Maybe it’s just because the first snow has started to fall, or maybe it’s because the days are getting shorter and colder and people are wishing for someone to cuddle with by the fireplace, but the season of bullshit dating advice seems to be upon us.
For me, the inaugural event was when my friend Justin shared this precious gem of typical evangelical nonsense earlier today. (Not to worry, he was sharing it ironically).
It’s titled “SECRET REVEALED: WHAT EVERY GODLY GIRL WANTS IN A MAN.” It is, of course, titled in CAPSLOCK. The blog seems to be written by a lovely young lady named Anna Koistinen, a girl who writes with grace and passion about how to tow the purity culture party line, and how to pull that line further right than it already was. Her grace and passion is salted with a fair amount of magical thinking.
One of her male readers sent her a message asking how a strapping young man like himself manages to capture a lovely and godly young lady such as herself. (My wording, not his).
She revealed her humility: “I mean, how on Earth is it humanly possible for me to speak for the Godly female population?” Then she demonstrated that she could do it, and with distressing accuracy. She dismissed a few suggestions like, “All godly girls want to marry a pastor” and “an introverted poet who can lead worship like an angel,” which I assume is her ideal because it seems oddly specific.
After some deliberation, she gave you precisely the answer you deserved:
GODLY GIRLS WANT JESUS.
There are at least three minor problems with this response.
First, it is a lie.
Second, it completely fails to answer the question.
Third, while How I Met Your Mother demonstrates how someone can strongly want a spouse and do many things to abrogate the situation and continue to wear black on St. Valentine’s Day, the rest of Anna’s response will indicate at least one compelling reason for the presumable color of her February 14 attire.
Which is to say, Third, it’s horrible advice.
Anna adds this content:
WE DON’T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING OR ANYONE MORE THAN JESUS.
WE LOVE JESUS.
WE WANT TO SERVE JESUS ALL OUR LIFE.
AND IF JESUS TELLS US TO BE SINGLE FOR FOREVER, WE WOULD DO IT.
Yes, Anna, I’m sure you would. In theory, you would. But that’s not what you want. This not caring about anyone or anything more than Jesus is all lovely, and it also tells me she’s never been deeply and completely in love with another human being of the opposite gender. That sort of relationship leaves people with Anna’s convictions in all sorts of confusion. It did for me when I held her conviction, and it did for my wife when she was of that conviction and in love with me.
This is obviously written by someone who has either never been in that situation, or who was in that situation and proceeded to gun down her feelings like they were a rabid dog in the street. If you think you will never care about anyone more than Jesus, you are destined to be horribly conflicted if you ever fall in love. Falling in love is like that. It’s confusing.
And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you need to fight the fight in your heart. It means you need to thank God for bringing them into your life.
God is happy that you love God’s gift, so stop trying not to love it and stop worrying that you might love it more than God.
I said it was a lie, but Anna doesn’t really clarify the false part until further down in her post:
Just know if it is God’s will for you to marry a girl, God WILL lead you to a marriage that will make you more Holy and therefore more happy. You might have to live life with a few godly girls before you meet the one you will marry, but that’s good!
Did you see it? That was the lie poking up its ugly head. I’ma point a flashlight at it.
…know if it is God’s will for you to marry a girl, God WILL lead you to a marriage…
If God wants you to get married, God will lead you to a marriage. Which is to say, if God wants you to get married, God will arrange your marriage. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, if you just pursue Jesus, Jesus will drop that perfect relationship right into your lap. But that’s not how God works.
God is not in the marriage-arrangement business.
I want to write that sentence in permanent marker on a sticky note, and then nail it to every purity culture book on the Christian dating advice bookshelf at every Christian bookstore in America. Gosh.
If you want to get married, it helps to get busy. If you want to be married and are never anywhere one might meet like-minded persons in marriageable state, I can predict with almost perfect accuracy that it will never be God’s will for you to get married. This is, of course, because so many of us Christians think of everything that happens as God’s will, so if we never get married, it’s because it wasn’t God’s will.
If you’re single because you’re never anywhere that you might meet someone, it’s your fault, not God’s.
For more Horrible Christian Dating Advice, click here.
David M Schell
I am a doubter and a believer. I have a Master's in Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, but because faith grows and changes, I don't necessarily stand by everything I've ever written, so if you see something troubling further back, please ask! Read More.
14 thoughts on “JESUS FIRST: More Horrible Christian Dating Advice”
I feel like the women in the purity culture need a T-shirt that reads: All I wanted was Jesus. But instead, I’m stuck with this guy —->
So sad …
Hmmm. Full disclosure: I did not read your entire post. But I think you should Soren Kierkegaard, especially his book Works of Love. But absent that, consider this: What does it mean for me to be willing to lose my life for Jesus? (Matthew 16:25) Or what does Jesus mean when he talks about loving parents and children (and others?) more than him? (Matthew 10:34-37)
One of the things Kierkegaard suggests in a few of his works is that without God as the middle term in every single relationship we enter into, the lover and loved wind up suffocating each other in various ways. I think he means by that (God as middle term) what he means in Fear and Trembling by infinite resignation. By giving up my life (everything full stop) to and for Jesus, God gives everything back in a completely transformed sense. But I cant play the game of giving everything to God for the sake of getting everything back. No, if SK is right I must have this attitude of infinite resignation at all times.
Being a Christian is demanding. Not just on my pocketbook, food and drink choices, etc. Being a following of Christ is demanding every moment of every day of every week of every month…. To pretend otherwise is, I fear, the real lie. So I’m not sure Anna’s point about putting Jesus before a spouse, children, everyone else is mistaken. I’m much more worried that the opposite view is mistaken. Thank God for grace!!!
I see it as a lie to herself. While she does make some valid points, I know from experience that what she’s saying either fails to be true now, or will fail to be true in the future, and when it does, she will feel incredibly guilty.
I really like your blog and this post. I grew up in the evangelical Christian world (my 2 uncles are Missionary Alliance pastors) and my boyfriend grew up Catholic but kinda strayed but now he believes in Jesus, and he is drawn into the Episcopal church. There’s one in our area we’ve gone to a few times that we like, but I usually go to the AoG church with my family closer to me (I actually introduced my mom at the AoG church and she loves it). I worry about when we get married (which is what we have been talking about alot because I’m gonna graduate college in the spring) and if ever join the Episcopal church what my family would say because the Episcopal church has a reputation of supporting gay marriage (which my boyfriend and I do) or reading the Bible as not just at face value. I guess the Episcopal church appeals to us because it mets us in the middle with our Catholic and Protestant upbringings but still has Jesus in the center.
I know our culture has this mindset that there is one out there for you and it’s prevalent now in Christian culture. My boyfriend and I aren’t perfect, and we have our weaknesses but we love each other and see a future together. He had issues with a young adult group I used to go (I started going there after my last ex broke up with me) to because they didn’t seem to accept him very much, and he felt very uncomfortable (this was before he returned to his faith) and when I stopped going, I only kept in contact with 1 friend. And she was the only one out of all of them who was there for me when my dad passed away.
Sorry I went off on a tangent. I’ve just spent time in the past agonizing if he was the one God had in mind for me. Thank you for showing me that as long as you are in the same direction, and both want to this relationship to work and are willing to make it work, it will workout. Love is much more complicated than what those self-help/purity books make it out to be, especially because he is my best friend and we were really close friends before we started dating. We will be together for 6 years in February.
It really is more complicated than those books, yes. And you can definitely marry someone and be very happy with them even if you don’t completely agree with them on every single issue. Our pastor’s wife is an atheist, and we know a Methodist pastor whose wife is Catholic. She serves communion in the Methodist church at which he serves, and she always shakes her head because she doesn’t think it’s “real” communion, but she goes along with it because she loves him.
That is awful and a terrible example to hold up.
The Methodist pastor? Why do you think so?
All of it. “And you can definitely marry someone and be very happy with them even if you don’t completely agree with them on every single issue” Because that’s the main issue of importance here, our happiness, and of course little things like the truth of Jesus’ life and death being reconciliation for us all needn’t get in the way of carrying out God’s purpose for our marriage that one of us doesn’t believe in… Where does ‘Seek first his Kingdom and all of these things will be added to you’ come in? Also I think you’re mixing up compassion with truth. You can’t just ratify people’s bad choices that don’t honour God because you, understandably, have compassion for them. Living in the way God calls us to means difficult choices, yes, but that should hardly be a surprise to us when we’re called to daily take up our cross and follow him – denying selfishness and crucifying our sinful nature. Do people deserve patience and understanding, yes of course all relationships involve hard work, but you’re putting that before God. Frankly. Jesus had compassion and he then changed the situation rather than saying ‘don’t worry you can be happy like this’
And your issue with the purity ‘movement’ which we don’t have here, isn’t a rational one, the problem with people who make foolish decisions is their foolishness, not that they try to take God at his word. You’re dismissing things God has called for that seem hard because some people are foolish in trying to achieve them. It would be like me saying I reject Jesus because of someone else’s behaviour as a Christian. Understandable? Maybe.
An example to follow?
Pleasing to God?
Before I respond, I want to thank you for following the comment policy and disagreeing respectfully. I appreciate that you’re willing to engage your disagreement in a respectful way.
Now, onward. You’re right, I wasn’t thinking of Kingdom as the issue of primary importance in marriage. Effectiveness in enacting the Kingdom of God is definitely an issue of pretty high importance for us Christians. But that being said, before my wife and I got married, we had a good long talk about our priorities and concluded that even though our doctrinal statements didn’t quite line up, how we believed we should live them out lined up pretty tightly, and I would definitely advocate for making well-informed, careful decisions about something this important.
Regarding taking up one’s cross, I have a rather different read on that saying of Jesus. I don’t think it’s about “Well, you put God first and sometimes your life is gonna be lame.” It wasn’t a metaphor in the first century. Jesus was a non-violent revolutionary and he was warning his followers that the trajectory his life was on would lead directly to his execution for disrupting the oppressive power systems in place, and that anyone who followed him would likely get the same treatment. If MLK had warned his followers that anyone who followed in his footsteps should get their necks fitted with rope for a lynching, we wouldn’t assume he was talking about a metaphorical lyching.
All that to say: I think the standard evangelical reading about taking up your cross doesn’t mean “denying selfishness and crucifying our sinful nature.” That may be a small part of it, but I think it looks more like Martin Luther King, Jr than your standard miserable fundamentalist.
I don’t think it means we should marry somebody with whom we’re unhappy because it makes good logical sense, or that we should not marry someone with whom we’re a good fit because they don’t agree with us on every doctrinal issue.
As for the purity movement, I define a movement as a large group of people who are doing something different, and by that definition I would say it’s a movement. I’m judging based on the books that I read and, in particular, this blog post by someone who seems so obviously part of that movement. My problem here isn’t that they’re “taking God at his word,” but that they’re completely making things up – rules and codes of conduct that are nowhere called for in scripture. I’m calling this as I see it. You say that my issue here is with people making bad choices, not with the movement, but from where I’m sitting, it looks as if the movement is itself what is calling people to make those bad choices.
I look forward to further dialogue 🙂
If you’re in a threesome with Jesus and your wife, it’s your job to make Jesus come first. Then her.
Haha this is so funny to me. Christian dating advice is BY FAR the worst dating advice ever. Worse than anything you’d see in a teenie bopper blog. I was a Christian for 5 years and even then I knew to blow off the dating advice from church leaders. Just terrible.
But its soooooo funny! Haha especially now that Im not a Christian. I have read dating articles written by Christians that I really thought were sattire. The Onion itself couldnt write better comedy. But these guys are dead serious about the advice they give. I just look every so often for a laugh these days. Thanks for posting this 🙂