In my last post, I explored the 3-seasons of love that proceed marriage. If you find yourself in the season of looking (meaning you have prepared yourself and are ready for marriage), here are 8-principles for looking well:
1. Look past their charm and see their character.
Proverbs says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (31:30). The truth is anyone can have charm, and charm is often a liar. So instead of getting caught up in charm and beauty alone, ask questions that get to their character. Because after the wedding, character will outlast charm any day.
2. Date in community, not isolation.
If you find yourself in a dating relationship and the person only wants to be with you in private, more than likely they are trying to hide something. For this reason, make sure your relationship is known to your church community, friends, mentors, etc. Dating in community will allow others to speak into your relationship, and perhaps see potential dangers you are likely to overlook in isolation.
3. Delay and diminish physical affection (I stole this from JD Greer.)
In the Song of Solomon, kissing leads to the bedroom, because kissing jump starts the engine of sexual intimacy (1:2-4). To safeguard your relationship against sexual immorality, delay physical affection until the seasons it can be satisfied, which is your honeymoon. Physical affection has a way of impairing judgment, causing you to overlook major red flags you would otherwise see.
4. Be private in public.
One of the tensions in dating is you need time alone as a couple, but time alone leads to all sorts of sin. To solve this tension, you can practice being private in public (a line from my dad). Spend time alone together in public places such as restaurants, coffee shops, the library, or hiking through the woods. This way you can get to know each other deeply, without the temptations being alone in private can bring.
5. Set clear boundaries together.
When a date turns into dating, you need to set clear boundaries together and stick to them. Don’t wait until you’re watching a movie alone in your dorm room to set them. Instead, set boundaries before tempting situations come up, so you both a plan to pursue purity together.
6. Put your phone down.
Let me stand on my soapbox for a moment. If you’re on a date with someone, please put your phone down and look the person in the eyes. And if you’re on a date with someone who spends more time looking at their phone, run! I promise, if you’re not more interesting than their iPhone on a first date, you will certainly not be more interesting after two years of marriage.
7. Get parents involved early.
Few people on the planet know you better than your parents do. For that reason, don’t bring your girlfriend home to meet your parents after you have bought a ring and set the wedding date. Instead, involve your parents early on, so they can weigh in and maybe point out things you can’t see (like this person is terrible for you).
8. Don’t delay the big day.
After you find the person you want to marry, people you trust agree the relationship is right, and you are ready for marriage, then don’t delay the wedding day forever. Instead, enjoy a short engagement and move quickly towards the wedding. The longer you delay, the greater the temptation to sin will be.
Finding the person you want to spend forever with is a hard task, but I hope these 8-principles will help guide you along the journey.