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Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer and a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

You start praying together, but you also begin “fasting” from one another.Does that mean anything goes, that we should “continue in sin that grace may abound? ” Christians should certainly pursue holiness and spiritual integrity in dating.When my husband and I dated, we set aside a day each month to retreat from one another, pray and re-center ourselves.Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more: What would it look like to date in the freedom of that reality?What would it look like if the goal of dating was not the perfect marriage, but a better love of God and neighbor?He doesn’t want us to have any contact for a month.” Just like that, my friend was sent into a tailspin. And why had God communicated something so different to him than He had to her?

She hadn’t seen it coming, and neither of us knew what it meant. As difficult as my friend’s experience was, her story is not unique in the Church.

In my experience, Christian courtships are about as straightforward as the Cha Cha Slide: You take two steps forward, then one step back.

You meet one another’s parents, then decide to limit your time together.

Most Christian couples have their own version of this back and forth, and it’s somewhat understandable. Falling in love is blissfully disorienting, so it’s easy to lose your true North.

Everything, including God, can take a backseat to your beloved.

However, these manic dating rituals are not the product of godly intentions alone.