Anonymous asked: I’m a college student, and purity with guys has never been a big struggle in my life, until this summer. I met a non-christian guy who started expressing interest in me. Before him I hadn’t so much as kissed a guy… and now, well, I still haven’t, but I feel like things suddenly went too far physically. I thought I could say “no”, but I didn’t want to die alone or let down the one guy that actually liked me. What do I do now? Add this to “things to tell my future husband”, and move on?
Unka Glen answered: The first step is to build a time machine and go back to your 16 year-old self. There you see an add for a school dance, and you think about how you’d like to go to that dance. Nobody has asked you to this dance, and so you’re forced to consider two options: sit and home and be sad, or ask one of the guys yourself.
Of course you realize it shouldn’t have to be this way, and yet a woman of God doesn’t just wait for life to happen to her. “She considers a field and buys it”, as Proverbs 31 says. Thus, you consider a fairly hot guy and ask him, being reminded as you do, of Ruth approaching Boaz essentially asking Him to marry her in Ruth chapter 3.
Thus you go to this dance, and you’re nervous and awkward, your date is nervous and awkward, and you both have pimples and emotions and butterflies in your stomach. It turns out to not be a fairy tale, but it does have its moments. Especially when he asks you out on a date the next week.
More nervousness, more sweating and pimples, but he holds your hand in the movie when it gets to the scary part, which makes you feel warm all over. You don’t know quite what to do with him, and he doesn’t quite know what to do with you, given that romance is an “undiscovered country” for you both, but you try to be kind to one another and not bruise each others hearts.
Ah, but young love is as fragile as it is passionate, and things take a wrong turn, and he has suddenly broken up with you. You cry, wear black, eat chocolate, watch sad movies, and threaten to never fall in love again. Maybe you’ll be a poet in France, or perhaps move to Africa to work with the gorillas. The gorillas will understand your pain.
Then a cute guy comes up to you and asks if it’s true that you’ve broken up with what’s-his-name, and you suddenly realize: a) this is not the last relationship I’m ever going to have, b) there are plenty of guys out there to choose from, and I can afford to be picky, c) maybe I was more infatuated with my previous boyfriend than in love with him, and d) this time I need to date someone for who they are inside.
You date a few more guys, some seriously, some you just both know it’s not clicking right away. But on each occasion you learn a great deal about yourself, and about the opposite sex, about relationships, and about love itself.
At some point you wander into a Christian bookstore, and you see a section for books about dating and marriage. You pull each of these books off the shelf, laughing quietly to yourself with how silly and absurd each one is. You realize, just from reading the titles, that this is the reason why no Christian guys have been asking you out. They’ve fallen for the fearful manipulation you see before you.
This particular book you look at seeks to scare you to death with what might happen if you have a bad breakup in a deep loving relationship. You’ve already had one of those, and you know that it was painful, but you survived, it left some scars, but gave you a wisdom in exchange that has changed your life for the better, in all kinds of unforeseen ways. You learned how to overcome, how to stand on your own two feet, and set good boundaries.
This next book talks about purity, and you take it and hide it behind the other books because you know that purity is a quality God has, and we don’t. When it comes to the world of physical desires, purity has left the building. Self-control, emotional intelligence, and knowing where healthy boundaries should be set and enforced, are the important issues to work out. But purity? Surely nobody is prideful enough to call themselves “pure” when it comes to dating.
This other book tells you that you must beware of all the sins and transgressions that you’ll have to tell your spouse about when you decide to get married. And you realize a few things right away: a) he’ll be telling me plenty of stuff too, b) confessing that you didn’t bother learning anything about relationships, by avoiding them in fear, is not going to sound any better, and c) this is why you marry the kind of Christian man who would never in a bajillion years think about holding your past against you.
You already know what you’ll say to this man of yours, and it will be pretty close to what most wives have told most husbands for the past coupla centuries: “I’ve lived my life, and been on my share of dates. Some relationships were nice, some were nasty. I’ve made nearly every mistake in the book, and I’ve learned who I need to be for you in this relationship. I’ve dated different kinds of guys, and learned what I want in a man, and I know, from bitter experience, and without a doubt, that what I want is you.”
… But I suppose we can’t go back in time and give you this kind of normal dating life or the wisdom and experience that goes with it. The truth is, there are two different ways of getting into marriage, the first is to have your parents arrange it for you, thus relieving you of the burden of figuring any of this out for yourself, and relieving you of the fear of ending up alone (and arranged marriage is actually closer to what they had in the Bible, so there’s that).
The second way is to date people and figure it out for yourself, so you can make wise decisions about who and when to marry, and how to manage that relationship after you get married. …But you’ve chosen neither of those things.
The idea that God has only one person in the whole world that He will ever let you marry, and that if you miss him you’ll be alone forever, or that if you break up with him you’ll be alone forever, or if you date someone else, it’s like you’re cheating on him, makes no sense at all, is not Biblical, and doesn’t square with what we know of God’s character.
The idea that you will just exist in a state of “purity”, and then, without dating, meet the right guy, get married, and have a happy, healthy, and productive marriage is just not ever going to work. Ever. It’s not that it’s a bad idea (and it is, it’s a fiercely bad idea), it’s just not ever going to work.
I’m sorry. From the bottom of my heart I’m sorry that we as Christians have allowed an extreme, often bizarre, and increasingly legalistic view of dating to take over and ruin the dating lives of sincere and committed Christians like you. I only hope you can find a healthy, normal, dating life that’s free from fear, and right for you.
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