By D’Ann Davis
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1
Why would one ever wait to date? Is that not the whole reason people come to Living Hope, to date someone of the opposite sex and get married? Well, not particularly. While opposite sex dating and marriage is a good goal to have and one often realized by people at Living Hope that is not the reason we exist. We seek to help people find healing and freedom through intimacy with Christ. Sometimes that results in healthy heterosexual relationships and marriage, and other times that results in healthy, fulfilling celibacy and service in the church body. Often, pre-mature dating can interfere with the healing and freedom purposes. Here are some reasons why a person seeking freedom in sexual and relational struggles might need to wait to date.
- He/She is not ready. Most people who come to us have long-standing addictions or are just getting out of unhealthy relationships. Immediately jumping into another relationship with all the same baggage will not aid one’s cause. We encourage at least six months of sexual and unhealthy relationship sobriety along with significant steps toward healing before strugglers consider dating anyone.
- It is a distraction. Any romantic relationship presents two new sets of issues: the issues of the other person and the issues of the relationship itself. If one has not worked through his or her own baggage, then the presence of new problems to sort through will interfere with the primary goal of personal healing in Christ for the struggler. A struggler is wise not to jump into a relationship until she has a firm grasp on the wounds that drive her struggle, has made significant headway in those areas of brokenness, is walking in wholeness as an individual, and is ready to pour into another instead of cling to them for completion.
- He/She does not know what healthy looks like. The nature of lesbian relationships is emotional enmeshment and intensity. A woman who has not learned to relate in healthy ways will feel let down by the seemingly boring nature of a healthy relationship. She will likely attribute this letdown to the idea that she is immutably gay when in reality, she is simply unhealthy. She might be tempted to wrongly blame the failure of the relationship on the fact that the other is male and not on the fact that she has not learned what healthy relating means. She is sabotaging her own efforts in dating by pursuing it too soon. Men can face the same dilemma in not feeling the same intense physical pull to a woman that they do to another man, without realizing that the attraction to women will look different than the draw toward men.
Dating in pursuit of marriage is a good thing that honors God’s complementary design of one man and one woman. Timing is everything though and it behooves strugglers to seek wise counsel, the Scriptures, prayer, emotional healing, and sexual sobriety before considering moving forward in romantic relationship with the opposite sex. In the span of one’s life, six months is not a long time to wait if it increases one’s ability to have a healthy, God-honoring relationship with someone of the opposite sex. The fruit is worth the wait.