Volume 7, Issue 3: Childer
Wake Up, Little Suzy
In America today, relationships between boys and girls, men and women, husbands
and wives are a stretcher case. That pride is at the heart of this problem can
be seen in the fact that the worse our troubles get, the more faith we have in
our methods and procedures. Like the woman in Luke's gospel, the treatment we
receive from our physicians does not really touch our condition. And like that
woman, our livelihood is now up and gone (Luke 8:43). The starting point for
most of our relationships, the modern dating system, can be safely considered
Consider how our system works. A young man notices a girl who attracts him.
He asks her out, and she agrees. They start going together, and one of two things
happens. Either they like each other or they don't, and both possibilities bring
problems in their train. If neither one likes the other, then they both have
had a bad experience. If they both hit it off, then the eventual temptation to
immorality is strong, especially if they happened to pair off youngfourteen,
say. "Glad you kids like each other! Now don't touch anything for eight more years!" "Okay,
Mom!" And of course, if one is interested in staying together and the other one
isn't, the possibilities for emotional snarls and interesting complications are
A gross generalization? Objections to this assessment of the modern dating system
may come easily. Why can we not point to the successes, the happy endings? Besides,
this whole thing seems to work on television. Three responses come to mind. First,
it is certain that everyone with a good will rejoices when a godly Christian
couple date, behave themselves, and then marry. The success stories within the
modern dating system, which certainly exist , are not the problem with it. But
people survive plane crashes too, some of them without a scratch, and we are
all happy about it. But this acknowledgment does not disqualify us from opposing
the general habit of crashing airplanes.
This relates to the second point. Generalizations are legitimate if they honestly
describe an overall pattern. Generalizations are consequently not refuted through
particular and individual counterexamples. Honest Pharisees lived at the time
of Christ, and they were not an embarrassment to Christ's scathing denunciations
of their religious sect as a whole. Indeed one indication of honesty would be
a Pharisee's willingness to acknow- ledge the justice of Christ's sarcasm.
Third, "success stories" are not as abundant as may be assumed through briefly
glancing around at church. Our tendency is to judge based upon the outward appearance,
and everybody there sure looks moral! But many pastors, in premarital counseling,
go beyond this cursory glance. Tragically, many are now surprised when they find
Christian couples who are behaving themselves sexually"You are ?" The objective
data concerning unmarried Christian couples in the modern dating game is not
Our dating system, considered as a system, does not biblically prepare young
men and women for marriage, marriage as God designed it. A few basic reasons
should at least introduce the subject.
The modern dating system does not train young people to form a relationship.
It trains them to form a series of relationships, and further trains them to
harden themselves to the break-up of all but the current one. At the very least,
this system is as much a preparation for divorce as it is for marriage. Whenever
the other person starts to wear a little thin, you just slip out the back, Jack.
Further, the modern dating system encourages emotional attachments apart from
the protections of a covenant fence. This has been accurately called emotional
promiscuity. A man and woman cannot function within a romantic relationship without
becoming emotionally vulnerable to one another. Nothing is wrong with this vulnerability;
it is just that we are delicate enough at this level to require protection, a
protection which the Bible says is covenantal.
The modern dating system also leaves the father of the young girl out of the
loop. The father, who ought to be protecting his daughter's sexual purity, sends
her off into the dark with some testosterone bundle, and does what he thinks
is his job, which is to worry. "Well, dear," he says to his wife, "we can only
And he should worry, because the modern dating system expects a certain amount
of physical involvement. True, the Christian version of this system allows only
enough foreplay to get everybody concerned all messed up. We think a godly Christian
is one who can pre-heat the oven without cooking the roast.
Is there a better way? In issues to come, we will address the biblical principles
involved in courtship.