September 25, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.”—1 Thessalonians 4:3–5 (ESV)
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”—2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV)
I once heard a youth pastor compare Christian relationships to building an ice cream sundae. The waffle cone or cup is the main foundation, followed by the ice cream, and lastly the toppings. This recipe for building a decadent treat can also teach us about building God-honoring romantic relationships.
First, we need the base. As Christians, our foundation is Jesus—His Word, His teaching, and a relationship with Him. If He is our foundation, our lifestyle and beliefs will reflect that. This means that believers should consider only other Christians as a potential partner, because a nonbeliever will have a differing lifestyle and worldview. How can two people run together if you’re headed in different directions? As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:14, what do light and darkness have in common? For Christians, the purpose of dating is ultimately marriage, so the unequal yoke between a Christian and a nonbeliever will make for a poor foundation to build a lasting godly marriage on.
Next, we need the substance. Christians should look for someone whose character and life reflect Christ in emotional, financial, social, and spiritual maturity—and whose company and friendship they enjoy! One of the main purposes of marriage is companionship, so if you’re seeking a life-long partner, ask God to bring someone into your life who enjoys the same interests as you, who loves to serve in similar ways, and who will be an overall addition to your life and walk with the Lord. Paul states that God desires our sanctification, so our relationships should be an instrument used to refine and sanctify us.
Lastly, the toppings—in this case, sexual intimacy. For believers, this should be enjoyed within marriage, so while dating, the goal should be to safeguard and protect this area of your relationship. Finding your partner attractive is important, but choosing someone for their physical appearance alone and ignoring other essentials such as their character is dangerous and unwise. Desiring to share this intimacy with your partner is a normal experience, but engaging prematurely in behaviors that God designed to be experienced within the covenant of a marriage distorts the ways our relationships are meant to reflect God’s holiness and love. If we mistake this “topping” for the bedrock of our relationships, we’ll miss the beauty of romantic relationships the way God intended.
So, whether you’re hoping to date or currently in a relationship, make God’s Word the foundation your love story is built on. Seek a life-long companion who will run the race of faith with you, and who will fight alongside you to protect and honor the intimacy made for your future marriage. In your pursuit of a romantic relationship, “seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT).
Pause: What has been the foundation of your dating relationships? How has that foundation affected your relationships?
Practice: If you’re currently dating, set aside some time to talk to your partner about your relationship. Discuss how your relationship can better honor God. If you desire to be in a dating relationship, reflect on how you can better honor God in your pursuit of romantic relationships.
Pray: Father, thank You for creating a roadmap in Your Word for how to live out my dating season. You instruct me out of Your loving heart, and what You require of me is for my good. Help me to walk in Your ways and to show my love for You in the way I conduct my dating life. Amen.
Gabriella Silva serves as a volunteer for Calvary’s communications and worship teams. She holds an M.A. in psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about integrating her knowledge of human behavior with the truth of God’s word. When she is not writing resources or singing at church, Gabi loves to paint, cook, and enjoy time outdoors with her family and friends.