Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Before continuing with this column, please review the preamble included at the beginning of this series, "Biblical Dating: How It's Different From Modern Dating." * * * PART 3: Just Friends » As Christians in dating relationships, we want to avoid hurting one another and dishonoring Christ by "defrauding" (see NASB translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:6) our brothers and sisters in Christ by implying — through word or action — a higher level of commitment to that person than we have made before God.Are you considering biblical characteristics in that decision?Do you have enough information to know that you could not marry this man?The idea is to remove that period of confusion or vulnerability for the woman by being forthright about what level of intention or commitment exists (a la 1 Thessalonians 4).
If nothing else, treating men who initiate well will encourage other men to initiate.The answer turns on what you are trying to find out about this person at this stage of things.You're trying to find out whether this is someone you should know more intimately en route to figuring out whether this is a person you could marry. You are trying to figure out if you to know this person intimately. One suggestion I have for couples starting out is that the majority of your time together should be spent with other people, preferably with your families and church families.If you know the woman from church, if you've seen her interact in a group, observed her with others, maybe worked with her as a part of some ministry, that input should be enough for you to think through the decision of whether initiation of a relationship is the right thing.Remember, your intent at this point is not necessarily marriage — and that's not what either of you are committing to at this stage.Note the phrase "practical suggestions." These are not sacrosanct biblical principles.This is not the only way the early part of a relationship might look.Whatever that conversation looks like, intentions should be clear and it should be the man making them so.Guys, tell her why you have initiated or are initiating with her, tell her that you intend to pursue the relationship to determine if marriage is the right choice before God.Because this sort of (perhaps unintentional) deception is a particular temptation in a dating context, we need to be deliberate about avoiding it.That's where the following practical suggestions come in.