In my (Shi Yun) opinion, it’s not so much about when to date as it is about who and how you date! Dating seems to be a most natural step to take when girl meets boy, they like each other, and then, boom! We announce on social media that we are together. However, did you know that there was no such thing as “dating” in biblical times? Family units were closely knit; parents were on the lookout for suitable spouses for their children; they would already know the families of potential candidates and saw best the kind of partners for their children.
Even though the thought of your parent choosing your spouse might be horrifying to you, there is a crucial lesson here: lean on the wisdom of the people you trust (such as your parents or church leaders) to help you assess whom, when, and how you should date.
“Dating” means different things to different people, but for me, dating should not be undertaken casually, as it is a time to assess if you and the person you are interested in are suitable to marry each other. Even if it ends with you deciding to part ways, it is not a failure if you come to a prayerful, reasonable, and kindly expressed conclusion on whether you are suitable marriage partners.
If you are ready for that, then dating is a time for you to explore the possibility of marriage with someone of the opposite sex through a healthy friendship, being accountable to God and mature Christian counsel until there is clarity that God is indeed leading both of you (or not!) on the journey toward marriage. Readiness to date, then, isn’t about passing a certain age, how much you think you love a person, or even being marriage material. It’s about having the maturity to approach dating in this way: knowing that the when is not as important as who God is leading you to, and how you can both spur each other on to love God more!
I (Benita) thank God for your desire to walk with your Christian friends with SSA on what may be a long, arduous, and often lonely journey lasting a lifetime. Here are some thoughts from the Word and from my own experience of walking with friends who struggle with SSA: the list is not exhaustive though!
Encourage them to pursue holiness, not heterosexuality.
First Corinthians 6:9-11 are key verses to remember that all of us are sinners, washed and saved by the blood of Christ; all of us then called to holy living (1 Peter 1:15-16). But holiness is more than just about sexuality, so don’t make SSA the main or only thing. Walk with your friends as fellow Christians seeking holiness in every part of life. Being same-sex attracted doesn’t change their fundamental identity of calling as a Christian.
Be a listening ear and friend, not an eager fixer.
If they’ve allowed you to walk on this journey with them, thank God for this privilege! Resist trying to change them – that is God’s work, not yours. Have empathy for their struggles and seek to understand them. May your presence be like Christ who shared life and walked with the broken.
Pray for them regularly.
Ask the Father for them not to be “cured”, but to experience Christ’s healing presence in their struggle, for the church to have the Holy Spirit’s guidance in creating a safe environment, and for yourself to have God’s love in walking with them. Don’t stop praying!
Last but not least, talk to the friends about seeking a mature youth mentor or pastor to be accountable to. Encourage them not to carry this alone as we are one body in Christ, and they may be able to provide further support for both of you.