This is a product of numerous conversations with people from vast theological backgrounds and my personal research. This is not your final authority because that is the function of the word of God. This should hopefully evoke some feeling. Finally, this may not sit well with you but here goes..
1.There is no one.
The idea of “the one” is a Hollywood construct. We have appropriated something secular and deemed it “Christian” using the creation story as our crutch. Falling in love and being with the perfect one is beautiful but very flawed because it overlooks the deficiency of man. I cannot overemphasize how flawed we are, how tainted we are. The fact that we tend to disappoint the ones we love the most is evidence of our inherent weaknesses. Nothing can nullify our shortcomings and yet we’ve built an entire doctrine so to speak, that centres on perfection. No one is perfect is what we proclaim when backed up against the wall, whilst our actions are being questioned but we place an expectation of perfection on an individual we have never come into contact with but exists in our mind. “The one” suggests an individual free from imperfection. We have deified “the one”. We commit idolatry chasing after “the one”, forgetting that there is only one “one” and he looks nothing like the individual you’ve envisaged in your minds. The consequence of pushing this doctrine is passive Christians who would rather wait for a Bruce Almighty sign than watch out for the fruits of the spirit. I call them Broken Record Christians (BRC) on the grounds that they spend their entire adult lives asking God, “ is this the one?”, reducing God to a mystical deity and Christianity a magic crystal ball. In the hypothetical event that God did provide a sign and revealed “the one” to the BRC, he/she would do either one of these things when the relationship begins to wane: look for another “one” because “the one” they believed to be the “right one” was in fact the “wrong one”, or blame God as Adam did in Genesis, “it was the woman you gave to me Lord.” We won’t view love as a responsibility; we’ll go searching for another “one”. The Bible does not make reference “to the one”, it highlights choice. “Thou shall not be unequally yoked” reveals a freedom attached to choosing a mate. “Thou shall not be unequally yoked” leaves room to consider a spouse amongst the family of the brethren. This verse amongst many reveals that your choosing should be as a result of time spent in the word thus completely eradicating the need for a Bruce Almighty sign. What sign could be greater than what has been God – breathed?If your fear is holding you back from choosing a mate then don’t use God as a crutch, seek the guidance that has been freely given. Christians who would rather have their love life gifted to them, rather than work for it are generally vanguards of the doctrine and yet there is absolutely nothing passive about Christianity. “ The one” just doesn’t fit into the paradigm of proactive Christianity. Moreover, there are more pressing questions than “God is this my soul mate?” Open your own eyes and your bible and it will be far obvious than you think. Of course I understand the premise of those who wave their soul mate flag in the air: God created Eve from Adam ribs is their premise but there is a danger in turning a narrative into a normative.
2.You may be using courtship wrongly.
I always grimace at the sound or sight of the word “courting” purely because a lot of people understand it to mean different things and if there is no coherence how then will we edify?I’ve voiced my contention with the term before and I’ll more than likely voice my feelings again because I think as Christians we are treading on dangerous territory when we spew words out without considering their meaning nor the effect that the words might be having on those who are weaker in the faith. I still contend that the argument between courtship and dating is irrelevant and highly counter productive because what really matters is how the two parties are glorifying Christ, building each other up in their union. It’s the same irrelevant argument that goes on between those who want to be known as believers and those who feel they should be known as Christians. What does it truly matter if you aren’t known by the a Father who sits in heaven? I’m of the school of thought who thinks that it is all a matter of language. Granted dating is a novel construct and didn’t exist in the days of old but what are you really criticising if both parties are genuinely seeking God in the relationship that they are in, however they choose to define it is just detail. Stop using courtship to boast, whilst looking down on those who “date”. Are both not evidence of a relationship anyway?
3.Dating with purpose doesn’t mean it will end well. Nothing is a done deal.
Another word that gives me minor anxiety when used excessively is the word “purpose” but that’s not the point being raised here. Dating with purpose defies the concept of casual dating. Both purposeful dating and casual dating generally involve food (free for ladies generally) and or some sort of activity that both parties can enjoy together i.e watching a film in the cinema, go karting, walks in the park. However, the latter is viewed as far more significant and the former insignificant. Dating with purpose is supposedly underpinned by good intentions; both parties intend on establishing a friendship that will elevate into a relationship and ultimately upgrade into a marriage. However, I think we err by making “dating with purpose” sound like a done deal. Nothing is a done deal. Dating with purpose does not mean that it will always end in marriage. It might go wrong. God is still good though.
4.Sometimes Coffee is Just Coffee.
Sometimes coffee is really just coffee. It isn’t a prelude to a proposal; it is a hot beverage. I think sometimes we don’t want to (or perhaps we don’t like to ) differentiate between a quick catch up over coffee and a date at Starbucks. The ability to not see the wood for the trees is prevalent amongst women ( sorry sisters) and it is damaging. It’s the over thinking that sets our expectations too high. A cappuccino isn’t a ring baby girl.
5.Submission begins after marriage?
I’ve delved into submission before in my article “ submission is not a curse word” but I wanted to reiterate that submission is triggered with the exchange of rings and not before. Of course mutual affection should be very evident in the relationship by way of kind gestures, putting their needs above your own at times but submission is for marriage. It doesn’t exist in your dating or courtship. Marriage begets submission so do not go giving all of yourself but do demonstrate that you can be submissive in your communication with each other. Another thing I’d like to add at this juncture is, submission is genderless, so baby girl look out for the red lights too.
6.Just because the other party is a Christian doesn’t imply automatic compatibility.
“Oh but he/ she is a Christian” is a statement I have heard many times but that does not negate the fact that we all have personalities that are compatible with some and not others. Neither do all our goals compliment each other. I’ll use myself as an example. I know that I want my kids to be very well cultured which will involve travelling and I understand that not every Christian man wants to spend a good part of his life on a plane. Or if you have a heart for missions and the christian brother in front of you couldn’t care less about going to those parts of the world but is happy to send money where it’s needed. You and the brother are not compatible. Or if as a guy , you want your woman to be a house wife and this Christian woman in front of you wants to pursue a lucrative career, then my brother this sister is not for you. But he/ she is a Christian Right? So that implies that there is an automatic connection? No.
7.The Lord isn’t your wingman.
Stop telling people, “the Lord told me you were the one” as a way to navigate the Christian dating scene. The Lord is not your wing man. You belittle the name of the Lord all for her/ his mobile number and for what? Be genuine in your advances. Call spades, spades.
8.The pool of Christians is extremely small. Jesus is the standard but you won’t find him here on earth.
One day I was walking with my girlfriends and one of them blurted out “Cristine, your pool of men is too small.” I obviously laughed her off because I was not ready to hear another lecture on my hindrances disguised as preferences in men. Then one day it dawned on me that the pool of Christian men , at least in the western world is minuscule. Therefore, placing unrealistic standards ( not that I was) on this already tiny demographic was ludicrous. Indeed, Jesus is the standard but he won’t be found here on earth. No. He resides at the right hand of the Father. This is something to remember. Regular guys on the other hand, are easy to come by but they can’t satisfy. Christian brothers aren’t exempt but there are far more Christian sisters waiting in wings for a brother to sweep them off their feet.
9.Read your Bible.
Finally, beloved ( I have a new-found love for this word) read your bibles for this is the fountain of wisdom pertaining to life and not just dating. It will help you filter out the misfits and make informed choices even when that regular guy or girl seems like the most attractive option.
Prayer cannot be overstated here. Don’t even pray for your spouse, pray for yourself. Pray that you won’t get caught up in this game and neglect the relationship with “the one” who really matters.
Love Cris x
One day I’ll make the best relationship councillor.
P.s I’ve since revoked my dating card.
P.s.s there is no gospel on dating. There’s just The Gospel.