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Still single, huh? Sometimes it sucks when God doesn’t love you enough to give you a spouse. Sometimes it feels like the clock is ticking and time is running out. I mean, c’mon, who wants to get raptured alone? Could you imagine that God comes back for his chosen people just like Kirk Cameron predicted and you gotta go through that ALONE? You’ll be soaring through the air in the nude (remember how the people were always piles of clothes in those movies?) without a hand to hold. Talk about being Left Behind.
If you’ve ever been around church, you know that obviously God gives us relationships as a test, and it feels like if you’re not in one, you’re failing. But it’s ok. God has grace for you even if you didn’t pray hard enough to find a spouse by the age of 22. If you’re not married at that age, what are you going to do? Explore your career? Grow as a follower of Jesus? Find meaning in life and follow God outside of a relationship? Eh, kinda sounds selfish to me. Let’s try to avoid that at all costs.
Luckily for you, I have some great insider information on how you can be the best Christian Dater™ on the market.
1. BE BETTER (Than Everyone Else) The first thing you should know is Christian Dating™ is not at all like sinful, “worldly” dating. It’s way more holy. It’s “set apart.” We were told as kids that guys are blue, and girls are pink. Any mixing is “purple,” and any art you make with that color will promptly get you kicked off of God’s fridge. Don’t go out there and just “interact” or “talk” with a member of the opposite sex. What if you get tempted to start sinning? Or worse— dating?
Yes, way more people will end up single. But why shouldn’t they? Paul said being single was cool. So if you feel like you shouldn’t be, you should probably definitely feel some shame about that. That’s the first lesson of Christian Dating™: if you’re feeling shame, GOOD. Lean into it. That guilt is God’s way of letting you know you’re doing something wrong. Fear is a liar, but shame is a motivator.
2. Whatever you do, DON’T MAKE THE FIRST MOVE. Who do you think you are? Are you trying to step on God’s sovereignty? Surely if you take any action towards changing your situation, it’s like stepping on God’s holy, Chaco-wearing toes. Christians WAIT. And sure, maybe you’re getting a little older and feel like you’re running out of time. But Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years. That’s statistically how long it takes a person to rid themselves of all of their flaws, so they are ready to date. God’s timing is not ours. Just settle in for another episode of “Love Island” and keep waiting.
3. AVOID DATING APPS. Again, God is sovereign. Psh, you think His sovereignty could work through codes and algorithms? We all know that besides the three sixes, the Devil’s numbers are “0” and “1”. Don’t believe me? Watch the Matrix. Neo tried to control the code and his friends died. Sure, he ended up saving humanity in the long run or whatever but—ok, forget that example.
We’re supposed to “guard our heart,” right? Well how can we guard our heart when we’re opening it up enough to let anyone know us intimately? No way, José (By the way, I think that’s what God said to Joseph when he asked if he should leave Mary after finding out the child wasn’t his).
4. WHEN YOU DOWNLOAD THE DATING APPS So when you download that dating app (we all know you’re going to do it anyway), you’re going to feel guilt. Good. That means you can’t commit to really get to know anyone or take risks with letting yourself be known, because of course, that wouldn’t be God-honoring.
At some point, you’re going to get a match. Are you going to go on a date with them? What, and play right into the Devil’s hands? No, take your match and “Holy Ghost” them. (Quick explanation: “Holy Ghosting” is when you make every indication that you’re available to someone, but you eventually turn them away because you feel like “God is calling you to singleness right now.” Works every time.)
5. GOING ON A DATE Ok, let’s say you’ve ignored all my advice thus far and have managed to set up a date and time to meet with an attractive member of the opposite sex. Going on a date? Psh, well, I guess enjoy being alone forever.
But while we’re here, a few tips. Make sure to talk about yourself. A lot. How else are they supposed to know who you are, what you’re about, and all of your fan theories on the new Matrix movies they didn’t ask about? It’s an honor for them to be in your presence, so make sure you let them know. Jesus asked questions to the Pharisees and made them look dumb, so I would recommend you spare the embarrassment and make sure they don’t have to do any talking at all.
Oh and when it comes to the check: Jesus paid all of our debts, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Dating is all about not getting too intimate too early, and nothing is more intimate than sharing your wallet with someone. (Separate) check(s), please!
A global pandemic is also a perfect excuse to stay 6 feet away from someone. Technically, staying 6 feet away from each other, you can still make eye contact, which we all know is Christian first base. Lock eyes and revel in the repressed sexual tension. You’re welcome. (Only for a second though. After a few too many seconds, you can start to become tempted. So avert your gaze somewhere more God-honoring, like the Twitter app on your phone.) If you’re focused on Twitter, you can’t focus on other, less important things like the other person’s thoughts, hopes, or dreams.
So, the moral of the story: Be patient. And by patient, I mean don’t do anything. One guy cut a hole in a roof just to lower down his buddy to Jesus while He was just vibing in a living room. That guy loved his friend, and don’t you think Jesus loves you? God is way more powerful and can totally drop the love of your life in your living room if He wants. He just might. All I know is God would never ask us to go out of our comfort zones. So stay comfortable. Get a snuggie. I hear everyone loves those.
Ok, let’s be clear: this whole thing is a joke.
A joke I was able to write easily because I have done all of these things. I’m very good at being single. I’ve done it for 27 years. Most of the “lessons” I’ve laid out are mistakes, and ones that I have made plenty of times. Dating life for me has mostly looked like downloading, deleting, despairing, and redownloading. It’s a sucky cycle.
Do I have any real advice? Basically, do the opposite of everything I said. But if I had to bullet-point it, I’d say this:
1. Don’t run from difficult things. Yeah, dating sucks. Getting rejected for the millionth time sucks. Taking a chance on something that might not work out sucks. But often, those difficult steps are the places where God meets you the most. Romans 5:3-5 tells us this suffering is what produces character in us, and from that character, we have hope. If you do the same thing and expect a different result, you are in for a life of boredom. This is for both people who do and don’t really want to date right now. God is constantly doing new things and we’re invited along, just so long as we take a step off of the boat.
2. Intentionality is your friend. And not a “just a friend,” either. This one is tough for me. Deciding who I’m “interested” in can be harder than deciding what to watch next on Netflix. But waffling never got anyone anywhere. If you’re interested in someone, politely and respectfully make it known. Heck, maybe even use the word “date”. Each situation is different, but the more you can be clear about whether you’re just “hangin”, or there is more going on— the better.
3. Dating Apps. Earlier I said AVOID DATING APPS (ok, this one might have actually been good advice). I’ve had a rough time on there and tend to find that what starts as casually swiping can lead to obsessively trying to seek and sort through everyone until I find my mate like an old prospector panning for gold (“there’s DIMES in these here hills, I tell ya!”). If you can do it healthily, more power to you. But also be aware of the real danger that comes with giving anything power over your heart that isn’t God.
4. Vulnerability is great. We’re told to guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23) and that’s definitely some good wisdom. But on the flip side, no one can get in if you’ve built an electric fence around your feelings. As with anything in wisdom, there is “black and white,” but more often, we’re asked to live in the gray area. Figure out what your boundaries are of what you will and won’t ask/reveal/do in the dating process, and stick with it. Guard your heart, but don’t let there be a lava-filled moat with Thanos running security detail.
The Bible says we’re the “Bride of Christ” (Ephesians 5:22-33), so why shouldn’t we pursue our future spouse any differently? Jesus came to earth to intentionally pursue you, and he did it through blood, sweat, tears, and even death. Everything that I’ve learned about relationships (through years of messing them up) is that they take work. Starting one shouldn’t be any different. (Except maybe the death part. Maybe make sure your intended partner has a pulse before you get too invested.)
It’s not selfish or sinful to date. Being holy and avoiding temptation doesn’t have to mean doing nothing. You can be a real person who follows Jesus and honors him AS you date. You’re not going to mess up His sovereign plans. In fact, He might even be calling you into it.
So here’s my encouragement to you, me, and all the single ladies (and fellas) out there: go forth, and Christian Date™ no more.
Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...
How to Christian Date
What ways do you think either societal dating norms or man-made christian dating norms have informed the way you’ve engaged dating thus far in your life? What’s a step you can take to move toward God being the One directing your dating life, more than other humans?
What’s one area of your approach to dating that you feel could use a healthy update? One of the most practical ways to move forward “better” is to get clear on what isn’t working well in our current approach.
Is there anything you feel like you sense God saying to you about singleness or dating? If not, take a second just to let God know that you’re open and listening for nudges from Him to help you live the life he wants for you now & in the future.
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