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[updated: 3/11/20]

What I’m about to say may not be very popular, but watch the popular decisions of the popular people you know and you’ll find things generally don’t turn out too well for them in the end.

This may not be what you want to hear, but please receive the following words in the protective spirit in which they were intended.

If you are spiritually healthy, you have no business whatsoever even dating, much less pursuing marriage with, a partner who is not spiritually mature.

If you can’t find potential mates with a wholehearted commitment to the Lord, ask God what He wants to give you instead. Many times God doesn’t provide what we want, but always what we need. Always.

Q: Can I just hang out with spiritually immature singles of the opposite gender?
A: Why do you want to?

The most likely answers to my question-within-an-answer are as follows:

  • You want to be a good witness.
  • You really just want to be friends.
  • In truth, deep down, you are interested in finding more than a friend.

If you want to be a witness, that’s an admirable goal. Certainly, many a man has followed a fine-looking female to church and a couple ladies have followed the lead of church-going men, but if you think this is God’s Plan-A for disciple-making, think again. Our God is wiser than that and we should be too.

As long as you can keep these sorts of relationships platonic you can preserve a winning witness, but what kind of witness is left after you fall in love with an immature believer (or unbeliever)?

Who would try to sell us on the idea that if someone isn’t drawn to the Lord through the truth we share or the example we set, that they’ll somehow be drawn to Him by the way we kiss?

You might want to believe, “I’m not going to fall in love with this person,” but you can’t really forecast that. You’ve probably been alive long enough to realize guy-girl relationships can be messy business. It’s not love-at-first-sight for everyone. For many, their emotions sneak up on them; what was friendly fun at first becomes intense infatuation. (Don’t you watch TV?) In fact, scientists now realize that the chemical reactions that occur in the body and brain when you “fall in love” can be as intoxicating as a drug-induced high. And as addictive.

God knows about that chemistry (He’s the one that mixed it up in the lab). He meant it for the bonding of a man and a woman for love, life, family and future, but Satan’s pretty adept at using it to break down understanding, trust and commitment between man and woman.

Your heart’s motive may very well be pure as snow, but please hold at arm’s length those friends of the opposite gender who aren’t seeking the Lord as you are. Believe me, God can find someone of the same gender to reach those friends of yours and you can pray that God sends them. Now that’s a wise way of reaching out to the lost.

Are you afraid if you don’t hang out with spiritually immature singles of the opposite sex there won’t be any members of the opposite sex with whom to hang out? Well, if you’re just looking for friendship there’s no reason why you need to find it with the opposite sex, is there?

Further, if fear is your motivation, be afraid. Beware if you find yourself acting out of fear. Adam and Eve hid from God because of fear. The Israelites doubted God over and over and over again, because of fear. King Saul offered his own sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel. King David decided to have Bathsheba’s husband knocked off instead of confessing his adultery. Jonah fled to Tarshish instead of Nineveh. The disciples abandoned Jesus. Peter denied Jesus. And Pilate delivered up Jesus. They did these things because they were afraid.

If you make the right move out of fear, it will be in spite of your motivation; not because of it.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18 (ESV)

Questions to discuss with a good friend or two:

  • What should motivate us instead of fear?
  • Do you find fear influencing your dating decisions? What should you do about that?
  • Do you find fear influencing decisions in other areas of your life? What should you do about that?
[If this post went down like a dose of “grace therapy,” you need to know something. God has more to tell you! This is an excerpt of the 2nd book in our discipleship series: Beyond Sex & Salvation. So seriously consider purchasing a digital copy and you will learn three key life disciplines for relational success; habits best best forged BEFORE you fall in love. Even before you date! Find out more or purchase the book at this link.]

A dating life that leads to a life-giving, lifelong marriage doesn’t happen by accident. You need to know what you’re doing.

That’s why I wrote Date Like You Know What You’re Doing to empower you to:

  • Discern God’s will for your dating life.
  • Avoid heartbreak, rejection, and regret.
  • Date with confidence and clarity.
  • Win the war over sexual temptation.
  • Let your marriage hopes inspire, instead of impede your dating life.

Learn more here!

[originally published: June 20, 2013]