When I look back at my twenties and dating I just kind of cringe. I think a lot of people probably do. But the reason I cringe isn’t because I slept around, or dated all the wrong people. It’s because I was too religious. Religious dating can really screw us up.
Here’s what I mean. First of all there is this idea that there is a “Biblical” way to date. As I’ve mentioned in a different post, this is utter nonsense. No where in the Bible is there any sort of guide of how to get married, let alone date. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Ok, moving on.
There is also the idea that because you should only date to get married that you shouldn’t go on a date unless you know you will marry them. Which again makes no sense. First off there is a big difference between going on a date and “dating” someone. I agree that main reason to date is to try to get married, especially the older you get. But the idea that you should only go on a date with someone you know you can marry is crazy. It can be paralyzing. Especially when you pair it with the next religious dating ideal.
There is the idea that we need to guard the other person’s heart. This one isn’t even possible. It starts with the right idea of not leading someone on. I want to talk more about this later but I agree we need to be careful. If we aren’t interested we shouldn’t date them. We shouldn’t make promises that we aren’t ready to be committed to. We should never lie. All those things do guard everybody’s heart but thats just called honesty. But the idea that I don’t want to ask someone out in case it doesn’t work out and they get hurt is delusional and probably a little arrogant. It assumes I’m the one controlling the relationship. I’d be the one to end it. I don’t want them to like me too much in case I change my mind. Really?!
The truth is even if my intentions are great, I can’t guarantee that if I ask someone out that it will go somewhere. And I think we need to give our ladies a little more credit. Adult women are capable of dealing with hurt. They can handle it. I once had a woman flat out tell me, “Hey, it’s my job to guard my own heart. We can’t find out if it goes somewhere if we don’t go forward. I’m ok with the risk.” She was exactly right. Really, if she wasn’t mature enough to be ok with the risk, then it probably wasn’t going anywhere anyway.
The final problem is if you do go out with different people you can get labeled as a serial dater. Now I’m certainly not suggesting using no discernment and just dating anyone at any time. I’m also not suggesting dating just to date or asking out anyone just to get a rush or because you need approval of women. Motive is everything here. I’d also say that if you have lots of fairly long relationships that always fail, you need to check yourself and what’s going on. There could be a fear of commitment.
But it can be a double standard. Why aren’t you dating anyone? Why aren’t you married? There are lots of great women in our church – but you’d better only ask out one, because if you ask out more than one, everyone will think that you just want to serial date our church.
I big timed lived in this stuff in my twenties. I WAY over thought potential dates. I’m not talking about people that I didn’t really want to date, I’m talking about people I thought I could be interested in but wasn’t sure. How the heck were you supposed to find out?
In an effort help people date right (or court or whatever), Christians have unintentionally made it harder to get married. We are helping to paralyze people from actually pursuing relationships. We end up over thinking, over analyzing, and over spiritualizing the whole thing. We end up with guys who have no idea how to actually pursue someone when they DO want to because they can never be sure if they SHOULD.
Non-Christians make it way less complicated. Like someone – ask them out. We could learn some from that.
We can’t date constantly worried about choosing wrong, trying to protect everyone, worried about what everyone thinks. We can’t date in a context that says, don’t try, don’t risk, don’t touch, don’t mess up, don’t hurt anybody. God’s grace is bigger than that. We need to walk with Jesus but we need to free ourselves from a made up “Christian Dating” culture.
Has “Religious Dating” held you back? Has it stifled your path? Has it messed you up.