Dating in the World and in the Church
NCW 8, January 1994
Q. Why don't boys and girls from your Church date with other boys and girls?
Before we answer that question we must understand what "dating" actually is. The Oxford Dictionary defines dating as "having a social engagement with someone of the opposite sex" and usually means "going out" with someone in order to become more intimately acquainted. A few decades ago this was done only with a view to finding a marriage partner. Today most dating has one purpose only -- to have illicit sexual intercourse.
"Dating" is a social phenomenon with historical roots. In Biblical times marriages were arranged. When the people lived close to God, then marriage partners were chosen by God, as in the model example of Isaac and Rebekah. When the people departed from God, marriages arranged by parents could be very unhappy, as they frequently are today in cultures where this practice still continues.
The foundation of a happy and prosperous marriage is a strong spiritual foundation. A fundamental tenet of New Covenant Teaching is that God should choose our marriage companions, and that His judgment, which is of the spirit, is superior to ours, which is usually based only on chemical attraction and lacks prophetic insight. A couple may change beyond recognition many years into a marriage and find themselves incompatible. Only God cans see into the future and knows who is best for us.
Modern forms of courtship are usually based on the flesh. For couples to really have deep, mutually fulfilling and happy marriages it is important that they are one in mind and heart over life's essential issues. There is none of what the world calls "dating" in the New Covenant Church of God, at least not amongst members of good standing. All members, of course, are free agents and may do as they please.
In the New Covenant Church of God deep, spiritual brotherly-sisterly friendships are cultivated from a young age. There is no "pairing off". Boys and girls are encouraged to develop fraternal relationships with everyone. They are prepared for marriage from when they are about 12 years old, being taught what virtues to seek in a life partner and to learn how to recognise the Spirit of Revelation. Couples are allowed to get married from the age of 16 years but they do not immediately enter into a physical relationship.
Marriage in the New Covenant has three stages. The first is engagement or dedication which is a time in which a couple commit themselves to deepening their friendship. During this time they enter solemn covenants to get to know each other better. They are required to be completely open and honest about their thoughts and feelings. No physical contact is allowed at all. During this time they are to seek confirmation from the Lord that they are indeed to be eternal companions. If they do not obtain it, then the dedication is terminated after a fixed period of time.
The second stage is betrothal. This is 100% commitment without sexual contact. It is a purely spiritual marriage. The couple do not live together alone but in the home of one or other parents or a "protector" family. Here they cultivate working together as a team in Church work and domestically. They sleep apart. The Quakers used to have a similar arrangement long ago though the couple slept in the same bed separated by a partition. During this time they are to ensure that the spirit has ascendancy over the flesh.
After a period of betrothal, which may last up to a year (or longer if required), the couple are fully married and enjoy a full physical relationship. By this time they ought to know each other well and be totally committed and mutually supporting disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The youth of the New Covenant do not "date" for these reasons. They are interested first and foremost in cultivating deep, spiritual relationships with Christ and the whole community. Our youth therefore decline all dates and proposals of marriage which are not done according to scriptural patterns. This may be frustrating for unsanctified, unspiritual youth not of our tradition but we do not feel the need to apologise for our stance for we seek the Kingdom of Heaven above all else. We do not identify with the sex-orientated system of the world and all the terrible risks it poses to the young who above all need stability and deep spiritual roots.
If a boy or a girl who is not of our Church believes that he has found his "sweetheart" in our Church, then he must walk the New Covenant Path. This will mean that he will need to truly accept Jesus as his personal Saviour, walk in holiness before the Lord for a minimum of one year in the local Colony, wait for a temple call to begin one year of preparatory instruction, and then, if the necessary conditions have been met, work for up to a further three years (depending on his spiritual progress) before he can be fully married. Dedication and Betrothal usually last for one year each. If, after all this time he is still interested in his "sweetheart", and has subjected himself to a life of disciplined holiness, then the chances are he is on the right track. If not, then the chances are he was just interested in using a girl to fulfil his unredeemed sexual appetite.
The New Covenant takes marriage very seriously. We regard it as a most holy estate. We also believe absolutely in pre-marital celibacy. We do not conform ourselves to the patterns of the world but to the holiness of God. And so long as our youth desire to subject themselves to the New Covenant Way, we will protect them from the ravenous lusts of a desperately fallen and sick world. If, on the other hand, they wish to follow after the dictates of their own hearts, they have the free agency to do so. However, if a non-member comes trying to date a boy or girl from our Church, he or she must expect to be turned down. Hopefully this short answer will explain why.
This page was created on 18 April 1998
Last updated on 18 April 1998
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