I noticed today that Paul Maxwell over at The Gospel Coalition broached the subject of dating, asking the question, “What Does ‘Intentional’ Mean in Dating?” I must confess that I am at a loss as to why such a question is necessary because ‘unintentional’ dating is not something I am familiar with. I have never in my life encountered a couple who, after having dinner together, found out that they had accidentally and unintentionally been on a date with one another. But perhaps I am sadly behind the times and it happens often enough to warrant the inquiry.
I am uniquely qualified to talk about dating because I once successfully dated a girl who I managed to marry. So far, she has stayed with me for ten years, and I thank God for that. I am also qualified to address this topic because I am a pastor, and if anyone knows anything about dating, it is pastors. Finally, I am qualified to talk about dating because I was fairly horrible at it. It wasn’t that I was unintentional, but rather that I had difficulties getting anyone to date me — mostly because I was too chicken to ask.
That, in point of fact, is always my major concern when the subject of “dating” comes up in Christian circles. It is inevitably brought up by pastors with “smoking hawt” wives who had the luxury of dating a bunch of different women and are therefore now qualified to tell everyone else how, and how not, to do it. Compounding this difficulty is the fact that they apparently tend to address their advice to men who can get girls to go places with them whenever they want to. In my experience in Christian circles (e.g., youth groups, seminaries), girls with good sense would not date guys like me if we begged them. The fact of the matter is that most dudes are weird, and I pity them. Which is why I am trying to help them now.
My nerdy evangelical brother, I know that your biggest problem with girls isn’t your ability to commit. I don’t know where these men live who do not wish to commit to a woman, but in my experience, it isn’t in evangelical churches. Most of you want to get married so badly you can’t stand it. We are, after all, the last bastion of men on earth who wait until marriage for sex. I am very glad for this, as it both honors the Lord and gives you part of the motivation needed to seek a spouse. However, the fact that you are burning with desire can cloud your brain and cause you to forget that the woman you hope to pursue is a human being and not simply made as an object of your desire.
So here is my advice, and I want to keep this simple because finding a friend who is a girl who will take you seriously is plenty hard without our adding layers of nuance to how to date. First, you should try to find a girl that you like because she is smart and funny. Second, you should pray that God will fill you with the Holy Spirit and power so that you can move to step three. (This is crucial!) You should walk right over to the girl, preferably after you have asked twelve of your friends and her friends about her, and you should say, “Hey _______, would you like to go to the movies or the theater or something like that?” This is how I found my wife. I just called her up and said, “Hey Amy, I don’t know if you court or date or if I need to call your dad or whatever, but if you’d like to go hang out with me some time, I would do that stuff!”
Now, you may be thinking, “You did not do that, please tell me you did not do that.” I most certainly did do that. It was awkward and horrible. It is important to remember that this entire event of bringing a guy and a girl together is a miracle ordained of God. In fact, there is hardly greater revelatory evidence of the existence of a benevolent Christian God than the fact that many Christian men I know have wives who love them. I’m not kidding about that.
So my advice is to relax. Just find a girl you like and ask her to go do something and see if you like each other. Try to have fun. Eat nice food. See fun movies. Go play miniature golf. Wear nice cologne (not too much though). Open the door for her maybe. You kids have fun.