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Before continuing with this column, please review the preamble included at the beginning of this series, "Biblical Dating: How It's Different From Modern Dating." * * * PART 3: Just Friends » As Christians in dating relationships, we want to avoid hurting one another and dishonoring Christ by "defrauding" (see NASB translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:6) our brothers and sisters in Christ by implying — through word or action — a higher level of commitment to that person than we have made before God.

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This will provide you a chance to get to know him or her well and will also provide a buffer and accountability against getting too emotionally intimate too early.

Many people want to start out a relationship by spending a huge amount of time alone together.

Remember, your intent at this point is not necessarily marriage — and that's not what either of you are committing to at this stage.

You're simply committing to get to know her a little better in an intentional way to evaluate whether the two of you should then consider marriage to one another.

This is not the only way the early part of a relationship might look.

These are simply suggested applications of biblical principles.

In the end, there is no formula and no rote substitute for intellectually honest Christians seeking to care well for one another and to faithfully apply Scripture to infinitely varied relational circumstances.

So with all that said, let's consider how the principle of caring for one another well in the early stages of a relationship might look.

If nothing else, treating men who initiate well will encourage other men to initiate.

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