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In my view, if you can't happily picture yourself married within a year, you're not in a position to date.

Third, once you decide that you are ready to date, look to God's Word to decide the kind of person to date, and evaluate potential dating partners on those criteria, rather than relying primarily on the world's treatment of ideas like "attraction" and "chemistry." I wrote at some length on this in my article, "Brother, You're Like a Six." For you busy singles with time for only one mildly irritating column per day, the summary is this: Pick a potential dating partner with an eye toward godly manhood and womanhood — with an eye toward who would make a good husband or wife, defined by those characteristics esteems in His Word, not the ones Hollywood likes.

In this day and age, however, the hard fact is that many single Christian women have fathers who are not involved in their lives at all, are not believers, or are indifferent to or unaware of the notion of protecting and shepherding their daughters and potential suitors in a dating context.

Where that is the case, a natural alternative might be some married individual or couple within the woman's (or man's) church community.

See what an unsatisfying bumper-sticker treatment that was? Among the different roles assigned to men and women in the Bible, men are assigned the role of leadership. This is not a signal of male superiority or of the greater importance of men.

It is simply God's design and assignment of equally valuable roles among spiritually equal beings. Briefly, biblical support for this position is found, among other passages, in the creation order in Genesis 2, in 1 Corinthians 11: 7-9, and Ephesians 5.

As a practical matter, are you responsible and holy in the way you possess your own spirit, mind and body?

Whether this means approaching the woman herself or her father or someone filling that role instead of her father, it should be the guy that starts things off.The idea was to protect the woman from potential hurt or awkwardness, to aid her in evaluating a man whom she might not have known well at the time of his initiation, and to help ensure that the relationship was carried out honorably.Certainly, this norm spread beyond the believing community and became more of a cultural phenomenon, but it still gels well with attempts to carry out a godly dating relationship — especially among those believers who hold a complementarian view of biblical gender roles.As a quick aside, if you are a single man and you would not describe yourself as ready to be married within a year, think about why that is.I mention this for two reasons: 1) Scripture seems not just to encourage, but to assume that part of the growth into biblical manhood is to seek marriage, so this is a biblical goal; and 2) easily the biggest complaint that I and others who advocate this approach get from godly Christian women is that .Hollywood's perfect woman runs with the boys, knows what she wants and is aggressive en route to getting it — especially romantically. "What if I'm really interested in a man and he just isn't getting it and I need to move him along? When men drop the ball on leadership (as we often do), it presents a temptation for the woman involved to pick up the reins and lead for him. Picking up the reins sets a terrible pattern that only confuses the roles in the relationship and encourages both of you to take the role of the other to the detriment of the relationship and ultimately the marriage. If it doesn't work out with a particular guy because he didn't step up, the Lord will cause something else to work out.Hilariously, Hollywood even writes these characters into period pieces, as if the normal woman at all levels of society in the 18th and 19th centuries was a post-feminist, post-sexual-revolution, "there-ain't-no-difference-between-me-and-you" libertine. Needless to say, that is not the biblical picture of the responder. Does this mean that a woman should never ask a man out on a first date? Does this mean that a woman shouldn't give the guy the assurance he needs by "leaking" news of her interest to him by way of his friends? He knows what is best for each of us, and all of us must learn to trust Him — especially about things that are really important to us.Finally, let me advocate the initiating of a relationship under some accountability structure.I mentioned the woman's father or family because until the second half of the 20th century, that's largely how it was done.If you aspire to be a godly husband or wife someday, what have you done and what are you doing to prepare for that ministry?Second, are you at a place in your life at which you are ready and able to marry?

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