Kissing nonsense goodbye

Posted: August 2, 2009 in Commentary

Firstly: There is ample New Testament precedent for associating people by name in public communications with their ideas and actions.

Secondly: Congratulations! To Ted Slater, editor of Boundless, for his recent post on the Boundless blog, entitled “Dating is just Fine.”

Thirdly: I am not advising single Christian men to willy-nilly go through their relational lives as it relates to the opposite gender in a state of disconnectedness from other believers, including competent help from more mature men; far from it. Your heart strings can pull at you with more power than your sex drive; and this is the sort of thing that calls out for having people around you that are invested in your life with God. And you know how your sex drive can be like an oil tanker dragging a waterskier around.

Fourthly, with trepidation: I am also not speaking of special seasons wherein you have covenanted with some group for the sake of your training, for example, a college wherein such things as going out to coffee with a lady is forbidden. I say “with trepidation” because I do not have relational standing with you, anonymous reader, to say “lights on in the head, you fool! Run, do not walk, to the nearest exit!” I can’t say that. But I think you are a fool if you are a self-supporting man and let someone have that kind of power over you, regardless of their supposed wisdom. And I think I’ve been around the block a few times.

Fifthly: We have to listen to the “heart” rather than the “heat” in this. There is a reason why these matters boil the blood; for they touch upon other kinds of relationships than those across a table at a coffee bar.

And sixthly: Sisters should be free of attention that they don’t want, and the fellowship is supposed to be a place of refuge for them as well. Keep that in mind, single Christian man.

So, finally: Both times around as a biblically free, self-supporting single Christian man, I have had occasion to come across, and experience personally, the institutional bias in some places against such horrible and terrible behaviors as (*gasp*) dating. It’s a profound mystery at times that it even exists. It ought to be a profoundly noticeable thing if men can face either reproval or discouragement in the fellowship for non-sinful behavior, yet there are places where it is official (or semi-official..or tacitly tolerated) policy. I know other people who have experienced it (one of them actually a church elder with two nearly – grown boys). I can read about it in the blogosphere, too.

….. Recently at the Boundless blog we had occasion to see Ted’s posting “In Defense of ‘I kissed dating goodbye.‘” It is, possibly, a response to this posting in Relevant magazine. Of note to this discussion as well is Joshua Harris’ video clip at Youtube. Parenthetically I will draw your attention to this web resource as well.

On Pastor Harris’ Youtube posting he speaks about what is “the heart” of the message – that’s great, by the way; yet the text of what is in the book is what people are still looking to in some circles.

It so happens that I had a “ruff draft” posting in the pipeline about these matters before these recent postings took place. My focus was going to be, basically, about how the single Christian man should respond to church leadership when they act in this fashion. The matter can be a difficult one to tease out, as we are obliged to have a certain degree of respect to leadership in the fellowship, who are at times — but not always – men who are older than ourselves. Yet, at the end of the day, some of this anti-dating nonsense is worse than hysteria or control issues; it can be sin. All of this can happen in a milieu in which a man is often assumed to be something like a “child” if he is not married, which may further embolden some leadership figures to be loose with their tongues towards a wise single in a way that they would never be with a foolish married man. ….So I have not commented upon this yet fully.

..I will offer these words of caution, though, to the single Christian man: Be certain you are hearing precisely what is being communicated. This sort of thing can in fact happen, but it can happen (I’m certain this was so in one case with me) that one is hearing one man’s opinion rather than a directive from the leadership. If you are being reproved for dishonorable behavior that you have done, don’t hide behind your freedom to date. But don’t receive shame, either, if you have done nothing shameful.

If any pastors should come this way, and if it so happens that you are not bound up with legalism and control issues – or if you think you are not — then I ask you to consider going so far as to publicly, as Pastor Slater has done, in a non-shaming manner, encourage the single Christian men in your fellowship to honorably explore relational possibilities, particularly if you are uncertain of the church experiences they may have had before they came under your eye. Or if you know that they have come out of such a background.

…It would not hurt, Pastor, if you plan on reproving a single Christian man for something he is doing — or that you think he is doing — if you let him know up front that you are going to reprove him and offer him an opportunity to have a witness from the local body, of his choice present. You do something foolish by grabbing your best friend on the elder’s team to perform such an act. Think about why that’s so.

  1. John says:

    My head is about to explode from all this legalistic weirdness, which thankfully does not occur at the church I attend.

    Wouldn’t it just be simpler to meet a Christian girl on the internet and go out with her, and leave the busybodies at your church out of it altogether? I mean, what does my pastor really know about what I do in the 165 hours a week I’m not in church anyway?

  2. steve240 says:

    Nice post you have here and thanks for the reference to my blog.

    I am glad to see people are now blogging and discussing “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” including the problems it can create rather than just blindly accepting it as the “better” alternative to dating. Unfortunately those who promote “kissing dating goodbye” are quick to point out what they see as defects of dating but don’t mention the problems “kissing dating goodbye” has caused over the years.

    You have a good point with what you said here “On Pastor Harris’ Youtube posting he speaks about what is “the heart” of the message – that’s great, by the way; yet the text of what is in the book is what people are still looking to in some circles.” He might have the right “heart” but in most circles where I have seen this principle taught, it always produces legalism.

    In one interview, Josh Harris pretty much washed his hads of his book producing legalism and indicated that this was beyond his control. For Harris to say this is out of his control would be for an employer to keep blaming “careless” employees on why employees keep getting their hands cut on a machine rather than thinking there is a prolem with the machine.

    Unfortunately Harris hasn’t chosen to share problems with IKDG even on his blog.

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