RELATIONSHIPS HOW SHOULD Christians Date? By Family and Faith Magazine Contributors, Daniel and Grace-Ann Thomas W e have long been bombarded by the media with concepts such as “having drinks,” “grabbing coffee”, “hook ups”, and “flings.” Every other advertisement in between our favorite shows is from an online dating service inviting us to connect with varying people based on like attributes or to check out persons until you ‘find the right one.’ It is therefore not surprising, that even in Christian circles, the idea of casually moving from one person to the next, settling down with someone we like to be around for the moment, then moving on if the situation becomes unamusing, has become an increasing reality. “ We are Christians; therefore we operate at a different standard from the world. ” Do your homework! In a world where this Hollywood style of dating is the norm, how should we as Christians date? We certainly do not claim to have the formula but we would love to share a few thoughts we consider to be key to pursuing a Christian relationship. It should be prayerful and evidence based, having carefully considered the characteristics you are searching for in a life partner. I like how Daniel’s mother explained this to him. She expressed that these characteristics may fall into three categories: 1. Things your potential partner must have/ be; 2. Things that you can trade on and 3. Things that you cannot work with at all. These characteristics may vary from person to person. However we have outlined how they may be categorized:- Before you even begin to consider dating: Things your potential partner must have/ be It is very important to spend time assessing and preparing yourself, uncovering and refining your identity, investing time in discovering your purpose and God’s direction for your life. It is critical to nurture your spiritual, academic, emotional, social and financial self. You must endeavor to develop and attain stability in these areas, before seeking to be in a relationship. If you want your potential partner to be advanced, refined and impressive in many ways, it makes sense for you to at least know who you are, and develop yourself as well. What is the purpose of dating? The answer is easier than you may think. The purpose of dating is marriage. Your pursuit should not be guided, by frivolity i.e. who looks good today, who sparks your interest right now or trying to ensure you are on the same dating page with your friends. 20 familyandfaithmagazine.com a) It’s non-negotiable, he/she must be a solid Christian. The Bible clearly encourages us not to be unequally bound to unbelievers (2Cor. 6:14). Having a partner who you can connect with spiritually, who is guided by their love for Christ and will help build your family on a solid spiritual foundation is essential. b) Share the same morals and values as yourself. c) Someone who you trust to be your life partner and parent to your child/children. d) Someone you find attractive. Persons may argue that looks are not important but we believe that the person you spend your life with must at least be attractive to you.