Do Christians Over-Complicate Dating?

Nothing in life seems more confusing than listening to a sample of Christians discuss their dating experiences and I’ve spent a good few years listening to some of the trauma. Ok trauma might be an exaggeration, but the Christian dating scene does seem quite bleak. Type the title into any search bar and you’ll be sucked into an abyss of literature trying to outline why that is and just how we got to that point. I have a few theories of my own (which I’ll get to) but I want you to know that the answer to the question posed in the title, will always be yes. Christians do overcomplicate dating.

Dating is a fairly new phenomenon, which largely emerged in the last few centuries hence the dissension amongst Christian factions.  Its absence in scripture has been used to discredit not only its value but its right standing, despite there being no such evidence to suggest its insignificance or ungodliness. Yet, it’s perpetuated as something Christians ought to flee from and when it’s not, it’s still misrepresented.  The story of Ruth and Boaz comes to mind, demonstrating that we prance our love for out of context scripture when it comes to dating, which is absurd considering scripture doesn’t mention dating at all.

This is what dating ought to look like:

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl have a few conversations. Boy and girl note that they like each other’s company. Boy and girl decide mutually that they want to hang out more with each other (in a non-suffocating way of course) in casual settings such as the cinema, restaurants, mini golf spots, bowling alleys etc. Boy and girl continue along that trajectory, learning as much as they can about each other, until one day they decide that they don’t want to learn about anyone else. Boy and girl make their relationship official. Boy and girl are now known as boyfriend and girlfriend.

This is what dating looks like in the Christendom:

Boy meets girl. Girl cannot act too available or accessible because he who finds a wife finds a good thing. Boy is a drummer in church and so has 100 different options to choose from. Girl tries to shoot her shot similar to the way she thinks Ruth did. Boy notices and decides to ask Girl on a date but before that wonders if a group date would be more honourable. Boy and Girl think, “is this God’s plan?” “is this the one?’ “I wonder if they have soul ties?” Girl accepts. Girl apparently thinks too far ahead. Boy is worried that Girl is too preoccupied with marriage and babies. Boy retreats as God didn’t reveal her to him in a dream anyway so why waste time. Girl is pressed down but not destroyed as it wasn’t leading to marriage anyway and she doesn’t have time for anything that is not going to result in her walking down the aisle, as a bride.

The complexity outstands me and whilst I understand why we overtheorize and over hypothesise (we’re so desperate to get it right), we do ourselves a huge disservice when we don’t peel back the layers and stream line.  

One of the main aggressors when it comes to Christian dating is the need to be certain of the future.  We do not have any power over the next 5 years any more than we have over the next 5 minutes and we know this.  Yet, every time someone new comes into the frame we ruin the picture by over thinking and label our preoccupation with the future as “intentional”. The dictionary defines being intentional as , “done on purpose; deliberate” and this is wonderful in the context of dating, as you’re getting to know someone deliberately as opposed to for jest. However, we’ve actually displaced “intentionality” with “certainty”. We’re trying to gauge the longevity of the relationship prematurely, without actually enjoying the date nights and wonder why we end up disappointed. When did being fixated with the future ever lead to having an appreciation for the present? Never.

Then we add arbitrary rules such as, a guy must ask the pastor or the lady’s spiritual covering before going out on date numero uno, or Christians should only date in groups, or “courtship” (whatever that means) has a set period of time or the entire church community should be involved right from the onset. As well meaning as these rules are, they are not gospel. There is no “cookie cutter” relationship, anymore than there is no “cookie cutter” salvation story. All we have is a bible, that although silent on dating, is bursting with dating principles. A lot of us don’t realise but the two most important principles are found in Matthew 22:37- 40.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

If we allowed our love for God to inform the way we treated our potential partner/ partner, we wouldn’t have a need for legalistic rules.

So where do we go from here?

Think less.

To think less isn’t to forsake all reasoning or common sense, it’s simply to think less. Right now most of our dating experiences are borderline possessive because we’re hyper-intentional and trying to fashion our future love lives.  Accept that even in all your wisdom, you cannot foresee whether this relationship will progress to the alter. You may try to visualise marriage after the first date, you may ask all the “right” questions but that may not necessarily lead to the marriage. Bask in the euphoria of getting to know someone new, being in their company and allow time to do what it does best, tell. Trust in the sovereignty of God with your heart and not just your lips and look scrumptious on your date night.  Let go of the insatiable desire to want to know the future. You are not God.

Take a risk. 

This neatly ties into the point above but it’s important to have a separate address. Take a risk and stop looking for signs and wonders. Believe that the wisdom of God in scripture is profitable for all good works, which includes dating and just pick someone(anyone) who shares the same values/ faith as you, is on a similar (not necessarily equal) life trajectory and who you have sexual energy with (note I said sexual energy and not sex). Get over your choice paralysis and just choose.

I still believe that Christians should be counter-cultural in all things (including dating), so there should be difference in the approach but there is already. The difference is Christ.

Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be beloveds. Go on the date, get to know someone, don’t fear what you can’t control and look good enough to eat whilst doing so.

In the event that things do progress, let them.

Love Cris x

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P.S My Christian dating brand Blagapé is throwing an anti-valentine event, “So You Think You Are Ready To Settle Down?” on the 29th February at 6pm.

We’re going to be talking about dating (obviously), the “talking stage” and putting some well-seasoned couples on the hot seat and firing juicy questions at them!

Grab your ticket here and bring your questions…