Behold the new dating game!
Irrepressible blogger Matt Walsh calls it “vicinitizing.”
That’s what a lot of twentysomething men appear to be doing these days instead of dating or courting. They’re hovering within the geographic vicinity of a woman they like, but they’re not ready to commit romantically... or even willing to call such times a “date.”
These men aren’t game for dating. Let alone marriage.
They’re the guys Walsh says need to man-up. Are you one of them? Are your school days now a distant memory? And you’re still single, without a clear conviction that your singlehood is God’s plan for your life? Might you even be deceiving yourself with a false contentment over not being married?
Of course, you don’t need marriage to be the man Christ wants you to be. Besides, there are good reasons not to be married, and to avoid rushing into a serious relationship. A wise young man will evaluate his readiness for mariage, and prepare himself accordingly. But these days, it seems like our culture is offering a lot of bad influences and flat-out sins to entice men in their twenties away from biblical marriage, and preoccupy them with perversions of valid reasons to treat “the Big M" responsibly.
So, single guys: If God himself hasn’t closed the door to marriage right now, exactly what is keeping you from it? Maybe you find our society’s traditional courtship rituals a bit stilted for your progressive tastes? But if you haven’t even truly bothered to start looking for the right girl, do you know the reason why? Do you realize that “vicinitizing" is not a normal expression of the biological urges previous generations of men your age have had?
Hey - I’m in my late 40‘s, and I’ve never been married. But at least I know why. I’ve spent years asking myself why I’m not married. I’ve prayed about it, and evaluated my motives, and compared them with what God teaches us about holy matrimony. At this point in my faith journey, I’ve reached a level of acceptance with my current marital status, but I haven’t gotten here by simply pretending that I can’t find the “right woman.”
What about you? Does “vicinitizing" describe your current singlehood? And do the reasons why you’re still single honor God?
Sex As Gift or Guile?
Maybe it’s none of my business, but don’t you struggle with sexual urges? Technically, even the most deeply-churched person may know God’s intentions for intercourse, but today, society tells us we have options. And frankly, a lot of those options seem easier than trying to build solid relationships with real women. Online porn, for example, is relatively discreet, incredibly accessible, and mostly free. Free of financial cost to you, anyway. What it costs us, however, in terms of building discipline and maintaining a healthy respect for women, is pretty high.
Intellectually, you may know this. Maybe you’re even privately remorseful of your porn habit. But if you honestly believe marriage to be the only God-honoring venue for sex, why not confront porn for what it is: society’s perversion of God’s good gift of sex.
Or maybe you’ve already been sexually active in the flesh, and now you feel ashamed by it? Have you embraced the popular notion that sex is too important a component of your personality to be preserved for your wife? Please don’t forget that God can forgive your most intimate sexual sin - at least, if you’re willing to man-up and ask for his mercy and grace.
Money as Tool or Trap?
What is another big motivator for us, besides sex? It’s money, isn’t it? And for many young men, now out on their own for the first time, the reality of financial accountability can be a bitter backlash to one’s newfound autonomy. Even if you deeply desire marriage for yourself, you look at your budget and wonder how you could possibly make things work.
Unfortunately, lots of young people these days have already accumulated lots of debt, whether from college, credit cards, or brand-new vehicles. Are you one of these indebted twentysomethings? And does your debt make marriage seem unaffordable? The good thing is that being realistic about your finances is a mark of maturity. And hopefully, realizing your financial predicament has already encouraged you to find ways of paying down your debt. However, even here, our society has ways of sabotaging your goals.
On the one hand, men can feel pressured to solidify our presumed career trajectory before we date "seriously.” However, do you feel a need to prove your financial qualifications to a potential bride, or do you trust on God to provide as you walk in his ways and truth? Alternatively, if you can't seem to hold a steady job, don't take it in a negative way until you understand why: Is it simply our bad economy? Or your inability to focus or commit? It’s good to be employed, obviously, and to earn an income that will help support your wife, and however many kids may come along. But if you believe God will provide for your needs, how much of your work is going towards what you think you need?
For example, what do you expect your starter home to look like? How content would you be with a small fixer-upper in a non-trendy part of town? Are you more concerned about what your friends will think, or whether you can afford basic, safe shelter for your bride?
After all, status-seeking can wreak havoc on your budget. Do the baristas at your local Starbucks know you by name - and your order? Does Apple’s Tim Cook send you Christmas cards for being such a loyal customer? Sure, maybe you can afford being a java-fueled early-adopter, but if your finances are now standing between you and finding a good woman to marry, how many “good women” will like taking second place to your personal luxuries?
Technology as Convenience or Crutch?
And speaking of technology: Do you shelter your personality, emotions, and socializing through a technology filter? Social media, perhaps? How about cable sports channels, or online games? Hey - technology itself isn’t good or bad; it’s what you use, how you use it, and how often you use it. How about using technology to communicate appropriately, and setting up scenarios for person-to-person "interfaces?”
Oh - and speaking of interfacing with women, what kind are you hoping to marry, anyway? The type of woman who looks like the ones you see in your online porn? Or are you looking to marry a woman who trusts in God and expects you to put him first, even before herself?
Sure, there are some good, honest reasons for young men to wait for marriage, and prepare for it. But there are also many ways to hold marriage at bay while we indulge in selfish pursuits and warped expectations. Meanwhile, it’s the guys who trust in God more than anything else who will shun what society says about marriage, masculinity, and femininity, and step out in faith.
Not a faith in sexuality, or a good job, or material possessions, or even that a more appealing woman might come along any day now. But faith in your holy Father Who wants good things for you, and from you.
From his smorgasboard of church experience, ranging from the Christian and Missionary Alliance to the Presbyterian Church in America, Tim Laitinen brings a range of observations to his perspective on how we Americans worship, fellowship, and minister among our communities of faith. As a one-time employee of a Bible church in suburban Fort Worth, Texas and a former volunteer director of the contemporary Christian music ministry at New York City's legendary Calvary Baptist, he's seen our church culture from the inside out. You can read about his unique viewpoints at o-l-i.blogspot.com.
Publication date: July 29, 2014