It’s Saturday night. You meet a cute girl at a bar. Things are going well and you try to take her home. She turns you down with “Sorry, I have church in the morning.” Wait, what?
Ever wonder if you could make it happen in the Evangelical Christian dating field? Don’t scoff; it’s a land mine. I grew up in a devout Christian family and during my short life, I’ve spent about 6,000 hours sitting through some sort of religious event. Approximately 4,000 of those hours were spent spacing out and people watching, two activities which often left me pondering the subject of romantic love within a modern Christian community. From what I’ve observed, here’s what it takes:
If you’re interested in dating within the Christian community, you should try hanging out with your love interest in a group setting like Bible study or a capella choir practice. For Christian dating rookies, either of these are great places to get to know members of the opposite sex (you can get close to members of your own sex, but don’t you dare get too close). If you want to make a move on your love interest, ask if you can pray with her/him. If they respond with “Oh yeah, I’d like you to help me thank God for my boyfriend/girlfriend,” they are blowing you off. Move on to the next spiritual sister/brother. If they respond with “Yes, I’d like to pray with you sometime! Maybe Friday night at 7,” they’re really into you, a.k.a. the Spirit is moving them (literally) to be into you (figuratively).
If you find yourself in a one-on-one prayer sesh on a Friday night, look out for positive body language and verbal cues. For example, if your love interest insists on putting their hands on you when praying, that is good. If they whisper in hushed voices “Yes Lord, yes Lord,” that is also good. If they are moved to tears, that is very good. If they don’t pray aloud for at least fifteen minutes, that is bad. You are in the Spiritual Friend Zone and have been demoted back to a “spiritual brother” or “spiritual sister.” Any God-fearing Christian is a spiritual brother or a spiritual sister, so basically you’re screwed.
So when’s the right time to make a move? One way a dude can ask a gal to go steady is by asking if he can be her spiritual mentor. Be careful, as there’s a bit of roundabout logic associated with this question. Since spiritual mentorships are reserved for strictly platonic relationships between two people of the same sex, a rejection of this offer is really code for “I want to be more than your spiritual mentee; I want to be involved with you romantically.” So if a girl tells a guy she doesn’t want him as her spiritual mentor, this is GOOD. Get it? No? You should probably pray about it.
Once you have successfully entered a relationship with a devout Christian, you must announce it with tact. First, quietly mention it to members of your Bible study, especially if the two of you met there. The earlier, the better. This will reduce idle gossip and inter-fellowship drama. If you’re the kind of person who likes to pronounce things with panache, slip it into a corporate prayer so everyone can hear it (“Thank you Lord for this new change in my relationship status!”). If you’re shy, you can probably just get away with it if you avoid PDA. Keep this up and you can go months — maybe even years — before anyone finds out. If anyone does find out and gets annoyed that you kept the news from them, just calmly explain that you wanted to keep your new relationship free of outside temptations.
When it comes to actual dates, stick to day activities that minimize lustful thoughts. Try visiting a botanical garden, running in a 5K, picnicking by a lake, or jousting at a Renaissance Faire. It’s probably best to plan one-on-one interactions before 10 p.m.
In terms of group dates, activities with other Christian couples will prepare you for the married couples fellowship of your later years. Try joining a book club together to read Why True Love Waits. Resist getting sexually aroused by the true-life testimonies.
In terms of gift giving, pick out something that symbolizes your future together. If you’re stuck, cross or fish-themed jewelry are always acceptable for both sexes. Always spring for the sterling silver or cubic zirconia. If it’s gold, anything less than 13 carats is unacceptable.
If for any reason things don’t work out between you and your Christian significant other, don’t fret. God has bigger plans in store for you. Maybe this plan includes a new person. Maybe it includes a lifetime commitment to a nunnery. With God, you just never know. If Satan has turned your significant other into a crazy person, here are several acceptable ways out of your relationship:
“I’m about to leave on a missions trip and I think long-distance would be really distracting spiritually.”
“I feel the Spirit moving me away from you.”
And if you’re really desperate: “God is calling me to be celibate.”
Marry early, marry often (JK about the last part! Only applicable if you are Newt Gingrich). If you somehow managed to bypass all the complications listed above, more power to you; marriage is on the horizon! This also means sex. That is on the horizon too! Remember though, you are not making room for one another person in your life; you are making room for another person AND a divine presence. Christian marriage is basically one divine threesome between you, your spouse, and God. But God is also the trinity, so it’s like a threesome within a threesome. Get it? No? You should probably pray about it.
For the wedding, it is important to make God present in the ceremony. Anybody who has seen a wedding on TV knows the passage about love from 1st Corinthians 13. Mix things up a little by reading aloud a passage about Gomer, the lesser-known love story of the Bible’s favorite prostitute. This will certainly move everyone to tears, which is good.
For the reception, request Steven Curtis Chapman’s “I Will Be Here” as the first song you dance to with your spouse. Then request that certain secular hits like “My Humps” and “Yeah!” be removed from the playlist. Keep the “Cha Cha Slide,” but ask the DJ to fast forward through the section requiring you to “go to work.” Add Christian party anthems like Audio Adrenaline’s “Big House” and Rich Mullins’ “Awesome God” to the mix.
On the actual wedding night, things might be a little awkward, but that’s to be expected. If you courted each other the way God intended, you haven’t done anything past first base. Perhaps you’ve even saved your first kiss for the wedding ceremony. Either way you’ve spent a long time denying your sexual urges and now, on this night, it’s okay. In fact, it’s God’s plan.
Everything is confusing. You’ve ignored sex in mainstream media, but you’ve definitely read about it in puberty pamphlets, psychology textbooks and Joshua Harris’ Every Young Man’s Battle. So how come you don’t know where to put things? Forget the obvious; how do you switch the frontal lobe from “hands off” to “hands on”? This is where Song of Solomon comes in. As the raciest book of the Bible, It reads like an old school romance novel and will certainly get you in the mood.
Don’t stress, though; things will get easier. Being horny for your significant other is no longer a sin because this time, it’s in preparation to “bear fruit.” You’ll convince yourself that everybody else’s husband probably has a penis like your husband’s. You’ll come to terms with the fact that your wife’s breasts are not the same size and the left one actually receives a little help from Victoria’s Secret. If you had been in a secular relationship, you might have known these things already. You may have entered the marriage with different expectations about sex and intimacy, but for you, your choice was right.
Enjoy married life by sharing your struggles in a small group. Give talks to teens about how you struggled with pornography during high school but never once masturbated during your engagement. If one day you can co-author a book on heterosexual marriage with your spouse — congratulations, you have made it! Consider running for political office.