I want to talk about how Christians date, but I want to exclude teenagers, very young adults, and virgins. This discussion is for you if you do not consider yourself to be one (or more) of the above listed categories.
(And I’ll circle back to those of us who are virginal, but no longer particularly young. You are loved, dear friends.)
The church has focused its instructions on dating on strongly encouraging Christian teens and virgins to wait to have sex. The focus is on keeping one’s virginity for marriage. This single-mindedness comes with a cost. Those who are no longer virginal get very little advice, and what they do get of it is lousy. I think they just don’t know what to say to us.
Many of us, reading these words, are divorced or widowed. We’ve enjoyed a sexual marriage. What advice is there for us, besides ‘just say no?’
I like that I’m no longer a teenager. I like that I’m comfortable with my body, in a way that I wasn’t when I was in my teens and 20s. (If you are in your twenties, may I suggest you don’t plan too far ahead, and you might want to get therapy.)
And trust me, the body hasn’t gotten better. I’ve come to understand how fabulous the body is, and that includes my not-ready-for-my-close-up body.
I like that I’ve had some experience in kissing frogs. I can tell at a distance which ones are more likely to be poisonous toads.
I like that I have outgrown the teachings that a child/woman does not have the right to say ‘no’ to demands placed upon her by a man in authority. I do have the right to say no. I can no longer be talked into things that are beyond my boundaries, as has happened to me when I was younger.
I hope all this doesn’t mean I’ve become jaded and cynical. It’s hard for me to tell, due to problems of perspective.
I’ve been thinking about Brian Kammerzelt’s call to excellence. (And the video.) I share in his opinion that the dating process is not an area of exception for Christians. In other words, if God calls us to love one another, and to care for one another, that applies in dating, also. It is of highest importance that any new people that you are meeting are your brothers and sisters in Christ. They will ALWAYS be your brothers and sisters in Christ. And each one of them is worthy of great love and respect.
He points to the underlying problem being a faulty theology of Christian community. What does Christian community mean to you? Have you re-read Acts recently? What’s your model? Is that the best model? What is?
As Kammerzelt says, “We have forgotten or chosen to ignore that everyone is in your life for a reason, and there are far more relationships, deep and meaningful, than the romantic “one.” We are capable of and deserve much more from one another than this all-or-nothing mentality that the dating culture creates.”
When a grown-up person dates, there must be less selfishness than when the young ones date. No games-playing, please. There must be more honesty. There must be more kindness. There must be more Christ-centered-ness. Hopefully this comes about naturally because we have grown and matured in Christ as the years have gone by. If this is not the case for you, seek counsel at your faith-home, your local church, or with the group of disciples that you fellowship with.
Following Jesus calls us to a different kind of life, one where other people’s needs are more important than our own. How can we date in a way that brings glory to God? How can we date in a way that makes those around us better? How can we love those we date, even those who we don’t intend on marrying?
We are called to do this. Please share your ideas with me.