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All you need is love

October 3, 2007

One of my favorite bloggers posted a well thought out post on how Christian men approach dating here.  He had a lot of great things to say and much that I agree on in terms of how we should see Christ as the basis and center of our relationships (especially dating ones!).  I want to highlight one point that he made and run with it a little.  He said,

The unfortunate reality is that many Christian men are looking for someone who doesn’t exist. If that person does exist there are most likely a number of interested men that they have to compete with. And the women they overlook often far exceed what what is considered to be ideal anyways.”

This is a forceful look into the reality of Christian dating and the view that most Christians holds about finding the “perfect” mate or being in the “perfect” will of God.  One thing I would note, however, is that this view is in no way limited to Christian men.  It seems as though Christian women are equally guilty of looking for the person who simply “doesn’t exist.”

When did dating/courting/(insert your preference here) become so complicated?  After all, it’s only in the last hundred years of so (maybe less) that couples even had a great deal of say so in who they married.  Arranged marriages have been the norm for most of history.  But recently (by recently I mean last century), there has been a freedom for potential “daters” to find their “soul mate.”  And boy has the Christian community run with this.  Combine finding the “perfect” person with the paralyzing need to be in the will of God and you have the recipe for a long and lonely and unfufilling dating history. 

Let me say two things before I continue:

1.  I’m not proposing a reinstatement of arranged marriages as the “way” for Christians.  Joshua Harris in his treatise on dating, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, pushed his agenda for courting as the “way” for intelligent and passionate Christians to treat relationships.  While this book had many profound truths, it created a backlash in the Christian community (eventually), because many thought that courting was a workable solution to some, but not necessary and possibly too complicated (and legalistic) for others who found dating to be fulfilling and worthwhile.  And so I would never vouch for all of the Christian world to turn back to arranged marriage (I know I wouldn’t!) just because I see some value in the idea of learning to love someone.  With that said, I do find the conept of love in arranged marriage to be a much more biblical concept of love than than the current search of the perfect, “non-existant” person.  While there is certainly the risk of not having love at all (I’m sure this is a major factor in why arranged marriage has ceased, besides the fact that it’s not as economically advantageous to get your daughter hitched to the millionaire down the street what with the prenups and all), there have been many arranged couples who said, I will love this person for they are now my spouse, and they made a commitment.

2.  In writing this I’m not saying that I haven’t been the man that Ochuk speaks of.  In fact it is the very reason that I have been that person that I write this blog today.

So the problem as I see it in Christian dating is this:  we have a false view of what it means to be in the will of God, and we have a false concept of what real love is.

I’m not exactly sure where the teaching originated from, but one popular form of teaching in evangelicalism today is the idea of God’s “perfect will” for your life.  If you follow these 10 steps you will be on the path to being and staying in God’s perfect will…And if you mess up, I’m sure there are books out there to get you back in less than 10 steps.  But is this view biblical?  It seems that among many things this view has done, it has caused a paralysis in dating, because we’re all so stinkin’ scared that we’re going to blow it and marry the “wrong” one.  But the New Testament seems to be much more concerned about what we do and how we live after we get married than it does before.  Paul’s advice to young single men is to stay single (I think his perspective on the immenent return of Christ influenced that), but if that’s not a possibility, then get married to avoid the temptation of sexual impurity.  That’s about it for dating advice.  But, he says a ton about how a husband is to love and treat his wife.

It seems maybe that God’s will for us is that we would always seek to be “in” Christ and that when we live like that we ARE fulfilling God’s will.  It seems that the bible’s view of God’s will is more about how we walk out our daily lives then by overanalyzing every situation to the point of fear at the possibility of missing this mysterious will.  I’m not sure that God wants us that wrestless.

I think the other problem (and it’s a big one for me) is the fact that we have subtly bought into the performance oriented “human” love as the foundation of our relationships than seeking the deeper commitment oriented view of God’s love.  Now before I go further, let me clarify that I’m not saying that attraction isn’t important.  I think attraction is a natural part of our makeup. I do admit that we have placed more importance than should be placed, but I don’t think it’s wrong to want to be attracted to someone.  However, I feel that the search for the “perfect” one is wrapped up in this idea of love based on performance.  What can you do for me?  And is there someone who could do it better?  In doing so, I fear that we have missed and will continue to miss wonderful opportunities to give ourselves in love. 

There should be wisdom in dating, undoubtedly.  It would be completely unwise to take what I’m saying and just go down the street and pick up any old person and “choose” to love them.  No, we should certainly seek the voice of God in our dating life.  But, I AM saying that marriage is far more about how we love and choose to keep loving the ones we marry (which dating precludes) than it is about meticulously searching for that “perfect” (non-existant) person.  And God’s will is much more about how we live our lives in submission to the spirit of Christ than about waiting in unneeded fear that if we take one wrong move we’re off the path forever.

So…let’s begin to try to love one another, follow the spirit of Christ, and be commited people.  I think we will be more in the direction of “biblical dating” (if there is such a thing) than we were before.

By the way, I have no idea if what I said about arranged marriages is true and I’m too lazy to look it up.

In His commited/unconditional love.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2007 11:40

    Question –
    What if you became the person who simply didn’t exist for a christian woman?

  2. jonathangroover permalink*
    October 5, 2007 12:45

    That’s a great question. I think the way Christianity is supposed to look as far as judgment, is that we seek to be the person that God wants us to be. By striving I mean that we do what is necessary to position ourselves into God’s transforming grace. When we do that we become that person who “didn’t exist.” But in terms of how we see others, we don’t place those heavy “burdens” of perfection on them. We embrace a commitment oriented love that accepts them in their current state, knowing that God is the one to complete the work in them. So the expectation is placed on us…never on the person we are looking at.

    There’s a quote out in Christiandom that I like and it goes something like, “Don’t find the right person, be the right person” (source unknown). I think that is what you’re getting at, and I agree.

    For the record, this post is not something I feel like I’ve suceeded in doing. Part of the reason I wrote it is becuase my view of dating has been skewed as well.

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