QUESTION: What exactly does it mean or look like for a Christian man to lead a Christian woman in a dating relationship?
ANSWER: I don’t know why we have been taught that this ideology applies to dating, so let me just come right out and say it: As a boyfriend, you have no business being her leader.
She already has a leader, and so do you, so both of you should be focused on your roles as followers. The role of leadership only pertains to you if you are discipling/mentoring other men who are spiritually younger.
In regards to your relationship, leading is a responsibility entrusted to a man once he and a woman become one and they belong to one another in a covenant (and I think that dynamic is a lot more egalitarian than we’ve been taught, but that’s a topic of its own).
Until two become one, you are not “the head,” and she has no obligation or reason to submit to you or follow you.
That role of authority is one of great responsibility—both an honor and a challenge to accept from the Lord. But no guy has any authority over a girl in a dating relationship.
You are both essentially single… there is only active symbolism of commitment and exclusivity, but it isn’t a union, and I don’t believe it should have the infrastructure of one. No girl is entrusted to her boyfriend, and I think when we act like they are (even with good intention), it projects elements of co-dependency and forced intimacy, neither of which are edifying in a dating relationship.
Leading another person’s heart is not something you’re called to do, expected to do, or even equipped to do. It’s totally out of your role description. Focus on following Jesus individually—seeking, growing, and learning independently. This means that you are both equally responsible for your own personal spiritual health.
You are both held to a standard of purity, and you’re held accountable to God, not to each other. You are both responsible for guarding your own individual hearts. You are both called to honour God by honouring each other, and when you both do that, neither of you should have any reason to compromise the people you are called to be in light of the gospel.
So, don’t worry about leading. Take that weight off your shoulders because God never put it there. Unlearn the preaching of dating culture that is made up of spiritualized opinions—well meaning, yet not necessarily biblical. We’ve got to stop trying to imitate marriage in our dating lives. It leads to confusion, frustration, and unnecessary challenges that imitate intimacy that isn’t supposed to be present outside of a covenant.
(Answer by Lauren Britt)