Dating, it’s a difficult task for anybody. Compromises must be reached and another person’s interests must be put above one’s own, but for Christians there is even more to be considered if a couple wants to go about their relationship God’s way.
First comes finding the right person. Most people have some image of what type of person their ideal wife or husband is; he may look like Captain America or she may sing like Taylor Swift and there’s nothing wrong with that.
God wants to know what one’s looking for in a relationship and knowing what one wants will help them find their match, Ronny Roa a teaching pastor at Mariners Church in Irvine, Cal. said.
“Psalm 37:4 says ‘delight in the Lord and give him the desires of your heart’ and I think what that says is that God wants to know the things that you want,” Roa said. “He wants to know the things that you desire. James 4:2 says that ‘we have not because we ask not’ so I think even there God is saying ‘ask of me the things that you want and the things you desire because I want to give those to you’ because what father wouldn’t want to give his kids what they want?”
While Christians may have an ideal list of qualities they’d like in their future spouse, the most important quality to look for is a love for the Lord, Roa said.
“I often talk about the golden heart,” Roa said. “See one of the things that happens in our society, in our culture, is we get so caught up in the physical appearance of people that we sometimes will make excuses for what’s going on in the inside and the reality is that if you find someone with a heart that’s gold, they love the Lord, their heart is for serving others and for serving God, then they’re going to have a heart to serve you.”
Another way Christians often find the one is a period of prayer before beginning a relationship. It’s a common way for Christian couples to feel confident the Lord has blessed their relationship.
Getting to know each other before beginning the relationship is important as well, Rene Lopez a freshman at UC Riverside said.
“They should be patient with it first of all and not rush into anything and before you even try to consider a relationship you should establish a friendship first because that will establish trust,” Lopez said.
Once Christians have begun dating the true trials and tribulations begin. The couple must learn to balance their new relationship and their love for God.
While keeping the relationship focused on God may be easy in the beginning, after time a couple can lose focus, as she and her boyfriend did, Rebecca Obara a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo senior and Brazilian exchange student said.
“In the very beginning we wanted to be sure that our relationship would be something to glorify God, something to make us be closer to God not farther,” Obara said. “So in the very beginning we would encourage each other, we would read the Bible together and pray together and yeah just spend a lot of time together and focusing on our relationship with God and there are around 11 months that we are dating and yeah after so much time we kind of noticed that we were not spending that much time focusing on God.”
As the relationship blossoms it becomes very easy for couples to spend less time with God and become more focused on one another. Not only can God be excluded but also friends which can lead to trouble, Roa said.
“There’s a concept that we talk about, inclusivity vs. exclusivity,” Roa said. “What happens is that when people become exclusive that means it becomes all about them. So it’s the two people, it’s the boyfriend and girlfriend. They stop hanging out with their friends, everything revolves around what they do together and not what they do with other people.”
When a couple becomes exclusive (though inclusive couples are not immune) physical boundaries can be crossed which doesn’t exemplify God correctly to the rest of the world, Lopez said.
“I think college really revolves around sex a lot and they try to make it okay like ‘it’s okay to have sex as long as you’re safe’ but honestly like as Christians it’s our job to spread the word and when we are dating another Christian it’s our job to set an example of what a relationship should be,” Lopez said.
In order to follow God’s word Christian couples should abstain from sex until marriage and can keep pure by discussing where the line is, Roa said.
“Boundaries are so important because without boundaries you never know when you cross that line and it just becomes a slippery slope,” Roa said. “What are the things you won’t do? What are the things you’re going to subject yourselves to? What are the things you won’t subject yourselves to? I think having boundaries is key.”
Setting the boundaries between just each other though isn’t enough and the couple should have others to keep them accountable for their actions, Roa said.
“It doesn’t make sense to have some sort of boundaries between each other because those things can get lost really quickly, but if you have people on the outside who are holding you accountable to the things that you said you wouldn’t do, it changes the game and it gives you a greater sense of responsibility to each other and then to other people,” Roa said.
The most important aspect of a Christian couple’s life however is keeping Jesus at the center, Obara said.
“It’s very important to keep in mind that your focus is God and the first thing is obey His will,” Obara said. “Just keep praying for each other and keep reading the Bible together and try to encourage each other and to do that together because yeah a relationship is a blessing, so we have to be sure that we do it the right way.”