THE DATING MESS
‘Just Not That Into’…Character
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
What a let down. It was meant to be an uplifting girl’s night experience, filled with the pleasures of a really great, romantic ‘chick flick’. But the movie left much to be desired and very little to the imagination. Frankly, I was both disappointed and outraged at some of what I saw on screen. It was supposed to be a feel-good movie; but even days later, scenes keep bothering me.
What movie did I see that night, you ask? The bound-to-be-popular He’s Just Not That Into You, which is based on the book by the same title. Talk about the kind of relationship drama that feeds insecurity and break-ups! It’s rife with it. Sure, parts are funny, even sweet; but much of it should be disturbing to our Christian sensibilities.
But to be honest, I am not just frustrated with the film, because I realize that the film is largely a reflection of our culture. I guess I am really more distressed about the current dating culture.
It saddens me that we have gotten away from the beautiful, honoring, wildly mysterious wonder of what God intended for a man and woman to enjoy. God wants His children to experience the kind of freedom and pleasure and character development in marriage – and only in marriage – that will lead to lasting love, self-discipline, self-sacrifice, and true security that will benefit both parties and glorify Him.
Yet this is the craziness typically exemplified in our dating culture:
- It’s how you make me feel that’s most important; it’s what you do for me(not how I can serve you). It’s that hard-to-pinpoint sexual chemistry that ultimately makes me “into you.” Chemistry is the one indicator of a wonderful relationship - not character. I don’t particularly care about your character. That might sound shocking, but honestly, if I did, then I would care that you have had multiple sex partners in your past, might lie to me consistently about your habits or true thoughts, or get really quiet when I ask for exclusive commitment from you. Ah…denial is bliss!
- Physical intimacy is absolutely assumed. Past sexual partners are to be expected. In fact, I definitely need to be suspicious if my date hasn’t had an active sex life before he or she started dating me. What? Is he gay? Does he or she not find me attractive enough? Is she a prude? We certainly don’t want that. Oh, yeah, and I am so not waiting until marriage. Who does that anymore?
- Past sexual relationships don’t affect my current dating relationship. I can ignore your past philandering, and you can ignore mine, since I believe that you will be faithful to me – even though that probably won’t be the case considering your track record or mine. Once again, character takes a back seat. Interestingly, though I expect faithfulness, somewhere in my heart I fear that you won’t really be faithful. Thus, insecurity is birthed. There is an undercurrent of fear and desperation to please you, but that’s so normal these days. I can ignore that.
- I should expect living together once we have been dating for a while. It doesn’t matter that one person will have to give up the apartment to move in and risk the potential financial risk if things don’t work out – let alone the emotional risk of having to separate and extricate themselves and the stuff from that new “shared home.”
- I shouldn’t expect marriage. To expect matrimony would be considered “demanding”. And I certainly don’t want to “force” my boyfriend or girlfriend to marry me before he or she is ready – even though that same boyfriend or girlfriend is getting no-strings-attached physical intimacy, and probably living in the same space, eating the same food, and sometimes even paying some of the same bills.
- Suspicion/cynicism toward married life is normal. Honestly, no one really wants to get married anyway. They just do because of pressure from friends, relatives, or their sweetheart. Besides, lots of married folks are truly unhappy. I hear cases just about every day about marital heartbreak. It’s better to be single and fooling around, even if it sometimes breeds more drama and insecurity than I would like.
- This relationship could end at any time and that’s normal. I have no real say in the matter. I shouldn’t really get that upset or angry. People change; feelings change. All I can hope for is that this will last a while or not completely break my heart.
- Boys will be boys. Immature, indecisive about commitment, cheaters, and liars – that’s the way it is these days, ladies. You will have to date a lot of immature men and just hope for the best. That’s why it is so important that you are a strong, successful, and independent lady.
- I am ‘committed’ to you because I feel like it. I am not with you because it is right and honorable. I am with you because I feel that I am in love with you. Therefore, if I fall out of love, I can leave.
I look at the above list and shake my head. How did we get so far away from God’s original plan? Our culture really wants this? Do you really want this?
There is this saying that to keep doing the same things expecting different results is the definition of insanity, yet our culture continues down this road, and ends up depressed, insecure, financially drained, emotionally depleted – and sometimes pregnant or infected with an STD. Why continue down the path of what is culturally ‘normal’?
It’s time we choose a different path and help those who might be struggling in the murky waters of dating to see a better way.
Yes, it is possible to have loving, secure relationships, but it has to begin with a commitment to God and to doing things God’s way. That means loving God first and refusing to make “true love” or that other person an idol to be worshipped. That means delaying sexual gratification until marriage. That means changing yourself instead of trying to blame or change the other person. That means serving one another unselfishly. That means letting your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no” in all of your commitments.
It is a tall order, and one that we absolutely can’t do without the leading of the Holy Spirit. In our flesh, we will fail. We each can probably attest to some failure in our dating past. I know that I can.
But if we continue to strive for less, we will receive less. If we expect relational junk, we typically get that dished back to us. If we keep thinking about engaging in immorality, then if left unchecked immorality will be the result. We reap what we sow – whether negative or positive.
If we want change, it has to begin with us in prayer and an open Bible before the Lord. We must ask Him how we have failed Him and ask for His forgiveness. Then we should ask Him to show us how to do this love thing better in our dating relationships. And it surely can’t look like the world’s way of dating!
Lets choose to sow into our relationships good and godly things: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, tenderness, goodness, and self-control. These are the Fruits of the Spirit. If we do that, in connection with God’s leading, we can’t go wrong.
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