I wrote previously, and hopefully humorously, about some of the problems with our current conceptions in the church regarding dating. Essentially we've made it way way too complicated, resulting in way way too much pressure being put on an interaction which, to my mind, should be fun. Since I'm not one to criticize without providing a better alternative, here is an explanation of how I do it. I think it makes good common sense.
A typical first date (a movie and a unique dinner) will cost me $50 for both of us.
If It's worth $50 to me to get to know you better for an evening, I'll probably ask you on a date. Unless of course I'm concerned that you will misinterpret that gesture and it will lead to social awkwardness. Unless you are so repulsed by me that the prospect of spending the evening with me is not worth a free dinner, you should say yes.
A second date is usually much cheaper (maybe a picnic lunch and a walk) averaging maybe $20 for the evening. For this reason, if the first date went even alright, I'll probably invite you on a second. At this point in our interaction there is absolutely no commitment implied or intended. We may both be dating other people at the same time, that's fine, if not, that's fine too. If it doesn't go that well, I might even recommend that one of my friends take you out, that's okay, we're not getting married anytime soon at this point.
By the time I'm asking you on a third date It's safe to assume that I like you, I want to kiss you, I'd like to see this go farther. My idea of a third date could cost $100. I may still be interested in other people at this point and unsure about where I stand in your book, but if you got this far it's a safe bet that you are the most interesting girl in my life at the moment. If you are totally uninterested, you might consider at this juncture turning down the opportunity rather than letting me waste my time, But more than likely you are at least a little curious and it's worth it to me for a chance to impress you.
It might be, that for any of a number of reasons, our third date doesn't look like that and we just grab coffee or something. That means I'm not sure how I feel. It's a bad time to ask me. Either it will level out into a real third date and beyond, or it will slowly devolve into a friendship (or there will be some hysterical crying and throwing things at my car, but we're not going to go there)
After a while, if things are going well, it will get to the point where we are going on dates at a steady pace. This is called "going steady" or being in "a relationship". If you are seeing anyone else, now would be the time to stop (with one of us or the other). If you're not sure whether or not we're at that place, check facebook. It'll say "In a relationship" with you in my profile.
I feel, that in the church in particular dating has become terribly overcomplicated to the great detriment of many of our relationships. For the sake of all Men, I’d like to make a few things clear
-The bible has passages that apply in virtually every situation, but it has nothing specific to say about dating. Don’t tell me it does, they didn’t have dating back then. Any idea you’ve developed from scripture about how dating ought to be done is subject to interpretation.
-Despite being a man, and the future spiritual leader of a household, I am regrettably unable to project the will of God for the rest of our lives by the first date. I’m sorry, I just don’t know, That’s what dating is for, if I knew who God wanted me to date, woo and marry. I’d just let her know and marry her
-Interpersonal relationships, especially romantic ones are very complicated and unique. When we find ourselves in an awkward and complicated position that seems sort of romantic, don’t ask me to “Define The Relationship” if you don’t have a word for what kind of relationship it is neither do I, we’re figuring it out, drink your coffee!
-Some relationships however are easy to define. For instance: If you like a boy, and he likes you, you two spend inordinate amounts of time together, talk about your feelings, make plans to go places alone together, and leave groups to go hang out just the two of you, there’s a word for that. It’s called “dating” It doesn’t make it more somehow more holy if you call it just being friends, there’s a word for that too “lying”.
-Nobody has ever been able to explain to me how a relationship that can be terminated at any time for any reason by the single consent of either party can be considered “committed”. There are only two kinds of committed romantic relationships I know of. One is marriage, and the other is the period that comes just before that after I promise to marry you called “Engagement” You’ll know if you’re in either. There will be a ring.
-The word “courting” seems to change definition depending on which Christian girl I’m talking to. But I’m pretty sure whatever it is I’m not interested. Either it’s essentially the same as dating, or the same as engagement, only more Christiany… Please refer to This Post, on how changing things to make them Christian is an ancient heresy.
-I haven’t read that book that you did about dating, and chances are I wish you didn’t either. I get really sick of Christian women telling me they want me to lead them, and this is exactly how they want me to lead them and into what.
-You do not ever owe a man anything for spending money on you, that is his choice. Prostitution is illegal in this country, If a man expects something in exchange for dinner he deserves to be both disappointed and dumped. More than likely however, you’re just over thinking it, If a christian guy asks to take you to dinner, that’s probably exactly what he wants, just smile and enjoy the free dinner, it it turns out he wanted anything other than your company it’s his stupid mistake.
Did I miss anything?
I’ve noticed a recent and disturbing trend in the modern church to act like people are saved by their good doctrine. This is far from the case. I wrote the following study to help combat that sort of thinking.
And of course James 2:29
What I hope you’ll notice from these passages is that demons have really impeccable theology. You were of course already intimately familiar with the earlier part of 7 where Satan himself reveals to have memorized scripture.
Now compare that with the disciples.
Matthew 16:22 (also in Mark 8)
Mark 10:35-37 (Note that he’s “teacher”, in that passage. Not “son of God” like the demons, not even “good teacher” like the rich young ruler. Not also Jesus’ reply “yeah you want to obey me, sure, sure, what do you want?” and of course their final desire.)
And my personal favorite: Matthew 16:6-7
Seriously guys? Jesus just fed a huge crowd of people miraculously, YOU passed out the bread! How do you think he has a problem with you now because he got hungry and suddenly he can’t take care of that. I mean Really?
But consistently, the disciples of Jesus demonstrate to us that they just don’t get it. They missed the point, they’re confused, they’re not sure who Jesus is exactly. The scriptures go to great length to communicate this “loserness” to us. At the transfiguration we learn that “the disciples were very sleepy” In the garden at Gethsemane they actually fall asleep when they should be praying. John, when recording the story of the resurrection, sees fit to inform us that Jesus Christ is raised, and death has been defeated, and the world will never be the same, and also that he’s the faster runner!!! (John 20:4)
Peter finally figures out who Jesus is “the Christ, of God” (Luke 9:20) but his revelation comes in a lackluster way. Not only because he completely fails to affirm the divinity of Christ “The Christ, Who is also God in the flesh” but also because immediately afterward (as we learn in parallel passages) he brazenly asserts that Jesus will never be crucified! leading to the famous “get behind me Satan” quote I offered above.
Now do this one on your own.
How many times does Jesus affirm the faith of children? Of Samaritans? Of thieves? Of people who have no idea how or what or who this Jesus character is but they’re sure they want a piece?
Jesus is who saves us.
Not what we do, not what we know, not the information we have about Jesus. Jesus isn’t what saves us, Jesus is who saves us, and he does it by grace, alone through faith alone.
I spent a year in Collegiate Debate, it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in school. I often lament that not everyone had the same experience. Debate is excellent for training one to think and communicate quickly and critically, It is an introduction to logic class on steroids, and it inbeds the information it teaches is a very permanent part of the brain.
To this day I can communicate with debaters more quickly and easily than almost any type of person. Both of us have been trained how to relate universal implications of intricate government decisions in 5 minutes or less, so when the topic of Nuclear disarmament comes up and they can say “Nuke Prolif increases MAD which reduces GTNW’s likleyhood” and I’ll know exactly what they mean. Then I can say “Martyrdom” and they’ll know exactly what I mean. Debate over.
That means when we’re in a group arguing about whether to go to Panera or Carl’s for lunch she can say “CP Chipotle” and I can say “No disads” and we can turn the car around and start heading there before anyone else has figured out what just happened.
It’s a beautiful thing.
One particularly powerful concept from debate is called “P-Con” it stands for Performative Contradiction. Here’s how it works:
Suppose you get the short end of the stick and are assigned to defend some terrible proposition. Maybe you are against a stimulus bill which, though expensive, is really the only choice we are to prevent the stock market from crashing. Well you know it, and you know the other team knows it and is preparing all sorts of arguments against any criticisms you can come up with for the bill because after all wasting money is better than everybody starving.
Suppose then that you get a brilliant idea, instead of opposing the bill on the grounds that it’s insufficient somehow, or to expensive, or full of pork, you oppose it on the grounds that it will save the terrible american capitalistic system, and in doing so, you render all of their preparation useless.
Suppose you speak passionately from the podium about the evils of capitalism and the free market society. You demonstrate that our rampant consumerism is destroying the planet and multiple third world countries, you enrapture the audience until they are eating out of your hand believing that if they continue to worship the almighty dollar they will never truly be free, and the only thing we can do to save ourself is crash the economy as soon as possible!
Then suppose your opposition asks as a POI “Say where did you get those sunglasses?”
You just lost the debate.
The reason is because it’s now obvious to everyone that you don’t believe a word you are saying (and if anyone missed it. your opponent will be sure to make it clear to them in his next speech) His argument, which he offered simply by saying that half a word “P-Con” is that by reviling yourself as a person who shops for designer eyewear you have betrayed a truth within your heart that you cannot possibly be the anti-capitalistic hippi you claim to be, so even if he doesn’t show your argument is false, you have proven it by persisting to live in contradiction to it.
And it really is that brutal, P-Con, you lose! This debate is now about your sunglasses.
This comes up in other ways also:
Suppose you are assigned to defend same-sex marraige and you happen to mention that “this is a way to ensure equality for the gays”
“The Gays?” did you mean “The GLBT Community?” P-Con, You Lose.
Suppose you have built yourself halfway into a Kritik about profanity, and the evils thereof, but you happen to stub your toe as you return to your seat, shouting an expletive.
“What do you just say?” P-Con, You Lose.
I can’t tell you mow many times I’ve wanted to explain this to non-debaters.
Say I’m arguing about theology with some friends of mine within earshot of a freshman girl from Point-Loma
“Ummmm… Excuse me, but like, Arguing is stupid! It’s like, not like, you’re going to convince one another”
“Oh Yeah, arguing is stupid huh? Would you like to argue about it?” P-Con! now leave me alone!
Here’s the point, and I know I took a long time to get to it, but I was having fun.
Most people do not have the vocabulary to describe what I just described, and if you are a Christian, and you try to tell people about Christ, and you try to counter their arguments You might very well win. Christianity is true which comes in really handy for winning arguments about it. But if you don’t live as if it’s true, If you are a nasty selfish argumentative person, they will not believe you.
Even if you’re just a little xenophobic, or just a little hypocritical, or you got drunk that one time and kissed that girl you shouldn’t have… They won’t believe you.
They might not be able to explain why not, They might not know why not, They might offer other objections that they do understand to what you’re saying, but if you do not get your life straight those objections will never run out, and the people you talk to about Jesus will never believe you, because your life and your words form a performative contradiction so they know that you don’t really believe what you are telling them to.
P-Con, You lose