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Indeed, the central issue we need to confront — and the reason I write and speak on this topic — is that when it comes to dating and relationships, perhaps more than in any other area of the everyday Christian life, the church is largely indistinguishable from the world.That truth has brought immeasurable emotional pain and other consequences to many Christians.

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My point is that we cannot simply state that the Bible "doesn't mention dating or courtship," and then think we're off the hook to pursue this area of our lives either on the world's terms or however seems best to us without diligent, submissive reference to God's Word.

If the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is true, then God's Word does have authoritative guidance for us about how we might best glorify God in this area of our lives.

That means our conversation has to be a conversation. We may define The Scriptural support for the idea of biblical dating is largely by example and implication. The very idea of extended romantic or sexual involvement outside of marriage doesn't even appear in Scripture unless it is described as illicit (sinful).

I mention the sufficiency of Scripture as part of the groundwork for this column because it's one of those doctrines that touches every area of our lives, and it is at the heart of the approach to dating (and life) that we'll talk about here. We will look at a number of passages over the course of our discussions that support various aspects of biblical dating, but for the moment, let me just give you some references to study: Now, the biblical support for the modern approach to dating ... Furthermore, it doesn't even appear in any society, western or otherwise, in any systematic way until the 20th century.

Some of the messages we've presented have taken the position that Christians can apply their faith in such a way that they can still work within the system they've inherited.

Other messages have stressed that Christians need to be much more counter-cultural.

Joshua Harris, for instance, has promoted a model of courtship that harkens back to a model used broadly before modern dating evolved.

People attempting to follow a courtship model within today's culture, however, often run into a lot of practical questions, such as, "What if her dad is unavailable or uninterested in being involved?

This doctrine simply holds that the Bible is sufficient to guide and instruct us authoritatively in all areas of our faith and life, and that there is no area of life about which the Bible has no guidance for us.

The sufficiency of Scripture is taught explicitly and implicitly in many passages, but perhaps the most obvious is 2 Timothy -17: So how does the sufficiency of Scripture apply to our coming discussions?

Well, many evangelicals who otherwise believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and who might generally agree with the sufficiency of Scripture have nonetheless embraced the area of our faith and life at some level.

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