Church Shopping and Serial Dating…?

Church Shopping and Serial Dating…?

Find a faithful, Biblical, and local church to be a part of. Interview it well, understand their doctrine, treat that process with sobriety and wisdom, and when you have found the place you can be committed to, commit to the glory of Christ! Be active, faithful in worship, and engaged in the life of the Church. Help that Church grow to accomplish God’s mission.

Church Hopping and Serial Dating

When we think about the Church as the “bride of Christ,” we must remember how easy it is to bring our anecdotal images, ideas, and societal expectations to bear. For instance, how does one get married in twenty-first-century America? Sadly, the ethics of dating in the Church do not differ drastically from the ethics of pagan culture.

In this culture, you generally meet someone who gives you a mystical spark. Then, after no time at all, you have fallen head over heels in love with that person as they develop an unhealthy emotional obsession with you. Then, the two of you bypass good old-fashioned common sense for a season, only to find out you are not who you thought each other was. So you break up, rebound, and move on, rack up a few dozen of these relationships until you find “the right one,” Then you enter into marriage with more baggage than a fully loaded 747.

Not only does that sound like a recipe for disaster (and a major contributing factor to high divorce rates among Christians, rampant infidelity even among believers, commitment issues, carnal expectations, and a host of other marital toxins) it also explains why so many Christians have a low view of the Church and a base view of commitment to the body of Christ. If the Church is Jesus’ bride, and we have ignorantly bought into the lie that brides don’t come about until the tenth or eleventh lover, then trends like church shopping, church hopping, and church dating make all the more sense.

But we have to ask ourselves the question. Is this culture of “dating the church” a good thing? Should we “try before we buy?” Should we play Church until we are ready to make a commitment? And does that behavior produce the kind of men who will build Christendom or the ones who will pursue their preferences and lusts? Does it create the type of women that raise the next generation of saints? People, who love the Church? Are faithful to the mission of Jesus Christ?

I plan to explore that in this short little article, and we will do so by drawing a comparison between hookup culture and church hopping.

The Plague of Serial Dating

As a man or woman stockpiles intimate relationships, the expectations for a perfect spouse will increase, while the likelihood of finding a suitable partner will inevitably decrease. For instance, Person A may have had the best eyes but no personality. Person B had a great personality but wasn’t all that attractive. Person C was mean to you but was sexually gratifying. Person D was smart but had the body of a muffin top. Person E was witty but tremendously self-absorbed. On and on this cycle goes.

And guess what? The longer this list of relationships becomes, the more certain two things will be to happen. First, you will never find someone who meets all your carnal preferences. You will have created a “perfect spouse” like your own personal Mr. potato head that is the amalgam of all the “best” parts from all your previous lovers when no such person exists. I want to be optimistic that Christians are not dating and treating relationships this way, but I have seen far too much carnage in this area to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Second, when you hold onto such a superficial standard, you will either remain single forever, leaving you discouraged, or marry with significant sacrifices, feeling like you have “settled.” Again, this could have been avoided if we had prepared ourselves (and our children) for dating Biblically.

If we treated dating as the Bible does, then romance, intimacy, and pleasure would follow deliberate platonic assessment. We would not give our hearts or bodies away until we were with our covenant spouse. We would not use erotically charged dating methods to discover if someone had lifelong potential. We would not move in with them and play house to see if we could be married. Instead, we should discover those things first by interviewing them, examining their doctrine, inspecting every nook and cranny of their life, and inviting the parents and our churches into the process.

If that is how we approach things, men and women could freely and joyfully enter into the sexual, relational, spiritual, and emotional intimacy they long for within covenant marriages as God designed. And they could do so without all the scars, wounds, and baggage that come from following the world. If we treated potential suitors as our future spouses, or at the least as brothers and sisters in Christ, we would enter marriage Biblically prepared, with no regrets, no unrealistic expectations, and an overwhelming sense of security, satisfaction, pleasure, and joy.

The Example of Adam

Think about the first man and husband, Adam. Here we have a man who was prepared for his wedding day in a way few could ever dream. He had never seen a female body, so he had nothing to compare her to and nothing to be disappointed with. Her body was exactly what he wanted because it was all he had ever known. He did not have a thousand expectations of waist size, leg length, hair color, nose shape, or anything else clinging to his prefrontal cortex.

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