world magazine’s cover story for june 4 is titled “Christian boy meets Christian girl,” and gives an interesting (though, i would say, hardly surprising) explanation of the way many young non-Christian college students view marriage versus the way many young Christian college students do.
then the article goes into a discussion of, to borrow from someone a description i rather liked, “how do you expect to get from being single to being married?”
to summarize that part (with some exaggeration and bluntness):
dating! ouch, heartbroken.
courtship! argh — pressure to go from courting to marriage in 10 seconds flat!
expectations of perfection! fear! frustration! desperation!
conclusion: everyone wants a relationship and no one knows what it’s supposed to look like.
(okay, that was kind of a lot of exaggeration and bluntness.)
here, susan olasky, who wrote the article, really does explain it better:
Whether the reasons are old or new, many young men seem frozen, unsure of the right way to proceed. Many voices are trying to point the way, but one writer in particular has special influence: Josh Harris and his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye (2003) came up in nearly every interview I had. Even Christians who don’t like the book feel forced to color within the lines Harris drew—”courtship” is best—because of his influence on so many of the other students in their social milieu. The book helped many Christians avoid the traps of secular practices like those at Parsons. But another result, according to many women, is both paralysis and pressure.
TKC student Catherine Ratcliffe says I Kissed Dating Goodbye shows well that “sexual purity is important,” but it also led many of her classmates to “think we should never hang out unless we want to marry. In the 1990s, casual dating was the culprit. [Now] Christian couples will rush into relationships, saying, ‘we intend to marry,’ because they think they are not allowed to date unless they intend to marry.”
Pressure, pressure, pressure. Ratcliffe says, “If girls do get asked out they think, ‘We have to make this work. I might not get asked out for another 10 years.'” The “if” is big: Christian student after student in four states generalized to me: “Women don’t get asked out.”
Christian students at the University of Texas at Austin find a friendly haven at Hill House, an old home just off campus with books, comfortable chairs, and Bible studies. After one study, graduate student Stephanie Nestor told me that in the past year six of her friends have gotten engaged. In each case the guys had never dated before: “Guys want to be sure before they date that this is the one. In Christian circles, girls aren’t getting asked out.”
“in Christian circles, girls aren’t getting asked out.” that sentence just annoys the heck out of me.
but here’s even more:
Nestor described a social scene focused entirely on group activities, where guys observe the women over time and then make a choice. That leaves most of the girls waiting. A conservative female seminary student concurred, “I am extremely frustrated by the dating process. I’m traditional. I believe in the man asking the woman out. Women don’t get asked out.”
Ellyn Arevalo, an assistant to UT professor Mark Regnerus, voiced her frustration: “You don’t have to know you want to marry me to ask me out. . . . They don’t ask me out. They don’t ask anyone out. It is alternately frustrating and extremely painful. Your hands are tied.”
my dear, dear sisters … why the ever-loving crap are you basing your happiness on whether or not a guy asks you out?
some perspective: i’m a woman. i’m single. i’m 23. i’ve never been on a date in my life. a man has never asked me out. i would like to get married and have a family someday. i consider myself traditional and conservative. i fall, more or less, into the category of women interviewed in this piece.
Their hands are tied because they want the guys to initiate: “We want them to be initiators. But they are content with the way things are. . . . We want to be wanted. We want to know we’re desirable. Christian boys are scared of girls who make advances.”
The tension between dating and courtship takes place in an environment where “no one is rushing to make marriage a priority.” In fact, many single Christians say their churches don’t emphasize marriage in order not to offend singles—but it feels, Arevalo says, as though the church is saying, “Darn it, girl, why aren’t you happy with this status?”
well, i have some news for you — everyone wants to be wanted. yes, the guys, too. that is how we were designed. everyone wants to find that one special person who will fill up the (conscious or unconscious) emptiness and the ache inside their heart. everyone wants to find the missing piece to their puzzle, their bookend, the black to their white.
everyone does. and no one will ever be made happy just by finding that one special person.
but do you know Who wants you? do you know Who you already have? do you know that you are 100% complete and loved by someone with a passion so extreme that He would give up all He had and become the very thing He hated so that you could have Him? do you know He is everything and all you need? do you know that?
i’m really not trying to point fingers here. i know what it’s like to want to be loved by someone you can see face to face right now … someone whose voice you can hear audibly. i know what it’s like to want a hand to hold yours, to want a shoulder to rest your head on, to want someone to share inside jokes with and who will look you in the eyes and make you smile and turn bright red at the same time. i know what it’s like to watch friends get married and wonder “why them, God? when is my turn gonna come? what’s wrong with me?” i know what it’s like to want someone to notice me. i know what it’s like to fail miserably at “being content” (to be brutally honest, it probably happens once a day). i know sometimes it hurts. sometimes i get angry. sometimes i get frustrated. sometimes i’m a nervous wreck. sometimes i cry.
but, in all that, to paraphrase john piper, i don’t want to ask for a thimble-full of water when i’ve been given the entire ocean, just because i’ll have that much more. i don’t want to place the responsibility of my happiness on a flawed, imperfect human being when i have Perfection Himself. i am not a perfect woman, and i do not expect any man i might marry to be perfect. but i do expect him to love God more than he loves me, and to expect me to love God more than i love him.
don’t get me wrong — marriage is a good gift from God, and i completely believe that it’s right to desire to be married (i also believe God gives some people the gift of life-long singleness and of experiencing Him in a totally different way than married people would). wanting to be married does not mean you’re weak. marriage is hard — that is obvious.
and, if churches are not emphasizing marriage because they’re afraid of offending single people, i’d say the church is shirking a huge responsibility and should be held accountable to shape, train and encourage its single guys and girls into godly, mature men and women who can handle the responsibilities of what marriage is really supposed to embody.
seriously, though, women — the Creator of the Universe, the maker and sustainer of your soul, is passionately in love with you and gave His life for you … and you’re frustrated because guys aren’t asking you out?
i’m reminded of luke 12:22-34 … especially 31 and 32:
“‘instead, seek His kingdom, and these things (food, drink, clothes … spouses!) will be added to you. fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.'”
He has given us the kingdom of God, for goodness’ sake!
can’t you trust Him to give you a husband, even if no man asks you out ever?
i know it isn’t easy — i’m preaching at myself as much as at anyone. but it is what we need, sisters. He is Who we need. He is the only Love that satisfies, because He is Love.