24), though a couple’s mutual consent wasn’t necessarily excluded (see Song of Songs; Jacob and Rachel in Gen. In our culture, dating has traditionally been directed toward marriage, as it builds a deepened relational intensity and intimacy that can only be satisfied within marriage’s safe boundaries.
But without deepened commitment and ultimately marriage, keeping such friendships detached from commitment (platonic) will lead to frustration and hurt.An occasional date to a homecoming banquet or spring prom—particularly with a group of friends—can just be a fun time for a bunch of schoolmates to hang out together and nothing more.Furthermore, the dating system usually leaves all the decision making to the young person who is emotionally involved, often immature, and beset by peer pressure with little significant input from parents or church.Finally, the dating system tends to neglect the practical realities of life: sufficient education, an income-earning track record, savings, life experience, common interests, and conflict-resolution skills.The other, more common extreme is to plunge into a physically involved, romantic relationship.
This approach reverses the proper order of things, which should involve getting to know someone and building a friendship before engaging in physical expressions of affection that should be reserved for committed relationships.
In such settings, it’s quite clear one marries into a —something many Westerners could stand to learn.
Disney movies and novels commonly portray two autonomous individuals who “fall in love” and then forge their future together, often against all odds and objections.
These suggestions are as follows: drop that “faux spouse” who refuses to commit to you; follow the Golden Rule of dating (treating the person you’re dating as you would want someone else to treat your future spouse); don’t date until you are at a place in life where friendship can naturally develop into a flourishing, exclusive relationship; don’t kiss until you’re engaged—or even the day of the wedding; set patterns of faithfulness and self-control that will guide you through dating and marital life; observe how the friend in whom you are interested resolves disagreements, shows forgiveness, and handles disappointments and frustrations; before engagement, address general concerns about previous sexual experience. While “enjoying” the seeming benefits of emotional attachments, unmarried couples— though friends—may be avoiding the hard work of deepened commitment, but to their own harm.
A guy and a girl who aren’t officially dating may send texts to each other during the wee hours of the night, “chat” extensively over Facebook, or “hang out” with each other on their i Phones or i Pads.
As I note below, friendship should be the building block for potential growth in romance later on, since dating relationships face the ongoing temptation of physical and emotional intimacy.