[notice]Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). In this monthly column, Jacob McMillen examines what it means for men, young and old, to father abundant life in their families, communities, businesses and churches.[/notice]
For those unfamiliar with the subject, dating is a relatively simple procedure that must always be hopelessly complicated for any Christian daring to try it out.
If you’re feeling lucky, try Googling “Christian dating advice.” We’ll see you next week…
But wait! Christians aren’t the only ones obsessed with the dating scene. If you search “rules for dating,” you may notice the unchurched are just as guideline-happy as the rest of us. It seems that dating might be universally confusing. So what’s the difference with Christians?
What makes Christian dating so hopelessly complicated is the Christians themselves. We bring our love for out-of-context scripture and applied-only-when-convenient principles into the mix, making for an entirely unique brand of utter ridiculousness.
But don’t worry! You don’t have to think, because we’re here to do it for you. Since you’re reading this on the internet, it’s probably true and should be shared repeatedly on your Facebook wall (actually you really should go ahead and share this right now… think of the children).
Identifying myth from fact can be difficult, and that’s why we’ve gone ahead and done all the heavy lifting for you. We’ve spent over 10 minutes tirelessly combing the limits of the interwebs – dissecting every nook and cranny, examining every loophole, instigating mass pandemonium – and ultimately, we’ve discovered 10 ridiculous Christian myths about dating that your ignorant friends (but definitely not you) probably believe.
Here at Gateway News, we’ll be looking at my 4 favorites.
1. It’s the woman’s responsibility to manage a man’s sex drive.
This is by far the weakest excuse for a cop-out I’ve ever heard, and yet it somehow manages to repeatedly eek its way out of the mouths of otherwise-brilliant pastors, authors, bloggers, and never-at-all-brilliant Twitter philosophers.
Are these words used exactly? No, they are just slightly more subtle. These are real quotes from real published articles, by the way. True story.
“The level of [men’s] lust is directly related to how much of our bodies is available to lust after. The less we advertise, the less opportunity we give them to covet our bodies.”
“When a guy gets ‘intoxicated,’ his body can’t help but react… Exposing a man to continual visual stimulation is like hanging a noose around the neck of his spiritual life!”
So let me connect the dots.
1.Woman wears sexy clothes.
2.Man gets turned on.
3.Man loses all control of body, soul, spirit, etc.
4.Man’s responsibility disappears like a Christmas wish-list in North Korea.
I don’t know about you, but I’m spotting some major continuity problems between steps 2 and 3, not to mention 3 and 4. Last time I checked, I don’t get paralysed when a hot girl says “Hi” to me, and I am literally the ONLY one in control of actions at all times. I don’t recall signing over my personal responsibility to every woman on the planet with nicely toned legs and a propensity for living.
If you want to truly understand how ridiculous this notion is, here’s what it would sound like with the gender roles reversed.
Real talk: modesty is great, and sexually-explicit Western culture does provide a challenging climate for men, but let’s not pander to the irresponsible and frankly ridiculous idea that it’s a woman’s responsibility to manage a man’s sex drive.
Yes to 1 Tim 2:9-10. Yes to Romans 14. No to offloading your immaturity onto the women around you.
Here’s a thought. How about a little 2 Cor 10:5? What are we cavemen? Why don’t all the men just grow up, and then we can start having some teaching for adults.
2. A Godly man will always make the first move.
Your turn ladies. Here’s a fun one. Time after time after time after time I hear it:
“It is just WRONG and out of character for a woman to make the first move.”
“If he’s not willing to make the first move, he doesn’t deserve you.”
“A man findeth a wife, not the other way around!”
And on and on and on and on and on… this topic is like the Holy Grail of single women conversation.
You know what ladies, I actually agree with you. I think guys SHOULD make the first move, but what should or shouldn’t happen really isn’t going to matter to you when you’re browsing Christian Mingle on your 36th birthday.
(A moment of silence for the Joshua Harris generation)
And it’s not going to matter to your happily married friend who walked up and kissed her husband-to-be right smack dab on the lips, ‘cause she knew what she wanted.
Here’s the deal. If most of the Christian guys you’re interested in had it fully together, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. But the fact is… they don’t. It doesn’t mean they aren’t amazing in a lot of other areas or wouldn’t be good husband material. It simply means they are lacking in awareness, confidence, or most commonly, know-what-they-want-edness.
Why limit your options? I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t pursue a guy. I’m just saying that if you know what you want, why wait until he figures it out?
It’s your life, and it’s your move ladies.
… if you want it to be.
3. You shouldn’t be dating, because you should be focusing on Jesus right now.
After all, what’s more important than Jesus?
“I’m not dating right now, so I can focus more on Jesus.”
“We’re breaking up ’cause we feel like we need to just pursue God right now.”
“I’m really attracted to her, and we have a lot of fun together, but I think I should just be focusing on my relationship with God right now.”
As we all know, pursuing Jesus means discontinuing everything else in life. No more relationships at all. No more of anything.
By this theory, the only way to really master the art of dating is to not do it.
Unless a monastic lifestyle is your plan (more power to you), this sentiment doesn’t make any sense.
If dating hinders your relationship with God, why would you ever date… ever? If you’re focusing on Jesus in this season, who are you focusing on during all the other seasons?
If you get married at age 25, you’ll spend at least two thirds of your life in a relationship. You should probably go ahead and learn how to relationship while you’re Jesusing.
Of course, if Jesus explicitly commanded you not to date, who am I to argue? If my experience serves me correctly, however, your memory of that command will probably be inversely proportional to the hotness of your potential date.
4. You shouldn’t date someone unless you see marriage in the future.
This is one of those oft-quoted home-group rules for dating.
“You shouldn’t start dating until you’re sure marriage is on the table.”
“Could you see yourself marrying him? If not, don’t waste your time.”
“If you’re not pursuing her with marriage in mind, you aren’t guarding her heart properly.”
I fully identified the long-term strengths, weaknesses, upsides, and downsides of all my closest friends within the first hour of meeting them.
Oh wait… no… that never happened… ever… not even once.
One of the biggest problems in Christian dating culture is the idea that young adults should limit their coed relationships to marriage fast-track candidates. This idea is primarily motivated by fear of voracious little sex drives running about, and like anything motivated by fear, it jumbles everything into a needless mess.
Allow me to depict one’s commitment level in a healthy marriage:
Now, allow me to depict one’s emotions while getting to know another human being:
The dating process is your chance to experience the ups and downs of a real relationship without the pressure of flat-lining. Placing marriage-esque commitment expectations on yourself or your date will just set you both up for an ER’s worth of emotional damage.
Dating is only as serious as you make it, or as fun as you allow it to be. I’m not recommending that you have no minimum requirements for dating. I’m simply pointing out that the whole purpose of dating is to get to know someone which implies you didn’t know him/her on that level beforehand.
They key to not being a dumb dater on the heartbreak fast track is to keep the level of intimacy in the relationship one step behind the level of trust at all times. In other words, you don’t just give your heart away. You give a piece, see how he/she cares for that piece and respects the boundaries you’ve set, and then, once trust has been built, you can give him/her more of your heart.
Meeting new people is awesome. Having fun with people is great. You don’t need to marry someone to learn from them and grow from your experiences with them.
Enjoy these 4? What if I told you there’s 6 more!? Click here for the full 10 Christian myths about dating so