Written By Eric Kai Ho Chan, Canada
We’ve all heard about the “right” way in which we should go about dating, and have been taught what is right and wrong. And we teach the same lessons to others, or judge others by the same standards. While these lessons are correct, we may not always teach them the right way or in the right spirit. Here’s some questions to think about:
Virginity: Are we forgiving?
Most Christians know that pre-marital sex is wrong. Scripture is clear about the importance of virginity (Leviticus 21:10–15), and the principle is so well-known that I knew about it even before I became a Christian. Many of us have also been taught about the aftermath of pre-marital sex, and how it affects both parties and their view of relationships and sex.
All this is right, of course—we should teach others about God’s law on sex and why it is important to be a virgin until we marry.
But what if some Christian singles have made mistakes in the past and are no longer virgins? Do our self-righteous or holier-than-thou attitudes make them feel like “damaged goods”? Does our constant emphasis on the issue make virgins view non-virgins negatively, as if they had committed an unpardonable sin from which they can never recover?
We need to be more forgiving. After all, we are all sinners and have stumbled in different ways. The book of Hosea tells us about how the prophet not only forgave his wife Gomer for her sinful past, but also forgave her repeatedly when she committed adultery again. 2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us that Christians are new creations. Let’s remember that it is important to forgive others and to forgive ourselves—and to teach others to do the same.
Dating: Are we being realistic?
Many of us are reminded to observe boundaries when we are dating, so that we do not fall into temptation. This of course is proper. Some of us may have also been advised not to date casually or told to avoid physical contact altogether. We may have been supervised in our courtship, or even tried to restrict others the same way.
Is this realistic? It is impossible to supervise a couple all the time. Besides, we may end up with couples behaving properly only because they know someone is watching, and not because they feel it is right. They may break the rules the moment the supervision is lifted.
Instead, I believe we should learn—and teach others—to be self-supervising “Josephs”, so that we can recognise temptation and flee from sexual immorality (Genesis 39:11-12). Then we will observe boundaries and know how to behave for the right reason.
The right values can also help to guide our motivations in how seriously we take dating and relationships—such as how far we should go if we are not considering marriage as an eventual possibility.
“Christians only”: Are we driving people away from the church?
The Bible talks about the risks of being unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). I believe that Christians should only date Christians, and also learn to discern the spiritual maturity of their dates.
But do we give singles enough encouragement and opportunities to interact with each other? Far too often, our ministries in and outside church tend to focus on children and married couples. Or we may even subtly discourage dating. This may prompt some of them to date people outside their circle of Christian friends, including non-Christians.
Perhaps we should try to grow a culture that more open to dating and encourage interaction between young people of opposite gender. We can organize social events for Christian singles in the community, and encourage them to interact with their peers in other churches and at events.