Working with college students all these years, this is the number one question we get asked. Most Christian singles have been taught to seek a dating relationship (and someday marriage) that’s Christ-centered, but the church rarely defines what that actually means.
In my experience, most people define a God-centered relationship by outward activities. They they want to pray with the person they’re dating, do a Bible study together, maybe even serve together. Those things are all wonderful in their places. But I don’t think any of those things by themselves ensure a relationship centered on God.
Whatever you do or don’t do, a relationship centered on God can only happen between 2 people who are living their lives centered on God. So to have a Christ-centered dating relationship, YOU need to be focused on pursuing Christ, loving Him more and more every day, seeking Him in the Word, through prayer, through your relationships. And HE – the guy you’re dating – needs to be focused on pursuing Christ, loving Him more and more every day, seeking Him in the Word, through prayer, through his relationships.
The only guarantee for a God-centered relationship is 2 people who separately are centering their lives on God.
Matt and I pray together regularly now – but we didn’t when we were dating. We prayed over meals when we were together, and we shared enough of our lives, hearts, and concerns (particularly ministry-related) to know how to pray for each other in our own private prayer lives.
We also didn’t then – and don’t now, unless ministry necessitates it – do a Bible study together. Some couples really value studying the Bible together – although apart from couples group studies, I don’t know any who have been able to maintain that habit for very long, especially after having kids.
I’m sure it’s different for different couples, but we’ve found it easy to connect on a spiritual level without the structure of a Bible study – because we’re both in the Word individually. We’re both seeking to learn from the Lord and be challenged, and we want to share what we’re learning with each other.
We try to approach conflict in our relationship from the perspective of “What does the Lord want to teach us through this?” (not that we always succeed, and to be honest, Matt is MUCH better at this than I am.)
When I’m feeling spiritually apathetic, hearing what the Lord is teaching Matt reminds me that the Lord wants to teach me also, and I’m sure the reverse is true for him.
It is an amazing blessing in marriage to recognize that this person knows you well enough to see where you struggle and gently help you see it, pray with you and for you through it, and to love you unconditionally in spite of it. That’s true romance – someone who knows all your junk, loves you anyway, but wants better things for you.
My advice to dating couples would be to ask this:
Am I seeking the Lord?
And is this person I’m dating seeking the Lord? Do they make me want to know Jesus better? Does he/she make me want to live in a more God-honoring way? Does the person I’m dating want to see me grow in God’s goodness?
So… I think a relationship centered on Christ happens when one person who is centering her/his life on Christ dates another person who is centering his/her life on Christ.
What do you think?
This post first appeared on my old blog, enthralltheking.wordpress.com. It is the most viewed post over there. It was first published in 2010 and has been viewed 7,500+ times (mostly in the years since I stopped writing over there.)