A man and woman face each other across a table at a downtown bistro, looking nervous and awkward. There is a stiff formality to the way they sit—no slouching. It remains to be seen if it will pick up speed, gain altitude, and soar skyward . Sometimes they lead to burning love; sometimes they go down in flames. All the observable and obvious clues: They are nicely groomed—stylish, but not overdone. As would-be romances go, this plane is very slow to leave the gate and get onto the runway. or if it will lose engine power and sit on the tarmac indefinitely. It’s true that first dates can be one of the most nerve-wracking, anxiety-producing situations in our society. It’s amazing how we can be married ten, twenty, thirty, forty, or even fifty plus years and still find there is much we don’t know about each other.

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Whatever the case, it’s none-the-less important to keep the lines of communication and conversation open. Don’t allow yourself to get into the situation like Pat Williams describes: So, to help you in this mission for your marriage, we have provided some “Conversation Starters” from various resources to help you get started.

Keep in mind that these questions are not meant to cause division between you.

Our deep conversation topics for married couples increase connectivity and closeness.

We have questions about dreams, goals, raising children, and how to improve sexual relationships.

It is time for Christians to start talking about dating. Establishing principles for Christian dating will set men and women on a course towards Christ-centered marriages. Here are 10 important principles for Christian dating. That would make God a gambler, and the Bible clearly says gambling is from the devil (only joking). Marriage isn’t as much about finding someone totally compatible as it is about committing to someone despites difficulties and differences. I fear this mentality in the dating culture is actually promoting divorce. Suddenly, when marriage begins, you are asked to flip a switch. It allows you to jump into marriage with a clear conscience.

The trajectory of lives and eternities are in the balance. Laying out guidelines for dating as followers of Jesus will alter lives by keeping people out of toxic and unhealthy relationships (and ultimately marriages). “The one” says you need to find the perfect person. The beauty of marriage is God sustains you despite your flaws. The shells of a shotgun are stuffed with tiny round balls. You are asked to go from a mentality that says “End a relationship as soon as difficulty arises,” to one that says, “Don’t end the relationship regardless of the difficulty that arises.” That’s a tough switch to flip.

They scan the room, menu, and table setting, only occasionally making eye contact. The key to having a positive experience is relaxed conversation, and that can be helped along with some well-chosen first-date questions.

Biggest clue of all: The salad course is punctuated by strained silence and forced small talk. Before we get to those, let’s review a few general guidelines for dating discourse: Listen as much or more than you talk.

It means dating someone who meets the values and goals you have for a future spouse (more on that later).

Casual or purposeless dating has no benefit for Christians. We are designed to know why we do stuff and where we are going. Now, please, please, please don’t be a freakish weirdo. It involves sharing personal struggles and vulnerability. If you believe God is preparing you for foreign missions, is it important the person you marry shares this passion? If you love the Cowboys and your future spouse loves the Packers, is it important to work through this before marriage?

This issue shapes our young people, friends, and family more than we could ever imagine. “Let’s just sit back and see what happens” might work in certain scenarios, but Christian dating isn’t one of them. I hope and pray these words spark conversations in your ministries, relationships, and homes. If you need to take a minute to let that sink in, I will be here when you get back… Here’s the deal: marriage isn’t a divine lottery where every person has one winning ticket. Hopefully one will end up as my spouse.” Not a good idea. So, the default for years is to leave as soon as a flaw arises. This requires discipline, restraint, and abstinence from activities that don’t promote holiness. A pure mind might be the greatest gift you can give your future spouse. ____________________ I hope this discussion continues. I pray parents, church leaders, friends, and family begin to spark conversations about God’s design for dating.