August 12, 2013

I Kissed Christian Dating and Courtship Books Goodbye

...like much of the Christian walk, we are given rough guidelines with certain specifics and the overarching call to follow Christ above everyone and everything else. The result will probably be a journey that is painfully beautiful, filled with failure, awkwardness—and grace and redemption. ~Christopher Rule
"Dating vs. Courting is verbal gymnastics." 

That was the tweet that came up on my feed the other day, and I couldn't help but agree. See, I kissed dating books for the most part goodbye since my high school days. And now, in my basement, there sits a box of books entirely on the topic of dating, courtship, purity, and pretty much anything else that falls under the category of guy-girl relationships, sealed and packed up.

What I do want to make clear though is not that I believe there's no value or wisdom in many of these books. A lot of these ministry leaders and pastors (whom I respect) who've written them have been thrown under the bus by critiques. But what I've learned is that a problem with the Christian dating scene isn't so much the advice, books, and articles that have been published and their teachings… the problem is more so that people, such as myself (and maybe you too), have taken their words and made them law and gospel truth, when dating/courtship/whatever you prefer to call it, remains to be a gray issue (one that allows for differing views and approaches).

I boxed up those books because my approach and thoughts have changed greatly… or I should say have been simplified. See, neither dating or courting can be found in the Bible. That just wasn't how the culture rolled back then. The Bible does give us two things on the matter though, the first being commands. Cultures change and shift with time, but as far as I'm concerned God's commands in scripture do not (an example being sexual purity before entering a marriage covenant). The second thing we have are principles. Principles tend to be established truths, big ideas and plans… but the details are not written in stone. This is what makes them lasting. Principles can always remain, but they also play out differently in various time periods, contexts, and situations. 

I think this is what God gives us in pursuing the opposite sex, a couple of commands, and some really solid, helpful principles to apply and use to our individual lives. He didn't hand us a paint-by-number manual on dating or courtship. He's way more creative than that, and we all know that paint-by-number kits rarely (if ever) qualify as excellent art. 

So read the books and the articles for advice and wisdom, but take it with a grain of salt and know when to close the books or shut the laptop off. Let God be the main artist in creating and crafting your love life.

To read more, check out some of these past posts I've written...

10 comments :

  1. I agree with this whole-heartedly! People take these books for the gospel truth and law sometimes & I feel like they forget what's really important is their heart and intentions in God's big scheme of things while they try to follow whats 'right'. :)

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    1. I think my motto has sorta become "they're tools, not rules" when it comes to the overload of books and articles.

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  2. I love your perspective on this matter. Thank you so much for your transparency on this issue. Love reading your blog!

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  3. I almost totally agree with you. I read one or two books about dating while I was in high school, and it did affect the way I saw dating and any girl-guy relationships. My opinion is that whoever wrote those books wanted to warn today's teenagers how easy it is to just go with the flow. I agree with you, we need the comand and couple principles to guide us, but have you ever thought of a girl that doesn't have a good church to go to, or friends who can help her find those principles? I was lucky I wasn't one of them, but I've heard stories. So, while some books deff want to tell you how to date, some books just outline some of the principles... It can be said a lot over this "hot subject", but I'll stop here... :)

    Have a good one!

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    1. Hey Nami! You bring up a good and interesting point, but I actually think that it points to an even bigger issue maybe: The lack of teaching and training young women to be able to discern and find those principles in scripture. I've often thought about the gap there is in teaching women solid Bible study for themselves, as well as finding mentors to speak into their lives. See... I think I can probably relate to those girls who don't grow up a "good" church... which is why I turned to so many dating books in the first place. Now that in more recent years I've focused far more on just studying the Bible and pursuing good community, I feel like that's been more beneficial to my approach to dating than the conclusions/approach I had when I was gorging myself on said dating books/articles (if that makes sense). So I am in agreement with you. I just wish we could address the underlying problem better or more I suppose, which granted is hard.

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  4. I agree with your words very much! I've read a few book on Christian dating/courtship and through those and through experience and my friends' experiences, I've seen that it God's view is way more unexpected, meaningful, and good than we could ever do by simply following the rules. We have to be following Him, above all the rules, to really be able to guard our hearts and discern well.

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    1. "We have to be following Him, above all the rules, to really be able to guard our hearts and discern well."

      Well. said. =D

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  5. I think I'm entering a season in which I need to kiss courtship books good-bye too... When I first became a Christian they helped me navigate the murky waters of guy-girl relationships, but now I've realized that I am terribly awkward around boys and I have no idea how I should interact with them. Ugh! Thanks again, Natalie, for another wonderful post!

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