6 Ways to Date With Integrity
As Christians, we are called to live with integrity and purity. But how does that look realistically when it comes to a dating relationship? How do we date with integrity? How do we keep our hearts and minds (and bodies) pure? Cheryl McManus answers those questions below with some powerful and convicting advice.
So, in prepping for this article I knew that I first had to admit that it will be mostly based on things I didn't do. Regrettably, I failed to keep boundaries, there were times I settled, letting people into my heart that I shouldn't have. If someone had told me that those choices I was making weren't right, at the time I most likely would not have listened (actually I know I wouldn't have). Or I would have been too embarrassed to even talk about how I felt deep down.
So, my prayer is that you would hear me. That you would know that it gets better, and that the right kind of love - the kind that actually makes you a better you, and that makes you more like Christ - is worth waiting for. And you are worth someone else waiting for. With that, it's no surprise that my first tip is this...
It can feel wonderful; those butterflies in your stomach when you see “that guy.” Your crush. "Oooh he looks cute today. Did he just look at me? I wonder if he likes me? Do I look okay? Wait, am I still staring at him?! OMG he just texted me. He wants to meet up after class! Ahhh! He just liked my latest Instagram photo. He's so funny. We are sooo meant to be together..." Or was that just me? LOL.
But as fun as all that can be, with your feelings and hormones (let's be honest here) leading your decisions, it's easy to be on a slippery slope to trouble. Not every guy who you like is worth dating.
Not every guy who gives us attention is worth letting into our hearts.
Every person who you build a relationship with is going to change and affect you in some way. So please - wait a bit. Get to know them as a friend. Get to know yourself. Ask the tough questions. See if this person is actually going to help you be the person God wants you to be. And if you're not sure - wait a bit more.
You're young. I know it feels like fooorrreevveerrr, but trust me, you'll be okay. You'll be better off if you don't rush.
1 Cor 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
2. Obey Your Parents (and of course God)
If your parents don't want you to date until a certain age, then, yep - you need to listen to them. You can ask to talk to them and explain your side, but when it comes down to it - it's God's command to obey our parents (unless of course they ask you to do something immoral or sinful against God or someone else). It's their job to do their best (and believe me, I know they're not perfect, they're trying really hard) to take care of you. And they have done that since you were just a little squirt in diapers who needed to be held all the time. So talk to them calmly about how you feel, but also trust and respect their decisions.
Ephesians 6:2-3 “Honor your father and mother” (which is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may be long-lived on the earth.”… (see also Deut. 5:16, Exodus 20:12)
3. Know What Matters to You
I'm not saying your whole life needs to be sorted out before you date, because then we'd all still be single at 75. (I'm 31, have been married almost 9 years, and still learning all the time.) However, you need to have some pretty clear ideas about what's most important to you, how you want to spend your time, what kind of relationship you want, and how to handle disappointment, forgiveness, and conflict.
Make sure you know those key and critical things about the other person. It's more than just their favourite movie or what classes they're taking - and more than if they go to church (although that's a good start). It's about what they value, how they make decisions, and who they worship. Don't settle for less than God's best in any area of your life.
“I can trust the One who has my best interest in mind” – A.W. Tozer
Proverbs 3:6, NLT “Seek his will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
4. Set (and actually keep) Boundaries
Okay, here's the tricky one. You need to set clear standards about where, when, and how you're going to spend time together because - here come the hormones and that slippery slope again.
Make sure you know in your heart and check in with God about how to protect yourself and your boundaries, and then let the other person know what you expect. You don't want to get into a situation you're uncomfortable with, and then not be sure how to back away. It's better to talk about it beforehand. Some examples might be: hanging out in groups, spending time together with your family around, not hanging late at night, and setting limits on what kind of movies you'll watch.
It's more than just protecting your body, but also your heart, your mind, and your soul. It's all connected, and it's all important to God. And that guy? Yeah, his boundaries are also important to God so don't set him up in a tempting situation either. You need to help him to serve and honor God in your relationship, too.
(Note: if this is an area where you are struggling or have struggled, DO NOT let shame overtake you. You are forgiven. You get to start again tomorrow. But make sure you find someone to talk to. Don't keep it to yourself. Send us a message if you'd like! Just DON'T try to fight the same battle over and over alone. Okay? Good.)
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart…”
1 Cor 6:18-20 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a man can commit is outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, glorify God with your body.”
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”
VERSE: Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set you free…”
5. Get Accountability
Ask someone you trust and respect to help you keep your boundaries and standards. And if they aren't sure or they say no, keep asking around until you find someone who will. Yes, it's that important. Maybe a youth pastor or leader, a family member, or an older friend. It could be in person, by phone, or even over the internet. But have someone who will check in with you about how things are going and who you can actually be honest with.
Dating can be fun, and it can be done right. But let's face it - it's not easy, and having someone to help along the way can make a huge difference!
6. Last but not least - Know Your Foundation is Christ
Unless this guy ends up being the one you marry, the relationship will end at some point. Crushing, right? It certainly can feel that way. It may end well and you may stay friends, but sometimes things don't end well. Sometimes there's jealousy, fighting, tears...and one or both people feel torn up inside.
We need to know that no matter what happened, even if we hurt them, or they wronged us - it doesn't change God's love for us. We need to have enough of ourselves, our full selves, relying on Him as our source, so that we don't crumble apart when that person isn't in our lives anymore.
God has never left you and He will never reject you. His love for you is pure and unmatchable. And He is the One who gets to tell you who, and just how very beautiful, you are.
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”
Romans 8:39 “Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord”
Cheryl McManus is a wife and stay at home mom of two young girls in Vancouver BC Canada. Formerly working in Children and Youth Ministries, she is now the founder and director of GIRL365 – an online outreach to teen girls with free resources for daily life and spiritual growth, with the message “You Are Loved.” A few of Cheryl’s favorite things are dark chocolate, using festive emoticons, flipflops, dance parties with her daughters, and laughing at random things with her husband.
Image by Christy Anne Photography