You’ve probably noticed this by now, but our culture isn’t doing awesome with the whole dating and marriage thing. Our culture yearns for good, fulfilling, lifelong marriages but obviously doesn’t know how to get there.
If you want something nobody else has, you have to be willing to do what nobody else does.
Here are six biblical resolutions for dating–uncommon, countercultural commitments, for sure–that will lead to the kind of marriage you long for, the kind of marriage Jesus wants for you.
1. Resolve to prioritize character over chemistry.
The Apostle Peter says there are two kinds of beauty that can be applied to both men and women: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3—4 NIV).
“Oh, but he’s so cute and his eyes are beautiful, and when he takes his shirt off, he has that six-pack.”
“But, man, have you seen her smile and her hair and the way she looks in that dress?”
Let me tell you: When your kid gets sick and you are on the way to the emergency room at 3 a.m., it doesn’t matter what kind of six-pack he has. All that is going to matter to you is if he’s the kind of guy you know will petition God in prayer, if he’s a spiritual rock that you can lean on.
When you lose your job, it’s not going to matter how white her teeth are. What’s going to matter is if she’s the kind of partner you know will stand by you and not go anywhere.
You are preparing to tie yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually to someone else for life. Because marriage is companionship and because it is permanent, character matters most of all.
2. Resolve to date for clarity, not intimacy.
If the purpose of dating is to choose someone to marry (and it is), and that means character matters most of all, then physical intimacy is something that, for the most part, you should keep to a minimum in dating.
Physical intimacy works like a drug; it intoxicates you. That’s not always bad: When you are in pain and you pop a codeine pill, the drug deceives you into feeling awesome. At times, you need that. But if you took codeine and then decided to go for a 10-mile run, you’re setting yourself up for trouble.
The same is true for relationships: When the drug of physical intimacy keeps you from seeing who the other person really is, you’re creating problems for yourself.
When the physical excitement of sex fades–which it will–all you are left with is a sick relationship.
3. Resolve to reject the “marriage completes me” myth.
In a sense, you always marry the wrong person. Why? Because your spouse is a sinner–and so are you. They will inevitably let you down. They will disappoint you. That’s not to say the choice doesn’t matter. But if we think the “perfect person” is going to make marriage a breeze, we are sorely mistaken.
What if you gave up the myth that there is a “perfect person” out there for you and instead understood that’s not what marriage is about anyway?
What if you saw that God’s main purpose in life is preparing you for himself, and that marriage is one way (though certainly not the only way) he can do that?
If we approached singleness this way, rather than being on a rabid, obsessive search for the right person who was the key to a happy life, we could put our eyes on Jesus and focus on following him, letting him supply our needs.
4. Resolve to seek God first and your significant other second.
When you reject the “marriage completes me” myth, you can put your eyes on Jesus and let him supply your needs.
The best marriages are like two people running down the road as hard as they can after God, where you look over to see someone running about the same speed and direction that you are, and you say, “Hey, where you going? Wanna go together?”
Become the person that the person you are looking for … is looking for. That way, if God has marriage in your future, great–you’ll be better prepared. And if not, you haven’t wasted a decade of your life.
5. Resolve to date “only in the Lord.”
If marriage is about having a lifelong companion, then why unite yourself to someone who doesn’t share the most important part of you?
Scripture is very clear on this: Talking about a single woman in the church, 1 Corinthians 7:39 says, “… she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (NASB). And, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? …” (2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV)
A yoke was a harness put on two animals to keep them pulling in the same direction. If your partner doesn’t share your faith in Christ, you will be pulling different directions when it comes to just about everything–your time, your money, raising your future kids.
We need to see that what Scripture says here is less of a restrictive rule and more of a loving guideline because to be unequally yoked to an unbeliever means you will never be able to share the deepest parts of yourself with them.
6. Resolve to date only in the context of community.
You need godly and wise counsel more in the dating stage of life than perhaps any other.
If there were no other practical reason to be involved in the church, this would be it. Sometimes it’s obvious to people you trust that there are problems with the person you’re dating or your relationship that you can’t see. This could include lust or flirtation problems, a failure to keep their word (which shows they are not trustworthy), or manipulative and controlling behavior.
You won’t have those godly people in your life if you are not connected to the church. God has already given you all the counsel you need. You just need to ask older, wise believers to speak truth into your relationships.
Countercultural, but Not Impossible
Dating is a time of testing. Are you going to be faithful in this? If you use this time to show that you can wait on God’s good plan, you won’t believe the ways he’ll bless you in your marriage and–most importantly–as a disciple.
This article originally appeared here.