May I be vulnerable for a moment? Is it okay for me to come clean?
Christian dating is weird…
I grew up going to different youth groups because I had dated girls that went there. Being a teenager with was awkward enough. Being a teenager with Cerebral Palsy made it harder. But being a Christian teenager with a disability, well… was… fun…
There were some good things I have been taught by reading books on sexual purity and I still believe in waiting until marriage. But I somewhat wonder if “kissing dating goodbye” was such a good idea in the first place. To make things worse, I’ve unwittingly subscribed to podcast orthodoxy listening to a certain disgraced pastor rant about what it means to be a godly man and going overboard in his ultra-complementation views.
I became obsessed with doing things the “right way” when it comes to love, dating, and courtship.
I didn’t feel like…
- I was man enough
- I had any right to ask anyone out because I didn’t feel like I’ve earned the right to
- I knew what I was doing
- I had any confidence or felt worthy of dating anyone
- I had the money or a job that was respectable
- I had anything going for me since my world consisted of theology, comedy, and pro wrestling (quite the catch, right?)
Moreover, I became so focused on purity that in the name guarding my heart to the point that good people couldn’t enter in.
Bottom line is that I didn’t have the same grace for myself that I do for others. I never learned how to be intentional until a few years ago. I was just told that if God wills it to happen, he will bring it to pass. Pretty much, any Christian cliché in regards to “true love waits” or something like it that I have been told that or I readthe ultimate in a book recommended by friends/Christianity Today.
The truth is that “youth group/church camp Christianity” barely even taught me how to date in light of the gospel. It was mostly morals on how to wait until marriage. I am not bitter about all the people that tried to teach me good morals in light of the Bible. There are GREAT dating principles that help safeguard relationships from premarital sex. I am a firm believer that we are to honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). I also believe that sex is good and is supposed to be for marriage between a man and a woman like God created them to complement (Genesis 2:23-25). Song of Solomon 2:7 says it plainly that love is not to be awoken until the time is right. I also learned to treat Christian young women as sisters as commanded in 1 Timothy 5:2. These are all good things. I just wish they were in light of the gospel.
I also wish that the people taught me how to accept the good with the bad and everything in between in a relationship. I wish I learned how to enjoy the journey without overthinking or fearful. I never learned how to relax in spite of all of the butterflies. Moreover, I never learned HOW TO BE NORMAL! I’ve always heard that if I am going to be a man, I need to do things right. Yet, I am learning that there is no book that can legitimately tell you the steps to pursue love. It is all a myth that I bought into. I’m humbly learning that love is different for everyone. It is a myth that ultimately sets me out for failure because the truth is that the ultimate failure is never trying at all.
Nobody warned me of how awkward Christian dating culture would be in my thirties despite the fact that these would also be the same voices that told me that the person that I find would be blessed knowing my character. Nobody told me that I would make mistakes and that I need to have grace for myself because dating is really like a dance. You just learn as you go. But I also am saddened by the fact that most of what I learned about pursuing women and being intentional I have learned from websites like The Art of Manliness, Wikihow, and True Love Dates.
In the end, I must resign myself to the fact that there is a legitimate relationships are hard in general. This relational dysfunction between sexes that exists is because we have inherited an original sin nature from Adam. But I am thankful that through the cross, Jesus redeems relationships because He has restored our relationship with God the Father.
Maybe there is no right way to date as a Christian gentleman? Maybe dating is just a process of trial and error? Maybe the only “right way” is just getting out there and being myself?