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Make decisions prayerfully and intentionally before diving in. Invite other people to look into your relationship. Trade some titillation for trust, surprise for clarity and confidence. This does not mean that we should serve because we might find love. When I say missionary dating, I mean dating that displays and promotes faith in Jesus and his good news, a dating that is in step with the gospel before the watching world. Just as in every other area of your Christian life, you need the body of Christ as you think about whom to date, how to date, and when to wed.
As we establish some mutual boundaries, small and large, and commit to keeping them together, we develop depths and patterns of trust that will serve our intimacy, covenant-keeping, and decision-making should God lead us to marry each other. Boundaries make for the best of friends. Trade some titillation for trust, surprise for clarity and confidence. You will be hard-pressed, though, to find a couple regretting the boundaries they made in dating, while you will very easily find those that wish they would have made more. While spontaneous plunges into intimacy look great in chick flicks and feel great in the moment, they breed shame, regret, and distrust. And just like sex, all these things could be really good and safe and beautiful, but in the context of your covenant. As followers of Christ, we really ought to be the most careful and vigilant. While you might be the one with the final say, you might not be the best person to assess at every point. Spend time together with other people, couples and singles, who are willing to point out the good, the bad, and the ugly. Invite other people to look into your relationship. Consistently include your community. Boundaries are necessary because on the road to marriage and its consummation, the appetite for intimacy only grows as you feed it. The idea is to look for love in the right places. Some of our best friends in the battle will be the boundaries we set to keep us pure. When I say missionary dating, I mean dating that displays and promotes faith in Jesus and his good news, a dating that is in step with the gospel before the watching world. Just as in every other area of your Christian life, you need the body of Christ as you think about whom to date, how to date, and when to wed. Even praying together or talking for hours upon hours on the phone can create unhealthy overdoses of intimacy with not-yet spouses. Let all your dating be missionary dating. Satan wants to subtly help you build marriage and family idols that are too fragile for your not-yet-married relationship. Guard your heart and imagination from running out ahead of your current commitment. Get involved in a community like that, serve each other, and look for God to open doors for dating. No, I am not encouraging you to date not-yet believing men or women. Make decisions prayerfully and intentionally before diving in. The trajectory of all truly Christian romance ought to be marriage, so it should not surprise us that our dreams and expectations, our hearts, race out ahead of everything else. It may lead to hard conversations or deep disagreement, but it will force you to deal with things you did not or could not have seen on your own. This does not mean that we should serve because we might find love. God is not ultimately honored with that kind of self-serving service.
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