We’ve made relationships heavy.
Relationships are a serious thing – serious because they involve real hearts and raw emotions. We have to walk wisely and think clearly. But not all relationships are meant for marriage.
Maybe you already grasp that concept in your head. But I want you to grasp it in your heart – and on your next date.
Don’t try out his last name.
Don’t picture the Facebook status.
Don’t go there.
It’s just a date.
I’m not saying to lose the romance and I’m not saying to abandon all common sense. I’m not suggesting you settle for less or that you approach relationships carelessly. I’m saying that your truest self – the self you want a man to know and see and love – isn’t revealed when you’re knee-deep in the Christian-relationship mating ritual. There we must bear the weight of a potential future – bearing in mind that marriage – marriage could be on the line.
All on the first date.
But despite the best efforts, we can never guarantee a first date will lead to marriage. No one can.
These days we move strategically, chess pieces navigating the game. We have to know if he’s ready to spiritually lead and financially take on a family. We have to know where it’s headed because otherwise, it’s a waste of time – right? Dating is supposed to lead to marriage – right?
We the Church – we’ve made relationships complicated.
We meant well, really. We seek to protect purity and uphold marriage. We want to embrace God’s design. But we keep missing a consistent gospel theme: freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). In relationships, that means if you’re walking by the Spirit of God you are free to go on a date without demanding a DTR.
We want it all in order from the beginning. We want the promise of no broken hearts, no disappointment, no struggle through the just-friends-but-not stage. We want to guard our hearts from hurt by only dating people we could see ourselves marrying, but the pressure is too soon, too heavy. A Starbucks hour won’t tell you if this guy is marriage material. It takes time.
Girls wonder why the guys run scared. I would run scared. I don’t believe Christian men are afraid of commitment. I believe they are afraid of commitment expected on the first date. In a church culture where a date equals intention of marriage, the pressure is on. You can’t just ask a girl out and get to know her; you have to know your intentions first. But how can you know your intentions if you don’t even know the girl herself?
We’ve created a crazy cycle, and we wonder why singles are so discontent.
Dating is not either/or: either you’re flirtatious and frivolous or only going out with marriageable people. There is an in-between… a gray area. In that fog we have to step out in faith, take a chance, and go on a date or two to find out if this could be the One. But even then, you probably won’t know right away. But that is the glory of the walk with God: He reveals His will in due time. That’s why it’s called the Christian faith.
There is a middle road. It’s a freedom road for our hearts and relationships. It’s the path of true authenticity, of opening our hands to the risks and rewards of love. Because love is a risk.
We fear the risk, and we fear being hurt, fear getting in too deep, fear it will end. But perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Your perfect love story will grow when fear is uprooted and faith can take root in your heart. There’s the chance of hurt. There’s the chance that one date is all it will ever be, or that you’ll date and break up, or that – like me – you’ll date several people before you meet the one. But here’s a truth we’ve missed these last twenty years of the purity movement: if purity and holiness define your dating relationships, no relationship is a failure. All can bring glory to God.
We’d like to know the end from the beginning, but that’s not real life. That’s not even real marriage. But if we saw all our relationships as the product of God’s perfect purpose, we would not burden them so much. We would not make them so heavy, so soon.
Dear girl, it’s just a date.
Don’t try out his last name.
Don’t go there.
Be okay with the openness of it all – the unpredictability and the unknowns. You don’t have to have it all figured out. You don’t have to be afraid of the risk. God is the guardian of hearts entrusted to Him, and the Rewarder of those who live righteously.
So get dressed up, put on your heels, and go on the date. Yes, there’s the possibility of it ending. But there’s also the possibility it will begin.