For those unfamiliar with the subject, dating is a relatively simple procedure that must always be hopelessly complicated for any Christian daring to try it out.
If you’re feeling lucky, try Googling “christian dating advice.” We’ll see you next week…
But wait! Christians aren’t the only ones obsessed with the dating scene. If you search “rules for dating,” you may notice the unchurched are just as guideline-happy as the rest of us. It seems that dating might be universally confusing. So what’s the difference with Christians?
What makes Christian dating so hopelessly complicated is the Christians themselves. We bring our love for out-of-context scripture and applied-only-when-convenient principles into the mix, making for an entirely unique brand of utter ridiculousness.
But don’t worry! You don’t have to think, because we’re here to do it for you. Since you’re reading this on the internet, it’s probably true and should be shared repeatedly on your Facebook wall (actually you really should go ahead and share this right now… think of the children).
Identifying myth from fact can be difficult, and that’s why we’ve gone ahead and done all the heavy lifting for you. We’ve spent over 10 minutes tirelessly combing the limits of the interwebs – dissecting every nook and cranny, examining every loophole, instigating mass pandemonium – and ultimately, we’ve brought you back a list of 10 ridiculous Christian myths about dating that your ignorant friends probably believe.
1. It’s the woman’s responsibility to manage a man’s sex drive.
This is by far the weakest excuse for a cop-out I’ve ever heard, and yet it somehow manages to repeatedly eek its way out of the mouths of otherwise-brilliant pastors, authors, bloggers, and never-at-all-brilliant Twitter philosophers.
Are these words used exactly? No, they are just slightly more subtle. These are real quotes from real published articles, by the way. True story.
“The level of [men’s] lust is directly related to how much of our bodies is available to lust after. The less we advertise, the less opportunity we give them to covet our bodies.”
“When a guy gets ‘intoxicated,’ his body can’t help but react… Exposing a man to continual visual stimulation is like hanging a noose around the neck of his spiritual life!”
So let me connect the dots.
- Woman wears sexy clothes.
- Man gets turned on.
- Man loses all control of body, soul, spirit, etc.
- Man’s responsibility disappears like a Christmas wish-list in North Korea.
I don’t know about you, but I’m spotting some major continuity problems between steps 2 and 3, not to mention 3 and 4. Last time I checked, I don’t get paralyzed when a hot girl says “Hi” to me, and I am literally the ONLY one in control of actions at all times. I don’t recall signing over my personal responsibility to every woman on the planet with nicely toned legs and a propensity for living.
If you want to truly understand how ridiculous this notion is, here’s what it would sound like with the gender roles reversed.
Real talk: modesty is great, and sexually-explicit Western culture does provide a challenging climate for men, but let’s not pander to the irresponsible and frankly ridiculous idea that it’s a woman’s responsibility to manage a man’s sex drive.
Yes to 1 Tim 2:9-10. Yes to Romans 14. No to offloading your immaturity onto the women around you.
Here’s a thought. How about a little 2 Cor 10:5? What are we cavemen? Why don’t all the men just grow up, and then we can start having some teaching for adults.
2. A Godly man will always make the first move.
Your turn ladies. Here’s a fun one. Time after time after time after time I hear it:
“It is just WRONG and out of character for a woman to make the first move.”
“If he’s not willing to make the first move, he doesn’t deserve you.”
“A man findeth a wife, not the other way around!”
And on and on and on and on and on… this topic is like the Holy Grail of single women conversation.
You know what ladies, I actually agree with you. I think guys SHOULD make the first move, but what should or shouldn’t happen really isn’t going to matter to you when you’re browsing Christian Mingle on your 36th birthday.
(A moment of silence for the Joshua Harris generation)
And it’s not going to matter to your happily married friend who walked up and kissed her husband-to-be right smack dab on the lips, ‘cause she knew what she wanted.
Here’s the deal. If most of the Christian guys you’re interested in had it fully together, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. But the fact is… they don’t. It doesn’t mean they aren’t amazing in a lot of other areas or wouldn’t be good husband material. It simply means they are lacking in awareness, confidence, or most commonly, know-what-they-want-edness.
Why limit your options? I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t pursue a guy. I’m just saying that if you know what you want, why wait until he figures it out?
It’s your life, and it’s your move ladies.
… if you want it to be.
3. You shouldn’t be dating, because you should be focusing on Jesus right now.
After all, what’s more important than Jesus?
“I’m not dating right now, so I can focus more on Jesus.”
“We’re breaking up ’cause we feel like we need to just pursue God right now.”
“I’m really attracted to her, and we have a lot of fun together, but I think I should just be focusing on my relationship with God right now.”
As we all know, pursuing Jesus means discontinuing everything else in life. No more relationships at all. No more of anything.
By this theory, the only way to really master the art of dating is to not do it.
Unless a monastic lifestyle is your plan (more power to you), this sentiment doesn’t make any sense.
If dating hinders your relationship with God, why would you ever date… ever? If you’re focusing on Jesus in this season, who are you focusing on during all the other seasons?
If you get married at age 25, you’ll spend at least two thirds of your life in a relationship. You should probably go ahead and learn how to relationship while you’re Jesusing.
Of course, if Jesus explicitly commanded you not to date, who am I to argue? If my experience serves me correctly, however, your memory of that command will probably be inversely proportional to the hotness of your potential date.
4. You shouldn’t date someone unless you see marriage in the future.
This is one of those oft-quoted home-group rules for dating.
“You shouldn’t start dating until you’re sure marriage is on the table.”
“Could you see yourself marrying him? If not, don’t waste your time.”
“If you’re not pursuing her with marriage in mind, you aren’t guarding her heart properly.”
I fully identified the long-term strengths, weaknesses, upsides, and downsides of all my closest friends within the first hour of meeting them.
Oh wait… no… that never happened… ever… not even once.
One of the biggest problems in Christian dating culture is the idea that young adults should limit their coed relationships to marriage fast-track candidates. This idea is primarily motivated by fear of voracious little sex drives running about, and like anything motivated by fear, it jumbles everything into a needless mess.
Allow me to depict one’s commitment level in a healthy marriage:
Now, allow me to depict one’s emotions while getting to know another human being:
The dating process is your chance to experience the ups and downs of a real relationship without the pressure of flat-lining. Placing marriage-esque commitment expectations on yourself or your date will just set you both up for an ER’s worth of emotional damage.
Dating is only as serious as you make it, or as fun as you allow it to be. I’m not recommending that you have no minimum requirements for dating. I’m simply pointing out that the whole purpose of dating is to get to know someone which implies you didn’t know him/her on that level beforehand.
They key to not being a dumb dater on the heartbreak fast track is to keep the level of intimacy in the relationship one step behind the level of trust at all times. In other words, you don’t just give your heart away. You give a piece, see how he/she cares for that piece and respects the boundaries you’ve set, and then, once trust has been built, you can give him/her more of your heart.
Meeting new people is awesome. Having fun with people is great. You don’t need to marry someone to learn from them and grow from your experiences with them.
5. WARNING! Your sex drive is just waiting to f*** you up.
Pun intended. What’s the underlying fear that results in all this dating tomfoolery?
We Christians are so direly afraid of the sex. We’re mortified of having sex before marriage and terrified of not getting any after.
The quotes I presented in point #1 discuss male sexuality like it’s some untamable beast, constantly on the prowl. To hear people talk about it, you’d think 1 Peter 5:8 says that sex is liking a roaring lion, seeking whom it may devour.
But check this out. God actually created your sex drive.
Just think about what that means for a moment. Your sex drive is not a rogue feature of your biology just waiting to destroy your life at the first opportune moment. It is a highly beneficial and enjoyable part of what makes you… you.
If you’re approaching sex, sexual temptation, or your personal sex drive with fear, you are actually giving it power. Don’t give the sex power. Keep the power. It belongs to you.
6. Christian girls always put good guys in the friendzone.
Perhaps you refer to it as the “brother” zone. This is the inescapable, platonic box to which a girl supposedly designates any good guy who actually cares about her.
Here’s the problem, ladies and gentlemen:
The friendzone is a lie.
GASPS! “Impossible,” you say!
Let’s take a closer look. Here’s what you’ll typically hear from someone claiming to be “in the friendzone.”
- “Im perfect for her, but she just sees me as a friend.”
- “I constantly do nice things for her and treat her like she deserves, but she just dates jerks.”
- “She just values our friendship too much to risk it with dating.”
- “Why do nice guys always finish last?”
Now, these words might fool you into an emotional response, but allow me to translate them so you can see what is actually being said.
- “She’s really hot, but I’m boring.”
- “I have no personal boundaries and think she’s hot, and that somehow makes me deserve her interest.”
- “I’m just really, really uninteresting.”
- “Maybe if I had a life of my own, I would have something worthwhile to offer.”
Women aren’t looking for people who’s total qualifications consist of: Not Being A Jerk. If you aren’t a jerk, good for you. Attraction is elicited by what someone IS, not what he or she is not.
This can go both ways, but it seems most prevalent for guys. If you want to be taken seriously as a date, take yourself seriously as a man. People who know who they are and are going after what they want tend to be very, very datable.
7. You need to do _____ to attract a Christian man.
It’s on nearly every dating advice blog I’ve ever read.
“Don’t be too forward, or you’ll come across like a desperate flirt.”
“You need to let guys know you are interested so they can pursue you.”
“You should dress in an attractive manner to get his attention.”
“Don’t dress attractively or you’ll provoke lust in him.”
Seriously ladies, I don’t know how you put up with it. It seems to me like a lot of hoop jumping in hopes of finding a four-leaf clover.
The same “experts” who tell you not to pursue a man will also help you build a custom-designed cage to trap him in.
Pay attention dear. Don’t do anything that impedes on his masculinity. Let him order for you at the restaurant. Dress nicely in a way that accentuates your best features… as long as those features aren’t too attractive (we don’t want him lusting). Never talk about marriage on the first seven dates. Never sit at home idle, waiting for him to call you. Don’t come on too strong.
Oh and by the way, make sure to be yourself…
Here’s a little secret. It’s true that you’ll never find a guy who loves everything about you.
A man who truly loves you for who you are will also want the absolute best for you, which means growth. It means calling out the parts that need work. But that’s a lifelong journey you embrace together as a team of trusting, loving partners.
It’s not something you work out in your early twenties, late twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, or heavenlies. If you’re emotionally broken or scarred, go get healing. It’s available for you. But if you’re healthy, the only rule you need to follow is simply to be you.
Self-development is important, but that’s about you, not about what you think some random bro wants to see.
And like I mentioned in point #2, if you have your eye on a prize, don’t be afraid to intentionally attract him or straight-up pursue. I’m simply trying to free you from an arbitrary, contradicting checklist that falsely promises to land you “a good Christian guy.”
8. Don’t marry someone for his/her potential.
Is someone making burgers, ’cause I’m about to roast a sacred cow.
If you use the phrase, “Don’t marry her for her potential,” in a discussion, it’s considered pro-level wisdom. Everybody be like “WOAH that was cray. Revelatory bomb!”
What people seem to be forgetting is that you’ll learn 91.342% of everything you ever know during marriage.
Of course you’re marrying her for her potential! You’re marrying her because her current decision-making suggests a long-term value for character. You’re marrying him because his unflinching honesty thus far suggests a lifetime of honesty and vulnerability in your relationship. You’re marrying her because her heart posture has the potential to sustain a 60 year marriage.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Every day is a choice. A good choice today doesn’t solidify a good choice tomorrow. What we really should be focusing on are the qualities that indicate good long-term potential. I’d rather be with someone ignorant who has a heart to learn than an expert who’s convinced she has all the answers. One will grow. The other won’t.
I understand the heart behind this myth. Women have a tendency to date “fixer uppers” in order to feel needed. Guys tend to overlook obvious deficiencies because… boobs. But neither of these issues are properly addressed by saying, “Don’t marry for potential.”
Even if someone is a master of being single, marriage introduces a fat new batch of troubles (aka “growth opportunities”) to work out. And that’s not even mentioning children. You have an entire life ahead of you, so yes, it’s okay to marry someone for their potential to partner with you in living that life healthily and successfully.
9. You’re too young to understand
This is a favorite line of everyone who thinks their dating advice poops golden little marriage eggs. Everyone has advice to offer, and it’s usually the ones with the most ridiculously screwed-up relationship history that are most confident in raining that advice ceaselessly upon you.
(Before I rile up too much teen spirit, let’s start with Prov 16:18 and Prov 11:14. If you’re going to reject community and walk in pride, nothing I say could prevent you from a sucky life. The single best way to destroy your life is to isolate from community and ignore all advice.)
For the rest of you young people, I got news for you. You’re actually quite intelligent. You’ve been learning from your parents’ victories and mistakes for years, and you’ve also been watching the consequences of your friends’ actions, both good and bad.
You do know. In many ways, you really do.
Every love story is unique. In our celebrity-loving Christian culture, anyone with a success story is ready to create a new theology or teaching to sell to the Body of Christ. And anyone with a failure is too. What worked or failed for them won’t always give you the same results.
If you’ve cultivated a relationship with Holy Spirit and are remaining in close relationship with spiritual fathers and mothers in your life, you’re going to be just fine. Healthy dating is as simple as being intentional and practicing good communication.
Let the guru geese leave their golden droppings all over the sanctuary. Yours is one less life they get to stain.
10. Dating, like everything else, is all about obedience.
No list of dating advice is complete without a call for careful prayer and explicit obedience in your dating relationship.
While there is obviously value to following the direction of Holy Spirit, ultimately, we weren’t designed to be obedient slaves, but rather, we were made to be sons and daughters.
When we truly understand our place as sons and daughters of God, we aren’t bound by superficial rules. A loved child doesn’t pause every step to ask permission or make sure Dad isn’t angry. Children just love to be with their dad and know without question that he delights in them. When a child is heading into danger, the father is there to redirect and protect, but danger avoidance isn’t the baseline of parental interaction.
You are free to be you. God isn’t a control freak. He isn’t waiting to give you a spanking for kissing that guy. He isn’t directing you to that one girl who is the only one out of 4 billion you are capable of living a fulfilling life with.
You are free to be you. You are free to embrace relationship, with all its twists and turns. Your Heavenly Father delights in you, and His Son came so you could have abundant life.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).
Be smart. Be safe. Stay in community. Listen to advice from people with healthy lives and relationships. Don’t be an arrogant little doofus.
And enjoy your life. Enjoy relationship. Don’t let fear make decisions for you.
Fear has no place in Christianity. 1 John 4:18 tells us this. But what about Hell? Great question. Click below to download our 10,000 word study on eternal torment. What we found will probably surprise you.
Dave Windhorn says
That’s great information everyone needs to know, I’m going to share it on FB. Blessings!!
Jacob McMillen says
David Allan says
Get title for this blog would be’
How to circumvent scripture to appease my misguided understanding of scripture and cave to a culture that is devoid of discernment.
Jacob. I’ve tried my best to track with you on so many issues, but find myself getting lost in the scriptural truths. I see such a departure from sound doctrine, judgment and reasoning.
I’m not sure why you choose to walk this path. All I can do is pray for you and those you are leading into error.
Coffee Holic says
Where is he “unscriptural”? Perhaps instead of posting what amounts to “hey, dude, I think you suck… repeatedly” … pick one or two main points and engage on them. Show the error. A little iron sharpening iron, eh?
I get he was going for a little edge (but this is called “Brazen Church”… is it not?) but I didn’t see him being completely against any relevant Scriptural command or principle.
Put up or shut up.
Jacob McMillen says
Hey David, I’d agree with my coffeeholic friend in that you aren’t giving me much opportunity for discussion or even debate here. If you feel like certain things I’ve mentioned in this article are “circumventing scripture”, you are welcome to address them.
As it stands, you are just hurling insults rather than adding to the conversation. If you have something worth saying, by all means, say it.
David Allan says
It’s going to take allot more than a response to a blog to set things right.
My issue is your departure from good, sound, tested doctrine, not to just challenge the establishment. Your doctrine on Hell is so convoluted. First you say that the King James version is one of the most unreliable versions, but you don’t give any supporting evidence. That Jesus was referring hell as a garbage dump outside Jerusalem. It is a long round-about to arrive at your conclusion on Hell and flies in the face of many a good theologian. Not to mention it insults Christs sacrifice.
Now this blog on dating. Cultural tides do not redefine good wisdom. Its seems you are attempting subvert the basic truths of scripture, of sin, and mans condition. Man is as corrupt as scripture reveals. God doesn’t look down and smile and say, I love them too much to chasten them. Sin is violent, that is why the cross was so violent. Man is depraved. Not one of us is righteous, Romans 3:10. This is what makes the Good News so good! Not trying to down play who we are as men.
Remember, as a teacher God is holding you to higher accountability. What a sobering truth.
Jacob McMillen says
Well I’ll give you props for at least offering some actual objections. I think, however, if me saying “the KJV is one of the less reliable translations” is already a sticking point for you, this blog simply isn’t for you.
Thanks for giving us a read!
I wish you could like comments on here.
David Allan says
Wow Jacob! Slap a label on me and send me on my way. Tell, is this the free thinking you speak of?
Just Saying says
To David Allen:
I know there are other responses to your comment, but I went back through the post and your statements! I have to say, based on this post, your accusations seem unfounded. But, even if you had valid points, it’s one thing to disagree with someone and another to belittle and condescend a fellow believer! There is no love and grace in your comment! There was nothing that showed Jesus in your responses!! There are ways to address what you may disagree with in a respectful, caring way that you might want to consider if you truly hope to reach someone you think may be walking in and teaching others to walk in error!!!
I’m thankful your comment is one of the first ones here. This is mostly dangerous advice that both makes men look weak and unable to make decisions, and it gives them an easy way out (referring to points 1, 2, and 5.)
Dudes were built for sex, so of course our bodies want what is wrong. It’s so foolish to ignore that and play it off.
I’m frustrated by blogs like this that get traction, but of course it’s a message of the totality of what our watered-down christianity has become.
To the author, my apologies for harsh words, but my friend, you must reconsider posting serious biblical truth as a kind of fun article to baby teens and college kids into not growing up. You make good points in some statements, which I would agree with (like 7, or 8 for example), but especially your last point about Obedience not being important? Since when did God not have governance over the entirety of our lives? The Lord dictates our very breath. He breathed us into motion. How can we possibly have a better plan in store? Of course, we cannot be foolish or wait for the urgings of the Spirit in every moment, but to disregard obedience and sound Christian teaching II Timothy 3, would be the arrogant person.
Seriously consider submitting your posts to someone wiser and with authority in scripture before posting. I am also a blogger, occasionally on Christian living, and I must submit to the same. It is far too dangerous to put this out in the open without appropriate Christian editing from someone far wiser than myself.
Jacob McMillen says
It’s hilarious to me that 1) I received such a gem of a comment from you Chris, and 2) that I woke up to 50 people telling me I was “dodging” criticism for not responding to you at 4am. Peeps be cray. But let me respond to your comment, because it’s glorious.
“This is mostly dangerous advice that both makes men look weak and unable to make decisions, and it gives them an easy way out (referring to points 1, 2, and 5.)”
The irony is real. So what you are telling me is that claiming men are responsible to manage their own sex drives (point 1) makes them “weak and unable to make decisions”?
And telling men that they shouldn’t be scared of their sex drives (point 5), because they have the power to rule over their bodies, makes them “weak and unable to make decisions”?
Like honestly, I can’t even comprehend how that works out in your mind.
And like most men, you’ve made point #2 about yourself, when it has nothing to do with you. As I mentioned, I think men should make the first move, but if men aren’t going to, why should women wait around? A woman has every right to choose what she wants and pursue it, in relationships and every other area of life. But I know not every guy can handle empowered women. Your loss.
Moving on, you comment: “Dudes were built for sex, so of course our bodies want what is wrong. It’s so foolish to ignore that and play it off.”
This just underscores my points and demonstrates why so many Christians are living in fear and ignorance. It’s called dualism. It’s the idea that the physical is evil and corrupt while the spirit is pure and holy. And guess what, it’s not a Biblical concept. It’s a Greek concept the Bible has been interpreted through since St. Augustine rammed Gnosticism into Christian doctrine in the 4th Century.
Our bodies are not evil. Sex is not bad. Yes, we have an evolutionary disposition to mate with multiple partners, and yes, we have to make tough choices in order to be monogamous, but it’s all pretty simple. Once again, in perfect irony, the reason we’ve made it into such a big deal is because we see ourselves as “weak and unable to make decisions”.
Moving on to your final point, congrats, you are yet one more Christian to post that I need to post “Biblical truth” without so much as offering a single supporting passage of scripture with your arguments. It’s amazing to me that Christians get off with such lazy commenting. “Hmmm I disagree. You aren’t being Biblical. You are unwise. Yeah that sums it up. I think this was a worthwhile use of my time.”
So let me be the only one to respond with some actual exposition, in this case, a good 2,000+ words worth – http://www.brazenchurch.com/is-god-a-control-freak/
Honestly, it amazes me that this half-baked comment elicited 50 other comments badgering me to respond. So no one else had ANYTHING more to say on the matter? NOTHING to contribute to the discussion at all?
Rose Doucet says
Where’s the like button???? (or Love button) Spot on, lad. Loopy conversations can be so frustrating. Keep on keepin’ on challenging the status (evangelical) quo. <3
Thank you so much. I needed this article today. When you said we weren’t meant to be obedient slaves but are sons and daughters that hit me because I have struggled with that all of my life. Thank you.
Number 6 has one more, and I have yet to see a Christian guy actually talk about it. And that’s the “But I’m a nice guy, so you should date me” manipulation tactic. I’ve had so many Christian guys say this either to me or to someone else while in my presence, and insist that means the girl should automatically go out with them. Women know this is a manipulation tactic, and far from “nice”! I’ve had to have a chat with a few guy friends about it, because I think the loudest supporters of the tactic make it seem like it works.
Jacob McMillen says
So true Lynn. Manipulation is a big problem and one of the most obvious reasons to stay connected with community.
Avi Fernandez says
I love this Jacob. Fan since day 1. Hilarious and to the point. Keep writing!
Jacob McMillen says
I haven’t gone to church in awhile. After growing up in the church hearing about what and what not to do really simply started rattling me.
Yes, I do believe in Jesus and such but really just confused.. Anyway bringing it back to the dating post. I was quite inspired. It may not sound “conventional” however what you wrote was raw and honest and I like it.
I suppose what I am trying to say no so elegantly is that I liked this post and it inspired me to write a post on my blog about my thoughts on dating and “Christian” relationships.
Jacob McMillen says
Hey Shanara, thanks for the positive feedback. Feel free to comment back with your article when it goes live. I’d love to read it!
Sandy C. says
I am a non religious, Jesus loving Christian with two teenaged daughters knee deep in all this and I am so thankful for your well written, thoughtfully done article. You seem to be gifted in articulating the difficult to articulate. Well done! I am going to read it to the teen study group that meets at our house!
Jacob McMillen says
Hey Sandy, thanks for the kind words! I’m glad this spoke to you, and I wish the best for you and your daughters!
Morgan Fickett says
But if she is dating jerks, that is a problem.
Thanks for this balanced, grace filled, not under the law view. As a hardcore Joshua Harris follower now in my 40’s and still single (my point and yours exactly) and realizing all the unfortunate teaching I’ve followed, this view expressed what I believe would have been very helpful to my sexuality and wholeness as a female in my twenties and thirties . I’m having to rethink and undue most all I’ve been taught. Grieving the loss but also knowing how good our God is! Nothing is ever lost but only used to bring greater glory to him and deeper blessing to my life. This generation is blessed to have your voice of freedom and God ‘s heart ringing loud and true. Bless you brother
Jacob McMillen says
Thanks Evakay, you are so right. Nothing is ever lost or wasted. He uses it ALL for our good. Blessings!
First: You’re awesome.
Second: I have my own blog and know just how difficult and vulnerable it can be, to say what you really think. Props for that and I refer you back to my first statement.
Third: This is, without a doubt, the BEST article on Christian dating I’ve ever read. Thank you for the laughs, the freedom, and the clarity.
Did I mention that you’re awesome?
Jacob McMillen says
Haha thanks Amanda! I really appreciate that. I’m used to having my stuff negatively critiqued, although I am often surprised by the things people choose to take issue with lol.
It definitely makes it worth it, though, to hear comments like yours and know that these articles are meaningful for some. Feel free to comment with a link to your blog, if you’d like. I’d love to check it out!
This is all basically what I’ve been telling all my purity-culture obsessed friends, especially guys, for years. Bondage to strict rules… that’s all it is. It’s not God being in control of your life, it’s men and women behind a pulpit trying to control how everyone uses their brains and genitals… and it has contributed to sin and church fallout better than anything in society ever could.
Jacob McMillen says
I couldn’t agree more Shari. It’s incredible how fear is used to manipulate and control in the church. It’s so contradictory to the Good News of love and life that Jesus came to bring.
Kenny Gray says
Jacob, you are dodging wise criticism to appease your peers. Do you understand how this may damage your character and integrity as a spokesperson of the Lord? I hope so. Blessings to you, young man!
Jacob McMillen says
Haha I love it when I go to sleep and wake up to one comment expressing a few vague, unsupported, opinion-based disagreements and 50 comments telling me I’m “dodging” criticism because I didn’t answer that comment immediately at 4am in the morning.
If you have a counter argument to make, go for it. I’m all ears. But honestly, why do Christians think making simple statements like “you’re unwise” and “that’s not Biblical” is an actual argument? Or what’s more, why do you think I’m obligated to waste my time responding thoughtfully to your lazy, thoughtless comments? Vague, negative comments are just random opinions until evidenced, and I have little interest in random opinions.
Ryan Male says
Great article ! Hope you’re well
Jacob McMillen says
Thanks Ryan, and likewise!
Jacob, fantastic article. You cut to the chase and nailed it.
Your responses to the critiques were also brilliant. I agree with you and challenge anyone questioning your theology to back themselves up. God created us, he created sex, and he created our sex drives. He also gave us the freedom to choose what we do with those things. God said all those things are “good”. Sex does not equal sin, sex drive does not equal sin either, anything physical does not equal sin itself. Sin itself is 100% spiritual, and only manifests physically a small percentage of the time when we choose to allow it to. Just to clarify for critics, 100% of spiritual things is not 100% sin, but sin itself is 100% spiritual. This is made clear in the first 3 chapters of Genesis.
It baffles me how anyone claiming to be a theologian doesn’t understand this. God said “and it was good” in reference to all that he had made.
Jacob, you are fiercely bold to approach this topic of dating so honestly and openly. Your responses are on point and biblically sound. Quite apostolic in terms of gifting. Great job, keep challenging that status quo which continually poisons the spiritual growth of many christians.
Jacob McMillen says
Hey Anthony, thanks for the kind words and affirmation. I really appreciate that!
I love this article! The only pushback I would give is that you implythat the only reason a guy doesn’t make the first move is that there’s something wrong with him. To me this seems to be saying God was wrong to create men who are introverts. I disagree. There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert, whether you’re male or female. And if you like a guy who’s an introvert, guess what, gals? You might need to make the first move. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him or that he doesn’t have his act together. He is as God made him. Introverts can make great spouses!
Jacob McMillen says
That’s a fantastic point Kristen. There’s really no inherent cosmic rule saying that guys need to initiate. And despite our culture, not being an extroverted or brave dater doesn’t necessarily make someone less of a man.
Part of me holds to this notion because in initiating, the man is assuming the emotional risk, and I think there is something to be commended in that, but at the end of the day, you are absolutely right. My take was a bit too linear (and perhaps too binary, as some have pointed out).
Thanks Jacob! Yes, it’s always brave to take emotional risk, and introverts do take those risks– but usually AFTER they have started getting to know someone fairly well. To meet someone “cold” is very tough for them. I’m an introvert myself, but I think it’s a sliding scale– and I’m just on the other side of the center line from extroverts.
Anyway, my wonderful, more introverted husband also made a good point that, since he’s unlikely to post it, I’d like to. With regards to the “friend zone” thing– the fact that a woman only wants to be friends doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with you. You may just not be her type, or she may not want a relationship right now– she may have a number of reasons. What does mean there’s something wrong is when you think you’re entitled to become more than friends, just because you treat her decently. Or when you blame her for not wanting what you want. That’s treating her like an extension of yourself.
I’m sure that’s pretty much what you meant anyway– you were saying it’s definitely NOT that there’s something wrong with her. But the opposite isn’t necessarily true either.
As a married Christian man of almost 10 years (with a good marriage might I add 🙂 ), I love your post. I don’t think you were saying (correct me if I’m wrong) “throw caution to the wind and screw anyone you want (like some previous comments seemed to suggest), and I think you would agree waiting for sexual relations post marriage is the ideal situation (but if you “screw” up God is not going to condemn you to “hell”). God tells us and leads us in the best way to do things, but they are not always followed and we get to see the consequences of such. Is there room for repentance when we don’t do things the best way…and even sin? Of course, and let’s not make a habit of having to do that 🙂 ! I don’t think anything you wrote is unbiblical. I think those who have problems with what you wrote either didn’t read the title of the article and thought you were promoting these bold headings, don’t know how to listen to the Holy Spirit, think Christians are still full of sin, looking at things very legalistically, or probably a number of other possibilities…I know you’re not sweating any loss of reputation (as if you had one 🙂 )! I think others missed one point you were trying to say on #10…you don’t have to wait and pray in your room until God gives you the name and address of the person you should marry…go on some dates, meet people, and have fun! Sometimes I am sure God does tell some who they should, or could, marry (and how awesome is that!?), but you should never then go up to that person and say “God told me you and I are supposed to get married!!! There is freedom and God can work miracles in any relationship. Listen to people who have good marriages (duh)! Heed warnings and promptings from the H.S. Your last highlighted statement sums it up perfectly…though thinking about it just now, perhaps the “be safe” was misconstrued in some minds? oh well, can’t say everything perfectly without someone thinking you meant something else! Sorry, comment got WAY too long!
Jacob McMillen says
Haha thanks Adam! I think there is definitely some misunderstanding going on, but there’s also just a lot of bad theology on this topic that has been hammered into people over the years.
But you seem to understand my comments perfectly 🙂 I’m definitely NOT saying to have sex with everything that moves lol. Everything we do has consequences, and the directives we see in books like Proverbs are for our own well-being. I think a fundamental misconception in Christianity today is that “sin” has to do more with God than us. We think God tells us not to do things because doing them makes Him upset, when in fact, He tells us not to do them because they sabotage our well being and rob from the fullness of life He came to give us.
Hi Jacob! I just want to thank you for your articles! This one particularly felt refreshing for me, cause I am a single not-in-my 20’s-anymore christian lady, who’s also a victim of a whole fear-leaded sub-culture about love and marriage for more than 10 years now; and the hopelessness about dating can get very strong from time to time. I am not from the States, i am from Paraguay, so from the south of the continent, thank you again for your honest and bold voice to brake ungodly thinking out there, as you can see, some of them are all over the world.
PS: don’t waist time with square minded people who are addicted to discuss about Scripture cause they’re two scare to go out to real life and take the risk to love. Those always appear when grace is spoken.
I hope my english is understandable. Much blessing for you and your family!
Jacob McMillen says
Perfectly understandable, thanks Alicia! It’s really sad to me how much control and fear-mongering is present in the Church, sometimes with good intentions but often with selfish motivations.
I’m glad this article was meaningful to you, and I’m thrilled the message therein is traveling outside the limits of my own country! Blessings to you on your journey!
I laughed my head off at your excellent and straightforward delivery. I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to see I’m not the only single 20 something Christian out there with these thoughts. I pray more and more people see how crazy we’ve made things and that real change starts to happen in our Christian communities. As a woman I found it very supportive to hear you, a man, talk about how it’s not all on woman to keep everyone holy. I mean for goodness sake, women have a sex drive too and you don’t hear anyone preaching about how men shouldn’t wear suits or go to the beach without a shirt cause it causes woman to fall into sin. Why men’s purity has been made a woman’s responsibility is bizarre. I believe it is up to mother to teach there daughter how to be modest and classy and that the beginning and end of that. I could go on point by point about how much I loved this post but this comment would become a blog post. lol Thank you for your post!
Jacob McMillen says
Haha thanks Melissa! Glad you enjoyed it!
It’s amazing to me how men tend to discount some of these arguments when they are coming from women., so I try to promote these ideas whenever possible – lend my voice for what it’s worth. And every time I do, I’m reminded of what a misogynist world we still live in. Frankly, I’m re-astounded every time.
I particularly share your befuddlement at the expectation on women to manage men’s purity. Like seriously, what in the world? That’s why I put that one at #1.
I guess the good news is that all of our kids will have it easier than we did 🙂
First, I loved your article and style of writing. Just the right amount of sass to pair with your points similar to having a perfect milk to cereal ratio. Okay, it’s 1am and I’m thinking about my future breakfast before church so…
Anyways, after going through my own dating struggles which touched on a lot of your points, I chuckled at the truths you shared. The “friend-zone” definitely hit home after going through a relationship where I didn’t set proper boundaries nor realized my self-worth to move on. I think the scariest part (I think we have all done this) is the ‘savior’ complex deriving from it as you pointed out: “I’m perfect for her and I’m trying to save her from jerks!”
As for #3…it’s probably my biggest Christian pet peeve (I feel sad I have to classify). I am happy to say I am no longer in my early 20s to be hearing, “I don’t know if this is God’s will to date him” or “I’m not dating anyone, I’m dating Jesus!”
When it does come up maybe from friend’s drama, I still hear a whisper from my shoulder to punch the person in the face (is that the devil or angel? I think they joined forces and both said it) but I’ve gone to ignore it or walk away.
I plan to read your other articles (I read the one about hell, loved it), but have you done an in-depth one on PSA? I’m trying to learn more on the history and where it derived from. Keep up the good work and be sure to continue telling me what to think. Now where’s that share button to save the children on Facebook…
Jacob McMillen says
Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Haha as someone who was recently in the early-20’s dating scene, I share your annoyance with #3. And I think if we learned anything from the Emperor’s New Groove, it’s that when shoulder angel and shoulder demon tell you the same thing, you do it!
If by PSA you mean Penal Substitution Atonement, then yes, we have written on this – part 1 is here http://www.brazenchurch.com/why-did-jesus-die/ and part 2 is here http://www.brazenchurch.com/who-killed-jesus/
If you are interested in a more academic look after checking out those articles, let me know and I’ll direct you to some good resources.
Thank you! And yes that is what I meant by PSA, and those articles were great. I have learned and stood in this theology for myself for awhile but never felt compelled to do an in-depth study or take the time to learn how to explain to others and tie up loose ends. I feel compelled to learn as much as possible in this season.
And yes, if you could provide those resources I would love them as well as any book recommendations. I recently finished “Love Wins” by Rob Bell (after all the riots calmed down and to confirm my belief that his book wasn’t anything new theology-wise if people have heard of Eastern Orthodox) and started Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. On a side note, is it me or does C.S. Lewis have a different view on hell and the cross than the traditional Western Church and yet everyone still loves him(i.e The Great Divorce, ‘Hell being locked from the inside’)?
This is hands down the absolute best article on this subject I have ever read. Refreshing, real, and ridiculously hilarious! Thank you for slaying so many religious dating ‘holy cows.’ 🙂
Great post! As a teen of the nineties True Love Waits/ Christian subculture, my outlook on dating and sexuality was very fear and guilt based. Another very, very misguided Christian dating guideline is to marry someone very quickly so as to not have sex before marriage ( or else your marriage will be cursed and doomed). People find themselves married to a stranger, who may have undisclosed secrets, habits, or addictions that were not easy to spot during the high of the honeymoon stage. I do believe in saving sex for marriage, but marrying a stranger increases the odds for divorce, which is truly devastating.
Ryan Pawloski says
What a great read… my wife always tells me “married the potential.” I’ll have to share this with her! By the way, remember in the 90’s when youth pastors would tell the ladies (and sometimes the men) to “make a list of everything you want in a man and don’t compromise”? I remember one young lady stating “in faith,” that she wanted a godly man who had long hair and played the saxophone. She is now happily married to a great guy with short hair and no musical talent! I’m glad she let go of that sophomoric nonsense, but I truly wonder how many people have missed out on a lifetime of happiness with a godly person because they had some idiotic notion of “not compromising” on non-essential things.
A friend shared this article on his facebook yesterday, and this is what I had to say: For an author to be so adamantly against taking scripture out of context, he does so quite a bit, while at the same time ignoring other scriptures to suit his fancy. I liken it to throwing away 9/10ths of the Bible, and saying “but this verse says this!”, and then errors in sound hermeneutics are committed by exalting that verse above all others where by that verse must be interpreted and understood within the greater Biblical context. Decontextualizing like that, as well as reductionism (e.g. claiming God’s attributes can be reduced to Love, and that somehow completely overrides his perfect Justice and Holiness), is usually what leads to heresy, and a crude understanding of the scriptures.
I’ll give an example. He writes that “While there is obviously value to following the direction of Holy Spirit, […]”. And? But? I think he should revise that sentence to “As Christians, we are to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit.” The sentence continues by qualifying/conditionalizing our being led by the Holy Spirit, with “[…] ultimately, we weren’t designed to be obedient slaves, but rather, we were made to be sons and daughters.” Hmm. I don’t find that in scripture. I read in Romans 6:15-23 that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. When you are set free, you become a slave of God. It goes deeper. He claims we arn’t made to be “obedient slaves”. Is he absolutely sure? I don’t find that in scripture. (I’ll pause, and say that he probably uses emotionally charged rhetoric like this to make the reader feel “yeah, our Father is love! A loving Father wouldn’t call us to be an obedient slave!”). Here are some verses on how we are to be obedient: John 14:15,23, James 1:22, 1 Peter 1:14. Also, check out 1 John 5:3. It tells us “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments”. Interesting. How convenient for the author to leave out all of these verses… He then goes on to make the false dichotomy that we are either obedient slaves, or children of God. 1 Peter 1:14 doesn’t say “As children”. It says “As obedient children”.
The author then writes: “When we truly understand our place as sons and daughters of God, we aren’t bound by superficial rules.” … Is he sure about that? I don’t find that in scripture. (How can this man call the commandments of God “superficial rules”?) Being a child of God doesn’t exempt someone from picking up their cross and being obedient to Christ. It doesn’t exempt one from obeying the commandments of God. I feel like I don’t need to elaborate on this point further. I think it is obvious in scripture.
He goes on: “A loved child doesn’t pause every step to ask permission or make sure Dad isn’t angry.” Huh. Philippians 4:6. Sure, keeping that verse is difficult for everyone, but how can he take the heretical stance that throws out that verse entirely and assumes it is not something we should be growing in? And we shouldn’t make sure that God isn’t displeased with our decisions? The analogy he portrays makes out our sonship to God to be less like an obedient child who loves their father and desires to be pleasing in their father’s eyes, to more like a rebellious teenager who doesn’t really care what dad has to say.
“You are free to be you.” Yep. Don’t find that one in scripture either.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Cor. 3:17 is a great verse, when it isn’t taken out of context and used to justify that we are free do however we please. How convenient for the author to not remember Galatians 5:17.
I also noticed he has an entire article asking whether God is a “control freak”. Something tells me this man does not have any reverential fear for God. He seems very blithe and unconcerned with what scripture really has to say, and he just tosses around out-of-context verses that itch the ears of the reader. He gives you some (sometimes contaminated) milk, while leaving out the meat that is found in God’s Word. I’m very hard-pressed to find anything soundly founded on scripture within this site.
Refreshing, refreshing and REFRESHING! Don’t say this often but I feel like you write like I write…”sacred cows” -with big burger pictures, for example.
I have RARELY done this for articles I read pertaining to my website but when I am done here I am going to post a link directly to this article -on the “Christian Dating” page on MY website!
In the kingdom of God there are often “three levels” to things. Milk, Bread and Meat (30 fold, 60 fold, 100 fold…etc. ). You have DEFINITELY gone past just the “30 fold” here and have given some real MEAT (“higher levels”, pun not intended) in this article . . .
I can tell you have spent time on the subject-in study and in prayer
God Bless You !!