Most likely, there hasn't been a period in human history in which dating and marriage wasn't a front-burner, hot-button issue that was on numerous minds. I surmise that ever since the beginning of human history there have been legions of questions occupying the hearts and minds of men and women and, as we can see in our own day, this hasn't changed. Sure, cultures change and prevailing worldviews change and systems of thought come and go as it relates to considerations of romance, dating, and marriage, but the things themselves have always been and always will be important matters that are talked and written about a very great deal. I feel this way for many reasons, but I will provide two here to preface this brief piece.
First, the Bible is clear that God created human beings to be emotional, relational, and, yes, sexual beings. Our creator designed our hearts to long for romance and to be plugged into communities wherein we should enjoy connectivity and relationships, both with friends and, in a romantic sense, with those who will be more than friends. Yet in light of all of what I have said in this context, all of this has been wrought by God in purity and wholesomeness, and therefore our dating culture that has been unfortunately marked by flings, hook-ups, and manifold sorts of sexual heartbreak is not an honorable or fitting way to understand romance, dating, marriage, or sex. What we often see in the 21st century as it concerns sex is not an accurate portrayal of the design of our God.
Second, it is demonstrable that dating and romantic love is a primary consideration in the human heart and mind and has been for all of human history. Whether we are talking about the ancient world, the middle ages, the complicated world of the 20th century, or today, romance has been the leading subject matter of writing, music, drama, and eventually video and film. If anything is demonstrable, it is that mankind has had a never-ending relationship with thinking about and expressing his ideas and values about romance.
Considering and having a mind continually occupied by romance is indeed part of being human and regardless of one's worldview, one must grapple with it as principle and idea. Of course, this is true of Christians just as it is true of persons of other faiths and approaches to religion and philosophy. The Bible has the Song of Songs and other texts that are taken by their respective traditions to be sacred texts have their books dedicated by romantic love.
With all of that said, I have written two articles since mid-September that had to do with dating. The first was about the essentials that Biblically must exist between two people in order for dating to be good and right and the second basically consisted of some other commonly thought to be primary issues in dating that I unpacked a bit. Now, in this piece, my aim is to answer the question "How important is personality in the context of dating?" As I recall in high school, the conviction of many was that a person's personality far outweighs their physical attractiveness and is the single most important factor to consider in dating. The answer, as I see it, is multifaceted and thus it wouldn't be fair to just give a pithy yes or no answer to this truthfully good question.
On one level, it is true that personality is of tremendous importance when it comes to dating and relationships. What a person is like, what sort of values fuel and drive their life, what their temperament is like, and what sort of heart they have is truly front-burner and truly plays a factor on the essentials in the context of dating, namely what a man or a woman is like spiritually. So, in a sense, one's personality, depending on how we define that term personality, is the most important thing to consider, far more so than physical attractiveness, though it too is important. The Bible is clear that Christian dating should only take place "in the Lord" to quote Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 7:39.
In light of that relational and ethical imperative, we can conclude two things at least:
(a.) No one should be considered for a relationship by a Christian if they do not profess to love Jesus, and
(b.) No one who is without virtues that Biblically mark genuine lovers of Jesus should be considered for a relationship by a Christian.
To put it simply, if you are a Christian and delight yourself in the Lord, resolutely refuse to seek a romantic relationship with anyone, regardless of how attractive or otherwise relatable they are, if they do not do the same. The latter point, namely about Christian virtue, is pertinent in our discussion of personality and how important it is in dating.
If we understand personality to basically be what sort of person someone is at the heart level, then the answer to this piece's title question is that personality is the single most important thing there is in dating. What do I mean by that exactly? Well, I would say that when a man or a woman is looking around for people to seek a relationship with, it is of the utmost importance that they have eyes for both a profession of faith and evidence of faith. For the confession of unity with Christ and the demonstrable reason for that confession to be believed. For proclamation that the tree is alive and the sight of fruit growing on it.
A man or woman of God will necessarily be loving, gentle, kind, humble, joyful, patient, dependable, will have a servant's heart, and will love and treasure God above all other people and things in their life and that includes you. I am emphatically not suggesting that Christians are going to be perfect and that an imperfect Christian lies about loving Christ and walking with Him by faith. Such an idea would resemble a kind of doctrine that could be called "entire sanctification" or "Christian perfectionism" and it is Biblically unfaithful and theologically incoherent and should be firmly rejected by the church.
As the ministry Got Questions writes "Most believers find that, when they are convicted of one area of sin and repent of it, they will then become aware of another area that they may not have been aware of before. If a Christian has come to the place where he simply cannot identify any areas of sinfulness in his own life, he should not assume he has attained entire sanctification. Rather, he would be well advised to ask his spouse or other close friends or relatives for their perspective. He might be surprised at how blinded he has become to areas of sinfulness in his own life that are readily evident to others." Be that as it may, it is also the case that a true Christian will bear fruit and if you or I find ourselves attracted to someone that doesn't bear fruit at all or seems to be very fake in their Christianity, the counsel of Scripture is RUN!
So, in that sense, namely the sense in which a person's lifestyle, decisions, affections, values, and the worldview out of which they live and operate, personality is of monumental importance. It is true that we are all, in some sort of way, giant hypocrites, however, a person should be very careful to not seek a relationship with someone who breathes, eats, drinks, and sleeps hypocrisy, as it were. This is what it is, in one arena, to have discernment.
However, if by personality we mean to describe certain aspects of someone's temperament, such as whether they are an introvert or an extrovert, what sort of genre of music they like versus another, whether or not they like poetry, or whether they are an INFJ or an ISTP, then the answer of the title question moves from an emphatic answer that personality is everything to a less emphatic "it becomes a wisdom and discernment issue for the individual."
As it concerns issues like this, it seems right to say from experience that it is sweet, warm, and wonderful in every respect to be a relationship with a godly person that you feel as if you can connect within the realm of politics, art, humor, literature, film, music, food, and just life issues in general. In fact, there are few things like it.
But even though that is the case, it isn't Biblically fair to make it essential, as, in the Biblical sense, anyone of the opposite sex who loves and follows the Lord is fair game for you to date. In that sense, Jesus levels the dating field, as Desiring God.org guest writer Calley Sivils once said. She writes "Everyone in Christ is a new creation. As long as someone has more than a mere profession of faith in Christ — a genuine and growing pursuit of purity and conformity to him — he is 'fair game' romantically. Christ has leveled the dating field for his followers. He did not primarily come to do this, but he did it nonetheless.""Everyone in Christ is a new creation. As long as someone has more than a mere profession of faith in Christ — a genuine and growing pursuit of purity and conformity to him — he is 'fair game' romantically. Christ has leveled the dating field for his followers. He did not primarily come to do this, but he did it nonetheless."
For that reason, it is unfair from a Biblical perspective to make something like politics, music, or similarity as it relates to personality type primary or essential in the context of dating. So then, personality in this sense comes down to individual needs and being able to practice discernment. Personality issues can be deal-breakers to be sure and I have experienced their ability to serve as such in my own life, yet people who both love and treasure God can be substantially different and yet marvelously click because of their mutual faith in Jesus and the love and grace that He has wrought in them by the power of the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:3-8 says the following about this latter point: "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
To land the plane here, I will give some application of this by my own life and the way I approach the consideration of personality and the differences therein that exist undoubtedly in all of us. It must be accepted that we are all very different and altogether unique and so it is that no one will be exactly like you or exactly like me. If God does have a partner out there that He has sovereignly planned for you to meet and build an abiding friendship and someday a romantic relationship with, and it is indeed essential that you understand that He may not have as not all people are meant to marry from the perspective of Biblical Christianity, then He will make all things work together for your ultimate good and many personality differences will compliment, though not all will to be frank.
I am an avid reader, a philosopher, a Christian apologist, an outdoorsman, somewhat of an athlete, a weightlifter, a runner, an early bird, and an introvert. I love space, spending time with friends and family, being able to study extensively and conduct research on a wide range of things. I love hunting, fishing, hiking, football, frisbee, coffee, the season of fall, a wide range of music, and I'm not much for watching a lot of television or spending endless time on social media. My sense of humor I would describe as moderately sarcastic and I love things that are, for a lack of better terms, silly and mega whimsical. If a young woman shared some of those passions, then she would definitely mesh better with me than she would if she did not share them. For example, I think the idea of a woman that loves to be outside, that isn't afraid to work and get dirty, that loves to read and discuss complex ideas, that can laugh with me and just get lost in silly humor for long periods of time, and that enjoys taking long strolls and talking about a wide range of things for hours on end to be immensely attractive, yet if a woman loved the Lord with all of her being and didn't like to hunt or fish, we could still connect and make things work.
To simplify it very much, different things may be deal-breakers for different people in this respect and to put it basically, that is perfectly OK. We are all very different here and many of our differences, though not all of them, are good, make us a beautiful mosaic as it were when we are put together, and thus shouldn't be sources of fear but instead celebrated and highlighted.