5 Reasons why Christian dating is failing

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Over the past one year, I have had several twenty-something year old Christians inbox me questions about dating. I found several negative themes in majority of these questions (not all, but majority). Some of these were: difficulty to maintain sexual purity, identity crisis, disillusionment about a good marriage, scepticism about their current relationships and uncertainty of dating again. To sum up all the issues, Christian dating was failing. Why would followers of Jesus Christ undergo the same struggles that the world goes through yet they have the Holy Spirit as a guide and the Scriptures as a reference? The simple (even perhaps simplistic) answer would be that many of these followers of Jesus are not living their lives differently from the world. However, that question could generate lots of other intricate answers e.g. little time in the scriptures, poor men leaders, desperate women followers, spiritual warfare etc, however, today I want us to focus on just a few basic reasons that can help us get mileage in our relationships. Hopefully these reasons, alongside the teaching of other seasoned men and women of God, will help believers in our generation make wise relationship moves.

Before we begin: The terms dating and courting have been used interchangeably throughout the century such that the meanings seem uncertain when you mention them in public. However, for our context, the man-woman relationships we refer to are exclusive (meaning that the persons in them are faithful and committed to relating to each other as a couple to each other alone). In light of that, we will use the term dating.

So, here are top 5 reasons why Christian dating is failing in the 21st Century:

  1. We are dating too much

In many of the aforementioned situations, the people had dated several people prior to their current status. Most of these relationships had ended painfully. A few had ended amicably and some were just complicated. Some of the questions stemmed from current relationship problems but I noticed that majority had to do with past boyfriends and girlfriends. In my mind, while replying to some of them, I kept thinking, “Beloved, I wish you hadn’t dated four men before your current boyfriend” or “Beloved, I wish you had not experienced that side of life by dating those three girls.” Many of them had nothing positive about past relationships. With dating several people, came several sexual temptations, several emotional entanglements and several heartbreaks. The result: baggage. These individuals ended up having so much baggage that it discouraged them from any other relationship, dissuaded them from a potential marriage and even interfered with their personal walk with God. Am I saying that if you date only one person and marry them that you will not have baggage? No, it’s not a guarantee. However, the eyes of wisdom can see clearly that the repercussions mentioned manifest in greater measure when an individual gets into several dating relationships as opposed to one or few. Beloved, the less people you date, the less baggage you are likely to deal with. Several dating relationships mean several break ups. And several break ups means lots of baggage. Christian men and women need to aim to settle with the person they get into an exclusive relationship with. But that doesn’t happen because…

  1. We are not dating to get married

Several born-again Christians are jumping from relationship to relationship with the mindset of the world. The world runs on the mindset that you can get into a relationship and change it when you don’t feel the spark anymore. That a breakup is like changing a tire; if it doesn’t serve you well, get rid of it. So you jump from relationship to relationship with a shopping mentality. You are shopping for feelings and for things you can get from the relationship. God’s mindset of a relationship is quite the opposite. God’s mindset for a man-woman exclusive relationship is to get into it with an aim of giving not getting. Instead of shopping, you supply. Instead of asking what can this relationship do for me, you ask yourself, “How can I serve my partner?” The world’s mindset is selfish, only thinking about self, and is not ready to commit to marriage. The world’s mindset panics at the thought of marriage because it is not sure if it can get as much as it wanted in this relationship. God’s mindset is focused on serving one another and thrives towards marriage to serve and commit to each other more. While the world dreads and curses marriage, God elevates it and makes godly hearts for those that trust Him in it. So, when I meet dating believers who say, “we don’t plan to get married,” I also hear them say, “We plan to get baggage,” “we plan to waste each others time,” or “we plan to confuse each other with our sexuality.” Of course not all Christian dating relationships end up in marriage even when they were aiming for marriage. And that’s okay because at times it happens; at times it doesn’t work out. However, that’s the exception, not the rule. If you are a born-again believer dating someone and not planning to marry them, you are courting heartbreak. A born again 16-year-old asked me once if they were too young to date. You can guess the answer I gave them. It was this: Will you lead it to a marriage in the not-so-distant future? And like that 16-year-old girl, that answer makes many born again Christians angry and frustrated because…

  1. We think singlehood is a problem

A friend of a friend of mine broke up with his girlfriend. Two weeks later, he was telling my friend of this new girl he had met in church and wanted to start dating. When my friend suggested that he takes things slow and evaluate his previous relationship, the man told my pal that he just couldn’t imagine himself single. He had no time because the girl could go; he had to be in a relationship. This was causing him to jump into a new relationship with a girl barely three weeks after the previous break up that had been of a relationship that lasted over two years. Do you see the problem here? The man here thinks singlehood is a problem. Many believers have swallowed this lie, hook line and sinker! Beloved, don’t do something about your singlehood; do something with it. Singlehood is not a curse. It is a blessed time to explore yourself and do so much in preparation for a dating relationship. However, the impatience of rushing into a dating relationship comes with its own hurts and pains.  I strongly believe that single born-again men and women ought to confidently answer these questions affirmatively before changing their status from single to dating:

  • Do I know and understand my personality?
  • Do I understand my strengths and weaknesses?
  • Am I ready to sacrifice some personal ambitions for the sake of the relationship?
  • Am I spiritually mature?
  • Do I plan to marry this person?
  • Do I desire to be in a relationship?

Christian men specifically need to ask themselves these other questions:

  • Am I working hard to plan to provide for her materially?
  • Am I able to lead her in matters concerning the faith?
  • Do I have a burning purpose that requires a help mate from God?

However you will still find born-again men and women who meet these requirements and get into godly relationships but still abandon ship because…

  1. We give up too quickly- even on good relationships

Beloved, relationships are work.  The false idea that a relationship is meant to be magical and devoid of problems will be the death of you if you don’t change your mindset. In your relationship (even with the most mature person) you will have to confront times of jealousy, insecurity, doubt, pet-peeves, anger, frustration, disrespect, no romantic spark etc. The relationship gets cemented when you work through these issues, apologise for hurting each other and resolve them with humility (not proving that you were right). However, if you give up too quickly, you end up garnering more baggage and operating in fear because you believe that good relationships are trouble-free. Beloved, as our marital counsellors would say, “Conflict isn’t what destroys relationships; it is unresolved conflict that does.” Abandoning ship because you felt disrespected is simply procrastinating the battle you need to face. As long as you date a descendant of Adam and Eve, they will sin and they will offend you at some point in your relationship. Men and women walking with God who get into serious relationships need to be patient with each other during difficult times. Often I have heard of two well-meaning people who lose a good relationship at the first sign of trouble. When the mushy feeling disappeared, when one ate with their fingers instead of using a fork, when one said something shady etc. Many of these things are simple flaws yet you find born again men and women abandoning ship. If he mismatched his shoes and shirt, if she burped in public, if he farted loudly or if she was late for a date, please extend grace. It could be a one-time mistake and not necessarily a habit. You could be missing out on a potential husband/wife who can actually change some of these minor flaws. If we don’t end the trend of giving up quickly on relationships, we end up creating a bigger problem. It’s this: I believe that the multiple jumping from relationship to relationship among believers is practising for divorce; we are sharpening the axe of dissatisfaction that we may easily wield in the battlefield of marriage.

  1. We think our relationships are the exception to the rule

The final point why Christian dating relationships are failing is thinking that our relationships are special. I have met believers who tell me that they know they shouldn’t be dating unbelievers (as hinted by 2 Corinthians 6:14) but they believe they should go on because they will convert their partner because their relationship is special. I have heard of believers who say they make out while dating and don’t think it is sinful because they are devoted to each other purely despite what Ephesians 5:3 says. Why? They believe their relationship is special. The list can go on of how believers hold fast to the idea that their relationships special nature gives them leeway to discard God’s commands. It’s wrong, Beloved and it always ends up in heartbreak. The trouble with some of these testimonies is that if by some stroke of luck the unbeliever dating the Christian converts while dating this person, the Christian, will most likely use that as justification for not adhering to 2 Corinthians 6:14. It’s wrong and it is even a bigger mistake to use an exception as a rule. God’s command in 2nd Corinthians 6:14 to not be unequally yoked to unbelievers respects no person. I have seen believers insist on their way and ignore the scriptures and then end up really hurt. I have seen the believers who kiss and make out and profess pure love to each other get into sexual addictions and procure abortions to cover up their sin. No, beloved, your relationship is not special. It is like everyone else’s. The moment you think that you are on some higher anointing for relationships, pride has a field day in your life and you end up crashing to the ground. Pride comes before a fall. However, if in humility, you recognize that like everyone else you could have a breakup, like everyone else you have a powerful sexual drive that can lose control, like everyone else, you can be a bad example in the faith, like everyone else you are not the exception to the rule, like everyone else you could be very wrong, like everyone else you can mess up badly, then will your relationships work in a world full of trouble. Why? Because God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4).

Do you have any other reasons why Christian dating is failing among many born-again believers today?

Comments

Ernest Wamboye is a disciple of Jesus Christ, a husband, a father, an author and a speaker. He has been married to the lovely Waturi since September 2012. They have a passion for youth ministry. Together they minister to young adults on the gospel and pre-marital relationships. Ernest has authored two books, The Human Temple, a novel, and Lust and the City- a guide on sexual purity.

Discussion78 Comments

  1. I'm using my besties account long story but I just wanted to say that was an awesome read. I think your points are very valid especially the last one I hadn't ever thought abt that one but I can see how people would think that their relationships are so special they can't succumb to the temptation that so easily ensares us all. So remembering you are not special in this case can save your relationship. Keep up the good work and say hello to the wife. Patsy

  2. Very true Ernest. No. 5 especially hit me. Well, I also think Christians dating is failing because of the said Christians putting their standards too high. In other words, they are looking for perfect people.

  3. . PHONE USAGE

    With social networks all over the place- some of us are connected more to our internet friends than to our families and partners. Put that thing down my dear and invest in connecting with your partner and important people in your life.

    Certain people shouldn’t call you after/during certain hours. Some must not be allowed to text you or call you at all. Some must be blocked from any contact with you. Don’t let your phone open a door to ruining your relationship

  4. i have a question , Ernest when one gives up on a good relationship do you think the person who gave up on that relationship can come back and apologize to the one he left behind?
    or is the relationship over and done for good?

    • I think it's possible. However, If if it were me, I wouldn't wait for the apology to come because it might not. At times, sad as it it to say, it could be over. It really depends on how badly people want to fight for the relationship. I have heard of couples who forgave each other even after unfaithfulness. Sounds untrue but it can happen. Be blessed.

    • Yes. Inter-faith is one reference. However, the best way to define unbeliever in the 2nd Cor 6:14 context is "One who is not born-again/ does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." It's necessary to state that because one may think that one is a believer because he/she goes to church. They may come to church faithfully but they don't have a personal relationship with Christ and that makes an unbeliever too- not just outside faiths.

  5. I love the truth and honesty, and the genuine concern and care for the body of Christ, that is so well articulated. Whoop whoop from Vancouver!

  6. In my last relationship : I knew it was wrong. It wasn't working out. So out of desperation, I called out to God, and he heard me. Church was doing a 30 day fast. I joined in. He gave me peace, such a peace. On the last day of my fast -which was my birthday – communication went to zero. Just like that, no calls, no texts, nothing. I was in awe of God. I mourned, yes – but I was also sure that it was Him that led me out of the r/ship. Thats how it ended for me. And since then, it has been until the Lord says move – I ain't going anywhere. And I have been laughed at – one guy told me just last week :- if a chic brings in God, nothing can be contested. In my view God=brick wall. And last time I checked, he was a christian.

    My friends think I am too positive. But I have to believe in God for everything including marriage. Sometimes we think its not to believe God for. Or rather when we believe, we still go & do the 'selection' on our own.

  7. Truth spoken! What a lot of people don't realize is that relationships are fun, but they take work to thrive! Nothing good comes easy. Even though you're both Christians and God is the centre of your relationship, you're not exempted from work. It took me a while to learn that. And I think when you're willing to work it out in your relationship then it makes it easier to work it out in your marriage. I also strongly agree with #1 and #2; a lot of heartbreaks would be avoided if these two things were removed from the picture. God bless you, and keep writing! Your ministry is a blessing.

  8. I have learnt that I need to affirm my worth and value in God before trying to look for this in another human being. When you have a relationship with God, then your earthly relationships whether with family or friends or lovers move more smoothly 🙂

  9. no. 5 is so true. i find it hard work telling friends that 2 Corinthians 6:14 apply to them too. it is so true that people actually think that there case is different. some even say, they kiss and nothing happens after that. it high time all of us took Gods word as it is and be at peace with it. thanks for the insight.

  10. No 4 a nd 5 got me thinking alot. This is quite an amazing piece. Am blessed by it and thankful to have had an opportunity to read it at this particular point in life. Be blessed Ernest

  11. I really have to put this across, many of my friends who I tell I am saving myself for marriage always ask me this…

    How does someone work through a marriage when they are not sexually compatible with their partner?

    • The premise of sex compatibility is a false excuse to indulge in sin. Sex is something that you learn. It is a gift of God's covenant marriage that works for serving one another. Your friends who are not born again see sex as a means to get satisfaction for self. They see sex as a means to get not to receive. When you understand that God's definition of love involves you giving and not receiving, you will start to see the beauty of sex. If you don't believe me, check out scientific stats on sexuality. Lots of research proves that many who practise chastity and wait till marriage have a more fulfilling and "compatible" (as your friends call it) sex life as opposed to those who don't. But we followers of Jesus don't obey for the sake of scientific facts. The scientific facts only prove that God's will is the best. We obey because Jesus dies on the cross for us and because we understand the power of sex, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually. Take a read at this: http://ernestwamboye.blogspot.com/2014/05/why-wait-for-sex-until-marriage.html

  12. I got saved one year to date. Before I got saved I used to date even at the time I decided to get saved I was dating another guy. When my life got reformed I had to break up with the guy. My problem now is if I can have a good relationship with a saved guy. I really do not have friends whom we share the same faith and sometimes I feel worried that I will not be able to get someone for me. How do I proceed

    • Hello Beloved. Take heart and first of all rejoice that God has saved your soul. What I would encourage you right now is not to look for a boyfriend but rather to spend time in the word and grow as a believer. You need to be part of a Biblical community. Do you have that? Look for a sound church near your area that teaches the true gospel. If you need one and can't find easily, there is a good fellowship at CITAM Valley Road in Nairobi. When your walk with God is intimate, the grace of marriage will pour on you. I am praying for you.

    • For the person who got saved like a year ago and doesn't have saved friends, it's said that you get your spouse from people you hang out with, your friends the people in your life so I believe that concept of God bringing your blessings and you in the wrong place like wrong company(psalms1)applies here. The man is to be priest of the family and steward to righteousness, those you'll not find there so you will need to live accordingly and surrounding urself in accordance of the circumstances in which you'd want to meet your future spouse, pray for him hata kabla afike, catch him in the spirit as we were taught in church then wait upon the lord

  13. God bless you Ernest. God is using you for His purpose. You like a sign post pointing people to the Glory of Christ in Relationships. Been asking those questions too. And the more I ask the more I am encouraged to take the leap of faith. Knowing that I am nothing bila Christ gives me the reason to trust and wait on Him even for the success of my relationship with her glorifying God through Courtship and Ultimately Marriage.

  14. what do you do if his family, doesn't favour the tribe you come from, yet the two of you are in love and dont mind it at all?

    • My wife and I were in a similar predicament. During this tense situation, respect is what will melt the hearts of the families. respect dies not mean agree, it just means honour. You can disagree respectfully. Love and respect eventually wears out a hard heart. It will take some time but be patient. As you do this combined with prayer, you will be surprised at the outcome.

  15. I totally needed this, you speak to my heart Ernest and I can't wait for May 10th. Been one of the people who have been dissuaded with regard to committing to relationships but I believe God ordained them and wants me and others to embrace them and you, you have moved me closer there. It's Sth I am working on and I believe to get there, as a Christian! I am seeing things differently. I would like to ask, the duration of dating /courting, do you think Christians should commit when they have hope of getting married 'soon' like in a year or two cz there's a perception that dating too long may make you succumb to temptation.

    • Amen! May 10th, coming up! I am encouraged by your testimony. I think so. Christians should commit to a relationship when they know they intend to get married. That does not mean that you have all the resources ready in order to commit. The willingness of the mind is it! Where there is a will there is a way. Dating for too long is not healthy, in my view

  16. Hey.. This is great… So how long did you and Turi date for example and were you guys friends at first then it grew from that or what? Is 4yrs too long to date/court and what do you think is better, getting married then pursuing each other's like career development then kids or career development then marriage and kids?

    • We dated for 2 years 8 months. Got engaged for 8 months and got married. However, I don't want to give a timeline because couples are different. For example. My friends dated and coured for 8 years and they walked in purity and they did it right and still got married happily. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long to date. However, it shouldn't be long. What is long, you ask? I think every couple knows when they've dated for too long. You don't need a number for that. I think 4 years is great! On the career, marriage and kids, there also isn't a one-size answer. However, the following guidelines should help you make that decision:

      1. When you get married, do not sacrifice your kids for your career
      2. When you get married, do not sacrifice your marriage for your kids.
      3. When you get married, do not sacrifice your marriage for your career
      4. People are more important than things. When you lie in your death bed, you will value your relationships with people more than the number of degrees you attained.
      5. Love people and use things. The world is in disarray because we love things and use people.

  17. Thank you so much Ernest, you are such a blessing and I believe and identify that God has purposely elevated you in reason, calling and talent in this generation, that you may point us to the standard of what He demands of us. I pray that He preserves you and Turi that you may continue to be a testimony, to some of us. I ain't into blogs but now I am a sworn loyal of yours because this is what we need, to be conformed to the ways of Christ. Your insight and how you relate it to real life, it's wisdom and gifting. God bless you and preserve you because this we need, this I need. Keep on keeping on. See you in church on May 10th!
    Huldah.

  18. No. 4 &5

    That has been me in my previous relationships. I discovered your blog even before you moved here while I was single. I have read and shared your every article. Now I’m dating and your articles have really been of help. Yes, relationships are work. God bless you Earnest.

  19. I have read the post on why Christian relationships are failing, and i broke into tears. May God have mercy on me. I think i need to get born again once more and try to work out my relationship with Him {God} first before and try settle all other issues concerning relationships in my life. I have been to several relationships and that means breakups have been there too.
    You have opened my eyes as well as helping me.
    Shalom……

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