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Now the question that I'm asked most often is, "How old should a person be before he or she starts to date?" Well, you shouldn't be dating in the first place if you don't realize that marriage is the ultimate goal of dating!

Realizing that marriage is the ultimate goal should be the number-one qualification for dating. Next would be to understand all God's requirements for marriage.

But, generally speaking, you're old enough to date when you've met these four prerequisites:
  1. You're aware of both the benefits and dangers of dating. In other words, you've considered its advantages and disadvantages before you enter the dating relationship.
  2. You've worked out a set of personal dating standards from Scripture, which simply means that, in addition to God's standards, you've established your own personal values for choosing the right life partner.
  3. You've purposed in your heart not to lower your standards, even if it means losing dates or relationships.

    This last prerequisite is especially important because emotions can pull you in the wrong direction if you let them. If you're not careful, they'll automatically decide for you what you'll do in the early stages of a dating relationship. But most of the time you don't really see what you're dealing with until you've been dating for at least six months.

    By then, the initial feelings have begun to wear off and you may find you want to get out of the relationship. That's when people can get hurt. It's much easier to set your standards ahead of time and learn how to control your emotions.
  4. Never, never date someone you won't consider for marriage! The main reason for establishing a set of standards before you start to date is so you can seek God apart from the pressures and the emotions of dating. You need that time to determine the sort of person who will be right for you. Then you need to settle in your heart that you're not going to let anything or anyone cause you to lower your standards. So once you set your standards, stick to them. You'll both save yourself a lot of time and trouble by refusing to compromise.

Years ago, our son told us that the Lord had shown him some things about the woman he was going to marry. One of them was that our family would love her.

Then from his own personal standards, he wanted someone who was from a home that was intact. (Many times when a female comes from a broken home, either she'll be super-aggressive or super-shy—two qualities he wanted to avoid because of his call to the ministry.)

Well, his sisters didn't like any of the girlfriends he'd had, and the one he was seeing at the time was from a broken home and was very, very aggressive. So my son had already begun to lower his standards and his choices kept getting worse and worse.

We had to work with him to get him back on track. (The longer you're out there dating, the more wrong choices you're going to make and the more desperate you'll get, which is one of the dangers of dating.)

That's why it's important to lay the groundwork for evaluating relationships first. You'll avoid a lot of problems if you don't even consider getting close to someone unless that person meets your criteria.

Source: Establishing Godly Relationships Through Marriage & Family
by Deborah L. Butler
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Deborah Butler
Web site: Word of Faith International Christian Center
Pastor Deborah L. Butler serves in ministry with her husband, Bishop Keith A. Butler at Word of Faith International Christian Center in Southfield, MI. She is a licensed and ordained minister of the Gospel.

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