Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thoughts on the Single-Dating Christian

Introduction (Series Unfinished)
There are some things every person struggles with, something they would rather not face, rather turn from or ignore... I have always wanted to write down my thoughts on dating, but until now never seriously tried to make an attempt, whether it was because the words never seemed to come or because I was afraid of the potential awkward reaction from any single female friends.

But alas, I decided to move forward. Why? What could I have to say about something I have never really done with any amount of time? I think going through the process of pondering through things, lifting them up to God in prayer, and then going through the trouble (even agony, ha) of writing them down makes us face something in ourselves, maybe our fears, perhaps even our joys. For singles, we have all these desires, some good and some not-so-good, in relation to dating, in that wonderful land of singleness…

What this writing is not going to be: Well, it is not going to answer any of your specific questions, sorry to my detailed-oriented friends. This is also not going to give you any detailed insights into my own obstacles in dating, but it is hopefully going to give you a reference point to think and consider a different way of thinking about dating, and in reality, all your relationships.

It is going to be a way to look at some aspects, though simplified, that we will confront in dating: such as what is courtship? What is dating? What is the difference? Should I choose one over another? Then I will take a look at friendship as a possible foundation for any and all relationships. Why might this be a better way? What might the struggles be? What is the world’s reaction to just being friends? Should this be our reactions as well? Then, I will look at purity and it evil companion lust, along with the difference between good and sinful sexual desire. Next, I will take a look at gender roles briefly within a relationship. What struggles might we face? Is there a difference in our roles if we choose to court vs. date? Finally, I will conclude this whole thing at some point with a few final thoughts on the matter and what our reaction to dating says about our reaction to God in the midst of life, as we go through joyful periods and periods of strife.

But first, let us begin with looking at one story in a different manner:
Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." "Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." - Matthew 19:16-21
Many of us, if not most of us, will read this story and think: How could he be so blind? Yet, in our judgment of the rich man we often fail to see our own shortcomings in such a similar manner. Let me ask you some questions: When you approach dating do you feel as if God owes you something because you have followed him for so many years? Do you think you deserve a spouse because of the good person you are or have become? Do you want God to reward your faith with tangible objects, including someone to love? I think this story teaches us that we can not use our goodness or works as a way to bribe God into throwing a potential husband or wife into our laps. I think our conversation with Jesus would go something like this:

Now a person came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good must I do to find someone to love and marry for the rest of my life?" "Why do you ask me what is good?" Jesus replied, "There is only one who is good. If you want to enter marriage, obey these things." "What things?" the person inquired. Jesus replied, 'Do not lie, do not commit adultery, do not envy, do not put up false facades, honor your father and mother,’ and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" "All these I have kept," the person said. "What do I still lack?" Jesus answered, "If you want a perfect marriage, go, sell your preconceived notions, desires, expectations, and lay them at the foot of my cross, and then... Then come, follow me."

What is your reaction? What feelings are coming into view? Are you feeling some kind of release? Are you feeling freedom, maybe anger? Are you feeling hope, maybe bitterness? Stick with that feeling, breathe it in, and accept your feelings; maybe of acceptance or awkwardness? Our first priority as Christians is that of Christ. The first lesson to be learned is this: Simply put, if we desire to date, if we desire a spouse more than we desire Christ, we are not ready to move forward.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. - Galatians 2:20
“Our responsibility is to love [God], study his word, deepen our relationship with Him, and learn to evaluate our choices in light of biblical wisdom.” – Joshua Harris
And now we can begin.

~ Daniel