World, meet Will Bennett. A great friend of mine and fellow amateur writer. Will is one of the most complex thinkers I’ve ever met. He often presents questions about life in ways that make me uncomfortable because I don’t have answers for them. So, because I know you’d appreciate that, I jumped at the chance to have him write for SAINTK.COM. You’ll enjoy his writing, whether you agree with it or not, because of his stream-of-consciousness style that is both bold and vulnerable. Aside from writing, Will is also an avid artist, adventure seeker, WyldLife Leader, and is getting ready to attend the Joshua Wilderness Institute in the Fall. So enjoy, and as always, feedback is welcome.
Dating Is Stupid
Let me be clear. The term “dating” is an incredibly vague, inconclusive, existential term meaning multiple things to different people. When I say “dating,” I mean exclusive relationships prior to any notion of marriage. Culturally, it’s normal to be in exclusive relationships and single people are almost leprous in their singleness. What is the point, the ultimate point of dating? If there is no point to being in an exclusive relationship with someone of the opposite gender, is it not selfishness then? Because you’re asking for their time, their heart, when they could be spending their time with other people, getting to know a variety of people, they could be spending their time growing toward Christ without the distraction of a boyfriend or girlfriend.
If God is in complete control of my life, where the heck does dating come into the big picture?
There are several blogs as of late that have been a hotbed of conversation — one, “My husband is not my soul mate,” the response via Kyle Stillman, “Soul Mates & Sovereignty,” and a third speaking on the side effects of certain views on dating/courtship. A colossal perspective the “soul mate” blogs forget is the one of the single crowd. Sure, talking about soul mates and sovereignty is all fine and dandy when you’re married, but what about if you’re single? Sure, the two blogs consider imagining a perfect soul mate and the foolishness/unfairness of such thinking, but if God is in complete control of my life, where the heck does dating come into the big picture?
When God made Adam in the Garden (See Genesis), He said to Himself (or the Holy Spirit and Jesus, if this were a stand up routine) that it is not good for man to be alone. So God made Eve. He knocked out Adam, ripped out his rib, and made Eve. Boom. Instant wife material. God went on to describe what should happen in relationships, when a man leaves his family to make a new one with the wife (side note: how awesome must that have been to have God be the officiator of your wedding?). God also said a bunch of other things about marriage, later speaking through Paul about how husbands should love their wives like Christ loves the Church, and wives are to love and support their husbands. Nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about dating. Has your mind exploded yet? But dating, especially in this day and age, is a completely cultural norm.
Being single is a good thing. It is a time when we can pursue Christ whole-heartedly, and His love for us.
If you’re not willing or able to get married anytime soon, why would you date someone? Dating should be a time of intentionality, a time to see if someone of the opposite gender (curse you, gender neutralness) is potentially someone worth marrying. Being married is hard. As men, we need to be able to provide for our wives. As a cohesive unit, we should yearn to be examples to our younger peers, and learn from our elders. If you are not ready for marriage and all the nitty-gritty hardships that you are sure to endure, then why would you spend your time in a pseudo-relationship that is nothing compared to the wonderful relationship marriage is? Committing yourself to one person for years and years with no conceivable end in sight? What farmer gets on his tractor with a blindfold on? In many cases, you have those people who forsake all their friends for their significant other, people who let their world become all about the other person. That farmer sells his house, dog, and left arm to plow blindfolded.
On any level, being in an exclusive relationship with another person will detract from your relationship with Christ. Even Paul says it in his discourse on being single! In 1 Corinthians 7 he says, “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs — how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world — how he can please his wife — and his interests are divided.” He essentially repeats the same for unmarried women. Being single is a good thing. It is a time when we can pursue Christ whole-heartedly, and His love for us. Singleness is a freedom to dive headlong into the tasks God has for us. Why would you want to do anything else but what God wants you to do? God has the best plan for us, better than anything we could ever imagine. How foolish we become when we think God doesn’t know better.
Either someone loves Jesus or they don’t. There really isn’t a lukewarm.
Dating is stupid. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. America creates a culture that emphasizes short term relationships that have you “falling in love” again and again, and after enough falls, bumps, and bruises, you meet “The One” (No, not the Jet Li movie) and live happily ever after. In the words of Dwight Schrute, “FALSE.”
As the Bible doesn’t explicitly, or even implicitly, say anything about dating, it’s incredibly confusing. Dating should be so much more streamlined. Whenever we, as young adults, get to a point where we think that marriage would be an option (not just “I’d like to be married” but actually being able to say “Yes” to the question, “If you could be married tomorrow, would you?”), finishing all the various goals we have, be it getting out of debt, finishing school, or getting a job so we have an income, then we should be considering intentional relationships. Before then, why? Why limit ourselves from all the options we have ahead of us?
Once we’ve made the choice to pursue intentional relationships with members of the opposite gender, we should throw away the societal “games” of dating and communicate (to whomever we may be interested in pursuing) about our intentions. If we leave a lot of room for “mysterious romance,” really we’re creating a space for miscommunication. If you are ready for the potential of marriage but the other person is not, then it’s foolish to pursue the relationship further. Obviously, there should be some non-negotiables, like not being unequally yoked (no, not like going to the gym), but a great rule of thumb is don’t date them if they don’t love Jesus. Missionary dating is possibly the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. You may be saying, “But Will, it’s difficult to see if they really love Jesus” and to that I say, “Phooey”. Ask their friends. Ask their pastor. Ask them. It’s a yes or no question. Either someone loves Jesus or they don’t. There really isn’t a lukewarm.
I’d rather have someone who’s willing to chase after God with me than waste my time chasing after them.
Once you’ve gotten your non-negotiables settled, if you don’t interact with them on a normal basis (i.e. see them at school everyday, share similar friend groups, go to a small group together, etc.), then dates make sense; to purposefully get together and get to know each other. I say dating is stupid if you only go on dates to get to know someone. You can get to know someone best by the way they act around others, and not just with them alone. If you only see someone in romantic, date-night settings, you can’t see their character traits like servanthood, patience, or leadership. If you don’t interact with them normally, then find ways to find out about those kind of character qualities. If you do see them regularly, then start looking for those qualities. Those are some really nice indicators as to what kind of a person the “potential” is on the inside.
I would say this: We should concern ourselves with what God wants us to do with our lives. Ultimately
that’s easy — we are supposed to bring glory to God. We are supposed to live our lives in such a way that we are actively leading people to the Giver of Everlasting Life. Part of that process (though not in any way promised by God) may at some point be getting married and modeling Christ’s relationship with the Church. But we can bring glory to God any time, without being married. So let’s do that. We need not concern ourselves as to when we will meet our “Knight in Shining Armor” or our “Maiden in a Tower.” And honestly, I’d rather have someone who’s willing to chase after God with me than waste my time chasing after them.
Featured Photo Credit: Helice93