Author’s Note: This is the first part in a 5-part series called “Refocused Romance,” in which I explore different aspects of dating that often get little attention, particularly in the high school context. By this, I hope to simply bring up thoughts and questions by which we as a body of Christ can grow in our understanding of one another and of how we can honor God in the dating realm.
This second part is about how high standards are important to have, but not impossible ones when it comes to dating.
One of the most common things you’ll find as part of the discussion of dating in the Christian world is how to handle your “negotiables” and “non-negotiables.” Negotiables are the things that you’d ideally want in a spouse, but aren’t required and can be changed. Non-negotiable are the things that are requirements.
For example: a negotiable for me would be that the person I marry would be a soccer fan, particularly of my favorite team, Arsenal FC. That’s something that I could get over if she wasn’t. Fortunately, my lady is! Well, she became one. One of the reasons I love her.
But there’s really only one non-negotiable for believers, and this gets to my point.
Setting impossible standards for who you’re going to date is a waste of your time because you’ll never find anyone. The only non-negotiable that Scripture commands of believers is that they marry someone who is a Christian. That’s it.
I used to end up in this rut where I would have to evaluate the girl I was interested in by so many categories and so many things that I thought she “had to have” or “had to be.” Is she enough of this? Does she believe exactly this set of doctrines? It was overwhelming and exhausting.
What this kind of thought process often leads to is an impossible set of standards that absolutely no one can stand up to. We begin to expect perfection, and expecting perfection in a relationship is a waste of time.
Why? No one will ever be perfect. No one will ever be able to honestly say, “I am without sin.” 1 John 1:8 precludes that – “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” If we expect the person that we date or marry to be perfect, we’re deceiving ourselves, we’re ignoring truth.
So when you’re looking for a date or a mate, don’t look for someone perfect. You won’t find them.
Most posts would end there, but I want to add something: don’t expect yourself to be perfect either.
Like I said earlier, there can be a lot of pressure to feel like you have to fit a mold or be somebody specific before you get married or even start dating. You won’t be perfect either.
Of course, there’s some ideals you’d like to get to. When it comes to dating, it’s ideal that you’re able to afford to drive your date somewhere and you can pay for dinner. But besides that, there’s really no honest biblical restriction. Expecting yourself to reach perfection before you start dating means you won’t date, you won’t marry.
One thing I want to emphasize: dating when your identity is in that person instead of in Jesus is scary and potentially deadly. I’ll talk about that more tomorrow.
As a teenager, there’s a lot of pressure from Christian sources as far as who you “have to be” before you start dating. You don’t have to be anything. You’re going to face a lot the same struggles in teenage dating that you’ll face in adult dating: placing God before that person, physical interaction temptations, arguments and disagreements, etc.
Don’t expect yourself to be perfect or even good at relationships. I hope I never get to a place where I think I’m good at relationships.
But I always want to be learning, striving to know more, be more, grow more. My lady, and my God, deserve more. Just because we won’t ever be perfect doesn’t mean we can’t grow.
This is the Gospel displayed: God doesn’t ditch us because we’re not perfect. But He desires better for us. And it’s a good idea to bring into the dating world.