The Top Five Myths of Christian Dating
- Wednesday, June 18, 2008
There are some myths out there that people assume to be gospel about dating. Christian culture is like any other in that we develop truisms that we accept without verifying. There are things floating around that have little or nothing to do with the Bible. Most are well intended and contain a nugget of truth. Some are flat–out wrong. Dating is hard enough without sifting through all this erroneous information, so let's debunk some myths. There are plenty of them, but let's focus on what I believe are the top five myths that make dating harder for Christian men.
Myth #1: "God has one woman picked out for you to marry. You are destined to be with her, and God will guide you to her."
Good luck finding this one in the Bible. There is plenty of stuff about God's will for his people, God wanting good things for you, and God's ultimate plan. Nowhere, however, does it say that God picked out a spunky brunette whom he's waiting to spring on you at the right moment. I'm not saying that he doesn't. When it comes to God, I'm pretty careful about saying what he does or doesn't do. But I do know this—if you rely on this idea too much, your dating life will get really confusing.
Some Christians take a lot of comfort in the idea that God will do the heavy lifting when it comes to dating. God will tell them if a relationship is right, and God will end it if it's not. All they have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. This may be the biggest excuse men use for being lazy in relationships, much less finding one.
German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer addresses this issue in a wedding sermon he wrote for his sister from a Nazi jail cell. He says that God joins the relationship between a man and a woman at the point of marriage. Before that, the couple has to take the initiative. Rather than directing the course of the relationship, God wants the couple to grow and learn how to make a commitment. Once they've done that, God increases his sustaining presence.
I'm not saying that God doesn't have a will regarding your dating life. God may, in fact, have a spunky brunette in mind, and he's steering you toward her as you read this. But the Bible does not promise that God will provide a loving relationship for you while you sit around and do nothing. But, as in all things, it's best to ask for his guidance. The Bible promises he will provide that whenever we ask. Rely on God's love, wisdom, and sustaining presence while you're dating. Though God won't do all the work for you, he'll be with you every step of the way.
The good news is that most men don't have a problem with this. Regardless of your theology on the Predestination of Girlfriends, you're probably eager to be an active participant in your dating life. This brings us to our next myth.
Myth #2: "The Bible has clearly defined guidelines for dating."
People didn't date in biblical times. Dating as a socially accepted means of finding a mate has been around for less than a century. Before that, strict courtship rituals governed the path to marriage. Whom you married wasn't even up to you most of the time. Falling in love before you got married or engaged is a twentieth–century concept. Dating as we know it occurred after marriage. In college, I had an older professor from Japan whose marriage had been arranged. He made fun of modern dating, saying, "By the time you get married now, the fun is over. In an arranged marriage, the fun starts after the wedding!" (No, that wasn't a suggestion for you to set up an arranged marriage.)
For the Hebrews and the early church, dating wasn't an issue to be addressed in Scripture. Sex and marriage were, but not dating. When the Bible was written, a person basically had one of three options: remaining single, an amoral life with multiple partners or prostitutes, or an arranged marriage. There were courtship rituals in place, but nothing that looks like what we consider dating today.
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