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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.

Because this sort of (perhaps unintentional) deception is a particular temptation in a dating context, we need to be deliberate about avoiding it.

From there, you obviously need a response from the woman to know whether or not things will go any further.

If you know the woman from church, if you've seen her interact in a group, observed her with others, maybe worked with her as a part of some ministry, that input should be enough for you to think through the decision of whether initiation of a relationship is the right thing.

If you know the man well or at least better than what I've just described, but you are not sure whether you are interested in him, I'd encourage you to at least take some time to get to know him before giving an unequivocal "no." Keep in mind that this is different from feigning interest when there isn't any.

There are instances in which you can be genuinely unsure about a guy but still move forward this far.

Let me say it again: We're trying to make intentions clear, here, not asking anyone to commit to go the distance with no information.

There are biblical and unbiblical reasons for a man to initiate with a woman, and there are biblical and unbiblical reasons for turning a man down.

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If you don't have even information at that level, feel free to tell him that you want some time to think and pray about it (that is, if you're not sure at that point that you're not interested).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.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.

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