Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Have Rules About Dating?
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the principles and commands found in the Bible can help us to make decisions that both please God and benefit us. (Isaiah 48:17, 18) We did not create these principles and commands, but we do live by them. Consider how some of these relate to the subject of dating. a
Marriage is a permanent union. (Matthew 19:6) Because Jehovah’s Witnesses consider dating to be a step toward marriage, we view it seriously.
Dating is only for those old enough for marriage. Such ones are “past the bloom of youth,” or have passed the peak surge of sexual desire.—1 Corinthians 7:36.
Those who date should be free to marry. Some people who are legally divorced are not viewed by God as being free to remarry, since his standard is that the only valid basis for divorce is sexual immorality.—Matthew 19:9.
Christians who want to marry are commanded to choose only a fellow believer. (1 Corinthians 7:39) Jehovah’s Witnesses view this command as referring not merely to a person who respects our beliefs but to one who shares and practices those beliefs as a baptized Witness. (2 Corinthians 6:14) God has always directed his worshippers to marry only those of the same faith. (Genesis 24:3; Malachi 2:11) This command is also practical, as modern researchers have found. b
Children should obey their parents. (Proverbs 1:8; Colossians 3:20) For children living at home, this command includes obeying their parents’ decisions about dating. These might include the age at which a son or a daughter could begin dating and what activities would be allowed.
Within the Scriptural guidelines, Witnesses personally choose whether to date and whom to date. This is in harmony with the principle: “Each one will carry his own load of responsibility.” (Galatians 6:5, footnote) Still, when it comes to dating, many wisely seek the advice of mature Witnesses who have their best interests at heart.—Proverbs 1:5.
Many practices commonly associated with dating are actually serious sins. For example, the Bible commands us to avoid sexual immorality. This includes not only intercourse but also other unclean acts between unmarried people, such as fondling the genitals of another person or engaging in oral or anal sex. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Even premarital passion-arousing behavior that stops short of sexual immorality is “uncleanness” that displeases God. (Galatians 5:19-21) Immoral conversations consisting of “obscene talk” are also condemned in the Bible.—Colossians 3:8.
The heart, or inner person, is treacherous. (Jeremiah 17:9) It can lead a person to do things that he knows are wrong. To prevent their hearts from misleading them, couples who are dating can avoid being alone in tempting situations. They may choose to take such reasonable precautions as staying in the company of a wholesome group or a suitable chaperone. (Proverbs 28:26) Single Christians who are looking for a marriage mate recognize the risks of online dating sites, especially the risk of developing a relationship with a person whom one knows very little about.—Psalm 26:4.
a Dating is part of some cultures but not of others. The Bible does not say that we need to date or that it is the only way to marriage.
b For example, an article in the journal Marriage & Family Review stated that “three qualitative studies of long-term marriages have indicated that similarity in religious orientation, religious faith, and religious beliefs are key factors in long-term marriages (25-50+ years).”—Volume 38, issue 1, page 88 (2005).