Thoughts About “Five Questions to Ask Before You Start Dating”
This morning as I browsed my news feed, I saw an article by Jaquelle Crowe, a guest contributor at desiringgod.org. In this article, she shares five questions that she believes we should ask ourselves before dating. The fundamental problem is that she has never been on a date. This becomes painfully obvious as you read her pseudo-biblical advice.
Before we get to her five questions, I want to discuss a couple of glaring issues in her introduction. She says that she wants to wait until she is able to get married before she dates. That in itself is very broad and general, but you don’t have to be perfectly ready to marry in order to begin dating. It’s her personal choice though so if that’s right for her than I have no issue. She also talks about avoiding heartache, but that’s impossible to avoid. She assumes that by waiting she won’t make naive mistakes, but I guarantee she will. That’s just how life works – sin and all.
So let’s take a look at her questions to consider before dating.
1. Am I dating to find validation?
I mostly agree with the points Crowe makes here. Our identity should come from Christ. If who we are dating determines who we are, we may need to take a step back from the relationship. Realistically, we all doubt our identity in Christ. Every time we sin we are doubting whether we are who he says we are (no longer slaves to sin, but rather slaves to righteousness). We’re never going to be perfect, and it sounds a lot like she is saying we need to be perfectly sure of our identity in Christ. She writes, “Wait to date until you can say with surety that Christ alone is the source of your validation.” I’m sorry, but we can’t put life on hold; we’ll be waiting until we die.
2. Am I dating because it’s expected or pressured?
I think that the pressure to date someone should never be the reason we date. However, I believe she is using the social pressure to date, and her refusal to give into that pressure as a way to validate her experience of having not dated despite wanting to. Later on, in question five she writes, “When I was sixteen, I remember there being a lurking loneliness in my heart. I saw my peers dating and thought, ‘I want someone to prize me like that, too.'” When she writes that “we shouldn’t want to conform or cave to culture’s standards for relationships”, it reeks of the assumption that dating is an immoral aspect of the “terrible” culture we live in. Again, I think her need to validate her experience shines through in this paragraph.
3. Am I dating in community?
There is so much wrong in this section I’m not sure where to begin. She is using movie depictions of dating to create a strawman image of what dating is supposedly like. Again her lack of experience with dating is shining through. Real world relationships are nothing like what you see depicted on the silver screen. Dating is neither something to be done entirely in isolation nor entirely in a group setting. Our communities are helpful in our relationships, but they shouldn’t be controlling them. This is unhealthy.
She quotes from 2 Timothy 2:22 where we read, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” But then the author starts putting words in Paul’s mouth that were never there. For example, she writes that Paul tells young people to “flee isolated romance and embrace purity in the context of community.” You cannot get that from the passage quoted above.
4. Am I dating with short-term intentions?
Ultimately the problem with her line of reasoning is that she muddles the process of finding a spouse with the actual marriage itself. Date intentionally, but don’t wait to date until you know that you want to marry a particular person. Date someone and use that process to determine if you could marry them. If you decide to marry them, that’s great, but if you decide you can’t then please do not beat yourself up because that’s part of the process.
5. Am I dating in submission to God?
The big flaw in her argument here is that she assumes that submitting to God means submitting to her views about how to date or not date. Crowe says that the way we date in submission to God is by submitting “our desires, temptations, timing, preferences, and bodies to Christ, and sacrifice ourselves for the holiness and good of another person.” First, the desire to date and find a person to marry is a God-given biological desire. I believe she is assuming this desire is wrong, but it’s not. Second, there are plenty of people who have sat around wait for God to bring them someone and are still not married. You need to be out looking for that person. If God does not want you with someone, I honestly believe he will make that clear. Please don’t sit around praying for Him to bring you someone and never go on any dates. This idea of his timing just doesn’t make sense. Again if you try to wait to date until you are perfectly satisfied in Christ you will never get married.
Teenager, young adult, college student go on dates. If you find someone attractive and they reciprocate that feeling then go out on a date. Don’t make it a big deal. Most importantly don’t let your love life be dictated, shamed, guilt-tripped, and controlled by some pseudo-biblical ideas about dating.
Note: I would encourage anyone who read her article to check out some of the stories of people who have been hurt by similar teaching and advice. You can find them here and here. You can also find a review of the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye here.