For those unfamiliar with the subject, dating is a relatively simple procedure that must always be hopelessly complicated for any Christian daring to try it out.
If you’re feeling lucky, try Googling “christian dating advice.” We’ll see you next week…
But wait! Christians aren’t the only ones obsessed with the dating scene. If you search “rules for dating,” you may notice the unchurched are just as guideline-happy as the rest of us. It seems that dating might be universally confusing. So what’s the difference with Christians?
What makes Christian dating so hopelessly complicated is the Christians themselves. We bring our love for out-of-context scripture and applied-only-when-convenient principles into the mix, making for an entirely unique brand of utter ridiculousness.
But don’t worry! You don’t have to think, because we’re here to do it for you. Since you’re reading this on the internet, it’s probably true and should be shared repeatedly on your Facebook wall (actually you really should go ahead and share this right now… think of the children).
Identifying myth from fact can be difficult, and that’s why we’ve gone ahead and done all the heavy lifting for you. We’ve spent over 10 minutes tirelessly combing the limits of the interwebs – dissecting every nook and cranny, examining every loophole, instigating mass pandemonium – and ultimately, we’ve brought you back a list of 10 ridiculous Christian myths about dating that your ignorant friends probably believe.
1. It’s the woman’s responsibility to manage a man’s sex drive.
This is by far the weakest excuse for a cop-out I’ve ever heard, and yet it somehow manages to repeatedly eek its way out of the mouths of otherwise-brilliant pastors, authors, bloggers, and never-at-all-brilliant Twitter philosophers.
Are these words used exactly? No, they are just slightly more subtle. These are real quotes from real published articles, by the way. True story.
“The level of [men’s] lust is directly related to how much of our bodies is available to lust after. The less we advertise, the less opportunity we give them to covet our bodies.”
“When a guy gets ‘intoxicated,’ his body can’t help but react… Exposing a man to continual visual stimulation is like hanging a noose around the neck of his spiritual life!”
So let me connect the dots.
- Woman wears sexy clothes.
- Man gets turned on.
- Man loses all control of body, soul, spirit, etc.
- Man’s responsibility disappears like a Christmas wish-list in North Korea.
I don’t know about you, but I’m spotting some major continuity problems between steps 2 and 3, not to mention 3 and 4. Last time I checked, I don’t get paralyzed when a hot girl says “Hi” to me, and I am literally the ONLY one in control of actions at all times. I don’t recall signing over my personal responsibility to every woman on the planet with nicely toned legs and a propensity for living.
If you want to truly understand how ridiculous this notion is, here’s what it would sound like with the gender roles reversed.
Real talk: modesty is great, and sexually-explicit Western culture does provide a challenging climate for men, but let’s not pander to the irresponsible and frankly ridiculous idea that it’s a woman’s responsibility to manage a man’s sex drive.
2. A Godly man will always make the first move.
Your turn ladies. Here’s a fun one. Time after time after time after time I hear it:
“It is just WRONG and out of character for a woman to make the first move.”
“If he’s not willing to make the first move, he doesn’t deserve you.”
“A man findeth a wife, not the other way around!”
And on and on and on and on and on… this topic is like the Holy Grail of single women conversation.
You know what ladies, I actually agree with you. I think guys SHOULD make the first move, but what should or shouldn’t happen really isn’t going to matter to you when you’re browsing Christian Mingle on your 36th birthday.
(A moment of silence for the Joshua Harris generation)
And it’s not going to matter to your happily married friend who walked up and kissed her husband-to-be right smack dab on the lips, ‘cause she knew what she wanted.
Here’s the deal. If most of the Christian guys you’re interested in had it fully together, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. But the fact is… they don’t. It doesn’t mean they aren’t amazing in a lot of other areas or wouldn’t be good husband material. It simply means they are lacking in awareness, confidence, or most commonly, know-what-they-want-edness.
Why limit your options? I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t pursue a guy. I’m just saying that if you know what you want, why wait until he figures it out?
It’s your life, and it’s your move ladies.
… if you want it to be.
3. You shouldn’t be dating, because you should be focusing on Jesus right now.
After all, what’s more important than Jesus?
“I’m not dating right now, so I can focus more on Jesus.”
“We’re breaking up ’cause we feel like we need to just pursue God right now.”
“I’m really attracted to her, and we have a lot of fun together, but I think I should just be focusing on my relationship with God right now.”
As we all know, pursuing Jesus means discontinuing everything else in life. No more relationships at all. No more of anything.
By this theory, the only way to really master the art of dating is to not do it.
Unless a monastic lifestyle is your plan (more power to you), this sentiment doesn’t make any sense.
If dating hinders your relationship with God, why would you ever date… ever? If you’re focusing on Jesus in this season, who are you focusing on during all the other seasons?
If you get married at age 25, you’ll spend at least two thirds of your life in a relationship. You should probably go ahead and learn how to relationship while you’re Jesusing.
Of course, if Jesus explicitly commanded you not to date, who am I to argue? If my experience serves me correctly, however, your memory of that command will probably be inversely proportional to the hotness of your potential date.
4. You shouldn’t date someone unless you see marriage in the future.
This is one of those oft-quoted home-group rules for dating.
“You shouldn’t start dating until you’re sure marriage is on the table.”
“Could you see yourself marrying him? If not, don’t waste your time.”
“If you’re not pursuing her with marriage in mind, you aren’t guarding her heart properly.”
I fully identified the long-term strengths, weaknesses, upsides, and downsides of all my closest friends within the first hour of meeting them.
Oh wait… no… that never happened… ever… not even once.
One of the biggest problems in Christian dating culture is the idea that young adults should limit their coed relationships to marriage fast-track candidates. This idea is primarily motivated by fear of voracious little sex drives running about, and like anything motivated by fear, it jumbles everything into a needless mess.
Allow me to depict one’s commitment level in a healthy marriage:
Now, allow me to depict one’s emotions while getting to know another human being:
The dating process is your chance to experience the ups and downs of a real relationship without the pressure of flat-lining. Placing marriage-esque commitment expectations on yourself or your date will just set you both up for an ER’s worth of emotional damage.
Dating is only as serious as you make it, or as fun as you allow it to be. I’m not recommending that you have no minimum requirements for dating. I’m simply pointing out that the whole purpose of dating is to get to know someone which implies you didn’t know him/her on that level beforehand.
They key to not being a dumb dater on the heartbreak fast track is to keep the level of intimacy in the relationship one step behind the level of trust at all times. In other words, you don’t just give your heart away. You give a piece, see how he/she cares for that piece and respects the boundaries you’ve set, and then, once trust has been built, you can give him/her more of your heart.
Meeting new people is awesome. Having fun with people is great. You don’t need to marry someone to learn from them and grow from your experiences with them.
5. WARNING! Your sex drive is just waiting to f*** you up.
Pun intended. What’s the underlying fear that results in all this dating tomfoolery?
We Christians are so direly afraid of the sex. We’re mortified of having sex before marriage and terrified of not getting any after.
The quotes I presented in point #1 discuss male sexuality like it’s some untamable beast, constantly on the prowl. To hear people talk about it, you’d think 1 Peter 5:8 says that sex is liking a roaring lion, seeking whom it may devour.
But check this out. God actually created your sex drive.
Just think about what that means for a moment. Your sex drive is not a rogue feature of your biology just waiting to destroy your life at the first opportune moment. It is a highly beneficial and enjoyable part of what makes you… you.
If you’re approaching sex, sexual temptation, or your personal sex drive with fear, you are actually giving it power. Don’t give the sex power. Keep the power. It belongs to you.
6. Christian girls always put good guys in the friendzone.
Perhaps you refer to it as the “brother” zone. This is the inescapable, platonic box to which a girl supposedly designates any good guy who actually cares about her.
Here’s the problem, ladies and gentlemen:
The friendzone is a lie.
GASPS! “Impossible,” you say!
Let’s take a closer look. Here’s what you’ll typically hear from someone claiming to be “in the friendzone.”
- “Im perfect for her, but she just sees me as a friend.”
- “I constantly do nice things for her and treat her like she deserves, but she just dates jerks.”
- “She just values our friendship too much to risk it with dating.”
- “Why do nice guys always finish last?”
Now, these words might fool you into an emotional response, but allow me to translate them so you can see what is actually being said.
- “She’s really hot, but I’m boring.”
- “I have no personal boundaries and think she’s hot, and that somehow makes me deserve her interest.”
- “I’m just really, really uninteresting.”
- “Maybe if I had a life of my own, I would have something worthwhile to offer.”
Women aren’t looking for people who’s total qualifications consist of: Not Being A Jerk. If you aren’t a jerk, good for you. Attraction is elicited by what someone IS, not what he or she is not.
This can go both ways, but it seems most prevalent for guys. If you want to be taken seriously as a date, take yourself seriously as a man. People who know who they are and are going after what they want tend to be very, very datable.
7. You need to do _____ to attract a Christian man.
It’s on nearly every dating advice blog I’ve ever read.
“Don’t be too forward, or you’ll come across like a desperate flirt.”
“You need to let guys know you are interested so they can pursue you.”
“You should dress in an attractive manner to get his attention.”
“Don’t dress attractively or you’ll provoke lust in him.”
Seriously ladies, I don’t know how you put up with it. It seems to me like a lot of hoop jumping in hopes of finding a four-leaf clover.
The same “experts” who tell you not to pursue a man will also help you build a custom-designed cage to trap him in.
Pay attention dear. Don’t do anything that impedes on his masculinity. Let him order for you at the restaurant. Dress nicely in a way that accentuates your best features… as long as those features aren’t too attractive (we don’t want him lusting). Never talk about marriage on the first seven dates. Never sit at home idle, waiting for him to call you. Don’t come on too strong.
Oh and by the way, make sure to be yourself…
Here’s a little secret. It’s true that you’ll never find a guy who loves everything about you.
A man who truly loves you for who you are will also want the absolute best for you, which means growth. It means calling out the parts that need work. But that’s a lifelong journey you embrace together as a team of trusting, loving partners.
It’s not something you work out in your early twenties, late twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, or heavenlies. If you’re emotionally broken or scarred, go get healing. It’s available for you. But if you’re healthy, the only rule you need to follow is simply to be you.
Self-development is important, but that’s about you, not about what you think some random bro wants to see.
And like I mentioned in point #2, if you have your eye on a prize, don’t be afraid to intentionally attract him or straight-up pursue. I’m simply trying to free you from an arbitrary, contradicting checklist that falsely promises to land you “a good Christian guy.”
8. Don’t marry someone for his/her potential.
Is someone making burgers, ’cause I’m about to roast a sacred cow.
If you use the phrase, “Don’t marry her for her potential,” in a discussion, it’s considered pro-level wisdom. Everybody be like “WOAH that was cray. Revelatory bomb!”
What people seem to be forgetting is that you’ll learn 91.342% of everything you ever know during marriage.
Of course you’re marrying her for her potential! You’re marrying her because her current decision-making suggests a long-term value for character. You’re marrying him because his unflinching honesty thus far suggests a lifetime of honesty and vulnerability in your relationship. You’re marrying her because her heart posture has the potential to sustain a 60 year marriage.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Every day is a choice. A good choice today doesn’t solidify a good choice tomorrow. What we really should be focusing on are the qualities that indicate good long-term potential. I’d rather be with someone ignorant who has a heart to learn than an expert who’s convinced she has all the answers. One will grow. The other won’t.
I understand the heart behind this myth. Women have a tendency to date “fixer uppers” in order to feel needed. Guys tend to overlook obvious deficiencies because… boobs. But neither of these issues are properly addressed by saying, “Don’t marry for potential.”
Even if someone is a master of being single, marriage introduces a fat new batch of troubles (aka “growth opportunities”) to work out. And that’s not even mentioning children. You have an entire life ahead of you, so yes, it’s okay to marry someone for their potential to partner with you in living that life healthily and successfully.
9. You’re too young to understand
This is a favorite line of everyone who thinks their dating advice poops golden little marriage eggs. Everyone has advice to offer, and it’s usually the ones with the most ridiculously screwed-up relationship history that are most confident in raining that advice ceaselessly upon you.
(Before I rile up too much teen spirit, let’s start with Prov 16:18 and Prov 11:14. If you’re going to reject community and walk in pride, nothing I say could prevent you from a sucky life. The single best way to destroy your life is to isolate from community and ignore all advice.)
For the rest of you young people, I got news for you. You’re actually quite intelligent. You’ve been learning from your parents’ victories and mistakes for years, and you’ve also been watching the consequences of your friends’ actions, both good and bad.
You do know. In many ways, you really do.
Every love story is unique. In our celebrity-loving Christian culture, anyone with a success story is ready to create a new theology or teaching to sell to the Body of Christ. And anyone with a failure is too. What worked or failed for them won’t always give you the same results.
If you’ve cultivated a relationship with Holy Spirit and are remaining in close relationship with spiritual fathers and mothers in your life, you’re going to be just fine. Healthy dating is as simple as being intentional and practicing good communication.
Let the guru geese leave their golden droppings all over the sanctuary. Yours is one less life they get to stain.
10. Dating, like everything else, is all about obedience.
No list of dating advice is complete without a call for careful prayer and explicit obedience in your dating relationship.
While there is obviously value to following the direction of Holy Spirit, ultimately, we weren’t designed to be obedient slaves, but rather, we were made to be sons and daughters.
When we truly understand our place as sons and daughters of God, we aren’t bound by superficial rules. A loved child doesn’t pause every step to ask permission or make sure Dad isn’t angry. Children just love to be with their dad and know without question that he delights in them. When a child is heading into danger, the father is there to redirect and protect, but danger avoidance isn’t the baseline of parental interaction.
You are free to be you. God isn’t a control freak. He isn’t waiting to give you a spanking for kissing that guy. He isn’t directing you to that one girl who is the only one out of 4 billion you are capable of living a fulfilling life with.
You are free to be you. You are free to embrace relationship, with all its twists and turns. Your Heavenly Father delights in you, and His Son came so you could have abundant life.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).
Be smart. Be safe. Stay in community. Listen to advice from people with healthy lives and relationships. Don’t be an arrogant little doofus.
And enjoy your life. Enjoy relationship. Don’t let fear make decisions for you.
Fear has no place in Christianity. 1 John 4:18 tells us this. But what about Hell? Great question. Click below to download our 10,000 word study on eternal torment. What we found will probably surprise you.