our hearts from becoming hardened by sin’s deceitfulness and eventually unbelieving! The brothers in the church are constantly tempted with the immodesty of the world and our sexualized culture. The sisters constantly get hit on and flirted with by men in the world. As brothers and sisters, we have a responsibility to encourage and protect one another. Kingdom dates are Saturday evening (or another convenient evening) where two brothers will ask two sisters on a date (or vice versa) and go out on a fun double date to encourage one another. There is nothing romantic about it or it doesn’t even mean there is a mutual romantic interest. The goal is to have an encouraging time and get to know the brothers and sisters in a pure environment. Christians need to learn to develop spiritual relationships with the opposite sex and unlearn the ways the world taught us to build relationships. Maybe you found a sister or brother that you want to start dating. Be patient, seek advice, be pure, and finally date often! That may seem strange if you like someone specifically, but love is totally selfless. Dating different brothers and sisters show you are concerned with all of God’s family being encouraged. I personally do not encourage my blessing to start dating in the church if the brother takes the same sister out that he likes every week. This shows a selfish heart which will hurt him later if things progress to marriage. If you have not wanted to go on kingdom dates with different brothers and sisters. I want to challenge you to repent and love your brothers and sisters. This also allows you to grow spiritually and see different qualities in different people to make a wise decision on who you want to date.

These are all just principles to delight in the LORD so that he will give you the desires of your heart. At the end of the day, you can make your own decisions and don’t need the blessing of the church to date if you take the unspiritual rout, but as the old saying goes, you will have to make your bed and sleep in it. After counseling many relationships and seeing the devastation that comes from not following these biblical principles, I encourage you to really consider the way you are going about pursuing a relationship in God’s kingdom. Talk to your discipler today and seek tons of advice and watch God give you the desire of your heart.  To God be the glory!

 

Mike Patterson