We live in a crazy consumer culture. I mean we always have to have the latest thing that will somehow fulfill our latest need. Have the Iphone 4? Don’t worry the 5 will be better, faster, more features. So you better have it – and right now! I had the same phone for like 6 years. Now I get a new one every year. (Full disclosure – I’m so totally going to go get the Iphone 5)
We used to save stuff, protect stuff and use it again. Nothing was disposable. Now almost everything is. Now granted with harder economic times this has changed a little. But not much. We have a desire, there is a product to meet it.
This attitude of consumerism has leaked into every area of our culture – including the church and for sure dating and marriage.
It starts with the idea that dating and marriage is about meeting my needs. This is part of the problem with the idea of THE ONE. The idea that there will be one perfect person that will satisfy me or meet my needs. This is of course false – Jesus is the only ONE. But that isn’t what we often think.
This can cause us to go through date after date or even relationship after relationship.
We try them all on and see if it fits just right. Which it never does. As soon as we figure out that this person isn’t meeting our needs, it’s over. There must be a better product (person) out there for me. Time to trade in the Igirl 4 for the newer model.
The truth is there will always be another person. There’s always someone hotter, who gets me better, who will meet this or that particular need. There will always be someone else. Always.
This can also keep us from ever having a date.
It’s like all we do is window shop. We look at someone and determine before we ever meet them if they could be THE ONE. We determine they aren’t because of this or that factor. We might even test drive them. Let’s all hang out together and get to know each other as friends. Really?! We end up ruling people out before we ever even pursue them. Why – well I’m not attracted to her this week etc.
Some of this happens because we are just flat afraid of choosing wrong. We’ve seen so many relationships go bad. But some of it is we just need to get over ourselves. I mean when we consumer date we are basically saying, “Hey I’ve got all my stuff together so I need someone who can meet my desires and needs. So as long as you do that we are good to go.” Everyone wants to consumer date, but no one wants to be consumer dated.
Here’s the best part – sometimes in Christianity we accidentally reinforce this idea.
We tell singles (young ones especially) that the person they marry should have all these traits. We tell them what they are looking for – the Proverbs 31 woman or the Ephesians 5 guy. Hahaha. I mean who lives that out perfectly? I can remember as a young Christian making a list of “requirements” for this person (plus she had to be hot of course – I mean you have to be attracted). This did keep me from marrying the wrong person I guess, although it also helped keep me from marrying any person.
Now I’m not suggesting that we should have no standards – especially as a follower of Jesus. But at the same time you don’t marry a list. You marry a person.
This is why our understanding of marriage is so important. It’s a covenant not a contract. It’s not a freaking purchase. It’s a commitment for life. Think about the vows you take (at least most of the time). They are all about what you are going to do. You don’t say, “I promise to be with you as long as you love me the right way.” No! “You say I promise to love you no matter what happens.”
This is soooo hard for most of us. It really is. But changing this mindset changes everything. All of a sudden I’m not looking for this person who can meet every need the way I want. Instead I’m looking for this person who I’m going to choose to love no matter what. Those are two totally different things.
So, are you a consumer dater? What is it you are really looking for?
I really love this! When we marry, we discover that we all marry the “wrong” person. Whomever we marry is NOT Jesus! And the person we marry will be a sinner. It’s a process of God making us holy as we must deal with being sinned against and forgiving – every day. Marriage also forces me to see the depths of my own selfishness and pride in ways I probably would never have known otherwise. But when we are willing to do this God’s way – it is also the most beautiful of all relationships.
Consumer dating definitely does not prepare people well for the covenant of marriage! Thanks, Justin! I appreciate the way you handle such difficult topics with truth and point people to Christ.
I agree, I am getting so much out of this blog. You are doing good work, Justin. I think I have all of these basics figure out, but your style has a certain pellucidity that challenges my thought processes in new ways, even shattering some conceptions and helping me build new ones.
I just wanted to point something out in regards to the window shopping / pre-determining “THE ONE” statement. That paragraph rings true; I admittedly rule people almost immediately as marriage material or not, but it is always based on one factor alone: do I think they are a Christian? Pretty much 100% of the time I assume or know they are not, and that automatically causes that possible future relationship to cap out at the friend zone.
It’s not as if you aren’t aware of this, but I think a lot of Christian blogs are predicated upon the fact that every player in these hypothetical dating scenarios are Christian. I can’t speak for other readers, but in my life, this isn’t the case. In fact, I have never been attracted to a Christian girl because I have never even had a friendship with one.
Your last post was about Christian singles and the church. Well, my world is lived as a Christian single not in the church. Perhaps there is nothing to discuss about this lifestyle, and the answer is simply “Well, go to church”, but going to church as a means to meet girls just seems incredibly wrong.
I know I’ve gotten off topic from your post, but that’s because there is this other, unmentioned possibility, another rail that deviates from the best track: more of this would be relevant were all males and females on the same spiritual track. It might sound so obvious to Christians that Christians are meant to date (marry?) other Christians. Duh, right? Christian dating 101. But you should hear what my non-Christian friends and family members say about my choice to not date _anyone_ because they are not Christian. “You are sabotaging yourself”, “Well, why does it matter if they believe the same thing”, “You don’t KNOW she isn’t like…religious….or whatever. Maybe you’ll find it doesn’t matter once you meet her.” It’s amazing how those 3 statements stick out like sore thumbs to this Christian subculture, but not to mainstream “consumerist” thinking, or whatever you want to call it.
The worst is meeting a girl who is Christian in every way except for the God detail. That makes it really frustrating. An automatic force field making it dangerous to pursue her lest I fall in love and am not allowed to do a thing about it except lament and pretend to tell myself that it’s for the best.
Eye-opening. I’ve never actually stopped and meditated/Biblically researched and chewed on what “marriage” really is before. I know the world’s version and the traditional Christian-ish version but have I really thought about what it means? No…but now I am. Thanks for that. :]
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