I Side-Hugged Christian Dating Culture Goodbye
When it comes to who you’re supposed to marry, isn’t it funny how Jesus and hormones always say the same thing? If it wasn’t for hormones…. Jesus would NEVER know who you’re supposed to marry!
(But more on that later.)
My name is Guilliam, and like most of the 20-something Christian male population, I am single by choice… not necessarily by MY choice. Christian dating is very difficult, not due to a lack of eligible candidates, mind you!
On the contrary!
There are many, many,
In fact! If you are a single Christian male interested in the opposite sex … you are in luck! Statistically, church girls outnumber guys almost 3 to one! Indeed, the harvest is plenty, but the chair-carrying laborers are few… And yet, dating as a Christian is exceedingly, unnecessarily difficult! But before we get to WHY that is… Here are two stories that will hopefully provide some perspective regarding Christian Dating culture.
“Well, not only did we want the same number of children; we both heard God speaking to us and God revealed our wedding date to us on our first date! It was such a powerful moment!”
Unfortunately, this particular happy couple have since split up… after an unsuccessful second date, where God revealed to them that “they are currently in a season of singleness” and that they needed to pursue God more.
The poor guy didn’t stand a chance, God had changed His mind, and there was nothing He could do about it. He would have to pursue Jesus if he was ever to find a marriage-able woman. Luckily for the gentleman in this scenario, Jesus felt adequately pursued after two or three days, and then revealed to the young follower that it was okay to date again - but not the same girl - God apparently had other plans in mind.
Fast forward to the present day.
Sure…. it wasn’t easy…
But after three misfires…. God finally got it right!!
The happy predestined couple have since moved in together with plans to be wed, once Jesus decides on a wedding day…
(But that’s none of my business)
The first date was awkward, which is par for the course, considering that neither of them had dated before.
Awkward, but still fun.
However, when they returned back to campus after dinner and coffee, She was asked if they could keep their newfound “awkward-but-still-fun date” on the DL for the time being.
Mixed feelings all around…. If he truly enjoyed it, wouldn’t he be okay with talking about the date?
But luckily…. the second date made up for it!
She got to meet his parents!!!
Not awkward at all!
Mixed feelings turned to strong feelings.
Strong feelings that told her to get out while she still could!
Meeting parents on the second date?!!!
For date three (yes, there was a third date - you can’t make this stuff up!)
They went for a lovely scenic walk, and had a good long chat.
He started with “You know… I’ve been praying.”
He seemed so nice – surely he wasn-
“And God said -“
I swear…. if he’s about to –
“We shouldn’t be together.”
To this day…. she is still grateful that God didn’t want them to be together.
Both of these stories are true. Slightly exaggerated personal emphasis may or may not have been added, I’ll admit. Both of these stories have happened repeatedly. The actors change, but the script stays the same.
Sometimes the girl springs the ring, other times the guy springs the ring. People come and go, but the gist of it stays the same.
And THIS…. THIS is why Christian dating is difficult, bordering on nearly impossible.
You see, normally, in pandemic-free academic years, there are these magical times of the year.
The magical time of year where God predestines students to date. This phenomenon uses takes place during finals and midterm exam weeks; when even the most skeptical of students are in prayer for God to divine to them all knowledge and wisdom the night before their exams. Their heightened states of prayer and sleep deprivation better aid them in hearing God’s voice; allowing them to make wonderful life-altering decisions, such as dropping out, switching degrees in their third year, taking a depression nap, or romantically pursuing anyone of the opposite gender with a pulse.
Nay-sayers might suggest that they should wait until next term… Or at least until they’ve had more than two hours of sleep…. But it’s far too late now… God had spoken… And who are they to disobey?
If you or a loved one are, or were, a Christian University (or high school) student…. You have experienced this phenomena.
Also, if you haven’t picked up from context:
There is no such thing as casual dating for Christian students.
In fact! I might go so far as to say that there is no such thing as “dating.”
But in order to fully grasp why dating doesn’t exist…. We need to define a few terms:
I’m just “Dating Jesus” right now - A polite way to say “no” to someone who is interested in you when the guy/girl that you want isn’t single and/or interested in you…. yet! This statement is essentially your Christianese placeholder until Jesus tells your future significant other that you are supposed to be together.
“They’re Talking” - Flirting, and/or planning their future family. This activity is unhindered by social distancing. In fact, this definition now includes tasteful social media stalking, the sliding of DM’s.
(Sidenote: if the only place where you can find them is on eFundi…. They might have blocked you and you should seek professional help and possibly legal council.)
“Intentional Friends” - What everyone else would refer to as “Dating”…. This phrase is actually shorthand for “Intentional friendship with the purpose of possibly pursuing a courtship relationship with the intent to achieve a godly marriage where both parties are so in love with Jesus that they fall in love with each other.”
”Wanna Go Study?” - Go on a romantic, no-pressure date with a textbook open nearby. (Unfortunately social distancing is still a thing in 2020, so do it over zoom. That way, there is ample room for the Holy Spirit too…)
“Get Coffee” - Not a date, Level 2. Involves caffeine – bringing a textbook is optional. (Due to COVID, this is a high-risk-high-reward play…. Same goes for doing this over a Zoom call…)
“Single by Choice” - Usually not single by THEIR choice… Usually their future spouse is currently “Dating Jesus.” and they’re hoping that there’s a breakup in the near future. This is essentially an alternative form of “Dating Jesus”.
“Dating” - Engagement; an immediate consequence of Jesus revealing “the one” to you.
“Didn’t feel Peace about ________” - Jesus changed His mind about who you were supposed to marry. Remember, Comfort and Clarity are the same thing. If it’s not easy, it can’t be God.
“Married” - Congratulations! Good luck apartment hunting in 2020!
Isn’t it funny how Jesus and hormones always say the same thing?
But seriously though…
Why do we say “Jesus told me they were the one”?
Here’s what I think….
We are afraid of free will.
Free will involves taking personal responsibility for our actions.
Free will involves making mistakes.
Free will involves the word “maybe” more than the word “definitely”.
We would much rather give God credit for making our decisions for us, than admit that there is a possibility that we could be wrong…
I’m not saying that God doesn’t have “the one” picked out for us…. Although I probably SHOULD say that…. Because the concept of “the one” is actually not even a Christian concept… It comes from Greek Mythology (Click here for a video on the Greek Mythology).
In the words of a good friend… “If God doesn’t force us to love Him and be in relationship with HIM, then what makes us think that he’ll force another human to love us and be in relationship with us?”
Think about that for a sec.
Mature people make decisions… And a lack of desire to own up to our role in making that decision is directly linked to our inability to STICK to that decision…
Commitment usually isn’t tried and found wanting.
It is found difficult and left untried.
You are not ready to “Intentional friend” if you’re not ready to make a decision.
God is not going to ask her out for you, and God is not going to force you to say yes.
Once again - Dating is not for the purpose of getting married. Otherwise any form of break-up; even a healthy one for legitimate reasons like differences in life goals, differences in personality types, and/or differences in favorite Disney princesses; would be sinful.
Dating is to get to know the other person - Exclusively them - Not just for what you can get out of it (in this case… Marriage), but for who they are.
There is something beautiful about learning who a person is for their own sake, and not just objectifying them for their compatibility to our life calling and blaming it on Jesus.
So to conclude, in the words of the illustrious Dr. Lyons, my Old Testament Literature Professor:
“Make a decision, because God wants to bless you with the consequences of your decision.”
Therefore, go forth and multi- uhhh….
Be indecisive no more….
(And wear a Mask!)