“Scoring” at church?

MadonnaCemeteryI am not a frequent reader of the magazine Maxim, but it did carry a rather humorous article on how to “score in church.” While the article is quite crude in its advice and I would not encourage anyone to try “this at home,” or at church for that matter, it is an interesting look at how a different worldview sees Christianity and the American church scene.

The excellent Indiana-based blog In the Agora first tipped me off to the article, with writer David Darlington stating that the article was “creepy and funny at the same time.” I agree on both accounts:

1. Find Your Faith
Macking in a holy place is easier than almost anywhere else — the good girls never see it coming. Plus, “every girl wants to tell her father she met her boyfriend at church and not at a bar,” says God-fearing cutie Erin Howard, 25. Look for progressive sanctuaries that offer “contemporary” services (to attract a younger, hipper crowd) and coffee hours (so you can actually talk, as opposed to just ogling from afar).

2. Enter the Kingdom
Scope out the finest churchgoer, then snag the pew in front of her. You won’t appear too eager, yet you can make eye contact easily — and shake her hand if there’s a “sharing of the peace.” Avoid making moves mid-service. “You’re in a place of bloody worship; you have to be respectful,” notes Tracey Cox, author of Superdate. Instead, listen to the sermon, which’ll give you plenty to talk about later.

3. Get Religion
Despite the communion wine, forget your sloppy bar tactics. After the service, just introduce yourself and act genuinely curious about the church. Say, “I’m new here. Are you a regular?” This’ll transition to the coffee hour, where you can quiz her about the service and how she ended up there. If all else fails, say something about looking for a higher meaning in life. She may make it her goal to “convert” you.

4. Reach the Promised Land
At this point patience is key. “A lot of repressed religious girls are damn hot in bed,” notes Cox. “But you’re not getting a quick shag here.” Provided she’s sending positive signals (e.g., laughing, smiling, not making the sign of the cross), simply tell her you’d love to meet up, outside of church, and ask for her digits. And no matter where it goes from there, try to think like the Browns do: There’s always next Sunday!

If you attend a church that is largely made up of singles like mine is, reading this article can be quite a downer on first thought. The likely motivations of many of the young people attending church these days is probably not the most pure.

But then deeper thoughts hit me and I realize that the premise of this article — attending church in an attempt to “score” as if one is at a bar or a nightclub — is quite ridiculous. That said, this is Maxim and it’s not exactly known for great insights on how to live life. People have been attending religious services for the purpose of finding their life partner for centuries (see here for how the Mormons handle their single population).

Females, last time I checked, do not attend church with any notion of being “scored” on, and those females foolish enough to fall for even the smoothest of the smooth, well, I don’t know what to say. Sure there is a darker side of the church singles scene, in that some people do attend church with the primary motivation being the opportunity to meet singles of the opposite sex, but Maxim has not caught up on anything earth-shattering or even legitimate.

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  • Mark

    Oh, c’mon and lighten up. I’m a religion professor, and I find the thing pretty funny. All Maxim is about is puerile humor and scantily clad women. Think of the harmlessness of this article — and the fact that they actually tell the guys to listen to the sermon shows the basic silliness of the humor.

    Besides, this isn’t that different from lots of young adults who seek some sort of community in church — and maybe even a spouse. Give the lads a chuckle.

  • David

    Reminds me of “Mr. Bailey’s Daughter” (Bryan Duncan song on his “Anonymous Confessions of a Lunatic Friend” recording. Check it out here: http://www.ap0s7le.com/list/song/3585/Bryan_Duncan/Mr._Bailey

    As Solomon said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

  • http://www.physicsgeekjesusfreak.blogspot.com Matthew M.

    On a slightly more serious note, I’m curious how this “subject” might relate to the apparent disproportionality of single women to men (particularly twentysomethings) in today’s churches.

  • Ben

    The more the merrier, I say. I hope a lot of young men take the advice as given and make a sincere effort to go to church and listen to the sermon given, then discuss it afterwards in a fellowship hall. Does it really matter why they come, so long as they participate?

    Here are my sure-fire steps to meeting a young woman that your mother will like and who is probably good marraige material.

    1) Find a church where you’re comfortable.

    2) Get there early enough to find a good seat, be respectful during the service, and listen to the sermon so you can discuss it later.

    3) Make small talk with a female member that you want to know better (and there are a few conversation starters in step 3 of the preceeding article). No pick-up lines necessary, be polite, don’t act like you’re in a bar. It’s a friendly atmosphere, act that way.

    4) If you’re getting positive signals make a date, and don’t expect to get sex until you have a decent relationship. If you don’t get positive signals, then gracefully retreat and look elsewhere.

    Do this, and you’ll get a woman with whom you are sure to be happy for many years to come.

  • http://www.churchhopping.blogspot.com The Hopper

    We went to a church for many years that my friends and I would call “headshot church” because it seemed like you had to have an actor’s headshot to get in. It also developed the nickname “Miniskirt Mondays” because it met on Monday nights. I’m sure there were plenty of people in attendence just looking to get some, but I can’t really judge–it’s where I met my husband and he pulled a few of the tactics from this article…

  • Stephen A.

    The amoral Left has no compunction about being offensive – to Christians, that is. If this was a story about gays, blacks or Jewish people, then there would be “OUTRAGE” at the insults and perceived slights.

    This post is good timing, because I heard something on NPR last night that burned me up.

    Apparently, this was a fund drive and they were playing snippets of recent airings of “This American Life.” Featured was Julia Sweeney, who read from her stage show “Letting Go of God” in which she ridiculed Christian faith, the Bible, and talked about the suffering as Jesus as “not so bad” considering her brother’s bout with cancer, and made some other rather hateful comments about Christian beliefs.

    And punctuating the story with screaming jazz riffs doesn’t make it acceptable or “cool,” either.

    Fine. Free Country. But again, if the topic had been ridiculing Jewish religious traditions or about calling gay practices “repugnant” or some such thing, it would 1) never have aired or 2) would have caused a firestorm.

    Tell me I’m wrong. I dare you.

    (Oh, yes, and the lunacy continued later when a gay man talked about how he indoctrinated his 6-year-old into beleiving it was “okay” for daddy to “marry” another man. Cute. The kid resisted as long as he could, though.)

    I was about to blow a gasket listening to this stuff in my car radio, and I consider myself “unchurched,” and I’m “Christian” only in the loosest sense. I can imagine how a dedicated believer felt.

    The MSM is the place where bigotry reigns – but only against Christians.

    A link to the This Am. Life episode, “Godless America” (move the line to 38:40 in the show for this woman’s *lovely* comments:

  • Stephen A.

    …In comparison to the example I cited, I do have to say that the Maxim article was kind of tame, and lame. Those guys are amateurs compared with the folks over at NPR. They should listen to more radio (or PBS on TV) for pointers.

  • http://www.newpantagruel.com DK

    NPR has been under a lot of pressure in recent years to pay more attention to religion and to do more than just hack jobs–which still come out regularly of course. You can always count on Terry Gross for that. The Speaking of Faith show is often less bad, and TAM has done a pretty good job with religion stories. What exactly is so horrible about the Julia Sweeney piece linked to here? It’s a pretty entertaining and seemingly sincere account of how radically discomfitting Jesus and the Bible are. A lot of Christians ignore or smooth over the stuff Sweeney trips over.

  • Michael

    Who knew that everything evil evolved from NPR.

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  • Ariel

    Church matchmaking is not news — and it isn’t just done by the twenty-somethings. Matchmaking the young folk is often a pasttime of middle-aged women who hate to see singles. Matchmaking is going to be done anywhere that people gather. Maxim has just (jestingly?) caught on that the church may be an untapped resource for its more secular readers.

    (Maxim’s “advice” notwithstanding, is ordinary church matchmaking really such a terrible thing? “It is not good for the man to be alone.”)

  • http://briansp.com Brian

    This raises a question I’ve confronted: is it wrong to admire handsome men in church? I attend a small, queer-friendly church with relatively few other queer men in it. Sometimes a new guy shows up, and he’s handsome or whatever, and I’ll say to my husband afterwards “woof”. And he’ll jokingly admonish me for “cruising in church”.

    But there is a sense that this behaviour, even if expressed afterwards, is wrong. As if our sexuality is a bad thing and church is a good place, and the two should never mix.

    It would be one thing if one were to make someone uncomfortable with one’s admiration. Church is supposed to be a safe place. And I do think it is wrong to “hook up” in religious communities — the whole purpose of faith communities is relational, and its usually difficult to build relationships after a “hook up”.

    But on the other hand, I think we need to celebrate the erotic in all of its dimensions more fully, and I think there is a place for that in religious community. I think the reality of people’s sexuality (gay or straight) as it relates to their faith is probably rather different from the appearance that they feel they need to project, even in progressive houses of worship.

  • Brian Volck

    If my memory were better, I’d know where in Pepys’ massive Diary he describes just such a campaign waged in church. As for “repressed” women being hot, I can’t say, but I despair at the thoroughness with which the West has imbibed Freud when repression is assumed to mean only sexual repression. What are readers of Maxim habitually repressing? Honesty? Keeping promises? Vulnerability? Their own humanity?

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Stephen, you’re wrong.

  • http://molly.douthett.net Molly

    Avram, that doesn’t help.

    Stephen, why do you listen to NPR? Doing penance for something? : ) Hoping to make it change by willing it to do so? Monitoring it?

    Why does it have such a hook in you?

    OT: is that a pic of Madonna?

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Well, Molly, he did dare us.

    Seriously, Stephen, your claim is nonsense. Literally. The first paragraph of your post — “The amoral Left has no compunction about being offensive – to Christians, that is. If this was a story about gays, blacks or Jewish people, then there would be ‘OUTRAGE’ at the insults and perceived slights.” — can’t even be analyzed in a serious manner; it’s too vague. Who is “the Left” (and what makes you think Maxim magazine is part of it)? What are your threshold levels for determining when something has or hasn’t caused “outrage”?

    And do you really think there’d be serious outrage over a magazine article about picking up Jewish girls in synogogue? Sure, you’d get a few complaints, but they’d be buried under the letters from Jews correcting your advice (“No, here’s how you really pick up Jewish girls!”) and Jewish mothers offering to fix girls up with their sons.

    Jews ridicule their own traditions all the damn time! Ever seen Fiddler on the Roof? My Hassidic friend hates it — the town’s rabbi is portrayed as a fool, old traditions are shoved out of the way by encroaching modernity — but most Jews adore it.

  • http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2 Douglas LeBlanc

    Belated answer to Molly’s question: Yes, that is a picture of Madonna from the “Like a Prayer” era, which I used to replace a photo of a soccer ball in a goalie’s net. I thought about posting a still from the “Like a Prayer” video, but I thought this photo created a better vibe. It’s one of those rare Madonna images in which she’s fully clothed and not deep-kissing somebody, and I love the moody quality of this black-and-white print.

  • Ariel

    Now that story — the one about the Hasidic friend hating “Fiddler” — is one I want to read (in the MSM).

  • Stephen A.

    Avram: So nice to see that knee of yours jerking Leftward again.

    Too bad you and others can’t see the obvious double standard of the American Left when they “protect” certain groups while allowing others to be trashed and defamed. Try inserting “gay” or “Jew” into any slur thrown at Christian groups or individuals.

    If something can’t be analyzed, it’s your statement that liberal Jews love to see their faith ridiculed. So what? So do some liberal Christians, though it’s not *exactly* the same faith they trash, it’s the conservative version, just like the play you cite.

    Where’s the play ridiculing liberal Christianity? Or the gays’ Rainbow Flag dunked in a bucket of urine? Starting to get the picture? Those examples are “hate speech.”

    I do understand, though, that religious liberals have no sense of (quote) outrage (endquote) anymore, since that particular adaptation has been lost, like much else, through a religious version of “evolution.” The fact that the very next step in that evolution is what the young God-less lady was prattling on about on NPR may be part of the reason why you have trouble being outraged, too.

    As for thresholds, I was actually outraged when I visited a friend’s fundie Christian church and heard a minister ridiculing the Jewish Passover meal, or when (briefly) attending a UU church, hearing conservative Christians called “worthless” and “deluded.” Outrage means outrage. I don’t know how clearer that can be.

    As for Maxim, if it’s somehow become a moral force in the media, someone please defend that notion. Clearly, it’s amoral (no, I didn’t see “evil”) and sometimes IMmoral in its offerings. This article was simply stupid and amoral, as usual.

    As for Molly’s more intelligent and probing comment, I do listen to NPR occassionally, the same way you folks listen to Fox News! ;-)

    Seriously, I’m open to listening to all views, even when they’re ludicriously wrong, as they often are on NPR and PBS. My radio dial still goes there out of a sense of hope. Hope I will hear what some of you say is showing up there more and more: balance. I haven’t heard it yet.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Stephen, I don’t “protect” any group. If you want to say something nasty about some group, go ahead, I won’t stop you. I might disagree with you, and I might express my disagreement, but I won’t try to stop you from talking.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t get outraged. This past decade especially, I’ve been outraged plenty. The more I read about what’s going on in the world, there more there is to get pissed off about. The difference between us — or one of them — is that I don’t think my outrage is unique. I don’t think that I’m part of some special group that’s the only group that ever gets offended.

    The play ridiculing liberal Christianity? How about a movie? Ever see Kevin Smith’s Dogma, which has a scene ridiculing a liberal Catholic priest who wants to make Jesus accessible and cartoon-like? How about South Park, which constantly ridicules liberals? How about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which had a scene ridiculing wiccans?

    I don’t know about any urine-dunked Rainbow Flag, but you’ve reminded me of something. Remember the outcry over the “Sensation” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, specifically over Chris Ofili’s painting, “The Holy Virgin Mary”? The one with the elephant dung? (The controversy was motivated less by actual outrage than by Giuliani’s desire to appeal to conservative upstate voters for his Senate run, I suspect.) Out of the many idiotic things said about that exhibit, my favorite was Jonah Goldberg’s comment that “if you replaced the Virgin Mary with Martin Luther King you’d have left-wing protesters around the block.”

    I remember this because I went to the “Sensation” exhibit, and there were, in fact, more Ofili paintings, including one incorporating images of black icons like Rev King. And yet, the only line around the block was the line to buy tickets and see the exhibit.

  • Stephen A.

    You stumbled into my example. That’s what I was referring to. Specifically, I was mocking the “Piss Christ” exhibit (not exactly sure if it was in the same one as the dung one, though.)

    You see Guiliani’s motivations as purely political and maybe they were. But so were the artists’. Did you ever consider that? Look at how celebrated he was after that exhibit by elitist liberals for “sticking it” to those prude Christians and politicians. Kind of like a Cindy Sheehan of the art world.

    Frankly, the “Sensation” episode was about an artist’s elitist, sociological experiment in making the discussion NOT about his own questionable abilities as an artist, but about the CONTROVERSY surrounding an exhibit, stirred up deliberately for effect. (Is it art? Is the reaction the ‘art’? Is that PERFORMANCE art? What IS art, anyway?) How all very insignificant. And boring. Making religious icons into artists’ playthings was soooo 1999, anyway.

    Incidentally, I remember not one word written about MLK at that exhibit. Did he have feces smeared on his face? Thought not.

    And the Goldberg quote says pretty much exactly what I said. Liberals do get outraged, but over their own icons, usually. Go figure.

    As for saying something nasty about any of these protected, I actually don’t wanna. Though I suppose if I simply disagree with one of these protected groups (say, by opposing gay marriage) I’d see their wrath and be called a bigot anyway.

    You do make a point that I’ll concede about liberal Christians being ridiculed. They are, but the scale is ridicuously tipped against conservatives. Let’s watch The Daily Show tonight and see how many times liberal Christians are bashed, shall we?

    But good point about Wiccans being ridiculed on Buffy. Wow. I bet that was harsh.

  • dpulliam

    I think we all need to chill out a little bit. People can make fun of and even degrade what other people find important in this country last time I checked. If something is really special, like I believe many aspects of my faith are, no art exhibit or pointy headed academic can change that by making fun or being sarcastic.

    Let’s save our outrage for things that are truly significant.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Actually, Stephen, the “Sensation” exhibit was about a bunch of artists doing outrageous or disturbing work. And yes, the work was selected (by advertising mogul and art collector Charles Saatchi) with an eye towards attracting attention and pushing the envelope of acceptability — that’s why it was called “Sensation”. (And “Piss Christ” was something else entirely; a photographic work by Andres Serrano. It predates the “Sensation” exhibit by more than a decade.)

    I went to the exhibit; I lived just a block from the Brooklyn Museum at the time. The Ofili piece with MLK in it, no MLK didn’t have feces smeared on his face, but neither did Mary in the more well-known piece. None of Ofili’s work (that I’ve seen; he may have changed since) had feces “smeared” on it. Or “splattered”, the other word I’ve seen used to describe the application of elephant dung to Ofili’s work. Ofili rolled the dung into balls, treated it with chemicals to sterilize it, coated it with varnish so it wouldn’t stink or decay, and attached it to his paintings.

    Now, I’m not describing this process to praise Ofili; I think he’s highly overrated, and wouldn’t bother going to an exhibition of just his work. But I thought it was odd that so many people used verbs that inaccurately implied a careless, disrespectful use of his materials. It was as if the news media wanted to exaggerate the offensiveness of Ofili’s work, or as if they had some preconceived model they were trying to fit him into, a hybrid of Jackson Pollock and Piero Manzoni. Regular readers of this blog are familiar with that pattern, right?

    There was a lot of good art at that exhibit. Ron Muenck’s highly detailed and realistic resin sculptures were among my favorites, as were Jenny Seville’s painted nudes that somehow seemed like flesh turned into oil paint. There was also art that I wouldn’t bother crossing the street to see. And unless you went out of your way to find out about it, you probably didn’t hear about anything but that one Ofili painting. There’s another familiar failing of the non-specialist news media, right?

    You probably didn’t hear about Marcus Harvey’s “Myra” either; that’s the painting that caused a big uproar when “Sensation” showed in the UK. Here in the US, nobody noticed.

    I haven’t noticed Ofili being particularly celebrated by liberals (or anyone else) after “Sensation”. Most (perhaps all) of his awards predate “Sensation”.

  • Stephen A.

    While I agree that faith needs to stand up to criticism, those who make money from degrading the faith of others need to be able to stand up to critics, too. Don’t they?

    And if it’s okay to be insensitive about religion, but it’s “hate” to be insensitive about other things in society – as determined by elitist liberals – then someone’s rights are being trampled and we should be able to discuss that double standard.

    Unless criticism of these double standards is verboten, and then I’ve just made my case.

  • dpulliam

    Stephen, you can be as critical as you want for all I care. It goes along with the “chill” policy I have towards people who do things that bother me.

    I personally try not to be offensive towards others, but I’m obviously not always successful.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Stephen, what are you talking about? You’ve wandered off into the realm of abstraction. Who is making money degrading the faith of others, and yet not standing up to critics? Maxim magazine? Chris Ofili? Charles Saatchi? Andres Serrano? Julia Sweeney?

    BTW, did you know that Ofili is himself a church-going Catholic? That Serrano was raised Catholic? That their works are about their own religious beliefs? You ought to be aware, since you listened to the piece on NPR, that Sweeney was raised Catholic, and was talking about her own experiences losing her faith.

  • Tom Breen

    This Maxim article reminds me of St. Augustine’s comment that anyone who seeks something other than Christ in the Church is a mercenary. “Lighten up, dude!” I can hear today’s “with-it” Christians saying…

  • tmatt

    And now the usual tmatt comment.

    I think the Maxim article is a hook for a perfectly valid story, or a whole series. Church as matchmaker? Sure. Church as singles bar? Sure. Church as place where people make progress on these issues? Sure. Church as place where people fall down and sin? Sure.

    Bring ‘em on.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Tom, I’m not familiar with that Augustine passage. Did he mean “church” as a body of Christian believers, or “church” as a building where worship services are held?

    If the latter, well, as Terry point out, a lot happens in those buildings.

  • NateB

    It’s lousy advice they’re giving. No one listens to the homilies. Saying that you’re “looking to find religion” would just make you sound crazy -it’s a sure ticket for a restraining order or a stint in a mental institute.

    With that in mind, here are some of my own suggested church pick up techniques:

    If you attend an older church, bring an umbrella with you to shield your love interest from being trepanned by falling plaster -repressed women love chivalry.

    This one is courtesty of the Duke himself: Step in front of her, barring her way as she’s entering the church. Cup your hand into to the holy water and hold it out it front of her. If she dips her fingers in your palm and makes a cross, it is a sign that love is surely in the air.

    Sample Dialogue:

    As the two of you are leaving, say to her:

    “That guy was terribly ugly. Do you think that’s why he became a priest?”


    “I like your vale, Scholastica. Did you make it yourself or is there some place where you buy them specially?”

    You know, small things like that.

    On the subject of our public media:

    The obvious difference between southpark and NPR is that the creators of southpark can’t have me imprisioned if I choose not to support them financially. To my thinking, there is hardly anything more evil than forcing a man to pay for what he hates.

    On that note, Avram writes:

    “”You ought to be aware, since you listened to the piece on NPR, that Sweeney was raised Catholic, and was talking about her own experiences losing her faith.””

    I don’t care if Julia Sweeney is the Pope’s daughter -why should I have to chip in on her sneering, solopistic whingefest? I hate NPR, I hate the people who listen to NPR, and I hate the sound of Julia’s Sweeney’s shrill, grating voice. There’s nothing NPR does, including Christian bashing, that isn’t done better and more efficiently by the various alternatives in the private sector.

    NPR enthusiasts will point out that the majority of it’s funding is from non-public sources – which is *great*. I’ll be satisfied when it’s 0% public.

  • Stephen A.

    To answer Avrim – Maxim magazine, Chris Ofili, and Julia Sweeney are ALL making money off their attacks on religion. They are *free* to do it, but let’s not pretend they’re pure, while the politicians are somehow grandstanding because they stand up to the likes of them, though maybe some of them are (or perhaps they are simply standing up against hate?)

    “BTW, did you know that “Ofili is himself a church-going Catholic? That Serrano was raised Catholic? That their works are about their own religious beliefs? You ought to be aware, since you listened to the piece on NPR, that Sweeney was raised Catholic, and was talking about her own experiences losing her faith.”

    Yeah, I kinda knew all this, except Ofili’s church-going habits. So? Sweeney’s clearly not Catholic now, since she denies God’s existence. (“RAISED” Catholic is all I needed to read.)

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Stephen, so what? Did I say that any of them weren’t making money? Did I say that any of them were pure?

    People want to talk about what’s important to them. Might be how great God is; might be how they decided God wasn’t so great. That doesn’t mean everything is an “attack”.

  • Tom Breen


    I don’t know that Augustine would accept the kind of distinction you’re making. The purpose of church buildings, to Augustine, would be to give the faithful a place to come together and worship God. Particularly in a Catholic or Orthodox context, churches are where people go for direct contact with God in the form of the Eucharist.

    Of course, other things happen in church, and not every Christian church has the Real Presence. But the Maxim article doesn’t offer advice on picking up women at church potlucks or fundraisers or craft fairs or soup kitchens or what have you. It offers advice on picking up women before, during, and after religious services. Augustine would have had a problem with that, and I think most Christians probably should.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Tom, is this the same Augustine who’s supposed to have said “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet”?

  • Tom Breen


    That’s him, although that quote comes from when he was a Neoplatonist, before his conversion to Christianity.

  • http://molly.douthett.net Molly

    “I hate the people who listen to NPR” – NateB

    …. well, thanks, I guess. Do I know you?

    I will assume you were having a bad day when you wrote that, because we can’t hate one another and say we love God.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Molly, did NateB say he loved God?

  • http://molly.douthett.net molly

    Good point, Avram, I didn’t catch that. Nice loophole!