There’s something about January at church. Along with the cold weather and dark nights, it brings with it a flurry of activity in the realm of dating and relationships. (I could speculate as to why, but that’s for another time). With that in mind, we’ve got a series of posts coming up this term dealing with relationship issues.

Before we get into specific questions and topics, I thought it would be wise to pause and think about one massive principle that will give a radical overhaul to the way we relate to each other when it comes to dating.

This is the principle: the Christian is called to follow the pattern of Jesus by serving others. Here’s how Paul puts it in Philippians:

'Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.' Philippians 2:4–5

It’s the same idea that you find in Mark chapters 8–10. Jesus calls his followers to deny themselves and follow him. He goes on to teach his disciples that the main way this is worked out is as we serve each other; it's about putting others first.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that this isn’t particularly a dating principle. It’s really the Christ-like pattern for the whole of the Christian life. It’s the call Jesus makes to every one of his disciples. But that’s exactly the point. There’s no separate rule book for Christian dating; we’re to go about it as Christians.

So, what’s your dating dilemma? Should I text her tonight? What should I do while I wait for him to ask me out? Should I say yes to that invitation? Should I tell her this about myself? Should I go on that coffee date? Whatever the situation, you can start looking for wisdom by asking what would best serve the other person, rather than yourself. Is the thing I’m about to do in their best interests or mine? This is the ‘mind of Christ’, which we’re called to follow in every area of life.

We won’t get this right with everyone all of the time. We all make mistakes in the way we treat each other; our behaviour has consequences and we hurt each other. Let’s be quick to say sorry; you don’t have to wait until you’re married to learn to say ‘Please forgive me’. But don’t let past failures hold you back from pursuing a life that is patterned on our saviour, Jesus.

If you want to think more about what Christian dating should look like I recommend getting a copy of Sex, Dating and Relationships by Gerald Hiestand, and Jay Thomas (also available at the bookstall).

Image: (Creative Commons)