Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I have not been on an actual “date” in a very long time. When people question why or try to set me up with someone, as various people will do from time to time, I usually just give them the short, condensed answer of “I just don’t date.” However, after years of cultivating my mindset on the matter and earnestly searching the Scriptures to see what God has to say about it, I have decided that it’s time to let you in on my reasoning for throwing dating out the window. Before I do so, though, I would like to assure you that I do not, in any way, believe that choosing the modern-American dating concept is a sin. I do, however, believe that it can prove to be quite dangerous if not treated with extreme caution.
Training for Marriage
In the soon to be released Christian film Old Fashioned, the main character makes a comment at some point in the movie, saying, “Dating doesn’t train us to be good husbands and wives. It trains us to be skilled in the superficial.” I believe he was right. Dating does not teach us to exemplify the love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It doesn’t teach us to be patient or kind. It doesn’t teach us not to boast or envy. Dating doesn’t teach us not to be rude or think only of ourselves. It doesn’t teach us to control our anger or freely forgive without end. It doesn’t teach us not to delight in evil, but usually does the exact opposite. Dating doesn’t teach us to protect, to trust, to hope, or to persevere. No. The modern-American dating concept teaches us none of these things. Instead, all dating teaches us is what mistakes not to make when picking up the next date.
All Icing, No Cake
When I think about dating, I picture a man dangling a thick, juicy steak in front of a wild, hungry lion and daring it not to take a bite. It’s the same as putting a cake in front of a two year old and telling him that he can stick his finger in the icing but he has to wait a couple more years before he can eat the whole thing. Dating is all icing and no cake. It gives a taste of sweetness without offering the real thing.
Over the years, I’ve come to refer to dating as “counterfeit marriage.” That is because dating requires us to do all the same things married people do but before we’re actually married. Dating requires you to claim something as yours without significant proof of ownership. You can stake your claim on a piece of land. You can even set up a house on it and call it yours; however, without a title to the property, that claim won’t fly in a court of law. Dating relationships are strictly superficial, and come nowhere near being the real thing.
Premature Emotional Involvement
Perhaps the very first issue I saw with dating years ago was the fact that dating requires two people to become emotionally involved before they ever have the chance to fully evaluate the situation. Romance is blinding. Sometimes it’s hard to see past the moonlight and roses, and the truth often gets overlooked. As a result, people often get married only to realize that they didn’t marry the person they thought they were marrying. Too often, people base their decision to get married on the butterflies in their stomach instead of using their God-given ability to rationally think things through. The modern-American dating concept only makes it that much harder not to think with such a mindset.
Dating also requires us to store up years of needless baggage, and then somehow expects us to forget all about it when we finally tie the knot. If you’re like me, however, you find that hard to do. The way I see it, if those relationships aren’t going to mean anything to you once you eventually get married to someone else, why waste your time on them now? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to marry someone who’s been passed around like a Gatorade bottle in a football huddle. Likewise, I don’t want my future wife to have to marry a used husband, either.
I remember reading a story in the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye about a young lady who had a dream about her wedding day. It was more like a nightmare, really. She and her soon to be husband were standing at the marriage altar when various other women started walking forward, one at a time, and standing by her fiancé’s side. When she asked who these women were, he responded (my paraphrase), “These are all the women I gave a piece of my heart to.” I can imagine her standing there thinking, “What is there left for me”? That is what dating does.
Forming a Divorce Mindset
Lastly, dating sets us up for a divorce mindset. It requires us to enter into each new relationship with an end in sight, thinking, “Well, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always other fish in the sea.” Unfortunately, this mindset often carries over into marriage, as well. Dating doesn’t prepare us to enter into marriage with an attitude of unconditional, sacrificial love. Dating prepares us to stick around only until the other person violates our trust, and then it’s time to move on. But folks, that’s not how God designed marriage to work. God designed marriage to be an ever-present reminder of Christ’s relationship with the church, and He’s certainly in it for the long haul.
No. I’m done with dating and superficiality. I’m perfectly fine with waiting until God says I can enjoy the real thing. What I’ve laid out for you here today is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it should at least give you a good idea as to why I’ve said a quick, polite “no thank you” to dating for going on six years now. I’ve come to believe that romance is meant for marriage alone, and I plan to keep it that way. No, it doesn’t mean I’m lonely because I’m “alone.” It just means I’m waiting for the right one to spend all of my time with. Others have settled and bear the scars. Don’t do the same.