For those of us who have grown up in the church, probably the cardinal rule of dating that is hammered home again and again and AGAIN is to never date an unbeliever. This is because if you date an unbeliever, you will have premarital sex, never go to church again, and basically ruin the rest of your life.
When you’re in high school, or even college, this seems like pretty solid advice. For girls, you are advised to keep holding out for that ambitious young man who loves Jesus and is a spiritual leader and material provider who will love you sacrificially and be a good father to your children whom you will raise in the faith, trusting God every step of the way as this young man challenges you to grow in your faith and prays for you to love Jesus even more as you have your couple devotions which he leads. You know this guy is out there, because God is writing your love story and you are using this season of singleness to fall in love with Jesus even more in anticipation of the spiritually appointed meeting of this young man, who is also using this season of singleness to grow into the strong, faithful leader that God intends him to be. Sure, you’re frustrated because the guys in your youth group seem immature and only interested in the popular girls (which you are not one of), but you can hold out, because you can’t imagine your life beyond age 25 and by then you’ll surely be married.
I’m not sure what the equivalent advice for guys is, but I’m guessing it’s some combination of never looking at porn, confessing your boners to other men, and praying and averting your eyes when you feel temptation. Also, praising God for redeeming the precious young women in the group who had been deceived by men who only wanted to use them for sex.
And again, all this seems like a solid game plan……..provided you’re married by age 25. It’s just – what about the rest of us for whom that cutoff point passes, and we’re still single?
By this point, you are:
- out of college
- in the workforce, full-time
- starting to feel uncomfortable in “college & career” settings
- but too young to be part of the “
dregs of the church SMP baby mamas/broken divorced peoplesingles” scene at church
The young married people you know have fallen into the Young Marrieds Abyss, where conversation now revolves around mini-vans, preschool, coupons for Kohl’s, and recipes on Pinterest.
The older married people you know don’t know any young singles to introduce you to, or if they do know anyone unmarried, that person would not be a good match for you.
As a good Christian, you do not troll bars, and if, on the off-chance, you happen to go to a bar with some friends (where you feel very uncomfortable), you are DEFINITELY not there to meet men, because good men don’t go to bars – especially not to bars with the goal of meeting chicks, because everyone knows that girls who go to bars are trampy sluts – and a marriage-worthy Christian man would NEVER look for wife material at a bar – and so you know going in that you have already written off every man in the bar, full stop.
So you go through some very long dry spells where the most male attention you get is from a 44-year-old church creeper from the singles group, but there’s a kind of cute guy at work who probably is not a Christian, and you know this because he sometimes drops the F-bomb, but he’s nice to you and you think that sometimes he’s sort of flirting with you, and after a while you start wondering…….would it really hurt so much to go on a date with a non-Christian?? I mean, a date is not a proposal, and you’re 30/32/35/38/41/43 and not getting any younger.
At this point, Christian advice tends to bifurcate. On the one hand, you have the hard-liners who feel that The Bible Says, and if you never go on that first date with a non-Christian, you will never have to deal with all the problems that come from Unequal Yokeage, which is the whole point of The Bible Says in the first place. Plus, where is your faith? God can work miracles. Keep hoping and praying for your miracle. Everything God does is perfect and in His own time – there will be so much greater and more rejoicing as you look back on this season and recognize His faithfulness to you. And if you never meet anyone, then that is God’s plan for you and you can serve Him so much better as a single person, anyway. Those people who have to spend time with their children? They can’t serve at church potlucks and crisis pregnancy centers the way you can.
On the other hand, you have the people who approach dating slightly more recreationally. These people don’t see the harm in going out with someone because it’s Just A Date, and Just A Dates don’t have a lot of big-picture significance. Why not spend some time getting to know someone else? It’s just a date, and early dates are casual. No harm, no foul. Plus, if you start to get a reputation for saying no to those who ask, eventually NO ONE will ask.
The two positions, as far as I can tell, are irreconcilable. If you go to a church full of The Bible Says-ers, you will be frowned upon if word gets out that you went out with a non-Jesus-lover. (You can tell if you attend such a church, because if you mention a young man to the women at church, the first or second thing they will ask about him is if he is a Christian. If you say “no” or “I don’t know,” they will immediately advise you never to date a nonbeliever.) But – are you doomed to zero dates over the course of a decade or more, potentially turning down a number of men just because they swore in front of you? Is it really worth being alone all the time?
I don’t know what the answer is. I just feel frustrated with the state of things. And I feel despair when I read comments like this one from MontanaMoxie at Boundless:
I enjoyed listening to the panel discussion on 2nd dates. It sounds like CO Springs has a pretty great Christian singles dating scene. Maybe I ought to move there! Just kidding, of course…but I’ve been a little discouraged this weekend. I’ll be turning 33 years old this week, and I haven’t ever been on a first date as an adult, let alone a 2nd date. I don’t know how I’ll get to marriage someday (something I highly value, study and prepare for, desire, respect, etc.) if I can’t even get to a first date. I suppose I’ll keep asking God to work a miracle, because I think that may be what it will take!
Really? REALLY?? I know the Christian wing of the manosphere loves to focus on
tearing apart and mocking the Saved Single SlutMoms, but there are a bunch of MontanaMoxies in churches, too – girls who have been churchpilling all their lives and have gotten nowhere romantically by doing so. They’ve been told to trust God, and fall even MORE in love with Jesus, and to stay chaste, and to look for that Strong Leader Guy, and to IKDG and not date casually, and to keep hoping and hoping and hoping and praying and praying and praying – and the clock keeps running. Meanwhile, guys feel like they’re at a job interview when they go on Christian Dates. In the same thread at Boundless, Corwin aptly sums up the Christian Dating Problem from the male perspective:
I’ll be completely honest with you, I hate Christian dating, haven’t been on a date in well over a year, and have little interest in dating a Christian girl ever again because it often seems like first and second dates are more like a driver’s licence exam than a social evening. Did he show ability to take risks by asking me out in person? Nope, he used Facebook — two demerits. Did he show ability to provide by jumping up to pay for my $3 coffee? Nope, he was in the bathroom when I ordered, so I had to pay — three demerits. Did he show leadership by picking a venue conducive to conversation? Nope, he took me to a crowded place that he should’ve known would be too loud to talk deeply — six demerits…and that’s a fail for this dude’s godly husband potential.
Of course I’m exaggerating, but I really have found that the expectations and judgements that are made on Christian first dates are quite extreme. I really don’t think you can accurately assess anyone’s leadership or provider or parenting potential the first time you go out with them. No one is truly themselves on a first date either due to nerves or trying to be impressive, yet statement like “if he can’t lead a first date, he can’t lead your children” make it sound like it’s totally legit to give guys one high-pressure shot to prove who they are to women.
Christians love to talk about how “the world” is so messed up and “worldly” dating is so messed up – maybe they should look at the church, because as far as I can tell, it’s not any better inside the church.
Sorry if this is a downer, guys – just feeling frustrated at the moment.