How Christians Ruin Dating

Maybe we all just need to chill out.

A few years ago, I had just started "talking" to a guy from church, and I told him we should keep things on the down low. I didn't see the need for everyone to find out too early on.

But within a week, the head pastor of our 2,000 person church found out we were dating. Mutual friends were excited that a boy and I were planning on hanging out one on one—so excited, in fact, they started brainstorming our wedding hashtag. Before we had even gone to coffee. I also remember feeling shamed by my Bible study for not having set strict physical boundaries with a guy—by our second date.

Later, I went through a rather public breakup, and people within the church constantly asked me what happened—not out of care or concern, it felt, but out of a desire to know the details, to be able to better decide which side to take as our community severed.

If you've dated in the Christian circle for any length of time, you, too, probably have humorous stories as well as scars. As there’s no book in the Bible with a dating how-to, the “biblical dating” we strive for actually doesn’t exist—we’ve been left to our own devices to figure it out. And churches haven’t always done the best job helping us get there.

Your dating life shouldn’t be your whole life. Don’t allow a good desire to become your ultimate desire.

Like many parts of faith, Christian dating culture is home to many double standards. We encourage women to keep high standards and desire only the godliest of men, yet we pity the “forever alone” single women who seemingly received a lifetime supply of the "gift" of singleness. We encourage men to pursue women, to be forward with their intentions, yet when a guy has asked too many women to coffee in the same church circle, we label him "desperate.” Sex is seen as the ultimate taboo topic to be discussed, as well as the ultimate sin to be committed. Engaging in premarital sex is sometimes seen as equal to losing all worth as a human being, and yet we claim to base our faith on the Gospel of grace.

Groups of Christians mean well when it comes to helping people navigate relationships, but there are a few ways we all tend to make things way more complicated than they need to be.

By Obsessing

It's hard enough to seek out a future spouse within a culture that idealizes marriage above almost everything else. But when “post-college groups" is code for singles-to-mingle events and pastors seem to believe they have matchmaker in their job description, it gets uncomfortable really fast.

It's OK to want a relationship. We're created to be relational beings, after all. But when we, as individuals or as a church, are obsessed with romantic relationships, we miss out on so much more God offers us. We fixate on the idea of "knowing" so early on, we skip over the whole point of relationships—getting to know and connect with another human being. When we demand of a friend, "Do they love Jesus?!" after date one, we're expecting people to have gotten incredibly intimate and vulnerable in the first 90 minutes of talking with someone. That's typically not healthy.

If we're dating with the intention of marriage, it makes sense that we wouldn't want to continue pursuing a relationship with someone we see no future with. Yet, we focus on finding out so early on that we end up putting way too much pressure on something that isn't ready to withstand it. Couples end up too serious too fast, or breaking things off far too soon. "He asked me out to coffee, but I don’t think he’s the one..."

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has experienced someone of the opposite sex "spouse shopping"—they get to know you enough to see if you're a potential mate, and once they realize you aren't, you seem to have no more use to them. It's painful when you do ministry alongside someone who seems to think you have no worth because you aren't going to be their spouse. In our obsession with the quest for marriage, we've forgotten to pursue friendships and nurture a Christian community to grow within.

By Gossiping

If Christian millennials feel justified to gossip about anything, it’s discussing the latest on every relationship in our newsfeed. We dissect relationships—from Grey’s Anatomy to The Bachelor to that new couple we saw sitting together in church.

Couples won’t ask for help if they fear their struggles will be discussed behind their backs.

Though this can seem harmless, scrutinizing other’s relationships can quickly get toxic. If we harp on how unhealthy those two seem together, we feel less insecure about our own relationship status. If we discuss at length the perfect couple’s latest Instagram-worthy adventure, we’re placing them on a pedestal we can never reach. If we push to hear every juicy detail of the latest breakup, we fulfill a need to be “in the know” at the cost of someone else’s pain.

Our constant talking about relationships in the church—who’s dating who, who broke up, who we should set up—reinforces the unhealthy value placed on romantic relationships. It also creates an environment where relationships can’t grow and flourish. People don’t want to be vulnerable if they fear being judged; couples won’t ask for help if they fear their struggles will be discussed behind their backs.

By Making Relationships the Ultimate Goal

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There’s nothing wrong with romantic relationships, but there’s so much more to life than romantic relationships. Fall in love with a new hobby, with a new ministry, with a new cause to back. Pursue deeper friendships, new talents, wholeness. Flirt with the idea of a spontaneous trip, of becoming someone’s mentor, of marking something off your bucket list. Strive to live a life worthy of the calling you’ve received, more than striving to find someone to live life with.

Your dating life shouldn’t be your whole life. Don’t allow a good desire to become your ultimate desire. When we’re solely focused on finding “The One”—attending Bible studies to scope out cute singles or trying out new ministries to find new faces—we’re living in a scarcity mindset. God calls us to so much more.

There’s nothing wrong with finding a person to marry along the way, but don’t let that be the sole focus of your life. Are we worshipping relationships or the God who created them?

Top Comments

David Veldmeijer

4

David Veldmeijer commented…

Just an idea, if we need to chill out about dating and relationships, maybe RELEVANT should take a break from talking about it so much?

Frederick J. van Rijn

11

Frederick J. van Rijn commented…

Great article. I was by no means a perfect "catch" as a 20-something, single Christian male, but I was annoyed to daylights by some of my friends that obsessed over dating, relationships, and finding someone. It's natural to want those things. It's natural to feel lonely. Don't let it define you and change you. BE the right person rather than SEARCH for the right person.

19 Comments

Noah Hurley

13

Noah Hurley commented…

Isn't this an older post?

Wayne Hoss

6

Wayne Hoss commented…

Narrow Road

The Lord has laid down a straight and narrow road for his sheep to follow
Satan's flying demon's has thrown hot rocks in its path; it’s his wrath they do swallow
To either side can be found greener roads leading to and fro
Some are smooth as silk and easier to tread, but I dare not where they go

It’s safe to assume that they lead not to Emmanuel’s pasture straight ahead
For the bible warns of these winding roads that lead to despair and dread
Those silky green paths, some of which curve in and out wayward out of sight
Lead to an inevitable pit stop, its host the prince of night

Right beside the Lord's narrow road is another that seems just as straight
It is greener so it seems and its climb that of a lesser grade
It also has fewer rocks tossed by Satan's winged demons from hell
As to allude the weak in its devious deception making them think that all is well

So many people follow that road beside that appears to be straight
But in the end they shall find that it drops off before heaven's gate
Though they took the simpler path that seemed straight at first
It dropped them off at hell's gate and left their souls accursed

By: Wayne Hoss

Wayne Hoss

6

Wayne Hoss commented…

Carnal Minds

There was a time henceforth when I had ten thousand dollars to spare
Happy with what the Lord hath already blessed me with, I decided to share
Having no need for the money I called two local men to mine house
Rumor had it the second man had the reputation of a cheat and a louse

The first man whose name was Greed, came in and sat near as could be
Behind him was a man named Wisdom, but he sat far, as he smiled at me
I told them both that I had five thousand dollars to give to each
Then said Greed, "give it here now!" as he leaned closer so as to reach

While I counted the money I looked upon wisdom's silence as wise indeed
For I knew he was patient, and of life's carnality he did heed
I counted aloud the words "Five thousand" and then quickly did Greed snatch away
His half of the money, so in life's pleasures he could foolishly play

I looked up expecting a gracious word of thanks from the greedy wretch
But he was already gone without a word; it was Satan's lures he did fetch
Then I looked over at my friend Wisdom, who was never reeled in by Satan's lure
He always appreciated the life that the Lord hath given him which in itself was pure

A very uplifting man that always a smile for me and all that did pass by
For he was happy knowing our Lord whom graciously arose in the sky
I handed him his share and he quietly tucked it away
Then he went on about his business until a later day

A week later Greed ran Wisdom's old wagon off of the road with his new car
As he laughed about wisdom spreading his money to the poor afar
Then without notice the man in the sky did call
He said “The books are open, now come one, now come all!”

Greed waited in line continually bragging about his carnal things
Until he learned that he had traded them for his heavenly wings
He went to a place not fit for a man as he looked up at Wisdom flying by
He pleaded "Just one sip of water I beg you bring me from a cloud up in your sky"

Wisdom smiled and said "Dear friend, I stored my money in Gods eternal bank"
It was your earthly treasures that did demote you to a sergeant in Satan's rank
It was only yesterday that you passed a starving woman in your car so nice
I stopped in my tracks, gave her food and shelter, I didn't have to think twice

Now I am here with her in paradise, the place the Lord set aside
For those with a conscience and a heart, who in his laws did abide
Though I did have a thirst for life's carnal things
I knew that I couldn't fly up here without my precious wings

Speak to me no more from the pits of Hell
For justice is served, and I chose well!

By: Wayne Hoss

Marvin Gaye

2

Marvin Gaye commented…

I'm sorry, but this post is the best Relevant Mag could get? Sure, we are all entitled to our opinions, but that doesn't mean they should be published. I would think R readers expect more than a teenage FB post...

Noah Hurley

13

Noah Hurley replied to Marvin Gaye's comment

Who said it was the best? Also, have you seen R's other online posts?? lol

Stephanie Fedor

7

Stephanie Fedor commented…

So, so good: "Your dating life shouldn’t be your whole life. Don’t allow a good desire to become your ultimate desire."

This year, I'm #daringdateless. It is terrifying and yet I've never felt more exposed and in obedience to the Lord. Follow and join me (if you're interested) at: http://daringdateless.blogspot.com/

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