What Does The Bible Say About Dating Or Courting?

What does the Bible say about dating, courting, and engagement?

Jewish Betrothal

In the Old Testament, the chastity or virginity of a woman betrothed was a matter of life or death (Duet 22) but in that era, there really wasn’t really a period of time that the Jewish men and women dated before they became betrothed or engaged to one another. They likely met and saw one another during the holy days, weddings, funerals, and things like that and so they probably had occasion to get to know one another but there was not really “dating” as we know it and in fact, upon the engagement or betrothal, the groom went away for twelve months so that the bride could learn and be prepared for married life while the groom made ready the new home they would live in.  They never dated and didn’t even see each other for a year before they were wed.  When a couple became betrothed, it was as good as being legally marriage and was considered binding on both the man and the woman.  This is why, once Joseph found Mary to be with child “Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly” (Matt 1:19).

Unequally Yoked

The Bible is clear that believers are not to date and most certainly, not marry someone who’s not a believer as the Apostle Paul makes clear, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness” (2nd Cor 6:14)?  The truth is we have no partnership with those who live in and walk in darkness.  For one thing, we know that “Bad company ruins good morals” (1st Cor 15:33).  Paul asks, “what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever” (2ndt Cor 6:15) with the obvious answer being, nothing!  In both the Old Testament and the New, we’re commanded to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (2nd Cor 6:17-18).  God will not bless any relationship or marriage where a believer dates or marries an unbeliever.  That is contrary to biblical doctrine.

Love is…

When people say that they’re in love and then become engaged to be married, there is sometimes the man will pressure on the woman to have sex with him and sometimes, it’s the other way around but God’s Word teaches that any sex outside of marriage is sexual immorality and God will not leave unpunished those who live in sin like this.  Some would argue, “If you love me, you will have sex with me” but that is not a test of love; it is a fruit of the flesh and it’s about what I can get.  True love waits and real, genuine love does not take advantage of someone else by exploiting them with messages that it’s okay to have sex since they’re already engaged.  To make sex outside of marriage the true test of love is actually the very opposite of love.  It is taking what you can get to satisfy the fleshly desires.  Even couples who are engaged and claim to be Christian often live together before they marry and this too is sin because the Bible makes it perfectly clear that those who practice such things will absolutely not “inherit the kingdom of God” (1st Cor 6:10b).

While You’re Dating

The command to remain sexually pure is clear and knowing the temptation to commit fornication Paul says we are to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2nd Tim 2:22).  We don’t have to guess about God’s will is for our lives as Paul writes “this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1st Thess 4:3-5).  In other words, we expect that type of sexual immorality from the lost (Gentiles) “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (Eph 5:3).  That means there shouldn’t even be a hint of a scandal in the church of God because it destroys the testimony of the believer and it also brings shamed to the cause of Christ.  If unbelievers see so-called Christians living in sin, they will say “How are they any different from the world?  They are just like everyone else.” 


Are you willing to destroy your fellowship by participating in sex outside of marriage?  Do couples really want to taint their marriage by having sex before they’re legally married?   Do we really want to show the world we’re no different than they are?   Paul’s last appeal to those who consider living in sin has him commanding, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1st Cor 6:18-20). 

Article by Pastor Jack Wellman