Having been married for nearly 15 years, and with five children in the back of the minivan, I’m rather unaccustomed to reading articles on singleness. But I was alerted to Gina’s column, "The Good Christian Girl: A Fable," by Christianity Today on Twitter and gave it a read.
I don’t regularly give “WOW”s to columns, but Gina’s piece felt like a punch in the teeth. And somehow a well-deserved punch in the teeth. Due to Christians’ (shocker alert) undeserved certainty about certain “biblical” “truths.” “Truths” that mess with others’ lives if they listen to them.
I’m not talking about the central matters of the Christian faith. Churches and writers and thinkers and trend-shapers who cannot get orthodoxy right are one thing. They are a huge problem, yes. But what of the unintentional charlatans who just *know* the “truth” on secondary matters? Such as, as Gina explores, how dating should be … or not be … or who to date … or how to act to get dates? This matters, okay? I’m so weary of Christian know-it-alls who expound with certainty upon secondary matters, very carefully selected supporting Bible verses in tow, and tell us all what to do and not do, based upon their own story (and carefully selected stories like theirs).
Once there was a good Christian girl who dreamed of growing up, getting married, and having children. She read all the right books and did all the right things. She read about how she was a princess in God's sight and how he wanted the very best for her.
Yes, I’m probably the wrong person to weigh in on this, since I think that 90% of the Christian books sold are wastes of everyone’s time, contributing nothing to the Kingdom. Well-meaning or no, we ape the secular world by our various self-help trends. Each trend being a description of “how you should” … fill in the blank.
Some of the popular Christian books were talking about not dating at all, and just being friends, until God had made it clear that the guy she liked was exactly the right one for her. Her Sunday school teachers taught from a very popular book about how dating was unbiblical…
Here’s an example: Growing Kids God’s Way. Boy, there’s a humble title, huh? It screams “THIS is the ONLY way A Real Christian raises their child.” Rightly or not, it has always struck me as a book about how to beat personality and initiative out of your child, but let me be the first to admit that I’m surely being wholly unfair. And yet I groan every time I hear about another church group going through Growing Kids God’s Way. Ten years ago, we attended a church in which one only admitted with a whisper that one didn’t follow Growing Kids God’s Way.
Am I digressing? Maybe. So let’s get to the point. What’s my beef? This -- THE IDEA THAT GOD HAS COMMUNICATED ONE SET OF TECHNIQUES TO USE IN DATING OR RAISING CHILDREN OR FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OR WHATHAVEYOU IS PATENTLY ABSURD TO ANYONE WHO HAS EVER READ THE BIBLE ONCE. That’s my beef. And my side order of fries is -- HELLO, TREND-SETTING AUTHOR, YOUR LIFESTYLE TRUTH CLAIMS END UP IMPACTING REAL PEOPLE IN REAL WAYS, SOME BAD, WHILE YOUR BANK ACCOUNT FILLS UP.
She started to hear words like "spinster" and "bitter" and "self-absorbed" and "career woman" whispered around her.
And the girl grew tired.
She was tired of advice. She was tired of waiting. She was tired of hearing about Prince Charming and Mr. Darcy. Perhaps most of all, she was tired of shaking heads.
In my circles, “courtship” is the thing. And it is surely a fine way to approach dating and marriage. But that’s just it … it is **A** fine way. It is not **THE** fine way. If we could all just stop “knowing” secondary “biblical” “truths” that are not expressly stated in the Bible, we would all be a whole lot better off.