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What is an appropriate level of intimacy before marriage?In the nearly 10 years since I first wrote the Biblical Dating series on Boundless, I and other Boundless authors have addressed some pretty nuanced and specific questions about dating relationships.The only biblical warnings that might apply to an age difference in marriage in some situations concern marrying for lust or money: we are to avoid lust (1 John ) and the love of money (Hebrews 13:5).The best course of action is to pray to God for wisdom concerning any prospective relationship (James 1:5).(Song of Songs gets the closest, but it’s more of a love poem that teaches the expression of love and sexual desire in the context of marriage.) It’s also important, as I’ve stressed in other columns, not to inject into Scripture implications for dating than are called for — especially in the wrong genres and contexts of the Bible.(For instance, the story of Jacob and Rachel doesn’t stand for the idea that seven years is the right length of time for a dating relationship — or that polygamy is OK!The orthodox, uncontroversial interpretation of this language is that it instructs men and women not to relate in ways that arouse or encourage sexual desire or a high, unique level of intimacy until it is appropriate (i.e., within the context of marriage illustrated in the book).
" Answer: The Bible very rarely gives us age examples in marriage relationships (or in any other situation, for that matter).We do know that Abraham was 10 years older than Sarah (Genesis ), but there are no other couples in the Bible where both individuals’ ages are given.It is often assumed, for example, that Joseph was significantly older than Mary.Recent months and years have also seen a more robust discussion about whether the Bible really has anything practical or specific to teach us about dating.So I thought it might be helpful to mark the (nearly) 10-year anniversary of the Biblical Dating series by asking again, The answer in a literal sense, of course, is “nothing.” Not only do the words “dating” and “courtship” fail to appear in Scripture, but the Bible never depicts the sociological phenomenon of an unmarried man and woman meeting, deciding on their own to become romantically involved, and pursuing a relationship from the stages of acquaintance through marriage.
And the story of Ruth and Boaz is not an example of a woman “initiating” the equivalent of a modern dating relationship.) So where does all that leave us?