Be honest, who taught you how to date? My husband, Damien, and I were blessed. We both grew up as preacher's kids and in a two parent household. However, to be honest with you, we were never sat down and taught formally (or even causally) on how to date God’s way. Yes, even in a preacher's home! With that being said, we made a lot of mistakes trying to relate to the opposite sex, which led to confusion, sexual trauma, and heartache. Once we totally surrendered our lives and sexuality over to God, we both had a burden to do relationships in a God-honoring way.
After Damien slid into my DM’s on Facebook in February of 2018, (you have to read the whole story in #CompletelyMarried: Journey to the Altar and Beyond), we started to talk, eventually date, or what we like to call court, God’s way. We had to learn how to do that along the way. You might find yourself reading this article and wanting to do relationships God’s way as well, but not sure how to do just that.
If you’ll let me, I’d like to teach you how to date using 3 key principles: in community, in purity, and with intentionality.
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Dating in Community
If you want to date God’s way, you should do so in community and with accountability. Why? Because we always do better when someone else is watching. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (NLT). We are called to encourage each other, sharpen each other, and hold each other accountable in this Christian walk. While dating in the presence of other godly friends, those friends will be able to see red flags that you might not be able to see with your “puppy eyes” when you're in that “lovey dovey” stage. It’s important to take heed of your friends’ advice and submit to their godly wisdom and correction as brothers and sisters in Christ are supposed to.
I remember in a previous relationship, I ended up sneaking behind my friends’ backs to be around the guy I was dating at the time. I started the relationship off somewhat in community, but after dating him, my friends started to catch current habits and cycles from him. They warned me and told me that they don’t think I should be with him. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen and ended up compromising in situations which led to sin, brokenness, and heartache. Thankfully, I learned from my past and was intentional to listen to my girlfriends, who wanted God’s best for me.
Damien not only won the approval of my community, but he also had a community of his own prior to getting in a relationship with me. When we got together, we wasted no time in seeking an accountability couple to mentor us throughout our journey to marriage. We made it a high priority to get them around us immediately so we would not slip and fall. We needed them to teach us how to relate with the opposite sex with purpose and in purity (which we will get into more later) without hurting our walk with Jesus Christ. And guess what, we struck gold!
Besides our wonderful accountability partners, we also had Executive Pastors from Victory Church in Atlanta, Georgia walk alongside us and provide premarital counseling. They used an assessment tool called SYMBIS, which gave us unbelievably accurate insight into our patterns, habits, and personality traits, both the good and not so good. In our book #CompletelyMarried, we go in deeper on what accountability is, the characteristics of an accountability partner, and what an accountability meeting looks like.
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Dating in Purity
In order to honor God in our relationships, we must date in purity. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.” Sexual sin is nothing new. It was a big issue in biblical times just like it is today. Quite frankly, it’s not just a worldly thing, but many people inside the church are living in sexual sin as well. We as Christians are called to do relationships differently and stand out from the world.
As you read in the beginning, Damien and I have had to work through many things since we did not have a roadmap to date appropriately. One thing we had to seek healing for was with our sexual character. Damien was a virgin before marrying me. I, however, had a sexual past. Even though he was a virgin, he was not always walking in sexual purity, as he had to overcome a porn addiction. It’s not just sex itself that defiles us but anything that helps feed our lust.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. How can I live in purity if I already had sex before marriage or have been involved in other sexual acts? And that’s a great question. The good thing about God is He can supernaturally make impure things pure again. Purity is achieved only by accepting Jesus into our lives and as our Savior. His sacrifice cleanses us and purifies us from ALL unrighteous (1 John 1:9). We must accept Jesus’s sacrifice for our sins by repenting (turning away from our sins) and living a life of holy sacrifice. Paul instructs us in Romans 12:1 by saying, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
Damien and I no longer wanted to live a life filled with sexual immorality, therefore, we placed boundaries within our relationship to help us honor God with our bodies and date in purity. We set boundaries based on our past mistakes and weaknesses that went beyond just not having sex before marriage. We included rules such as choosing not to go over to each other's homes and not sending sexual things over the phone, to name a few. We didn’t want to tempt ourselves because we valued each other and our relationship with God. So, we encourage you to set boundaries in your relationship early, with the help of accountability, and especially to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit to help you date in purity.
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Dating with Intentionality
Dating God’s way requires intentionality. Though not all dating or courtships lead to marriage, marriage should be the potential goal. Again, we want to be set apart from the world, therefore we must date purposefully and not waste any time. There have been times in my past where I would date others knowing good and well I was not going to marry them and didn’t even have any business being with them in the first place. This only created soul ties and distractions in my life when I should have been focused on strengthening my relationship with God.
The time is up for staying in relationships or ‘situationships’ just to fill a void in our hearts that is only meant for God. We can no longer waste our God-given time. Ephesians 5:16-17 says, “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” We have to understand our “why” before we seek a relationship so we can be intentional when looking for our future spouse and not waste time dating random people. So, what is your “why”? Why were you created? Besides bringing God glory and joy, what do you believe God has you on this earth for? It’s important to know your purpose in order to have vision for your life. Intentionality means that you have a vision not only for your life but for your relationship.
Damien and I both knew our purpose and had vision for our lives before getting into a relationship. It made it that much more purposeful and peaceful once we got into a relationship. We were able to create a vision for our relationship that lined up with the vision God gave us for our lives, individually.
The question we want you to ask yourself and your significant other is, how can I better serve the Lord if I marry you? Godly marriages aren’t a distraction if there is godly vision. So be sure to date with intentionality so that you can potentially have a purposeful, kingdom marriage.
I hope you find these three principles beneficial in helping you learn how to date God’s way. May God bless you as you honor Him in all you do.
A Helpful Resource That Bridges the Gap between Dating and Marriage:
Is having a godly marriage truly attainable even in the 21st Century? Can you really have a God-honoring dating relationship while seeking purity all the way to the altar and beyond? You sure can! Damien and Kenady Nash want to decrease the divorce rate in the world before they leave this earth. They have co-authored their first book and created a virtual online course together called, #CompletelyMarried: Journey to the Altar and Beyond, which educates and empowers individuals using scripture as a blueprint to close the gap between dating and marriage. #CompletelyMarried is a unique and powerful resource chock-full of biblical truth intermixed with humorous anecdotes and real world experiences that will surely help you have the best start right from the start.
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Originally published Tuesday, 22 September 2020.