“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Whenever I am thinking on or praying about relationships, mine or other peoples, this verse is always an excellent foundation. God makes things work for your good, and that includes your dating life. If you trust in Him and listen to what he says about relationships, He will work for your good.
Dating is complicated, tricky, testing and can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. But it can also be joyful and Christ honouring. Doing it right is flipping hard and requires some serious dedication. I’m not claiming to have this down, or to always get it right. In fact, I feel able to talk and write about this topic precisely because I have got it wrong so many times and God has consistently shown me grace and turned my mistakes into good.
I have found that the main challenges facing Christian girls (and the ones I struggled with HUGELY) are dating non-Christians, not having sex before you’re married, and the christian relationship myth! I’ll briefly touch on these three things from what I’ve learnt in my own experiences.
But honestly, the main lesson I’ve learnt is a difficult one: it’s frustrating and easy to pretend it’s not true, but God’s way is the best way, like it or not.
Ready? Let’s go…
To start, the Bible pretty specifically tells us we should not be having relationships with non-Christians: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers…What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” – 2 Corinthians 6: 14-15
Your mission to share your faith with non-Christians doesn’t extend to dating them. There is good reason for this instruction, but I remember in my youth groups and with my Christian girl friends we would find so many excuses to ignore it, because we liked guys that weren’t Christian and wanted to justify ourselves!
It’s so easy to do, but I have dated a few non-Christian guys and in my opinion, it’s not worth it. They may be amazing but in my experience, they didn’t pray for me, didn’t try and stick to the values I have, didn’t challenge me, weren’t be able to build me up in faith and not having that did not make the fact that they were cute worth the sacrifice.
I’ve been with my boyfriend 6 months now, not massively long but it is my first Christian relationship and the difference that makes is phenomenal. He points me to Christ, shares wisdom, prays for and with me, encourages me when I am feeling doubtful and fights with me to hold firm to my faith and the values we share. My experience, my getting-it-wrong, has taught me that you might not like what God’s telling you to do, but doing it WILL be what’s best for you.
This includes not having sex….
Not Having Sex Before You’re Married
I don’t know what you’ve been taught about sex, including maybe by your church, but I’ve found that often the focus is on young women’s purity, and it’s imagined that you will simply have to deny and fight off men’s advances.
This is not true. You will also want to have sex, and just because your boyfriend might be a Christian, don’t imagine that the temptation won’t be an issue. But again, I’ve done this wrong before, and believe me if you have a non-Christian boyfriend, sticking to this is a whole lot harder, and it causes huge amount of heartache and hurt. God set this rule for a reason, and it’s too clear in the Bible to try and argue your way around it (me and my friends tried that one too!): “The body is not meant for sexual sin” – 1 Corinthians 6:13. The Bible pretty much STARTS by telling us that a man (Adam in Genesis) “will be united to his wife” – Genesis 2:24.
This is so difficult to stick to but it’s what God wants from us, obedience to him is tricky, but worth it. But know that if you’ve had sex, you aren’t unforgivable. I’ve found that women having sex before marriage is often treated for some reason as a sin worse than others, it’s not. There is always enough grace, God’s love does not alter when you have sex: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” – Romans 4:7.
The Christian Relationship Myth
Finally, an actual Christian relationship is really not what you’d think! I imagined that when I did meet and fall in love with the guy God had for me that it would be easy, that I’d be a fantastic girlfriend and that he would never let me down.
That’s not the case, the only perfect love is the love God has for us. Christian relationships are messy, complicated and sometimes they break down. I fight with my boyfriend, sometimes he’s annoying, sometimes I’m frustrating or just not loving him properly. There isn’t a constant stream of sunlight around us. Real life is messy, and relationships are too.
But God is faithful, and prayer that he will sustain you goes a long way. Some days, love will be a choice, but that proves that it’s real. Heartbreak is not impossible for Christians, and the first guy you try to date in a God honouring way might not be the guy, there might not even be a guy (there’s an excellent post on singleness here, sooooo worth checking out), but “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit.” – Psalm 34:18.
Relationships are both wonderful and testing, but the best way to do them will always be God’s way, whether we like it or not. Your relationship with Jesus is ultimately far more important, but dating and marriage is a gift from God and if you listen to and follow what He says about it, it will be worth it!