Final Confessions of a Former Dating Legalist. (Because I Can Part 3)
Some date just because they can. They’re old enough, they’re smart enough, and dog-gone-it people will go out with them. The favorable gender ratio found at Baylor University in 1989 meant I finally qualified and so I started dating. A lot.
Doing something just because you can is one level of legalism, but, in a misguided mission to honor God, I took it to the next level. In short, I set out to obey all the rules that a good Christian dater should.
To be clear, I’m sincerely glad I did keep my dating life clean. It saved me a lot of pain and regret. However, you can be so focused on rules you forget about your relationship (with God). God gave us rules not so we could follow them, but so we could follow Him!
In addition to the deficiencies identified last week, my puritanical, but prolific dating life cultivated a self-centered consumer mindset. Instead of growing in relationships, I was shopping for a relationship. And so like any savvy shopper I would render judgments like, “Ahhhh, I don’t know…
She’s not as spiritual as Tracy.”
She’s not as pretty as Ashley.”
She’s not as demure as Marta.”
She’s not as sophisticated as Stacy.”
She’s not as fun as Julie.”
Am I alone in my chronic character comparison? It’s certainly hard to avoid it in today’s internet dating culture, where you can be “matched up” in 29 dimensions with multiple dating partners from all over the map. (Literally!)
At least I had to take a girl out before I could judge her, but if you’re looking for love online you can research voraciously and render your verdict without so much as a text message to the potential date. “Ahhhh, I don’t know…
He has terrible grammar.”
She’s a slave to her career.”
He talks too much about his mother.”
She talks too much about marriage.”
He likes fast food.”
She loves cats. Whoa. Like she really really loves cats.”
Finally this “retail approach” to relationships betrayed my motives for dating, because I was constantly trying to gauge where the relationship might go instead of enjoying where it was. Did you know you can only live in one moment at a time? And did you know the only way you can relate to someone is in that moment?
Shocker, right? Yet I still forget, and back then I was hopeless. After only one or two evenings together I wanted to know the following:
Would I want this girl for a girlfriend? If yes then…
Would she want me for a boyfriend? If yes then…
Would we actually make it all the way to the altar?
Know anyone like that? Please don’t mess up a perfectly good relationship trying to predict its future and manipulate its outcome. Certainly date with purpose, but let God do His part. More to the point, STOP trying to play His part.
The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. – Prov 16:1-3
So, live for eternity, but live inthe moment. Grow in relationship with others. Simply enjoy the time you spend together with every date. Learn to appreciate the uniqueness of each person. Celebrate the gift of friendship – as if friendship might be a worthwhile way for a relationship to end up (because it is).
Next week we move to #9 of the TOP10 Dumbest Reasons to Date. Want to guess what it is? Hint: I call someone dating for this reason “the lemming.”
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
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