I was flabbergasted and a little shook up.
About four years ago, as I progressed through the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I was flabbergasted that couples existed who waited to kiss until their wedding day and shook up because, if God commanded this, then I had already blown my chance over a high school romance.
Even still, something was not sitting right with me about this premise. So I went to my pastor.
We sat in his office and talked for a solid hour about the purpose of this book and the thoughts it advocated on dating. I still have the email he wrote to me, finishing up our conversation. He said:
“I also think we need to be wise about our dating approach. To go out to dinner and a movie with a “date” is one thing. To go for a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods is putting oneself in a situation where one is more removed from helpful boundaries…”
Helpful boundaries. Let’s talk about them. Quite frankly, the Bible does not give us a clear-cut, set-apart chapter called “God’s Way to Date.” In the Old Testament, we see Isaac pursuing Rebekah as a response to a specific prayer—and later, we see Ruth laying herself at the feet of Boaz’s bed! Not exactly clear-cut.
So how do we handle boundaries in dating? First, I think we should diagnose a problem that tends to run rampant with the mention of “boundaries”:
THE PROBLEM: When we do not connect helpful boundaries to the truth of the gospel, they manifest themselves as legalistic rules…and rules are bound to be broken because we are sinners.
In other words, there must be a deeper motivation than simply to be “moral people” during dating. Without this motivation, a foundation that all our actions rest upon, our moral efforts will be aimless and easily compromised.
For example, it is motivating to run a race when you know there is a finish line and why you are running in the first place; it is not motivating to run forever to no end, without any clue as to the purpose behind your running.
But, see, there is a point to boundaries. There is a motivation.
The point is the glory of God!
“But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).”
God knows what is best for us. He knows what will transform us into his image. He purposes to sanctify us to look like Christ. And when we look like Jesus, God gets the glory.
THE SOLUTION: The gospel of Christ means that even dating can be a response to what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Since the Christian’s identity is in Christ, we are freed from slavery to selfish ambition in dating to pursue boundaries that have God’s glory as their motivator.
So what does gospel-responsive dating look like? After experiencing a couple of unhelpful relationships, I finally met my husband, and the following gospel-motivated boundaries were helpful for us…