Today, dating typically starts from outside stuffs. Is that person pleasant looking, sexually attractive, doing well, or well-connected? If yes, the next steps are dating, and then caressing and sex. If that works out fine, see if both could commit.
But sex is a powerful force. It would muddle up our thinking. Should start from friendship to see if both sides could understand, accept, appreciate, and work with each other, preferably towards common goals. Then move on to deeper friendship, romance, and commitment, before going to sex.
Fulfillment in sex comes from deep physical intimacy and full commitment from both sides. So, sex and marriage should be tied.
As to masturbation, it focuses on just giving ourselves satisfaction. After reaching climax, one could feel more empty and lonely. Also masturbation depends on fantasy and is addictive. Don’t let it control us.
Don’t try to know everything about the other side before commitment. We are imperfect. Our relationship with our spouses depends on God, and our intent to honor Him and to honor our commitment. Also God continues to work on us. So, don’t be too cautious. After we have spent some time with a person and we really like that person, trust God and commit.
What if we are constantly being rejected in dating? Try to identify the reasons. Ask your close friends for suggestions. Then move on and seek out other opportunities.
Some want to remain single. That could be a good choice. Paul recommended being single (1 Corinthians 7:1-7), and Christ was single on earth. Though God said it was good for the perfect Adam to have Eve (Genesis 2), happy marriage is difficult to have because we are imperfect. A spouse could reprogram our self-image, which could inflict damage on us.
So, don’t be fixated on getting married or being single. Some idolize being single because they value independence. This can be encouraged by sex outside marriage. Others treat being single as a plague. They may just want others to take care of them. Avoid both.
For some, being single comes easily. That is a gift. But for most, it is better to be married.
Ask God for guidance, and thank God for the outcome, whether we are single or married.
Summarized from a Tim Keller sermon.