I Kissed Dating Goodbye
Like a moth to a flame, I recently attempted to get into a romantic relationship. And once again, my dreams burned up in a fiery inferno of disappointment. At least this time, I’ve gotten better at setting personal boundaries, so the madness only lasted a couple of weeks. He was a strong Christian man. I’m a strong Christian woman. We are both kind and loving people. But our intense and stubborn communication styles did not mesh well. As much as I try to change this aspect of my personality, I’m still a hopeless romantic struggling in this area of life. Insanity. Pure insanity. We’re all familiar with Albert Einstein's cliche “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The Dictionary of Law defines insanity as “a mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct his/her affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior. Insanity is distinguished from low intelligence or mental deficiency due to age or injury.” Both definitions describe the methodology I have been trying to use for dating. It’s just not working. The insanity must stop.
A few weeks back, I watched a Christian movie called Redeeming Love with my friend Johnna. Many people had been saying that I needed to watch this movie, so I tore myself away from the books long enough to have a girls' movie day. I will admit that I am excited that they are finally making well-made Christian movies these days instead of the cheesy crap we have been getting for decades. However, it unexpectedly triggered all of the buried insecurities and deep emotional wounds that I thought God had healed in the area of being single. Until I watched that movie, I thought I was fine being by myself, staying in step with the Spirit, and walking as humbly as I could with God. The sexual chemistry and romantic nature of the film set my heart on fire in a way that is comparable to a forest fire that has raged out of control and is devouring everything in its path. It sent me on a neurotic tailspin, and the enemy swept in and capitalized on the situation by sending me yet another Godly man. Yes, the enemy will send blessings too if it will throw you off your mission. In retrospection, even though we stayed physically obedient and left sex out of the equation, we were still trying to date by the world's standards. Our infatuation with each other was distracting us from the things God was trying to do in our own lives. It had all the signs of a trainwreck waiting to happen, so I pulled the plug and suggested we go back to being friends after only a few weeks. I pray God does amazing things in his life and have no ill will towards him. I praise Jesus for the discernment He gave me to get out of what could have been yet another toxic relationship because I wasn’t trusting God and was rushing His timing instead.
Months ago, I bought a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Romance and Relationships by Joshua Harris. When I bought it, I didn’t feel called to read it. But in the wake of yet another injury to my heart and in a desperate attempt to deal with the disappointment, I felt the tug on my heart to pick up this book with the title that contradicted everything my soul desires. Little did I know how much it would be a God hug and light bulb moment showing me how the system I have been trying to use my whole life is counterintuitive in my desire to find a God-honoring commitment.
Mr. Harris points out that we have become an entertainment-based culture that is forever chasing happiness instead of commitment. He points out that “While dating isn’t necessarily wrong, we’ve got to keep in mind that the system of dating as we know it grew out of a culture that celebrates self-centeredness and immorality.” (Pg.36) He points out that the emotional and sexual intimacy that our modern version of dating celebrates contradicts what the Bible teaches about true love. It offers intimacy without genuine commitment. In dating by the world's standards, we are focused on our needs of the moment without offering the sacrificial love of Christ that our hearts desperately yearn for and subconsciously know is missing. Even when Christians stay physically obedient and sexually pure, we still often end up walking down the same misguided path as the rest of the world because we put our romantic ambitions above our Kingdom callings. “We pursue romantic relationships for the sake of romance, for a good time, for the sake of the experience, for the sake of figuring out what we’ll one day want when we get around to actually committing to one person.” (Pg. 31)
Since the release of this book in 1997, Joshua Harris has completely recanted on his views published in his book. He discontinued publication of the book, released a documentary apologizing to anyone who was negatively impacted by the book and has left the Christian faith. Hearing this breaks my heart. I understand it though. None of this is easy. The Christian walk isn’t easy. It can be incredibly discouraging. It‘s hard to discern God’s will, and the enemy capitalizes on that. Although Joshua no longer agrees with his views in the book, I do think there was much wisdom to be found in it. We do live in a selfish world. The world has turned dating into a game, and no one is operating by the same rule book. As Christians, our rule book is the Bible, which can be incredibly hard to read and discern from. The world has changed a lot over the last 20+ years since the book was published, yet at the same time, some things have remained the same. Striving towards purity in an impure world isn’t a bad thing. Beating ourselves up when we fail to do so IS a bad thing. Becoming legalistic prideful Pharisees when we can muster up enough willpower to remain pure is also a bad thing. Because it was never about our works anyway. It was always about our identity in Christ.
I have no answers when it comes to any of this because I still have yet to have victory in this area. I can only come to you with my thoughts, struggles, and intentions. At the end of the day, when my time comes, I want people to know that even though I messed up on a routine basis that I tried my best to love God and love others. This means that I need to kiss dating goodbye in the way I have traditionally understood it, and stop letting my emotions get the best of me. I need to focus less on the romantic aspects and focus more on cultivating friendships. That way over time, we can truly see each other's character. If something more develops from that, then fantastic. If not, that's okay too.
The key to someone's heart is understanding their hidden hurt or unmet need, and I need to do that with God before I can do that with another human being. And I will from here on out recommit to trust that God, in HIS timing, will lead me down a path that has His best intentions in mind because He loves me. I’ll try to be more thankful regardless of the situation because gratitude always coincides with joy. I’ll ask Him to help me be less self-centered and to see the world through His lenses. Who knows, I might trip and fall in this area again in the future. I’m not going to put that kind of pressure on myself. But I do know that taking a step back towards God has never steered me in the wrong direction. Thank you for your time, and I hope you know that no matter where you are or what you are going through, you are deeply and profoundly loved.