As a recent newlywed, I can attest to fact that dating can be an awkward and immensely rewarding stage of life—full of joys, challenges, temptations, and blessings. Recently J. D. Greear, Jen Wilkin, and Derek Rishmawy discussed what pieces of advice they’d give to couples in the dating stage.
Rishmawy, who previously served as director of college and young adult ministries at Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Orange County, California, offers “one general piece” of advice for couples desiring a God-honoring relationship: be committed to the local church. This, he says, is a key marker of a healthy Christian relationship: “The biggest job is encouraging the other person to be in the church, plugged in, butt in the pew, listening to preaching, [and] in godly relationships with other people.” Failure in this doesn’t bode well, Greear adds. According to Rishmawy the greatest danger isn’t sexual immorality but turning the other person or the relationship into an idol since other sins flow from this source.
Wilkin offers a warning for those who who gladly affirm biblical gender roles. Wilkin, who writes, speaks, and teaches women the Bible, enourages women to be sure that a man celebrates her strengths and doesn’t feel threatened by them. “Your strengths matter for your marriage,” she says. “A potential husband should celebrate your strengths and want you to flourish in things you’re good at and to gently help you in your weaknesses.” She adds: “You should never have to dumb yourself down to be appealing to a spouse. That seems like a bad recipe for dating.”
Greear underscores that physical attraction can be intoxicating and misleading. He quotes Proverbs 11:22: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” Again, the church is important here, since others around the couple see beyond the beauty (or the lack thereof) and can see character. The pastor of The Summit Church in North Carolina wraps up by encouraging couples to “delay and diminish the physical component of their relationship.”