Rev. Bruinsma is pastor of Kalamazoo Protestant Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Where to Go on a Date
In this article we are going to consider where to take a young woman on a date.
What? Is this guy really going to tell us where we may or may not go on a date? That is a little beyond his realm of authority, is it not? Not even the Bible dictates to young men where they may or may not take their girl on a date! If God Himself does not do this, howpresumptuous, then, for any person to dictate to young people where they may go on a date!
I must confess that when speaking of this important aspect of dating we do enter the whole area of Christian liberty. This is not to say that the Bible has nothing to say about where we may not go on a date. It certainly does! Neither is this to say that parents do not have the authority to establish their own set of rules in this area. They have the right, not only, but the calling to regulate and dictate this part of the dating life of their children. Parents who allow their children to go out on a date with no knowledge of where they are going are not taking their own responsibility before God very seriously. At the same time, we also recognize that there are no patent rules that Scripture gives in this area of life. God leaves it to the wisdom of godly parents and to the sanctified good sense of their believing children.
Although this is true, the Scripture once again does set forth general principles and guidelines that govern every aspect of life, including where we go when dating. We are going to take a look at a couple of these principles and discover how they guide us into sanctified dating. Then we will try to apply these practically in order that young men might determine where they should take a girl on a date.
The first principle is one we have emphasized in all our articles on dating: the purpose of dating is to search out a life’s mate. What does this have to do with where we go on a date? Everything, really! If we were to view dating, as the vast majority do today, as recreational, then the purpose of dating is simply to go out and have fun with a member of the opposite sex. It is not to be taken seriously, but simply as a means of recreation. That will in turn determine the places we go. We will take little time out to do any serious talking together. Important issues regarding our spiritual life will never become the objects of discussion because we are too busy having fun. Every date will have to be a new adventure. And when time is spent talking, it will be about the adventure and fun itself rather than anything serious. In the last days, Paul teaches us in II Timothy 3, men will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. If there is any place that this reveals itself it is in recreational dating.
On the other hand, if the purpose of dating is, as it should be, to search out a life’s mate, then that too will determine the places we go. We will use the places we go to search out who that person we are dating really is. If we are a young woman we will seek to find out such things as these: What are his interests? What are his spiritual goals and desires? What is his relationship with God and his Savior? What kind of a husband and a father will he make? If we are a young man, we will want to find out the answers to the same questions about the young woman we date.
This does not mean that we may never go to a place and simply have a good time with each other. Enjoying various forms of entertainment on certain dates is not synonymous with recreational dating. It can even be advantageous to go out on a date to places where we can be put at ease with each other. But when we use dating to look for a life’s mate, we also understand that dating is not all fun! It is serious! There must be plenty of time spent when out on dates to talk about the seriousness of life and how we deal with it from a spiritual point of view. We must also go to places that will generate discussions over spiritual matters. That then is the first principle that will influence where we go on a date.
A second principle that governs us is a deep understanding of who we are. We are sanctified sinners! We confess that in our lives in general. We must also understand how all this should determine where we go on dates.
We are sanctified! We are covenant youth! We are those who are washed in the blood of Jesus Christ and cleansed from the filth of sin. We are no longer slaves to sin and Satan. Christ has set us free to serve Him purely and out of a good conscience. The Word of God is clear: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, … nor drunkards … shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:9-11). The command of God’s Word to us in dating as well as in all the rest of life therefore is clear in Romans 6:12, 13: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” We are sanctified!
But we are also still sinners! We must know this of ourselves too! “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is still present with me” (Rom. 7:21). We still have within us a sinful flesh that is attracted to the sins of our unbelieving society. Satan is adept at placing temptations before God’s children by means of this wicked world. And often those temptations come in the way of the sinful entertainment of this world. Besides that, the works of the flesh are still manifest in us. The same sins the wicked world is enslaved to are sins that appeal to our sinful natures. If given the right situation and the right atmosphere we too are not above falling into temptation and sin. As covenant young men and women we must know ourselves. We must not allow the foolishness of youth to govern us in our dating. We must know the power of our sinful flesh, and then avoid those places and situations which would tempt us into sin. We must also know our salvation in the cross of Jesus Christ and what this requires of us in the places we go.
Knowing these things, young men and women, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) when it comes to where you go on a date! “Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29). The Bible does not lay down all kinds of particulars as to where you may or may not go on a date! This belongs to your liberty! Only you may not use your liberty as an occasion to the flesh. You must use your liberty in dating to serve the Spirit. You must choose wisely the places you go on a date so that through them you will be able to discover for yourselves a proper, godly mate.
Bearing that in mind, let’s divide the possible places we may or may not go on a date into three groups. The first group is made up of places we definitely ought not to go. The second is those places where we are at liberty to go since they are not wrong in themselves. The third group consists of those places we should be sure to go.
It almost goes without saying that there are places we should not go on a date. The simple ABCs of godly living require of us to avoid them. These are places that incite lust in us or affect our feelings and emotions in such a way that we are open and susceptible to sinful thoughts and actions. In our present, hedonistic society these places are everywhere. They are an accepted part of our culture. Yet, they have contributed in large part to the moral breakdown of our society. Rather than being swept along with them, we must keep ourselves unspotted from them.
The theaters, bars, and dance halls are not places where young Christian couples will be able to nurture a godly relationship. Peter points out these “abominable idolatries” which will hinder us from discovering a godly mate in I Peter 4:3. God instructs us there that we must not run with the world in lasciviousness (having no sexual restraint) or lust (strong desire for that which is forbidden). We must not give ourselves to excess of wine (drunkenness), revelings (late-night gatherings where people sing and dance to the godless music of the wicked), or banquetings (drinking parties). These places may appeal to our sinful flesh, but they must at all costs be avoided. This is true of life in general and for people of all ages, but especially ought it to be applied to dating. Young men and women who frequent these places while dating are setting themselves up for a fall in marriage. This warning of God’s Word can be ignored by foolish young men and women (and even parents who allow such goings on with their youth), but this sin will be visited upon them (unless they repent) later on in marriage.
There is a second group of places to go on a date that belongs to a young person’s liberty. There are sports activities, social gatherings, school functions, all of which can be very enjoyable, and beneficial too. These places give us as young couples time to converse with and enjoy the company of fellow saints. There are also times when a young couple can spend time alone. They must have quiet time to talk about the issues of marriage and life. At the same time, they have to be very careful not to go to a place that may be overcharged with sensuality. We are sinners, do not forget! Satan can lead us into temptation! We know ourselves well! But we are sanctified too and we can use our sanctified common sense to determine where those quiet hours alone can be spent.
A third group of places couples can go on a date is vital to their dating life. These are places which will lead you together as a young couple into a consideration of God’s Word and how it applies to every area of life. These are places that will promote spiritual communication in your relationship. They are places that belong to the life of the church and the family. What better place to take a date than to church or some church function? It is sad, very sad, when lectures, speeches, and seminars are sorely neglected by dating couples. For some reason young people of the church think these functions are for the old and married. Basketball games are jammed with dating couples (that is not wrong in itself), but these church functions are so poorly attended! Why? Do we perhaps have this underlying notion that dating is always supposed to be fun? If we have that idea, we are wrong! A young man ought to consider taking his date to church, Bible society, a seminar, or such like. It will stand him and the girl he dates in good spiritual stead for the future. We do want a strong marriage, right? Well, this will aid and assist in that.
Then there is the old adage, “there’s no place like home!” That saying is lost in our present society. Young men and women do not seem to like it at home. That is true even within the realm of the church. That does not bode well for young couples today who are looking to establish their own home. A wonderful place to take a date is home! There are good times to be found there! There islaughter and good conversation. There is eating and drinking together in a godly way! What better way for a young couple to learn how to establish their own home and family than to spend time in their homes and families when dating!
This is an aspect of dating that is sorely neglected. Sometimes, I think, parents are at fault, because they are too busy with their own lives to take thought of their own dating children. The home with the family is an important place for dating couples to be. God smiles on that young man and woman who on a Sunday night gather around the table with parents and siblings discussing the sermon and other concerns. God frowns on that young couple who hurry from church to the beach or the park to spend time in useless chatter and sexual passes!
The places we go on a date certainly are of importance, as we have found. In this area, too, a young man and woman must seek to establish a relationship of friendship that is rooted in God! They must sanctify dating by frequenting sanctified places!
Want a solid marriage, covenant young men and women? Then do the right thing when it comes to where you go on a date! It makes a difference!