Question: "I am in the process of getting a divorce. Can I start dating, or do I have to wait until the divorce is final?"
Answer: The question of dating during the divorce process is difficult to answer for several reasons. For one thing, the concept of “dating” as we know it today is nowhere mentioned in the Bible. Most marriages in Bible times were arranged, and any contact between two prospective spouses was strictly monitored. In addition, no matter what view one takes on the issue of divorce, it is important to remember Malachi 2:16: “‘I hate divorce,’ says the LORD, the God of Israel” (NAS). According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6). No decision to divorce should be made lightly.
There are three situations in which dating during the divorce process might occur. The first is the case of a spouse who has biblical grounds for divorce. That is, the innocent spouse has been abandoned by his/her unbelieving spouse or has been cheated on by an unrepentant adulterer. In either case, the innocent spouse is most likely in a state of emotional turmoil and vulnerability. Most people going through a divorce, even when it is not their fault and even when they have biblical reasons, are usually shattered by the circumstances and not in any frame of mind to be “dating.” People don’t usually make good decisions while “on the rebound.” For a still-hurting divorced person or someone in a painful divorce process to be dating is neither wise nor prudent. The abandoned spouse may indeed be lonely, but making clear-headed, godly relationship decisions in such a situation is difficult, if not impossible.
The second situation in which dating during the divorce process could occur is that of a person who divorces his/her spouse for non-biblical reasons. A divorce in this case, in the words of God, is due to “hardness of heart” (Mark 10:1–12). Such a divorce, therefore, is a spiritual failure and should prompt those involved to focus on the Lord and not on seeking to replace the one being divorced.
The third situation in which dating during the divorce process might occur is that of a person who causes a divorce, i.e., the “guilty” party in a divorce. All of the biblical allowances for remarriage after a divorce relate to the “innocent” spouse in a divorce with biblical grounds. There is no biblical allowance for remarriage for a spouse divorced for unbiblical reasons or for a spouse who caused a divorce, whether by adultery, abandonment, and/or other possible grounds. The Bible nowhere states that the “guilty” spouse in a divorce is allowed to remarry; therefore, he or she should not be dating.
Since the purpose of dating is to find a spouse or to seek companionship with the opposite sex, biblically speaking, a married man or woman is not free to date, even if there is a pending divorce. Even the innocent victim of an unwanted divorce is still married until the marriage is legally or formally ended. Forging a dating relationship outside of marriage, even for those getting a divorce, gives the wrong appearance. The better choice is to abstain from any action that could endanger one spiritually or give the impression to others of a careless attitude toward marriage.