Not all will agree with Scott's approach, and we invite feedback from anyone who believes there are better interpretations for the biblical passages Scott draws from.
It's our hope that this Q&A series will be valuable both for those who think the Bible gives sufficient guidance for operating within our current system as well as for those who are looking for a completely countercultural path to marriage. How can Christians think differently about this pervasive issue in media and culture? The answer to that last question is "not well." Surveys consistently indicate that professing Christians behave almost exactly like non-Christians in terms of sexual involvement outside of marriage (in both percentage of people involved and how deeply involved they are — how far they're going), living together before marriage, and infidelity and divorce after marriage.
The Bible guides us in some areas by broader, more general principles and ideas we can build on as we strive to live the Christian life in practical ways.
You've done it, you're doing it, you'd like to do it, or you need to teach somebody else how to do it. It is considered the natural precursor to marriage, and is generally considered something to be desired, whatever form it might take. If you were to Google the word "matchmaker," you would receive something in the neighborhood of 21,200,000 responses — with a few of these outfits claiming to be Christian, but most making no such claim. As evangelical Christians, we're called to be distinct in the ways we think and act about all issues that confront us and those around us. Granted, not all of these people are evangelicals, but we're not doing so well either.That means our conversation has to be a conversation. We may define The Scriptural support for the idea of biblical dating is largely by example and implication. The very idea of extended romantic or sexual involvement outside of marriage doesn't even appear in Scripture unless it is described as illicit (sinful).I mention the sufficiency of Scripture as part of the groundwork for this column because it's one of those doctrines that touches every area of our lives, and it is at the heart of the approach to dating (and life) that we'll talk about here. We will look at a number of passages over the course of our discussions that support various aspects of biblical dating, but for the moment, let me just give you some references to study: Now, the biblical support for the modern approach to dating ... Furthermore, it doesn't even appear in any society, western or otherwise, in any systematic way until the 20th century.This doctrine simply holds that the Bible is sufficient to guide and instruct us authoritatively in all areas of our faith and life, and that there is no area of life about which the Bible has no guidance for us.The sufficiency of Scripture is taught explicitly and implicitly in many passages, but perhaps the most obvious is 2 Timothy -17: So how does the sufficiency of Scripture apply to our coming discussions?Indeed, the central issue we need to confront — and the reason I write and speak on this topic — is that when it comes to dating and relationships, perhaps more than in any other area of the everyday Christian life, the church is largely indistinguishable from the world.That truth has brought immeasurable emotional pain and other consequences to many Christians.The answers he brings may be different from anything you've heard before.The topics he's going to be dealing with are ones in which equally committed Christians have found different biblical interpretations.My point is that we cannot simply state that the Bible "doesn't mention dating or courtship," and then think we're off the hook to pursue this area of our lives either on the world's terms or however seems best to us without diligent, submissive reference to God's Word.If the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is true, then God's Word does have authoritative guidance for us about how we might best glorify God in this area of our lives.