Graham picks Brittany up, and they are hanging out in her room talking before they leave. As they chat, Graham’s stomach starts knotting up. Soon enough, he can’t focus on what she’s saying.
He finally excuses himself and goes to the restroom to calm down. He stares in the mirror, saying, “Be cool, man—this is ridiculous.” Finally he leaves the bathroom and, as he walks out, realizes he didn’t flush the toilet or turn on the faucet to cover for his nervousness. He sits back down again, but a few minutes later, he has to excuse himself for another pep talk.
Returning to her room, he finally confesses, “Sorry, I am just really nervous about this date.”
Brittany suggests they go ahead and leave so he might calm down. As they’re talking in the driveway, the world starts spinning. Acting on instinct, Graham takes two steps to the side and vomits all over Brittany’s driveway. He looks up to see shock and concern on her face. He vomits again. He looks up, and she is gone.
Graham does not have time to worry about her departure because he is busy trying to exorcise that day’s lunch from his digestive system. Brittany comes back, but she’s not alone—she went to get help … from her mom.
So, on Graham’s first date with Brittany, he vomits and helps her mom clean the driveway. And do you know where Graham and Brittany are today?
Well, they never went out again.
What did you think I was going to say?
The history of dating is not one of successes (though they exist) but of many, many failures. What about dealing with the opposite sex makes us so awkward and weird? And why is it weirder in the context of the Church?
The two (wrong) ways
Traditionally, the Church has offered two schools of thought on dating: “It did not exist in biblical times and therefore should not be practiced now,” and “Everything in dating is acceptable as long as you do not have sex.” But both of these fall short.
Society today equates love and relationships with dating; we have been programmed to have a desire to love and be loved. People today express love and interest through dating and asking others out. To ignore this situation because it is “not the way you were raised” is to allow the devil a foothold in a place where churches can least afford it.
Meanwhile, premarital sex is one of the banes of the Church’s existence. Do not get me wrong; young people and adults should likewise be taught that sex is to be saved for marriage. However, other forms of intimacy that are not discussed are killing relationships and forcing people to leave with bitterness and discontent. Emotional and spiritual intimacy should be saved for married couples, yet we throw them away every time we date someone in the hope that they will love us.
Meet Ashley. Ashley is very active in her church and is always willing to lend a helping hand to others. Ashley has always had a boyfriend. After she breaks up with a guy, she immediately begins looking for another one. She was telling me one day how she was tired of being with horrible guys. I suggested that she take a break from dating so she could clear her head and know exactly what she wants. My suggestion puzzled her as she replied: “You don’t understand. I can’t not have a boyfriend. I would be too lonely.”
Things like this happen when a person does not find satisfaction as a single person. If you are looking for absolute fulfillment in another person, you are setting yourself up for failure. I once heard a man say, “If you cannot find peace in yourself, it is futile to search for it elsewhere.” You have to be satisfied with your identity as a single person; you have to have a growing relationship with Christ, or you will not be well-suited for a relationship. In 1 Corinthians, Paul shares some insight about the benefits of finding Singles Satisfaction: “Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife.” (7:27)
Translation: Do not date someone for the sake of dating.
By all means, keep your eyes open, but do not assume that because there is a mutual attraction with a person, you need to be in a relationship. You must assess the situation and circumstances realistically and, above all else, pray about it. As a believer, you are not above becoming attracted to a non-Christian or a married person. Also, do not simply date out of boredom. Dating, in the sense that I have defined it, is an intentional decision utilized to determine romantic possibilities. Anything done out of boredom does not imply a desire to love someone else, but a desire to remove the boredom by using the other person. You may be bored and want to date someone because you have nothing better to do. The person you are on the date with may already be planning the wedding. Feelings have a tendency to spring up when two people spend a lot of time together. If you are with the person for your own comfort, then you are dating for the wrong reasons. You need to date someone because you love them and they love you. Pity and boredom have no place in establishing a dating relationship.
The “right” one
“I would like you to be free from concern. 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 his world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).
Translation: Instead of praying for God to bring you the right person, pray that God will make you the right person.
Being in a relationship is a big responsibility that is not for the faint of heart. Every person in the world wants to marry someone who is awesome, sweet and outstanding. Are you asking God each day to improve your character? Remember that a relationship is not just about how you benefit from the other person; it is about how you can invest in that person’s life for the better. On another note, pray that God will make you the right person for the sake of honoring Him and not to attract others to you. God will do very little for you if your concern is not for His glory.
People in The Couples Culture hate being single. They hate being alone and feel as if their happiness is defined by true love. Is it wrong to desire a relationship? No. Should that be your desire above all others? Absolutely not. Find peace in God, not in others.
This article is adapted from Friendlationships: From Like, to Like Like, to Love in Your Twenties (RELEVANTBooks). This version appears in the RELEVANT Undergraduate College Guide.