What’s the Point of Dating?

Single Serving-02By Joel Hilliker

In today’s world, dating truly is a lost art. Real dating has largely been replaced by “hanging out,” doing various mindless or even destructive activities.

Look at the dating scene in this world, and you will see a tremendous amount of confusion. Just what is dating? What is it supposed to achieve? What do you do? Most young people don’t really know. What’s the point of dating?

Let’s be honest: For far too many singles in the world, the point of dating is simply to have sex.

Their focus is entirely selfish. Their motives are self-centered. They don’t care about the other person beyond what that person will do for them.

The ironic thing is, many—perhaps most—of the people who engage in this type of “dating” still hope that somehow, at some point, they will “click” with one of the people they are hooking up with and end up settling into a wonderful, meaningful, long-term relationship.

They need to get real!

You can’t build a healthy relationship on that kind of self-oriented foundation any more than you can grow a healthy plant in a tub of poison.

A relationship between two people who care only about what the other person can do for them is a ship with two captains and no rudder, heading into a storm and destined to fail. Unless and until their focus changes.

It is infinitely better—far likelier to lead to lasting success—to build a relationship from the start on a foundation of unselfishness.

Isn’t that what you would like to do? Then it has to start right nowin the way that you date!

That’s right: If you want to build an enduring, fulfilling relationship, you need to start right now by dating in a way that is entirely different from the selfish approach unwittingly followed by the great majority of singles!

When I say that dating is a lost art today, essentially I’m talking about the fact that unselfish dating is rarely practiced.

The singles in God’s Church are not dating to have casual sex. However, the attitudes and practices of singles in the world can still rub off on us more than we may realize.

Sadly, many singles in God’s Church have a fundamentally selfish approach to dating.

For example, some singles simply don’t date because, basically, they don’t feel like it. Their only concern is whether it’s convenient for themselves, or what they get out of it. They may convince themselves of excuses—I don’t have time; I can’t afford it; there’s no one to date—all things that can be overcome. They may deem someone as “not marriageable” and thus have no interest in dating them. (Obviously there are legitimate reasons where it would not be appropriate to date someone.) All these hindrances typically boil down to one thing: They are thinking too selfishly to want to extend themselves.

Other people date, but do so with selfish motives. Some singles believe the sole purpose of dating is to find a mate. This is a selfish approach. It leads to many problems. Anyone who is on a date primarily to assess someone’s ability to fulfill duties as a husband or wife is going to behave awkwardly and inappropriately.

If you have a selfish approach to a date, the person you are with will know it. A date should never feel like a job interview!

In congregations where there are many dating opportunities, some singles go through the motions of “dating widely”—a man invites a woman to sit with him at services or accompany him to a social function, for example—but fail to demonstrate any real interest in the other person. This selfish approach can make that person end up feeling like little more than an ornament.

Dating—like everything else we do as we learn and practice God’s way of life—should be an act of give. Your mind should be on serving the other person, trying to give him or her a positive, even spiritually and mentally uplifting, experience.

When a man and woman both have that focus, they will have a wonderful date! I know this, because I’ve experienced it many times! Before I married I went on countless dates with dozens of different women. Most of them were simple and mainly consisted of one-on-one conversation, perhaps on a walk or over a meal. They were all enjoyable, and in many cases—even the majority—I came to appreciate the person more than I expected to.

To this day, I take the same approach in my dates with my wife, and we have wonderful times together. I even go on occasional individual dates with each of my three children (two daughters, ages 11 and 9, and one son, age 5). I don’t go on these dates for what I can get from them. I just want to give them a positive experience—to enjoy some conversation, to focus my attention on them and show them that they’re important to me, to get to know them better, and to build our family friendship.

For singles, that is essentially what your focus should be in your dating.

There are many wonderful reasons why dating is not just fun, but also important. It is a great way to build friendships with a wide variety of people. Dating many different people—not just those you may happen to consider “marriageable”—offers a unique education in a lot of ways, and can expose you to a variety of interests, experiences, talents and personalities, making you a more interesting and informed person. It gives you experience in breaking out of your comfort zone, relating well to others and becoming “all things to all men” (1 Corinthians 9:22). It helps you learn how to understand the opposite sex, and to better appreciate the God-given differences between the sexes. It increases your confidence in dealing with others. It helps you grow in outgoing concern for people of all types. It gives you practice at listening actively and communicating effectively and tactfully.

These qualities can really only be developed through experience, and dating provides that experience.

What’s the point of dating? Above all, it’s an important way to practice God’s way of give! If that is your focus, you will be thoughtful and considerate, trying to create a relaxed and enjoyable occasion for the other person. You will be sincere and open in expressing yourself to your date, and take a genuine interest in them. And you’ll create a bond of friendship that will encourage and strengthen both of you within God’s Family.

This is what dating in God’s Church is meant to accomplish. And when dating is done the right way—unselfishly—it does something else, something wonderful. Among the friendships that are built, sometimes it becomes apparent that there is a right foundation for a God-blessed marriage.

So rediscover and practice this lost art! Pray for God’s guidance to do it His way. Extend yourself, and build friendships within God’s Church on a foundation of unselfishness. Get out there and date!

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53 thoughts on “What’s the Point of Dating?

  1. When I left the WWCG and the Lady I was to marry, to join the PCG; I said to my self I guess I won’t be dating for a while! I was foreshadowing the truth. I always tried to make my dates interesting and unique, ie, champagne/OJ breakfast in the black forest at the FoT in Bonndorf / X country skiing lunch on a mountain pass / shark diving in South Afrika. sometimes we men, feel unappreciated for trying. We need to learn from each other. We need to learn to serve our sisters in the faith.
    GOD will bless us for our actions.

  2. This reminds me of articles written by Mr Rice… When our intention is to give/make our date have a great time, we also have a great time and develop our character. Interestingly, we benefit more when we give to our date. Personally, I have to remind myself about this because I also have my prejudices to overcome.
    I grew up in the church but still I formed a negative opinion/feeling about dating. Really, it is harder to unlearn something learned.
    Thank you Mr. Hilliker for the support and encouragement!

  3. Of all the life-changing experiences at AC, dating widely was perhaps the one that changed me the most. It challenged me to constantly develop my conversation skills and round out my personality, laying a foundation for my wonderful marriage today. It is exciting to think that all singles in the field can have this AC experience without even being at AC. What a wonderful blessing Godly dating is. I almost wish we had a different word to use for it than “dating” since the world has so misused that term.

  4. Thank you for a challenging article Mr. Hilliker. I am wondering if you could answer a question for me, as this is what challenges me…what should a single girl who never gets asked out do? I have to say that I honestly feel like, “there’s no one to date.” Not because there literally is no one, but because there literally is no one asking me. I am just not sure how to overcome this challenge or how to correct myself here? I would love to give my brothers a positive experience, if any of them would ask me out. So, if they aren’t asking me out, does that mean it’s okay for me to ask them out? I only ask because I feel pretty sure there are some other single ladies who sit at “home” every night of the FOT, for example, who may be wondering if it would be okay to ask a brother out since it should be something we are doing to give to one another and encourage one another…and I mean there are usually lots of guys at the FOT anyways…well, I also ask because it’s my understanding, which could be in error, that the men should do the asking and the calling and so forth. Is this correct? And if so, what is a girl to do? Just keep waiting and smiling as invitingly as is kosher?
    Dateless in the PCG,
    but still hopeful! :)

    • deeyll. That is an interesting question even for we who are in their 60′s. I am eager to hear the answer to this. One other thing is: should a man ask the minister first if its ok to date a certain person?

    • I would point you in the direction of the previous article “A Special Way for a Single Woman to Serve God’s Church”. There are lots of good ideas listed for fellowship, which is one of the major goals of dating. Serving in these areas reminds us to “give a date not get a date” (tied for best one-liner from the Principals of Living class at AC, in my opinion).

  5. Thanks for sharing this article, it brings true purpose and meaning to this lost art! With this purpose in mind to guide all activities the Fruits of God’s Spirit will never fail to manifest themselves in us!

  6. Thank you Mr. Hilliker, speaking from someone who grew up in the “world” and God called into HIS church six years ago, dating has been the most stressful.. these articles are a wonderful tool in helping people like me. I look forward to more. :0)

  7. Warm thanks Mr. Hilliker, my dates last week was guided by this article.So uplifting, so amazing! Can’t wait for more Single Serving topics.

  8. I just thought I’d point out for those who don’t know that if you hover over “A Way of Life” (top left) a drop-down menu appears. Second from the top is “Singles,” where all of these articles will be stored once they disappear from the main page. This should make it easier for everyone to keep up with these articles and to revisit them as needed.

    Happy dating! … Or “bestowing” as one put it! :)

    • Thanks Aubrey, it is extremely hard to find any articles that have disappeared from the front page. One never know where to look for them.

  9. Another great article, Mr. Hilliker. Practical, useful instruction at a time when dating in the world carries a very negative connotation for so many; because sadly the world has polluted the true purpose of the dating process.

    Perhaps it’s time for a new vocabulary?… a new word to better convey the meaningful purpose of the dating process that our heavenly Father created and intended for a man and woman to get better acquainted, which is the way of “Phila” love.

    I like the word “bestow” because it means “to convey something”, such as a gift. So instead of going on a date, you go on a “bestowal – the process of conveying or giving something to another”. Unlike the word date, which conjures up negative images, bestowal implies “giving” of ones time, ideas, fun and laughter. And one who goes on a bestowal would be a “bestower – one who conveys or shares something”. Yes, its corny, even cheesy, but for me these words are more exemplary, regal and dignified of God’s true purpose for dating, which is as you aptly put it, To GIVE.

    • Inspiring, educational article. How about a series on dating? Actually I think a booklet would be wonderful.

      How about more pointers? Ideas for dates. Examples of some of your dates. What was done or said that made them memorable? Difference between going out one-on-on vs. organizing a group date. Under what circumstances should a woman decline an invitation? How to do it tactfully?

      Since many PCG members are distant from each other, as a corollary to dating, maybe we could get tips on appropriate uses of technology to build and maintain friendships.

      It’s probably obvious I need a lot of help…

      • Excellent suggestions! I definitely have many more articles on dating and singlehood planned. And our long-term goal is to produce a booklet on the subject with answers to questions like the ones you ask. There’s certainly more where this came from! My hope, though, is that even if the information comes a little slow at first, it will be enough to stimulate our wonderful singles to take some action.

  10. Keep these articles coming!!!

    I gave up many friends when coming into the Church. I couldnt wait to have friends who were on the same page. I learned very quicly how spread out we all are and its hard to go from many friends to very few (all of whom are very far away). Its even harder with dating. I remember how excited I was when I was finally going to date guys who were wanting to do things right. I never dated in the world for 22 years because I knew I wanted to be in the Church and getting to know God’s people. I havent got to date much in the past 6 years, but am still hopeful. I love meeting new people and learning all about them. I would never turn down a date from one of God’s men. I cant imagine looking at someone and deeming them “not worthy” of my time. I always feel honored to have people want to spend their time with me.

  11. Yes! Yes! Yes! – “Now this is what I’m talkin” about!”

    Dating is so much more fun when taken from the approach of just being friends and getting to know a whole variety of different people from the opposite sex. It really does teach us so much and helps us realize how much there is to appreciate the differences God created. They balance beautifully.

    I’ve had the blessing of having some really awesome dates – and they were really simple. Yet they made such a huge impact. One of my favorite date memories was a good guy friend taking me out in his truck to drive around construction sites and places he had spent time building the homes people were currently living in: he told me tons of stories about his experiences in building, what he had learned, his successes, his disappointments, how he overcame this obstacle or that difficulty, how much he enjoyed building and why he enjoyed it, how he got started in the trade. I just listened and learned so much! The more I listened, and the more he shared, the more I learned about my friend and I appreciated more about him as a friend.

    Another guy friend took me to the Mumford House in Newport, RI for a Spokesman’s Club Ladies Event. the experience taught me so much about the very beginnings of God’s true Church in the United States – and I got to cheer my friend on as he gave a stellar speech! It was the first time I ever heard him speak in a public setting, and he did great!

    Thank you Mr. Hiliker for writing this article! There’s still so much I have to learn.

  12. Thank you Mr. Hilliker for this very valuable article. Building on God’s unselfish approach is the best way to go and it is laying a foundation that will withstand the wind and the rain and the flood beating against it.

  13. Awesome article. We really need this. Not just so that we can give to others on dates but so that we can teach the whole world how to date God’s way.

  14. Thank you Mr. Hilliker. If we ladies don’t accept the invitation for a date, how are we helping and serving our fellow men in their steps to becoming strong men in God’s Church? If the men are turned down for dates all the time, they’re not going to learn either. It truly does become a selfless act to accept the invitation, and get to know your brother in Christ better! (and you’re right, it’s not a “job interview”)

    • Being an older single I have talked to some younger single men who were turned down just asking a girl to dance. By doing this they may just stand around and look. So Christine well said. I am looking for to all these questions being answered and how to handle each situation. thanks Mr Hilliker.

  15. Thanks for the great article Mr. Hilliker. I look forward to dating in God’s church. I know I will meet some more amazing people. I am a new member of the church and feel really blessed to have the opportunity to learn from the best.

  16. Very loving and interesting article! It is true, singles who are dating should enjoy the opportunity to get interested with each other as spiritual brothers and sisters. And when the focus is on giving and making each other happy and have fun, then there is no time to worry about getting married. It will come into that point when we let God directs them to that special man and woman. I like the thought of Mr. Hilliker dating each of his children to focus attention to them and to show them how important they are to him. Maybe next time, we’ll see the picture of Lizzy and Callum really liking and loving each other!

  17. Thank you Mr Hilliker.
    Make me think deeply, I will put it in practice each day, I hope. In the friendship and fellowship.

  18. Thank you for these well-needed reminders, Mr. Hilliker.

    Uncomplicated friendships between members of the opposite sex can be difficult to cultivate and it is easy to become disillusioned with the whole dating scene after experiencing repeated rejections.

    As will all things, however, if you keep extending yourself by putting the needs of others first, you will develop friendships that last throughout eternity. Whether you have the opportunity to be married or not, there is never an excuse to stop serving.

  19. Mr Hilliker,

    This is wonderful instruction for both singles and marrieds alike. Far too often when married it is too easy to waylay the joys of dating for everyday living so when you take stock of your priorities and remember the little things which count for much, it enriches all the more.

    I look forward to putting more into my future dates.

  20. Thanks for this much needed article. I hope you print it in The Philadelphian for those that do not get on pcog.org to ensure that all the singles (and marrieds for that matter get to read it).

    I have been disappointed to see many lovely single ladies not being asked out for dates at the Feast for example, while there were many single men around. It is great that you point out that dating is part of the give way of life that we are all to be practicing and in this situation it really is the man’s role to take the initiative.

  21. Thank you for giving us this great advice and helpful correction.
    It is hard to unlearn old habits, but never too late.
    Happy trails my friend.

  22. Beautiful article. I loved it. I remember our talk once a couple of years ago over this very thing. You told me to just enjoy this time getting to know more people and you will have experiences to last a lifetime. Friendships with the opposite sex that you can’t have once you are married in the same way. I enjoyed my time getting to know others, even when there was no thought of a relationship! We were just enjoying time as Brethren in God’s Church getting to know one another and having such a nice time at it! I am now married to a wonderful man. God has given me a mate that is so good to me, but if I hadn’t dated this way, I may have never even gone out with this man. I was way too scared! Follow God’s counsel from His ministry, and reap abundant blessings!! :)

  23. Thank you for this instruction, Mr. Hilliker! It’s a corrective article, but one filled with encouragement. Living the way of give—the way of the tree of life—should be everyone’s aim. Thank you for pointing out how perfectly dating gives us this opportunity to practice the way of give!

  24. ‘A girl phoned me the other day and said, ‘Come on over, there’s nobody home.’ I went over. Nobody was home.’ Rodney Dangerfield

    My dates are sure to be more successful with this perspective Mr. Hilliker. Thank you!

  25. Thank you Mr. Hilliker, so wonderful to be reminded that it’s more blessed to give than to receive, will certainly apply these lessons should another chance to date avail itself, really moved to change in this area.

  26. Thank you so much Mr Hillicker for this very encouraging article, and hopefully it will spring the singles into action to try to get to know each other better through dating. We are so blessed to have this knowledge that we can put into practice in God’s church.

  27. Wonderful article, Mr. Hilliker. I’m now married, grew up in the Church, was a single for many years. I learned the art of hospitality from my parents, (WCG at the time). I entertained often while single. This is a way, that a single lady can give. Miss Coats article was a terrific example. I’m still amazed at singles sometimes. (selfishness) I’ve entertained when in a great deal of pain, and it’s always such a wonderful experience. We just love having people to our home. We do it to give to others, both single, and people with unconverted mates, and always, we seem to get more out of giving to them. We love getting to know brethren on a one-on-one basis, or small groups. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive. Both my husband and I were single for many years before marriage. So take heart everyone, just give and give, God sees one’s heart. Let him find the perfect mate for you.
    Again, thank you for a fantastic article.

    • I agree with you there, entertaining is a wonderful way to get to know your brethren on a deeper level, and you are also serving THEM, not expecting anything in return. God does look on the heart.

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