Dating, relating, and fornicating

Christians worship a single guy who died a virgin. Perhaps that should be listed among his many miracles.

For the first time in our nation’s history, there are more unmarried than married adults. And people are waiting longer than ever to marry — women in their mid- to late twenties on average and men closer to thirty. The closer you get to a major city, the more singles you will find — most of them dating, relating, and fornicating.

This trend includes Seattle. Recently, Mars Hill Church Seattle was listed by the Seattle P-I as one of the best places in Seattle for singles to meet somebody. So, if you’re looking to get hitched, Mars Hill is apparently a good place.

One of the reasons I believe we were named among such places as gyms, bars, and (naturally) dog parks — there are more dogs per capita in Seattle than kids — is because we tend to verbally beat boys who can shave (men who are adults chronologically but kids in terms of responsibility) like drill sergeants. The ones who don’t leave to blog about their hurt feelings tend to stay, grow up, man up, and eventually get married to a nice gal who would like to have babies but does not want to be married to one.

Over the years, we’ve seen thousands of singles come to Mars Hill, become Christians, find healing from past abuse, trust Jesus, start dating a godly guy or gal, get married, and have kids to the glory of God. I personally know hundreds of women who were sexual assault victims at the hands of some loser boyfriend/porn-head find help, healing, and hope in Jesus, get married to a guy who was previously a train wreck, and by God’s grace become new people with a fun, free, faithful marriage. Nothing beats the front row I enjoy for the Holy Spirit’s power in the lives of people whom Jesus loves.

And though we have many families at Mars Hill, over half of our church is single and in their twenties. Naturally, there are many questions about dating.

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to speak to those of you who are single in both our church and in the church at large.
The History of Dating

Most likely, you view your experiences regarding dating as normative. Because you were born in this day and age, dating seems not only normal but also the only way in which to meet someone you could potentially marry.

We must be careful, however, not to take our current experiences and make them the norm. It’s important to view the times in which we live through the lens of both history and Scripture.

The reality is that dating, as we know it today, is a relatively new idea. In fact, prior to the 1900s, “dating” was a slang term that referred to prostitution. A man who was going to pay a woman for sex told his buddies that he was “going on a date.” Interestingly, while dating isn’t overtly a euphemism for prostitution any longer, for many men, the process is similar. In our culture, a man takes a woman on a date, spends lots of money, and by the world’s standards expects the woman to “put out.”

The cultural history of dating is interesting. In the early 1900s “calling” was the primary means of marrying. A young man would call on a young woman by going to the parlor in her parents’ home. Her parents carefully oversaw these meetings, and expectations for everything from dress and food to length of time of the call was regulated and spelled out. This protected women from the kind of sexual assault that is common today by involving the parents on every level of the courtship process.