To Date or not to Date? That is the Question.

Last night a Christian friend was telling me about the date he had planned for the following day. He told us about how he’d met her on a Christian dating site. We asked, would you recommend it? He said, to begin with it was a nightmare because he’s get around 50 women a day. I was not surprised by this in the slightest.

Growing up in pentecostal church the question of dating is one thwart with all kinds of magical nuances, innuendo and metaphor.

At pentecostal school (oh yes, I was that deep in the hole) I was lucky enough to have one of the more progressive Christian science teachers. He told us like it was on a lot of issues that other teachers would lace with guilt and shame for even thinking about. So when we were talking about sex and relationships, he likened sex outside of marriage to pie. If you keep giving your pie away you’re going to run out of pie. Apparently you have never ending pie within marriage, but at 15 and having a crush on him I didn’t come up with that at the time. And while this may have been aimed at sex before marriage it also felt like it was also aimed at dating and making sure you don’t run out of love pie. Or at the least, don’t make yourself unavailable to the person God has for you by dating someone you shouldn’t.

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I was a teenager in the days of Joshua Harris‘ ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye.’ I myself never read it but the Christian girl I thought was my long distance friend and whom I admired the most made me feel like a backslide heathen at the mere mention of dating that I learnt this is clearly not what we do as young christian women. However, the same friend when she came to my town to visit her sister, prioritised meeting up with a boy rather than even call me to tell me she was in town.

My own mother had given us strict instructions we weren’t allowed to date until we were 18, and then when I was 18 till I’d finished university. I understood this came from my mother watching her sister get pregnant at 16 to a youth leader. I only had two boyfriends behind her back but couldn’t deal with the guilt. Also, they weren’t very good boyfriends so I’m glad the guilt took over.

At 21 after coming to the end of an emotionally abusive relationship, that wasn’t even a relationship but I was staying with him because, how else was he going to know Jesus? A more mature friend of mine recommended I only group date from now on, because coffee is never just coffee. Her advice protected me through a lot of potentially hurtful situations but I could never figure out, if I’m group dating, how do I actually end up with one person?

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And then there was the wonder of Soul Ties. Now, people laugh when I talk about Soul Ties but I swear I had to stop hugging men at church because too many of the crazies thought I was into them. And why wouldn’t they when they get to press their chests against my boobs and call it ‘building community’?

In the year or so before I met my husband I was in a long distance relationship that I knew served no other purpose than to be a plaster on my loneliness and physical touch when we happened to be in the same city at the same time. I didn’t worry about Soul Ties, because I knew God was faithful to break them, and when the time came he would. I wasn’t worried about love pie running out because God is my eternal source of pie. I even dated other people in that time because I wasn’t worried that I might be making myself unavailable for the person God had for me. God knows the time and the place and the person and I had to trust that.

When my head and my heart started getting confused about the long distance relationship, I cut off and decided that I would have 3 months as just me and God. Three weeks later God sent me my husband.

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So where do I stand on dating. The same place as Nike: Just Do It. I think I got given the right advice at the right times in my life but I don’t think it was universal for everyone or every season of life.

Know that not everyone you meet is going to be the one. Know that sometimes the other person may not be feeling what you’re feeling. That will hurt but God will get you through it. You need to practice saying, ‘I Love You.’ You need to practice not hearing it back. Don’t be guilted into dates.

There is nothing wrong with you if the only people who are interested in you are non-christians. I feel like this up until I met my husband. I had never dated a christian. Ever. And then I met my husband, a man only just finding God. I broke up with him because he needed to go on his own journey but God told me to go out with him again because I would remember why I fell in love with God in the first place. But if I hadn’t dated those other guys before I wouldn’t have recognised Gods voice in the situation. And God wouldn’t have known that I’d be prepared to give up anything for Him.

Obviously, the biggest issue is getting those Christian boys to ask you out but most of them are just as scared to ask us out as we are of them. So just go for it.

As always, this is my experience but I’d love to hear what you have to say on the issue. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Please leave me a comment or get involved by filling out the survey on Christian Sexuality at this link.