Spoiler alert: the Bible does not mention long-distance relationships. It doesn’t even mention dating.
But the Bible can help you answer any question you have about dating, from Can I miss my boyfriend too much? to Should we get married?
Whatever you’re wondering, the Bible can provide you with at least one of the following:
- A direct answer
- An indirect answer
- Criteria for finding an answer
- Something better
How do you know which one the Bible provides for your specific question? You can start by asking four different questions about your question.
1. Does the Bible answer this question directly?
Some questions have clear answers in the Bible. These answers are always true for everyone in every culture and every time in history.
For example, Is sexual immorality a sin?
The answer is yes. You don’t need to be uncertain about that. Here are a few places where the Bible clearly condemns sexual immorality as a sin:
- “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
- “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
- “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality…I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19, 21)
If you’re reading your Bible regularly, studying it with other believers, and applying it to your life, finding the answers to these questions won’t be hard. If you’re in a hurry and you have a specific question, OpenBible.info is a helpful topical resource for finding relevant Bible verses.
If you can’t find a clear answer, you can move on and ask the next question. However, sometimes we make a question more complicated than it needs to be because we don’t really like the answer the Bible gives.
So, throughout this entire process, ask God to search your heart and reveal any tendency to ignore clear answers, as well as why you may be tempted to do so (Psalm 139:23-24). Asking godly people in your life for their input is also a helpful check to make sure you’re not overthinking or misinterpreting.
2. Does the Bible answer this question indirectly?
Other questions are not answered directly in the Bible, but we can apply Biblical principles and the wisdom of godly people to get pretty close. For example,
Is it wise for my long-distance boyfriend and me to sleep in the same bedroom when we visit each other?
I don’t know of any verse in Scripture that answers this question directly. However, you can build a logical framework based on different Bible passages:
- Sexual immorality is a sin (see above)
- Sexual temptation is real and pervasive (1 Corinthians 7:2)
- Anyone who thinks they’re incapable of sin is lying to themselves (1 John 1:8)
- Paul tells us not to make it easy for ourselves to fall into sin (Romans 13:14)
- Paul tells us not to make it easy for others to fall into sin (Romans 14:13)
The only question we haven’t answered here is: Does sleeping in the same room make it easy to fall into sexual sin?
Our next step, then, is to ask others for advice based on their experience because “the way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15).
And if you asked several godly people this question, I’m pretty confident they all would say, Yes. If you are sleeping in the same bedroom, you are inviting sexual temptation.
At this step, it’s crucial to think about your question in the context of the entire Bible. If you pick and choose verses, you can justify just about anything, but that doesn’t make it right.
For example, a common reason people cite for sharing a bedroom is to save money. Spending your money wisely is a Biblical principle, and if you’re tight on money, a hotel room may not be a wise purchase.
But the Bible never advocates doing something foolish (sleeping in the same room) to avoid doing something else foolish (waste money). What the Bible advocates is grace-driven sacrifice and discipline for the sake of godliness (Titus 2:11-12).
So, you can stay somewhere else for free, even if it’s less convenient. Or, you can also wait a little longer to visit each other until you’ve saved up enough money.
The point is that you must consider all of Scripture when you’re faced with a question that’s not directly answered within the text.
3. Can the Bible offer criteria for finding an answer?
Until this point, we’ve considered questions with answers that could apply to almost everyone.
But you’ll also face questions about what’s wise or right for you specifically. For example, Should we get married in college?
I’ve outlined the pros and cons of getting married in college, so I won’t get into all of that here. The important thing is that the answer to this question will be different for every couple.
There’s no right or wrong answer. Getting married in college is not usually wise or usually foolish — it really just depends.
In these situations, the Bible is indispensable in helping you establish Christ-centered criteria. It will help you evaluate any additional questions you need to ask in order to answer your main question.
How do you go about this? Rather than approaching the issue haphazardly, I recommend a pros and cons approach where you break your question into two separate questions.
- What are all the Biblical reasons we should do this?
- What are all the Biblical reasons we shouldn’t do this?
These questions are much more manageable. Once you’ve created a list for both sides, you can pray about it and ask others for advice.
4. Does the Bible point me to something better?
With prayer and discernment, the Bible can help you answer all kinds of questions related to dating.
But there are some questions with answers we are not meant to know. Perhaps in some form or other, you’ve wondered:
Will our long-distance relationship last?
You’ll never know the answer to this question until it becomes a past-tense fact. There will always be uncertainty in a dating relationship.
The kind of certainty you crave is not the certainty you need. Rather than boosting your confidence in your relationship, the Bible leads you to find your confidence in Christ.
So, as you wrestle with a question about the future, part of the answer may be that you need to trust God.
It may not be the answer you’re looking for. But it’s something much better.