Sure does feels like the pressure of dating earlier and earlier has fallen more and more on our generation today than ever in the past, doesn't it? I've recently seen TV shows that are asking kids as young as elementary age if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend. In the midst of all of this, it's important that we take a second to step back and look at what the purpose of dating should be, when we might be ready to start dating, and then examine what kind of person a Christian may pursue romantically.
Before you pursue a godly romantic relationship, you must remember that you are first in a relationship with Christ. If God is not your everything, you'll turn to your SO as your god, depending on them for love and self-worth. That's too much to expect of a person (not to mention it's idolatry), but loving you and supporting you is never too much to ask of God.
You also must understand God's design for romantic relationships and marriages. I know this sounds like a lot, but stay with me. For the follower of Christ, dating should be viewed through the lens of future marriage. That doesn't mean you're going to marry the first person you date, but it also means that you shouldn't date "just for fun" or to fulfill selfish pleasures and desires. To date for self-gratification isn't good for the heart and can end up being unfair to both people involved.
While the Bible doesn't address the specific question of "Which person shall I date?", God's Word is full of instructions about marriage, God's design for marriage, and what qualities make for a godly husband or wife. All of these things should be taken into account when it comes to our motivations for dating and choosing the right person to date.
Check out 2 Corinthians 6:14-16. It tells us that we shouldn't be in relationships with people who don't know Christ as their personal Savior. If you know Jesus, you have nothing in common with those who don't. 1 Corinthians 15:33 warns that "bad company corrupts good character." To partner with someone who doesn't believe in the Bible or follow God, would be to open yourself up to making decisions that aren't grounded in God's Word.
You can't worship and serve with each other if you don't both love and serve God. Marrying an unbeliever sets yourself up for a lifetime of struggle and heartache. It's best to find someone who already has a relationship with the Lord before you start dating them. They don't have to be perfect, but they should have a heart that seeks God's will—not their own. Otherwise, things will get sticky fast. (ALSO SEE: What if I fall in love with the wrong person?)
When looking for a potential spouse, it's important to not force anything. Start out with a good, strong friendship and get to know each other before you push for a dating relationship. They may not even feel ready for a relationship—even if you do. So allow them the space to make decisions for themselves without forcing your will upon your friend.
If you're looking around yourself and thinking, "There are no options here!" Don't worry. The time may not be right. You're pretty young (yes, no matter who you are!) and have the whole world ahead to you. Seek and pursue God with your whole heart, and in His perfect timing and knowledge, if it's His will, He will send the right person into your life when you are both ready.
Stephanie is a 21-year old with a passion to see believers grow and become passionate in their relationship with the Lord. She is a lover of sweat tea, sunshine, and the freedom that comes from Christ. In her free time, she can be found singing, playing guitar, writing or jamming out to Hawk Nelson, Phil Wickham, and worship music. Her dreams are to become a worship leader and a published author, while living a life full of fun and joy that comes from the Lord.