I remember many years ago I was talking to a woman that I was serving at a summer camp with. We were talking about life and many different issues and of course dating and marriage came up. (We were not interested in each other, just talking). I asked her if she was dating etc. She said, “You know right now I’m not really looking. I’m focussing in on me and Jesus. I’m just dating Jesus right now.” I just kind of smiled.
I get the idea. And in fact for people that have relationships as an idol and have spent their whole life filling up their emptiness by dating, it can make a lot of sense to take a break and have a season of not dating. But we need to be really careful with stuff like this.
First of all I think the whole dating Jesus thing is just weird. I mean later on do you break up with Jesus? If you get married do you have to have the break up talk with God? If I’m a guy, can I date Jesus? Yikes.
But the bigger point here is this prevailing idea that somehow singleness is a season where I’m supposed to really zero in on “my relationship with God”. I think this is a dangerous spiritual platitude to live under.
People say this stuff for all sorts of reasons. It can be a way to hide from the fact that I’m struggling with singleness. This way I don’t have to deal with the hurt. It’s often an attempt to explain why God hasn’t “delivered” someone to me yet. “Well if God wanted me to get married it would have happened (read it can’t possibly have anything to do with me or choices I make). So God must want me to be with just Him.” Um, God always wants us to be with him. It sounds holy. “Well I’m just focussing in on Jesus right now”. But how is right now any different from any other time. Shouldn’t we always be focussed in on Jesus?
I mean we should indeed take our singleness to the Lord. But the idea that singleness is a season that enables me to focus more on the Lord is false. Look it’s hard to focus on the Lord no matter what. It’s also always the goal.
This can lead us down some bad pathways. It could keep me from pursuing a good relationship. If marriage means that I will be further away from God then none of us should get married. Seriously. But fortunately that is not the case.
Marriage was created pre-sin. It wasn’t offered up as a secondary option or as some sort of compromise. We act like Adam somehow did something wrong so God said, “Well obviously I’m not enough for you so I guess we’ll do this marriage thing.” That is not what happened at all. God created Adam and saw a need for more. He created Eve. He put them together before anybody did anything wrong. He put them together while they were both living in perfect union with Him. Their marriage didn’t take away from His plan, it completed it.
Now this doesn’t mean that every person will get married or that it’s wrong to be single. That’s not my point at all. Also, God may very well have me single for a season for particular reasons. But to just assume it without really dealing with what is going on doesn’t seem like a good idea.
There can also be this implication that if I just focus in on Jesus during my singleness then He will bring me someone to marry. What if He doesn’t? More time for just me and Jesus I guess. I shouldn’t focus on Jesus hoping to earn a spouse from Him. If I’m “dating Jesus” chances are that I’m still pretty focussed on wanting to be married.
The truth is that if I’m single I need to put Jesus first. But also if I’m married I’d better dang well put Jesus first, because if I don’t I’m screwed. If I’m going to focus on Him less when I get married we are in trouble. To be honest, I think being married might actually make me rely on him more. It should drive me to Him. “Lord, help me love my spouse today even though I don’t feel like it.” And try having kids. Want to get on your knees? Parent a teenager. Wait up late on a Saturday night for your 16 year old daughter to get home to have her walk in looking exhausted, and then walk right by you to her room and spend the night wondering what happened out there.
Don’t date Jesus. Follow Jesus. Don’t let your whole spirituality, let alone your whole identity, be wrapped up in singleness or marriage. We desperately need Jesus period.