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Should I Date?

  • Michael Smalley, M.A. Michael Smalley is a marriage and family counselor
  • 2002 8 Aug
  • COMMENTS
Should I Date?
According to a large and growing number of parents, authors, and leaders, no, you shouldn't even consider the possibility of dating. A popular book out now is titled I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. When I first saw this book, I can remember thinking, "Surely he isn't telling people to forego dating entirely ... He must have just come upon a really creative title."

The title is creative, but, upon reading the book I realized he was serious.

Let me set the record straight, before I get too far into this article about dating. I'm not saying Mr. Harris or anyone else who believes in courtship or other styles of dating different from our cultural norm are wrong. They are entitled to their opinions and can argue effectively about their stances. However, the reason I'm writing this article is directly related to their ideals.

I'd like to present a more balanced view for singles to explore if they are considering dating. Mr. Harris opens his book writing:
"It was finally here - Anna's wedding day, the day she had dreamed about and planned for months. The small, picturesque church was crowded with friends and family. Sunlight poured through the stained-glass windows, and the gentle music of a string quartet filled the air. Ann walked down the aisle toward David. Joy surged within her. This was the moment for which she had waited so long. He gently took her hand, and they turned toward the altar.
But as the minister began to lead Anna and David through their vows, the unthinkable happened. A girl stood up in the middle of the congregation, walked quietly to the altar, and took David's other hand. Another girl approached and stood next to the first, followed by another. Soon, a chain of six girls stood by him as he repeated his vows to Anna.
Ann felt her lip beginning to quiver as tears welled up in her eyes. "Is this some kind of joke?" she whispered to David.
"I'm ... I'm sorry, Anna," he said, staring at the floor.
"Who are these girls, David? What is going on?" she gasped.
"They're girls from my past," he answered sadly. "Anna, they don't mean anything to me now ... but I've given part of my heart to each of them."
"I thought your heart was mine," she said.
"It is, it is," he pleaded. "Everything that's left is yours."
A tear rolled down Anna's cheek. Then she woke up." (I Kissed Dating Goodbye, pp. 17-18)
If I read this opening in a book about dating, I'd probably give up dating as well. But is it realistic? I mean, do we actually carry over our dating relationships of the past in such a significant and emotionally hurtful way? I'd say yes and no. Yes, there is a real possibility that we could get too involved with a dating relationship and it would end up following us negatively into marriage. But there are definitely relationships that only remain positive and do not affect our marriage negatively, and, in fact, lend a hand in making our marriage even better.

Further along in Mr. Harris' book he writes, "Dating may seem an innocent game, but as I see it, we are sinning against each other. What excuse will we have when God asks us to account for our actions and attitudes in relationships? If God sees a sparrow fall (Matthew 10:29), do you think He could possibly overlook the broken hearts and scarred emotions we cause in relationships based on selfishness?" (I Kissed Dating Goodbye, p. 26)

He is not alone in thinking this way. I've heard ideas like this on the radio, with friends, and in the counseling room. Quite frankly, this idea concerns me. Placing all of dating in the realm of "selfishness" or "broken hearts and scarred emotions" is unfair. All dating isn't sinful, evil, hurtful or scary. Dating, like most everything in life, has the capacity for good and evil. We as people have the capacity for good and evil. How else can we explain that we are created in the image of God, and we are also born with a completely sinful nature? Throughout our lifespan on earth, we will do both good and evil. We can't avoid it, even with the best intentions.

Dating can be an extremely positive experience. I know -- I dated and had both positive and negative experiences. I even had negative experiences turn into really positive ones, and I'd hate to imagine my life without them.

For more information about all your most important relationships, please visit the Smalley Relationship Center Web site at www.smalleyonline.com.