Here in the 21st Century, it is a social norm for people to date before deciding to commit and later marry. This practice has become a norm in our societies over time as both men and women develop more of an appreciation for freedom of choice and autonomy and because of the deep fear of marrying the “wrong person”. People nowadays rather spend years getting to know someone before deciding to commit to lifelong partnership and this is more than understandable.
However, this is not how it has always been. Back in the olden days when women didn’t have much autonomy or freedom or much of a respected opinion, most, if not all, marriages were arranged with no dating before the vows were taken. Parents played a more integral role in the choice of partner for their child than the child did for themselves, and while I am not saying that all these marriages were happy and they all worked out, studies show that divorce has increased with the increase in autonomy between men and women.
Dating wasn’t normal back then
The first reason we don’t see dating in the Bible is because it wasn’t the cultural norm of the time. Women were subordinate to men while in our current day we are now seeing each other as equals. In my opinion, this is what God always intended since we were both made in His image and likeness, but pride poses a great issue. So to manage that, God made the male the primary authority.
Back in the Bible days, that authority was accepted and understood. Women were even sometimes punished for passing their place with a man and divorce was totally up to whether the man wanted it. In our current societies with women not only competing but dominating the work force, it gives men less of an authoritative foot to stand on and with no muzzle on a working woman’s pride we see the introduction of the “power struggle” between husbands and wives.
Dating isn’t necessary
Another reason dating isn't in the bible is because dating before the commitment was never necessary for producing a successful marriage.
As I mentioned in my previous article, you can get to know someone like the back of your hand, but the version of your spouse who works a 9-5 job is different from the version of your spouse who is CEO of their own business. The version of your spouse who is not a parent is different from the parent version, and the version of your spouse as the medical student is different from your spouse as the doctor.
The current norm of dating in order to determine someone’s suitability is understandable but misguided because the pendulum of life can swing either way with us human beings having very little control over it. Our aim shouldn't be just to know our spouse in order to determine whether they are worthy of our commitment or not. That is already wrapped up in our intrinsic value as humans made in the image and likeness of God. Besides, getting to know our partner will be a continuous journey that extends far beyond the wedding day.
Now, I’m not saying we should stop dating. Even though it is not in the Bible, that doesn’t mean it is an ungodly practice. However, I am saying we should stop relying on dating so heavily to determine whether someone is good enough. Not only is it painful, it isn’t effective because many people date for years before getting married and still divorce and I know of couples who get married after a 3-month dating period and remain married for life.
The true and biblical aim is to love your spouse through the changes life will bring, to stay committed even if your spouse has undergone a complete metamorphosis.
The principle of God’s Word
My wife chose a Scripture while we were dating that she wanted to use to characterize our relationship. It’s Ephesians chapter 4, verses 2-3 (NLT) which says,
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”
Wrapped up in these verses is the mindset every person ought to have if they desire marriage. If we all make the conscious decision to go against our selfish tendencies and stop relying on compatibility as much as the dating culture says we should, you will find that more couples will skip the long dating period, (which can be quite tricky to navigate) and jump right into the lifelong commitment.
You see, more important than compatibility is an understanding that in order to have a happy marriage, I need to prioritize my partner’s peace, joy, security and over all wellness of my own. I need to be humble and gentle, patient with my spouse when she resists doing things my way. I need to make room for her faults as they are just as much a part of her as her perfections. I need to make EVERY EFFORT to keep us united in the Holy Spirit despite our differences. If we all decide to make the principles of the Bible the benchmark by which we pursue marriage, I am very confident we will see a drastic decline in divorces across the world.
Darren Salmon is a 28 year old young man from Kingston, Jamaica where he read for his Bachelor of Science degree in BioTechnology at the University of West Indies. He became a follower of Jesus when he was 10 and has since developed a ministry of Christian Poetry for which he has gained a godly reputation. Darren is a joint 1st place recipient of the Tronson award for international young writers with Christian Today for the year 2019. To read Darren’s previous articles visit his weebly site at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/darren-salmon.html
Darren Salmon is a 28 year old young man from Kingston, Jamaica where he read for his Bachelor of Science degree in BioTechnology at the University of West Indies. He became a follower of Jesus when he was 10 and has since developed a ministry of Christian Poetry for which he has gained a godly reputation. Darren is husband to the lovely Mrs. Kimberley Salmon (previously Morgan), another talented young writer with Christian Today. Darren is a joint 1st place recipient of the Tronson award for international young writers with Christian Today for the year 2019. To read Darren’s previous articles visit his weebly site at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/darren-salmon.html