In either case, no area of life falls totally outside of the guidance and authority of God's Word.My point is that we cannot simply state that the Bible "doesn't mention dating or courtship," and then think we're off the hook to pursue this area of our lives either on the world's terms or however seems best to us without diligent, submissive reference to God's Word.

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Modern dating tends to assume that you need to get to know a person more deeply than anyone else in the world to figure out whether you should be with him or her.

The biblical approach suggests that real commitment to the other person should precede such a high level of intimacy.

We have brothers and sisters in Christ to hold us accountable and to help us apply the Word to our lives.

If you're a Christian, that's the biblical life you're called to. Just this once, I'm going to set out a basic framework for biblical dating so we all know what we're talking about — or at least so you know where I'm coming from.

Some things it talks about explicitly, like salvation, or sanctification, or marriage, or elders.

The Bible guides us in some areas by broader, more general principles and ideas we can build on as we strive to live the Christian life in practical ways.Almost all professing evangelical Christians are familiar with and vigorously defend the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture (which states that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, it's true, and it contains no falsity or error).I certainly agree with the inerrancy of Scripture, but that's not what I'm talking about here.That's what I hope this column will be about — applying God's Word to the topic of dating, finding a spouse, and getting married. After this column, you have my word that I'll spend the next several months answering your questions (that is, when I have answers). I have to start by explaining the theological doctrine that drives the approach I want to outline (and advocate).That doctrine is called the sufficiency of Scripture.That truth has brought immeasurable emotional pain and other consequences to many Christians.