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If you’re like most, you have two hopes for your dating life:

  1. That it will be enjoyable (define this how you will: fun, exciting, romantic, crazy, unexpected, sweet, mysterious, all the above)
  2. That it will be successful (this assumes no heartbreak, and for most it would assume ending in a “happily ever after” marriage with “the one”)

At Future Marriage University (FMU) we believe it can be both enjoyable and successful, but not by accident.

That’s why last week we shared the 4 Facts You Want to Know Before You Get Their Number. I suspect most readers were open to prioritizing the first three of those facts, but I fear many might have felt the fourth a a tad over-the-top, so I wanted to address it further in a post all it’s own. Here it is again:

I urge you to find out where someone stands with Jesus before finding out their number.

The Only Condition for Marriage

Unless you’re involved in street ministry or door-to-door witnessing, asking someone about where they stand with Jesus is generally not the way to strike up a conversation; certainly not with a person you’ve only just met. (“Hey, I’m Michael Johnson, but you can call me MJ. Speaking of ‘call,’ have you ever ‘called’ on Jesus? If you call upon His nameth ye shallot be savedeth!”)

You don’t do this on the first day of class. You don’t do this at a business conference. You don’t do this with someone you meet at a restaurant. You don’t even do this with someone you meet at church.

So why would I make the weird suggestion of seeking someone’s spiritual status before seeking their number?

It’s simple. I want the very same thing you want for yourself. I want your dating life to be both enjoyable and successful. Further, I believe God wants the same! That’s why He gives us His word, to guide us in achieving both: joy and victory.

You may have derived the idea that God’s law is about limiting your freedom and enjoyment, but nothing could be further from the truth (if you believe the Bible, anyway).

The God of the Bible is the Creator God who understands how creature and creation work – like how they work best – from the big picture right down to every minute detail. And God’s specialty (if someone who knows everything about everything could be said to have a specialty) is in how His creatures work together (ie get along with each other, or love one another).

So let’s look at just a couple quick verses from God’s word:

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.1 Cor 7:39 (ESV)

If you didn’t know, this verse presents the only requirement given in the New Testament for spousal selection.

Free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”

That may not be much to go on, but instead of wishing there were more, let’s consider that if there is only one stipulation placed upon our search for a future spouse, perhaps we ought to take it seriously. Even more so, since this one condition is echoed (in the converse) in 2 Cor:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?2 Cor 6:14 (ESV)

But it’s just a Number! Not a Marriage Proposal.

One might counter, “OK, so I shouldn’t marry an unbeliever, but what could be wrong with just dating one?”

We hear that a lot. And how would I respond?

Well for starters, I would point out that there was no such thing as “dating” in New Testament times, so of course Paul wasn’t going to address limitations for it. (He doesn’t address limitations for nuclear fusion, social media, or space travel either.)

Then I’d challenge any objector to consider the following arguments, that follow a similar train of thought:

“OK, so it’s wrong to kill someone in cold blood, but what about just pointing a loaded gun at their head, but not pulling the trigger?”

“So it’s wrong to actually steal someone’s money, but what if I borrow it temporarily, fully intending to give it back after investing it and making a little something for myself?”

Can you see a similar dishonesty in this contention: “OK, so I shouldn’t marry an unbeliever, but what could be wrong with just dating one?”

Can we drop the pretense, please?

If you just want to hang out with unbelievers, WONDERFUL! We encourage all spiritually mature believers to do that. It’s what Jesus did. But He did so to minister to their needs. He loved, served, honored, challenged, healed, taught, encouraged, and warned them. He didn’t date them, flirt with them or in any way entertain romantic intentions toward them.

Now at this point, you may be thinking, “OK, I understand the importance of limiting my dating options down to believers, but getting a number is not a commitment to date someone. It’s just a number.”

I concede. Getting a number is not equivalent to a dating commitment, or even a date invitation, but what I want to make sure you understand is that once you start letting your heart lead you with feelings, (“Me likey! Get number! Get Number! GET NUMBER!“) it makes it difficult to ever get your brain involved discerning the facts.

Illustrating this reality right now, is a guy I know, respect and care about deeply who’s pursing a young lady, despite discovering her relationship with Jesus is not the priority it has been for him.

However, because the laws of attraction have already begun to take effect, he’s rationalizing what he never would have before: a potential dating relationship with a woman who clearly hasn’t delighted in and depended on Jesus the way he has over the last several years.

If you haven’t guessed, this relationship started with “just a number.”

Stop Second-Guessing God

We see scenarios like the previous happen all. The. Time.

This is why the Bible never encourages us to follow our hearts wherever they lead us and instead encourages us to set our hearts on our first love and let Him lead us.

Look at it this way. If you share your love for Jesus with someone you just met and they be like, “Uhhhhhh… that’s nice. Um. Whatever,” it’s not the end of the world. Plus you just learned something important! This person doesn’t need an intimate relationship with you. They need an intimate relationship with Jesus. (And, no, odds are against you being the missionary called to lead them to Him.)

I’m not saying you need to get a person’s full testimony in writing, complete with references and proof of church membership. But, before you go for their number, at least find out whether Jesus seems to be their BFF, just a familiar name, or an important part of their favorite profane expression.

But how does this whole idea of getting someone’s relationship status with Jesus ahead of getting their number help promote both your enjoyment and success in dating?

Simply put: it saves you precious time, emotional energy and heartbreak.

No doubt about it. It’s fun trying to get that magic number. It’s fun looking at it, fantasizing about calling (or texting) it; imagining how cool it would be if this magic number wound up belonging to the magic person: “The One!” MAGIC!

Seriously – no sarcasm – that’s all a lot of FUN! That’s exciting! However, it’s also a rather childish way to begin a healthy relationship. (After all, most adults don’t put a lot of stock in magic.) It’s also risky, and more often than not, results in disappointment.

Now God isn’t opposed to using disappointments in your life to mature you, but He does not lead us into ill-advised relationships to teach us lessons. To the contrary…

Unless you’re called to celibacy, God wants to lead you into a life-giving, life-long marriage.

But while we often want to go for the enjoyment right away and just hope things work out for the best,  God puts the “success” goal ahead of the “enjoyment” goal, knowing that wisdom, discretion, patience, perseverance and faithfulness will lead to both in the end.

To summarize, being “in the Lord” is the only New Testament condition for marriage, so don’t wait to find it out. Instead, honor Jesus by sharing your love for Him with everyone you meet, including anyone you think you might be interested in.

Because let me tell you from personal experience, there’s nothing more enjoyable in life than sharing a common love for Christ with my best friend, lover, ministry partner and wife, Julie. Even when we’re in the thick of it, struggling with parenting, ministry and sometimes just each other, our life is an adventure! An adventure we wouldn’t have even survived for this long without our faith in Christ. Much less, learning to thrive!

I want a marriage like this for you, which means I want to help you pursue a dating life that’s both enjoyable and successful. That passion drives every word I type here. And, again, I believe Gods’ longing to lead you into life-giving relationships (whether that includes marriage or not) dwarfs mine like the sun does the earth.

Trust Him to lead you! He loves you. He knows you. And He already knows your number.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” – Jesus (Luke 12:6-9 (ESV))

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

Dug this weekend’s DNA? Be a good friend and share with your friends on the social media platform of choice: Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter.

Want to go beyond what a blog post can accomplish? The LoveEd discipleship series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE!

It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.

Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better?  And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!