This is the last in my series on 90’s dating gone bad. (For background on this series, start with this post.)
Often, we Chrisitian women complain that men do not pursue us enough. But can you blame them? As a result of the “Zero dating tolerance” era, they are expected to know if they want to be with us forever within the first few dates. The bridesmaids dresses are picked out after the first cup of coffee. These men find themselves in a quandary. “I want to get to know this girl, but if I ask her out, I need to be pretty sure that I’m serious. But how do I know if I am serious about her if I don’t spend quality time with her?” It is a catch 22. I would be scared too. See what a bunch of rules does to us?
I have had good men in my life who were frozen because there is so much pressure in Christian dating. They wouldn’t give me a chance because God did not give them a vision in which I was wearing a white dress. This kind of thinking seems emotionally driven, and based on the “feelings” you have. Feelings are a good thing, but they should not be the only thing you focus on to assess whether you would make a good match. There should be a lot of wisdom involved as well as feelings.
As I have stated before, I think slow steady dating where you are getting to know someone day by day is the best way to do things. Something I have tried to do with the last few people I have been interested in is to not think about marriage too soon. I use what I call the “Holiday Effect.” I ask myself “Is there enough enjoyment and beauty and mutual sharpening in this relationship that I want to keep pursuing this to the next holiday?” If the answer is yes, I invest wholeheartedly in the relationship day by day to that next holiday, and then I check what is going on with us as a couple and what is going on inside of me. I keep doing the next best thing. Someday, I will get enough information to know whether a future with this person is a good idea or not. (The only bad thing about this theory is that I could potentially be breaking up with someone on every happy day of the year. But you get what I mean. Go in seasons.)
In my experience, few guys have taken the risk to date me like that. They want to know they are “supposed” to marry me (a term I really don’t like as it sounds so much like a duty rather than a joy) or they just want to be best friends with me. Nothing in between. Honestly, I would feel much safer dating and knowing we are praying day by day about where our relationship is going than being best friends. I know a lot of guys think there is more integrity in staying it friends rather than dating, but it can actually be so boundary-less that it ends up being damaging to a woman’s heart.
I have been interviewing married and divorced people for my book. I have heard over and over that a biproduct of this kind of thinking can be marrying someone you don’t know very well and rushing to get married. This can be very dangerous.
What do we do in the wake of our dating hell tsunami?
We need to move from a culture that is scared of dating to a culture that feels confident that they can date well and make decisions with God. In the courting model, we were taught that God wanted to choose our spouse. But God choosing a spouse for someone only happens twice in the bible. Once with Isaac and Rebecca, and once with Hosea and Gomer. As one of my favorite teachers, Dann Farrely says, “a fifty percent chance of marrying a prostitute is not very good odds.” Most verses about marriage in the bible are filled with imagery of being wise, and of choosing with God.
I believe that in order for these deep seeded unhealthy views of dating to change, a revolution needs to happen. The Christian church at large is in a pivotal time right now. We are more concerned with social justice issues. We are learning to become less hypocritical and more compassionate. We are trying to read the bible for what it really says, not what culture tells us it says. I would love to see our Christian communities grow in the area of dating as well. To have a revolution in which we are allowed to date and have adult relationships while still maintaing our values and boundaries. To allow a man to feel like he can ask woman out just to get to know her better without everyone in his life asking him when the wedding date will be.
I’d also love to hear sermons for single people where we are being taught good dating principals. Someone once said to me that it isn’t fair to married people to have to listen to a sermon for singles. But how many married sermons have we listened to? There are almost no unmarried pastors out there, so they don’t often think about what singles need to hear. Please, leaders in the church, make it a priority to learn what single people go through, and start bringing healthy teachings for us to grow and for our culture to change.
There also needs to be good books written about being single that will help shape the culture. Namely: a little book called Getting Naked Later which I am almost done with. (Making me rich, famous, and married to a hot guy would also be good goals for my book.)
For out dating culture to change, we all have to change together.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, especially you men.
BY THE WAY: I am thinking of doing a tour to North Carolina and surrounding states in the end of June. If anyone can think of places that I could guest lead worship or do a house concert, or even teach my sexy celibate ways to singles groups, will you let me know? Thanks!