A few weeks ago I was perusing some Christians singles sights and I came across one with a question and answer section – kind of a Dear Abby for Christian singles. Most of it was pretty good. However one of the most real questions got answered in a way that too many people answer singles’ real questions – namely without actually answering the real question.
A woman wrote in and basically said, “Hey I’ve read all the books on singleness and gone to church my whole life where I’ve heard plenty about what to do and not do, and what marriage is about. However almost no one seems to address getting a date to begin with. What if I don’t have anyone to set boundaries with because I never actually have anyone? How do I know if it’s me? How do I attract the guy to begin with.”
Now that’s called being real. She’s saying, “I’m in. I believe in dating and marrying right. I’m following Jesus. Now tell me how to start. How do I get a date?” I love this because she has the right heart, commitment and desire. She just needs help forward. And she is even willing to learn, change and improve. She’s not even mad.
So does she receive real talk back? Not so much. In a nutshell they tell her, “Dating is not the goal, an Ephesians 5 marriage is. Just because you don’t ever date doesn’t mean you can’t get married.” And this rich, “The goal is not to get dates but to discern if the person you are dating is a marriage candidate.” What the . . . ?! That’s why she is asking the question!!! She would love to be discerning a candidate – how the heck does she get one.
The really long answer ends with saying, “while you are waiting for this person just focus on the Kingdom and all else shall be added.”
The thing is, it’s not that the person answering her is completely wrong. We should seek God and the kingdom first. We should engage community and live life well. We should look to mature and grow. We should for sure keep in mind that the goal is not to go on 100 first dates. It’s to find someone to marry. But this woman was trying to go on one date, not 100.
It all sounds holy and is technically right. It’s good help you sleep at night theology. Need a job? Just seek the kingdom. No reason to put a good resume together or apply anywhere. God will bring you “the job”. Now God might dang well bring you a job – but you still apply right? Or you need to lose 10 pounds. Just seek the kingdom. God is in control. He has you over weight for a reason. AHHHHHHHHHHH! In His time he will have you lose that weight. I mean would you say that?
This sort of Oprah, postmodern “it’s all good crap” combined with bad Calvinism is killing us – and not just in dating. But dating is one of the biggest places it shows up because it’s an easy answer – or lack of answer as the case may be.
This is especially important as guys. We have to figure out how to actually act. Now I know some will say that they act and nothing happens. I get that, I really do. I’ve been there. For me that meant I needed to bring some others into the conversation at a deep level. I needed some men to help me quit over thinking and over spiritualizing the whole thing. I needed some people to challenge what part of my being single was my fault. People to sit in it with me.
In the end it was that familiar combination of me dealing with my sin (including insecurity – which is a sin) and God bringing someone great into my life. But I don’t think it would have “just happened”.
Here’s what I’m really getting at. We need to deal with the reality whatever that is. Yes we need to know the need for sexual boundaries. We need to keep the end in mind. We need to grow in Jesus. We need to use discernment. But to get married, especially if you’re over 25, you’ll probably need to first figure out how to go on a date. Hopefully not 100. But at least one.
It’s ok to ask those real questions. Why do women turn me down? Why do I clam up when I’m around someone I like? What am I afraid of? Why is no one attracted to me? Why am I not attracted to anyone? Why can’t I commit? How do I increase attraction early on? How do I get a date or two? There are all sorts of answers depending on the situation. There’s not one nice little answer for everyone.
To some extent there is theological truth in every situation, fair enough. But sometimes it’s not the only answer we need.