Dear friends,

Happy Valentine’s Day. If you are reading this at Messiah and you forgot it was Valentine’s Day, I’ve just reminded you of the day! If you are reading this online, then Valentine’s Day is past. I have been married 34 years. For this kindness to me by God I am deeply grateful and thankful. Gratitude aside, some would say that my long time being married disqualifies me from saying anything about dating – but here goes anyway!

The Bible is a timely and relevant word from God to every culture and every generation. It is a timely and relevant word to our Canadian culture in 2016. The Bible does not mention “dating”. Dating did not exist when the Bible was written but the Bible still has wisdom to speak on dating. The Bible is quite remarkable. It affirms the body and the created order. In this context it upholds marriage as the lifelong union of one man to one woman. In a wonderful balance, the Bible upholds both the dignity of singleness and the dignity of faithful marriage. So, we are not more holy if we are married and we are not more holy if we are single. Both the married state and the single state can be used to bring God glory and promote good works.

In many cultures, marriages are arranged by the families. In modern Canada, most people date before deciding to get married. Some people date because they like dating and have no intention of getting married. This often leads to one person in the dating relationship getting hurt – they did not think they were dating for the sake of dating. I believe the Bible teaches that dating should be ordered to marriage. In other words, we date someone as a means of discovering whether that is the person we should marry. Dating is not ordered to curing loneliness, conquest, status, pleasure, being normal, proof of desirability or any other end. A Christian should enter into a dating relationship with the intent of discerning whether the other person is the one they think they want to marry.

Some things about a person can only be learned by dating. So, do not misunderstand me. If you ask someone out on a date you are not asking them to marry you! You are just asking them out on a date. The asking, the acceptance or rejecting of the asking and the time together should be seen as a discernment process towards marriage. Few people can figure all this out in advance and marry the first person they date.

One final thing. In the Bible, sexual knowledge is limited to marriage. Few things mess up the discernment process of marriage as engaging is sexual knowing while dating.

Under the mercy,