|Theologically, how close can our noses get?|
Hey __________________ Thanks for messaging me. As always, happy to respond to any questions you have.
You asked about dating a new Christian. Well done. Before getting to the ‘new’ part of your inquiry, allow me a word on the issue of dating in British young adult Christian circles full stop – it will be relevant, I assure.
There is a tendency in British dating circles – and sometimes in USA – for Christians to get exclusive and serious far too quickly. The consequences of this is that for a young man to ask a young woman out is a deed that involves elephantine amounts of stress. First coffee, then marriage! Anything less, and it is assume a man will be seen as being not serious – a player of the field and doer of shameful deeds.
What is needed is to open the windows a bit and allow some freedom to blow through. It is perfectly acceptable for you –as young woman – to have multiple guys take you out during the same season of life with the understanding that they are just friends that have the possibility of romance. No exchanging of hearts too soon. If a shared drink or lunch was seen as a more casual affair, you might see Christian guys doing more asking.
This leads into your question about new Christians. In one sense, you’re perfectly free to date and even marry a brand new Christian. My dad was a bit cheeky as he started dating my mother when they were teenagers. When he realised she wasn’t a Christian, he drove her to meet his pastor so that she would be converted. She was so and they got married as teenagers.
I’m the result. I’ll let you be the judge as to whether that’s good fruit or not.
That story aside, my concern is less for the mature Christian and more for the new – regardless of the gender. When one becomes a Christian, they are beginning a brand new relationship – one with God. If they also get romantically involved with a more experienced Christian at the same time, they mix muddling the two a bit – at least emotionally. The new Christian may look frequently to the more mature one – not only for romantic affection – but also for spiritual direction. Should that dating relationship end badly (and don’t most romantic engagements that end, end ‘badly’?) the person has not only lost a romantic partner, but also the one through whom so much spiritual guidance came?
Generally I would encourage new Christians to focus on following Christ and not rush too quickly to seek out a Christian boy/girlfriend. Leave the relationship open and light for a while. That’s not a law. If you’re already in a more serious and exclusive relationship, I wouldn’t encourage you to end it – just be aware of the possible risks. Don’t try to be their spiritual mentor. Have them find someone else to pastor them closely.
I would also remind the more mature Christian that the newer believer may still have a lot to learn (and unlearn) about sexuality. Sex is for one man and one woman in one marriage for one lifetime. If the new believer hasn’t gotten that lesson yet, make sure they get it.
Finally, both should consider the Christian option of celibacy. British Christian young adult culture seems to assume that marriage is for everyone. It doesn’t have to be. Jesus was single. Paul was single – and thankful for it.
But perhaps that’s for another blog.
Does any of this help?
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