A few months ago I sat across from Ryan in a smoke filled room, the smell of subs and cookies wafting through the air. I nervously took a drink from my cup and he boldly (as usual) asked
“Well, you called this meeting. Who is she?”
Trying to be self-effacing and a little coy I told him
“Oh Ryan…there’s always SOMEONE… Besides, this is more about preventive maintenance than anything… Now what’s your advice?”
A sheepish grin came across his face as he gave me some solid advice on the ever elusive world of Christian dating.
I wrote Ryan earlier that week asking for advice and trusted counsel.
“When I meet a girl I want to pursue, how to I do that in a Godly manner?”
It boiled down to several items, but the most effective comment he made was “It’s not rocket science. Ask her on a date. Find out what she’s like in the context of community. Over everything else ask yourself; Is this someone I can multiply God’s Kingdom with.”
Is this someone I can multiply God’s Kingdom with?
That thought had rarely crossed my mind. Countless other failed relationships went through my head as I fell into a state of remembrance. How many of those relationships could have been saved or avoided had I asked myself that for even a second. (The temptation to feel regret was strong, but through all those relationships, I knew the will of God was being fulfilled in my life.) It really hit home and target a place in my life God has recently been peeling away at. The concept of longing. I don’t think I’ve ever asked myself this question, and I wonder how many of you have asked this question while seeking someone to date.
Is There Hope for the Hopeless Romantic?
I wrote previously on my tendency to be a hopeless romantic. A huge struggle for me over the past…well…since High School has been looking for emotional intimacy in relationships. Looking for someone to cure the brokenness in me. I longed for acceptance, assurance, and affirmation through dating relationships. But this outlook on dating never healed my brokenness, it only gave birth to more. Because of this I never really knew how to pursue or love a woman the way that I should and it ruined many countless relationships, but on a bigger note, I know I’m not alone in this battle.
Brokenness attracts brokenness, but juxtaposed to that is the fact that HOLINESS ATTRACTS HOLINESS. This is where I believe a lot of the stress comes from during the dating phase. We are all looking to be loved. We all have an inkling of the hopeless romantic in us, and we all want someone to do life with, after all, even God himself said “it is not good for man to be alone”
But when it comes time to pursue, Men are clueless. and more recently than ever, I believe people in the Church are cluing in on this. They are beginning to see that well intended lovers of Jesus are clueless when it comes to pursuing a woman, or how to react when they themselves are being pursued by a man.
A helpful article came out by Marshall Segal on Desiring God titled When the Not Yet Married Meet. I highly recommend reading this article whether you are single or not. It’s incredibly encouraging content on Christian dating.
One of the best points Segal made went like this:
Look for clarity more than intimacy.
Just to wet your whistle a little bit, here is a snippit from his blog post:
The greatest danger of dating is giving parts of our hearts and lives to someone to whom we’re not married. It is a significant risk, and many, many men and women have deep and lasting wounds from relationships because a couple enjoyed emotional or physical closeness without a lasting, durable commitment. Cheap intimacy feels real for the moment, but you get what you pay for.
While the great prize in marriage is Christ-centered intimacy, the great prize in dating is Christ-centered clarity. Intimacy is safest in the context of marriage, and marriage is safest in the context of clarity. The purpose of our dating is determining whether the two of us should get married, so we should focus our effort there.
In our pursuit of clarity, we will undoubtedly develop intimacy, but we ought not do so too quickly or too naively. Be intentional and outspoken to one another that, as Christians, intimacy before marriage is dangerous, while clarity is unbelievably precious.
It is natural to want to be loved.
It is natural to want to feel valued.
it is natural to seek affirmation.
However, if you are seeking affirmation in a relationship, you are feeding into your broken nature. If we spent more energy pursuing clarity, perhaps we would see less brokenness in Christian dating.
But what does it mean to seek clarity in a dating relationship?
Ryan summed it up very well in the statement he mentioned earlier:
“Is this someone I can multiply God’s Kingdom with?”
If we pursued that thought rather than
“does this person make me feel validated/loved?”
Christian dating would be less broken.
Pursue clarity rather than intimacy. The rest will fall into place.
Single Followers of Jesus, can we begin to make this our goal when we start to pursue romantic relationships with our fellow believers?
Can we work together to redeem dating?
I’m eager to see what God does through this new phase of life and through the advice of smarter men than myself. I look forward to one day having a God glorifying dating relationship that turns into a God glorifying marriage.
Do you have any thoughts on the topic personally? I would love to hear them in the comment section below.