In light of Valentine’s Day, I felt that it would be quite appropriate to share some thoughts from a previous blog entry that many in the Discipleship Dojo haven’t read before. Enjoy and by all means feel free to leave feedback, especially if you disagree with me! Iron sharpens iron…but only when they’re rubbed against one another.
All kinds of topics were being discussed (passionately!)and the conversation seemed to fall along gender lines with the common denominator being that all involved had been hurt in relationships in the past.
Anyway, a guy at a table behind me heard one of my friends say that he didn’t date because he felt it was pointless. When he heard this, this guy came over to our table and began to lecture on how “unbiblical” dating was and that he had been married for 14 years and had a 13 year old daughter and that dating wasn’t an option for her. He said that courting was what God wants us to do and that dating is part of society’s lies that Christians have bought into.
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this approach by any means. Anyone who’s read the uber-annoying “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris** will immediately recognize this line of argument. (If Harris isn’t hardcore enough for any of you, you can go a step further into crazyland and read “Her Hand in Marriage” by Douglas Wilson.) So while the argument wasn’t anything new, for some reason it kept kicking around in my head the rest of the night and the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I became.
Out of respect and not wanting to cause unnecessary division, I didn’t say anything when the guy at the resturant was going on about dating being unbiblical. However, I should have asked him a few questions about many of the “points” he (and others who believe dating is unbiblical) was making.
“Dating is unbiblical! You can’t find anyone dating in the Bible. It’s not God’s plan for His children.”
Is dating really unbiblical because it’s not mentioned in Scripture? I wanted to ask the guy if he walked to the resturant. “No, I drove” he’d probably say. “Well, that’s unbiblical you know. No one in the Bible drove cars. Cars are an invention of society that God didn’t intend. Christians should either walk or ride a donkey, horse, or camel wherever they need to go (no chariots though; those are what the wicked Egyptians, Babylonians and Assyrians rode in! Um, unless of course it is a chariot of fire; then it’s okay.)”
My point is that just because something isn’t in the Bible doesn’t mean that it’s not Biblical. This is an error that people make way too often and then pontificate as if they are providing evidence for a “Biblical” position on something. Lack of evidence is not evidence of lack.
“Courtship! That’s the Biblical way we should pursue marriage!”
[note: "courtship" is only being around someone in a group setting until you are ready to get engaged. At that point, the parents get together with the man and decide whether or not he can pursue the woman romantically. Engagement soon follows and then comes marital bliss.]
Really? Courtship is THE Biblical norm? Hmmm…Did anyone tell that to Ruth? What about Esther? How about Abigail?
The fact is that the notion of “courting” being advanced by anti-dating Christians is not by any means the norm in Scripture. God nowhere gives instructions on choosing a wife/husband. Nowhere do we find courting spoken of in a proscriptive manner. Whenever we find it, it is in a descriptive manner.
What I really want to have asked the man is “Your daughter can’t date, she can only be courted? Cool. She’s 13 years old and has reached child-bearing age, when can I tell my 25 year old friends they can begin courting her? What?! What do you mean that’s ridiculous?! In Biblical Hebrew society, women married in their early-to-mid teens. Mary was probably very close to your daughter’s age when she had Jesus. If it’s good enough for the mother of our Lord, why not your daughter?“
Of course I am playing devil’s advocate; but my point is that Christians who argue up and down for a “Biblical” approach to romance almost NEVER actually want to implement a truly Biblical approach to romance! Courting advocates NEVER talk about a dowry. They never suggest allowing their daughter to be selected by a servant of the prospective husband (such as happened with Issac and Rebekah). They NEVER advocate a 7 day wedding feast which begins with the groom taking the bride into the bedroom and consumating the marriage. (THAT would be a wedding to remember!)
“Well, dating is not authentic! People are putting forward an image that they want the other person to like rather than being themselves. Besides, you shouldn’t give your heart to someone until you’re ready for long term committment and you can’t determine this when you’re dating someone you don’t really even know that well.”
This is understandable, but it’s just not sound thinking. Here’s why: it is using poor behavior (being fake on a date) to argue against the larger setting (going on a date with someone). St. Augustine said it best over 1,600 years ago, “Never judge a philosophy by its abuse.”
Are people fake on dates? Sure. Do they often put their best side front and center and downplay their weaknesses and flaws? Of course. Does this mean that dating must necessarily entail this type of behavior? Not at all. This objection isn’t really against dating per se; it’s against bad dating.
But I’d like to ask the person above, “Are people fake in friendships?”, “do people put their best side forward and downplay their weaknesses and flaws in friendships?” Yes to both. Should we then label friendships as unbiblical?
As for not giving your heart to someone you just started dating…I agree completely! Again, this is not a problem with dating, it is a problem with poor choices when dating. Dating should be nothing more than a guy and a girl who openly acknowledge that they are attracted to one another on various levels and are therefore spending more time together in order to discover whether or not they are a potential spouse. No one should begin picking out china patterns after a few weeks of dating; and just because many people make this mistake doesn’t mean that they HAVE to make this mistake. Dating should be a “feeling out” time that either leads to the realization that this is not the person for us at this time (thus ending the dating relationship) or that this is the person we would like to pursue marriage with eventually (thus strengthening the relationship and deepening the committment).
“I don’t care! Courting is more Godly than dating!”
Okay, follow me here: you meet someone you really like. You begin to hang out with them in group settings as friends. You really like them more and want to pursue them as a serious potential spouse. You ask the parents, they give their blessings. You then start spending time alone with the person in romantic settings…
…so, um, HOW is this not dating???
All you’ve done is taken things extremely slow and gotten to know the person better before you begin dating them! Call it “courting” if you want, it’s still spending time together alone with someone you’re romantically attracted to and who you think might be a potential spouse. You’re dating. Period.
It seems that the man who came to our table had passion and zeal for the Lord (a really good thing!) and he hated the abuses that many people commit frequently when dating (another good thing!) so he was only too happy to hear about a “Biblical” alternative (a la “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”). The only problem is that this alternative is simply dating with some extra components when all is said and done.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure this man won’t read this (if he’s anti-dating for his daughter, I’m SURE he’s anti-Myspace :), but I just couldn’t stop thinking about this encounter and I really just wanted to put something out there that takes Scripture more seriously.
Should Christians date? If they want to, sure.
We should just date in a truly Biblical manner–complete honesty, self-sacrificial giving, sexual purity, emotional responsibility, and readiness to acknowledge and work on our shortcomings which invariably surface in a dating relationship. Any and all comments welcome, as usual.
Originally posted on 8/26/2006
**For the record, I actually have a lot of respect for Joshua Harris and would probably enjoy hanging out with him. He is a brother in Christ with a passion for Jesus and a sharp mind and wit. And even though I hated “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, I do highly recommend his newer book “Stop Dating the Church” for my generation who are prone to church-hopping rather than committing to a local body of believers. Hopefully this glowing endorsement of the latter will counterbalance my ridiculing of the former, should Josh ever come across this post!
For what I believe is an excellent take on the subject of Christians, singleness and dating, I recommend “Friendlationships” by Jeff Taylor.