I have to ask any fellow listeners out there, has anyone noticed the over abundant number of radio talk shows that consist of gleaning bits of entertainment from the dating experiences of listeners? If not, or if you’re not living in the 40’s and listening to the radio, there’s one segment in particular, to remain unnamed, that I need to talk about. The premise is this: Listeners phone in to the show and describe a recent dating experience in which they either never heard from the other person, or they were turned down for a second date. The hosts hear them out and without fail, ask for an explanation that might have sealed their fate. More often than not, after much brain racking, the applicant can’t figure it out. (Hence their participation, I suppose.)
Proceed to the second portion of the segment. The hosts call the date-ee, if you will, and they tell their side of the story (this might be the worst part). Not that something necessarily horrific happened, but it’s like an open forum to present your case for someone else’s imperfections, merited or not. Ok, I get it, yes, standards, compatibility, chemistry… those things exist. But these stories rarely stop at that.
“I spilled my drink in his car and he got mad.” Red flag, anger issues. No second date. (Turns out it was a borrowed car to impress her.)
“He ordered too much to eat, none of it healthy.” He doesn’t take care of himself, insecure. No second date. (I mean, not everyone likes corn.)
“He wants a wife that will stay home with the kids.” Sexist. No second date. (He wants his future kids in good hands, right?)
And then it happens. Surprise! The hosts have the other person on the line. Can you imagine, just sitting there silently, listening to someone tell THE WORLD why you got cut? Why you are undateable. So at this point, both daters are on the air duking it out. The show ends with a second date being offered, on the show’s dime, and nine times out of ten, the offer is rejected. Picture me, enclosed in a small space, hands thrown in the air, wailing with all my might, “WHY? What have we gained from this you guys?!”
What is happening? People. There are 220 episodes of this particular program that you can listen to online. Not to mention others similar to it and the countless reality shows centered around dating.
Can we just stop?
Dating is horrible (in my humble opinion). I don’t know how else to say it, it just is. And here we are, making a spectacle of it and of ourselves. For those of you not privy to the adult dating experience, it’s like an interview… an interview pretending to be a puppy that’s cute and fun but is really judging you and will eventually bite and run, while you bleed out and die. (Sorry, I’ve clearly been watching too much Walking Dead.)
Some of you might disagree, and with good reason. It has it’s appeal, there is excitement and adventure. There’s new experiences, free dinners and stories to tell when it’s all over, whether good or bad. But there’s also pressure (so much pressure), anticipation, nerves and desires longing, nay groaning, to be fulfilled. And we are making it worse.
Instead of treading lightly, acting with care for the hearts of others, we are butchering each other to make ourselves feel better about it, like we have some sense of control and power. I get that this show is in no way comprised of Jesus-loving, well-intentioned, Spirit-filled daters, but is the church dating any differently? I’m not so sure.
Here’s my point, my single church friends. Let’s make a pact when it comes to dating. I think it will do us well and please the God we serve with our lives.
1) Let’s out honor one another. (Romans 10:12)
As we date, and as we inevitably see the faults in others (and in ourselves), let’s thank God for His gracious redemption. Let’s honor each other as fearfully and wonderfully made creations, put in place by the God of the universe. Let’s speak highly of our brothers and sisters in Christ, for when we do, we speak highly of our Creator. We don’t have to say wedding vows, but we can speak words of life, rather than judgement and death, concerning others.
2) Let’s not act like we are players in a dating game. (Colossians 3:12-17)
Dating is risky. It takes courage and vulnerability. There are hearts at stake. Can we not act like there is a winner here? Let’s help each other with the goal of glorifying God whether in singleness or eventually in marriage. It’s not a game that we get a pass to play dirty. Be honest, act with integrity, pursue the character of Christ in and out of dating experiences. If we haven’t found a match, let’s commend each other for the risk we’ve taken and wish each other well. No shame in that.
3) Let’s stay humble. (Ephesians 4:2, Philippians 2:3)
I’m not saying to ditch standards or elements of compatibility that matter, I’m just suggesting that we let each other off the hook from expectations of perfection. We all have baggage, past hurts, idiosyncrasies… sin issues. Humility recognizes our own need for grace and redemption from God and refuses to withhold it from others. You don’t have to date someone, but you do have to deny the pride that says you are any better in your own right. We all need Jesus, desperately.
Date well, friends. Glorify God as you seek Him as to whether or not marriage, a picture of Christ and His church, is His will for you.