Many people wonder what God has to say about dating. The Bible is the place to look for what God says about any topic. Because people in biblical times did not date, there are no passages specifically related to dating. However, the Bible contains passages about the beauty of physical love within a marriage and warnings against awaking love too soon.
The Bible is the place where people go to determine what God says about various topics. The Bible does not specifically address dating because dating was not a part of the biblical cultures in the way that it is today. Instead, fathers were the ones to determine who their sons and daughters would marry, so men and women did not date different people until they found one that they wanted to marry. (Nehemiah 10:30.)
Nevertheless, people in biblical times experienced love, passion and desire just like people do today. The Bible addresses the passionate love between men and women in Song of Solomon. The Song of Solomon celebrates the beauty of human love and physical desire with phrases such as, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth---for your love is more delightful than wine." (Song of Solomon 1:2) and "How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful!" (Song of Solomon 1:15).
The Bible makes it clear in Song of Solomon that physical love between a man and a woman is a beautiful thing. Nevertheless, the Bible warns us, "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" in three places: Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4. This warning can be applied to dating. While there is nothing wrong with interacting with members of the opposite sex, we need to wait to "awaken love" until we are ready to commit to each other in marriage.
The Bible specifically prohibits having sexual relations with a virgin to whom you are not married: "If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days." (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) The Bible views virginity as something to be given only to a spouse. (See other "marriage violations" in Deuteronomy 22:13-30.)
In biblical times, there was no need for dating because the father made the decisions about who his son or daughter would marry. In today's society, dating used to be about getting to know members of the opposite sex to determine if that person would make a good spouse. As people are now dating at younger ages--long before they are ready for marriage--and giving their virginity to boyfriends and girlfriends rather than to husbands or wives, our society seems to have moved away from what God says about marriage and, by extension dating, in the Bible.