Although this article is about using the Bible as a guide to dating and looking for a marriage partner (as opposed to popular secular ideas about dating), it brings out some interesting differences between Evangelical Christian reasons for marriage and secular reasons for marriage.
The author, Scott Croft, is an elder at an evangelical parish and he argues that although many people may resist the idea, the Bible offers advice for every area of our lives, including dating and marriage.
He points out that common practices like cohabitation, sex before or outside of marriage, adultery, and divorce are all extremely against Biblical guidelines and ideals.
He acknowledges that Christians make these mistakes all the time, and that many Biblical values are hard to reconcile with today’s cultural standards.
Some of the main guidelines he offers for “Biblical” dating are: it begins with a male approaching a female with the permission of her father/family, it is conducted under the supervision of the her family/church, and marriage is always the direct goal.
He points out, in contrast, that secular dating today values: either the man or woman initiating the relationship, the relationship is conducted privately without family/church authority, and that recreation or education can be the goal rather than marriage.
The lack of autonomy and equality in the “Biblical” guidelines presented by Croft I think is the main reason why people find this view so hard to accept.
I also don’t think these values are mutually exclusive with the idea of a Christian marriage.
In fact, depending on which statistics one believes, the divorce rate for professing Christians may actually be than for Americans as a whole.* Granted, not all of these people are evangelicals, but we’re not doing so well either. How can Christians think differently about this pervasive issue in media and culture? The answer to that last question is “not well.” Surveys consistently indicate that professing Christians behave almost exactly like non-Christians in terms of sexual involvement outside of marriage (in both percentage of people involved and how deeply involved they are—how far they’re going), living together before marriage, and infidelity and divorce after marriage.Indeed, the central issue we need to confront—and the reason I write and speak on this topic—is that when it comes to dating and relationships, perhaps more than in any other area of the everyday Christian life, the church is largely indistinguishable from the world.That truth has brought immeasurable emotional pain and other consequences to many Christians.Worse, it has brought great dishonor to the name of Christ and to the witness of individuals and the church. For Christians, the Lord has given us his Word, and the Holy Spirit helps us to understand it.We have brothers and sisters in Christ to hold us accountable and to help us apply the Word to our lives.If you’re a Christian, that’s the biblical life you’re called to. I disagree very strongly with Dobson’s view of integrated psychology and his methods of promoting his political agenda (although I often agree with him in principle).I believe that both of these errors, especially the former, are detrimental to the Church and the Gospel.Boundless magazine has published part 1 of a series of articles on ‘biblical dating’ by Scott Croft.It looks like it is based on the first of CHBCs core seminars on the subject, so I suspect the remaining articles will follow the rest of that course.Since there are various views as to what biblical dating should look like I am sure the various reactions expressed in the comments to the various biblical dating blog posts are only a taste of what’s to come.