By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
Editor’s Note: Crosswalk's Singles Advice is an advice column for singles featuring an anonymous question from a Crosswalk.com reader with a thoughtful, biblical reply from one of our single contributors.
I’ve discovered I have more time than usual. I used to be busy with work and other commitments, and now I’ve found my schedule has opened up a lot more. Before this, I never considered dating. I didn’t have the time, and I figured God wanted me to have a season of singleness in my life.
But now that I have more time to fit in dates and courting another Christian, should I? Is this is a sign that God is opening a door for me? Or is he wanting me to do something else with my time?
Hi, there! As someone who has more time on my own hands, I can understand the dilemma. A year ago, with juggling five jobs and whatnot, I had no room to date anyone.
I’ll do my best to dive into what the Bible says about time and dating. Unfortunately, because we live in a different time period than that of Scripture, our ideas of courtship and dating are worlds apart from what happened during the time of the Old and New Testament. In essence, they didn’t really have a dating culture.
But that doesn’t mean Scripture falls silent on topics like this. Let’s explore what the Bible has to say on more time and relationships.
What Does the Bible Say about Time?
The Bible spends a great deal of time (pun intended) on this concept.
Ecclesiastes 3, one of the most famous passages on time, describes life in a series of seasons. We have different seasons designated for different periods of life. Times to mourn, dance, be silent in reflection, heal, be born, and many more make up the fabric of this passage.
In essence, if you find yourself with more free time than previously, you may have found yourself in a new season. This does not necessarily mean that God has designated this period for dating or a relationship, but he may want you to use your new free time in a certain way. After all, the world’s desires are fleeting, but God’s will lasts forever (1 John 2:17).
Other verses that talk about time include John 9:4. This verse describes our time here on earth as “day”. During the day, we must do God’s work. This could include a ministerial door our Creator opens for us, a mentorship opportunity, or possibly a significant other whom God has presented for us to invest in.
Psalm 31:15 says our times rest in God’s hands.
We cannot do anything or open any doors without him. He will determine our next steps. You can find other verses on Scripture and time here.
What Does the Bible Say about Relationships?
So now we know that God may have designated this free time as a new season for us. We came out of a period of busyness, and now we have some space to explore new activities.
Does this mean that we should use that freedom to invest in a godly relationship?
Well, let’s break down the definition of a godly relationship.
A godly relationship, first of all, places God at the head of the relationship (hence, the “godly”). This means that we do not idolize this courtship we have decided to pursue. Otherwise, we may become like Solomon. Solomon did not place God at the center of his countless relationships, and his wives led him astray (1 Kings 11).
The opposite should occur in a godly relationship. Christians should spur one another closer to Christ. They should encourage, uplift, and motivate one another to grow deeper in their understanding of who God is.
A relationship deemed godly also boils down to motive. Do you want to get into a relationship with someone to avoid boredom? Avoid harassment from your relatives during holiday dinners asking, “When are you going to start dating someone?” Avoid the embarrassment or so-called stigma that comes with being a single Christian (I’ve written numerous arguments dispelling this stigma, but I digress)?
Or do you want to get into a relationship for non-selfish purposes? Are you willing to commit sacrificial love, submitting to the other person of the relationship, and knowing that relationships don’t heal all problems. In fact, marriage can often amplify one’s concerns, worries, or hurts (1 Corinthians 7:34).
In essence, analyze why you want to get into the relationship. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a hopeless romantic too. I cherish the idea of one day having a godly man in my life who can encourage me to understand God more deeply than I had before.
But we do have to acknowledge that marriage does provide a balm for past hurts, and that our media has skewed the idea of what a good relationship looks like.
Ways to Know that God May Be Opening a Door for a Relationship
So how do we read the signs from God? Is he sending any signs at all, or are we reading into what we want to see?
Although these ways may not completely mean that God intends for you to get into a relationship, they could imply that he may have opened a door for you to help a significant other grow in a godly relationship with you.
First, as described is this article, God will often present someone who has mutual interest, has the time to commit to a relationship, and is willing to sacrifice time to dedicate to that relationship. If you find yourself starting every text message or initiating every phone call, trying to make something work that practically has an enormous amount of limits, or trying to “force” the hand of God, you likely don’t fall into this category.
What do you mean by “force the hand of God”?
Take David, for instance. He wanted to get with Bathsheba. Bathsheba was married. He sent her husband into battle to get slaughtered so he could get with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11).
Seems extreme? Agreed. Obviously, we haven’t put someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend into the front lines of war, but we can tell when we try to force the hand of God. “If only I send one more text message, if only I ask one more question, if only I make the distance work, even when they’re not reciprocating …” We may have thought, in some capacity, one of these “if onlys”.
This doesn’t mean that if God opens the right doors that means the relationship will be smooth sailing. But God should open some doors to indicate he wants you to pursue this. If they don’t initiate, don’t have mutual interests, can’t make distance work (if applicable), then you may be forcing God’s hand.
And that never works.
Second, you feel yourself growing closer to God.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 describes a braid of three strands as something “not easily broken.” Does God make up the third strand of that relationship? Do you find yourself growing closer to the Creator, or farther apart? If the latter, then you have not entered the right relationship.
After all, we date, court, and marry to find someone who can help us grow in our walk with Christ.
Third, you’ve prayed about it and sought the counsel of Christian mentors.
If we pray for God’s will to be done about this specific situation (Matthew 7:7), and if we ask that if the timing is right that he present the godly man or woman in our lives, we should see God open the right doors if he intends for a relationship to happen.
This doesn’t mean if we say, “God, if you believe I am ready to enter into a godly relationship, will you send me the one? The one whom I can grow in a closer relationship with you?” that he will immediately send someone. Persistent prayer can take time. He can answer, “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait.” And sometimes after the “Wait,” you may receive a “No,” (Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s never a fun answer to receive).
But if we do care deeply about a godly relationship, we should commit our plans to the Lord (Proverbs 16:3). We should lay our hopes and dreams at his feet and rest in the knowledge that he will decide what’s best for us, relationship or not.
All in all, we need to exercise extreme discernment. We need to watch for red flags (lack of commitment, initiation, Christian character) and not what we want to see. When desperate to get into a relationship, we may overlook some aspects in a potential suitor and might rush into something that will only end in hurt.
Commit this season to the Lord. He may decide that you need to rest in this season, or enter a ministry, or pursue a relationship. No matter what he chooses, his plan is the best. We couldn’t ask for anything better.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 450 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel Den for July 2020. Find out more about her here.
Disclaimer: any single editor replying to reader questions through this advice column is a Christian seeking God's direction through his Word. We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. As we explore issues with you, we will seek God's guidance through prayer and the Bible.
Have a question? If you have a question about anything related to living the single life, please email [email protected] (selected questions will be addressed anonymously). While we cannot answer every question, we hope you'll find encouragement in this column.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jonathan J Castellon
Hope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,100 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy released its first two installments with IlluminateYA, and the final one, Vision, releases in August of 2021. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.