As posted on the Christian Men group:
Here's a question. I choose to ask my fellow followers of Christ for some experience-based advice on this one. Not a big issue, to be sure, but one I was mulling over today.
A little background first. I am 24, going to school part time and working full time, am a lifelong Christian, was homeschooled, am a member at an Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and believe in practicing "courtship" (similar to Joshua Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye and others). I hope that explains enough.
Therefore, I'm not one of those guys who looks to get laid, or who goes on random dates. Not my thing. I'm not looking for random physical relationships that will fail, rather believe that romantic relationships should be basically an experiment intended to lead to marriage.
Most women I know through some sort of channel (friend, coworker, classmate, fellow parishioner, a friend of a friend, you get the idea) where there is already some common ground. If she's a brand new acquaintance, and I think she might share some similar beliefs or views, then I have a chance to get to know her. Per what I said above it pretty much goes without saying that I won't be asking every attractive girl out on a date-fling.
A problem has arisen in recent months, however. Tell me if I'm just being dumb about it.
Take today, for instance. I'm a biology major, and spent a portion of the afternoon at my local arboretum. I made a purchase (birthday present for a friend) at the gift shop and the cashier was a drop-dead gorgeous girl. She was dressed modestly (I don't have Amish requirements, but it's a biblical plus if her breasts aren't hanging out for all to see), at least not negatively disposed to plants therefore botany therefore science (one might reasonably assume anyway) which is a must to me. There was a line behind me. Problem!
I discussed a similar problem last summer on the normal forums, ran into an ecology major at a science lecture and missed an opportunity (she disappeared), but that one is easier because I have time and common ground.
What to do when you have about 30 seconds? It is not my intent to be a "shallow" guy, but it's never a bad thing when the girl is beautiful and you find yourself attracted.
I am not worried, and know that if God wills it, he will drop someone right in front of my nose, but at the same time, when such events are occuring I find myself wondering (well, what if God wants you to find out more right now?). You never know, right?
So is there a solution to this problem, a biblical one, without resorting to a ridiculous, suggestive pickup line? The humor of the whole situation is not lost on me, and maybe I am not good at this off-the-cuff stuff (perform much better when the woman in question becomes an acquaintance), and I can't very well go up and say, "Hi, I just want to buy this please. Since you're so gorgeous, I just have to ask, are you a Christian? No, ok...thanks bye! Yes? Ok, I have more questions please, sorry to hold up your line...."
What's a man to do? Thoughts, brethren? Anyone have experience with this? I will admit that I have been a bit surprised to find in recent months (going on a year now) that I'm getting the urge to settle down and it's only making my subconcious "prowl" more, so these events are likely to increase. Therefore any experience from married Christian men is of great help to me. And even if you're still single, experience-based advice is great period!
You said it yourself:
I am not worried, and know that if God wills it, he will drop someone right in front of my nose...
Trust God. It doesn't seem to me that you are. The way I see it, if it's in the cards for you it'll work itself out. If not, it's just not gonna happen and it's best to move on.
Incorrect, you communist pinko heathen atheist.
I'll trust what you have written. The intersection of God's sovereign control and our responsibility to act can be hard to figure out.
As is said often in our circles, God works through means -- e.g., God will (most-likely) not drop the woman in front of you but will instead bring her along for you to ask her out, so your concern is very valid. What is trustworthy about our God is that He is both big and merciful, so that when He intends for us to do something, He can and will bring about the 2nd and 3rd and 4th and 50th and 200th chance to do it, though maybe not with the same particular woman. I have personal experience of this, where I missed a chance, and beat myself up for it, but after getting set straight God provided another chance in a way I totally didn't expect, and, thrillingly, I didn't miss that one.
As for how, i don't know, honestly. Here's a stab, feel free to tweak it or discard it: I'd like to meet you for coffee. There's a Starbuck's two blocks away. Would you be willing to meet me there after you get off work someday this week? It's quick, so it won't hold the line up, and proposes a neutral site with her own transportation. Introduce yourself, of course.
Dating lots of girls is not a bad thing even for a Christian. Sleeping with them on the other hand is not the right way to go about it. You need to date a girl for some time before you know if that is the right person for you to marry. You seem to have this checklist and are marking girls off before you even talk to them. You might know after the first 30 minutes of a date that this girl is not for you but it will take much longer to know if she is marriage material.
Above you mentioned "date-fling." You seem to be adding more to a simple date than most people would define as just a date. there doesn't need to be any sort of fling it can just be a date. That date can be wrapped up by 10:00 and you can go home with all your Christian values and morals still intact even if she is not a Christian. Most girls will not rape you on the first date.
"Hi, I just want to buy this please. Since you're so gorgeous, I just have to ask, are you a Christian? No, ok...thanks bye! Yes? Ok, I have more questions please, sorry to hold up your line...."
-This is a terrible way to go about dating even for a Christian. I could see not wanting to date someone who is already practicing another faith but someone who is undecided could be the person God has intended for you. Keep going back to the arboretum until you see that girl again and ask her out. A simple date is where you talk to each other and ask about each other to see if this is something worth pursuing.
Calm down with the super Christian identity. If I were dating and some girl I just met asked me if I was Christian I don't know what I would say. I am a very conservative and fundamental Christian and someone who would not want to keep talking to me because I might not be a fellow Christian is not someone I would particularly care to keep talking with.
"i just have to ask, are you a Christian?"
Don't do that. For me that's almost as weird as asking a girl right away "hey, do you want 3 or 4 kids? 4? Cool, lets go on a date!"
These sorts of questions (not the kid one though, that's reaaally weird) is what a first date is for! As said before, a date isn't random: it serves its purpose.
Dude...if I could write a letter to my 20 year old self, it'd go a bit like this:
Dear 20 year old me,
First, yes, you do get married and have sex. It's awesome! Really, it's better than you even thought it could be.
Second, if you see a girl you're interested in, just ask her out on a freaking date. Saying, "I'd really like to get coffee with you sometime. Could I have your number?" is not code for, "I just want to make sure we're compatible on ideological levels. I think I might sink $4 on a latte into that." Don't be cheap. Show her a good time, no matter what. You might just go out for coffee, but don't skimp and maybe plan a little something fun you can do together. Maybe you two don't have any real chemistry at all and she's the most admirable follower of Jesus you've ever known, and she turns out to be like the sister you always wish you'd had but never did. Or, maybe you meet for a cup of coffee and she's a militant Dawkins-style atheist and throws her coffee in your face. Wouldn't that be a funny story to tell at the college age singles group at church? Can I take a love offering for my dry cleaning bill? I took a steaming Almond Roca mocha half-caf soy latte to the face for Jesus and it wrecked my good pants ;) See? It's funny!
Or, maybe she's just smoking hot, and things don't work out, or they do, and she's the woman you end up with ala, "How I Met Your Mother" after 8 long, drawn out over-played seasons. Who knows?
What Jesus isn't against is you having fun, valuable and interesting life experiences. He isn't against you having awesome friends who don't see eye-to-eye with you. He made quite a few of those. I mean, come on. He and Lazarus, buddies? And his sister Mary? Not to mention the various and sundry gentiles, tax collectors, etc that He ate and hung out with. Jesus was always down with being with different folks.
Finally, before you judge a person as ideologically fit, don't think so heavily about what they say they believe. Look at what they do. You will meet more Muslims that pass the "Sheep and Goats" test (ala Matthew 25) than you will Christians, proportionally speaking. Seriously, you do make Muslim friends, and they totally blow your stereotypes. It's really super awesome. I kid you not. But, you might find a girl from a denomination that is completely different from your own, and she blows your mind with how like Jesus she is, and how it doesn't matter exactly how one interprets the more minor doctrines. And, trust me, anything beyond the direct teachings of Jesus are minor. I mean, we're "Christians" not "Paulians" or "Peterians." Don't waste your time majoring on the minors, even if she is Catholic or full-blown revivalist Pentacostal of some frightening strain to you. If you both have your priorities straight, you won't spend a moment arguing the difference, though there will be many awesome discussions that lead you both to a deeper understanding of God, the Scriptures (especially the gospels) and each other. You'll travel the path together and end up less like yourselves and more like Jesus and each other because of it. It's both more and less work than it sounds, but the end result is better than anything you can imagine.
So, in short: ask her out. Don't be a cheap date and make Jesus look bad, especially if she turns out to be a non-believer. Enjoy the ride, because it's not all about the end goal. It should be fun to get there, too. You can keep your purity and dignity while still having some great stories to tell. Be prepared for God to break you of your current view of things, because when you get involved with another human being, it becomes really complicated, and you get the privilege of being shown a view that exists outside yourself. If you're smart, you'll listen to it and respect it, even if you don't agree with it.
In the end, don't look for a wife. Just be open to where you are and the possibilities. God will work His good through all of it. He'll make sure you end up with the right person, as long as you're making healthy decisions about who to date seriously and marry (don't overlook the character flaws, especially if they start to interfere with your family and social life before marriage in ways that make you uncomfortable). It'll all be okay.
Me, 13 happy years later
From a militant Dawkins-style agnost to a Christian: You deserve more high-fives!
Thank you. You never really know, and that has led to some of the most rewarding and surprising experiences of my life.
He probably stopped talking to us because we don't speak (type) using King James English.
It was kind of tongue in cheek, but sincere. I mean, if you're a flaming anything, you stand out as a representative of that group. It'd be a shame to make Jesus look like the kind of dude who tolerates cheap jerks hanging around pretending to represent him. I know... Don't get me started. But the principle stands. Whoever you represent, represent well. But, especially Jesus. He already gets enough undeserved bad press on account of some real pricks.
Speaking as a married Christian man I will tell you that God will put the opportunity in front of you but you still have to act on it.
I think mixed in your faith is a bit of a nice guy syndrome. There is nothing shallow about finding a woman attractive. If you are a heterosexual man then it is perfectly normal. Now using that as an excuse to buy skin mags and leer at women is a problem for a Christian man. There is also nothing wrong with wanting to get laid. Once again, a normal desire for any man with hormones. Now acting on this desire does run into some issues with faith but I don't need to tell you that I think either. I think you might have an easier time talking to girls if you got over these lies that you have convinced yourself are true about yourself. I think many men are raised these days to think that by differentiating themselves from "typical guys" who are more open about their desires for sex that this somehow makes them appear more desirable to women. It doesn't. It just makes the girls wonder whether you are just lying about not wanting sex or whether you really don't want it and are therefore not someone to pursue since despite all public knowledge telling the contrary, women like sex, even Christian women. In other words, despite all men who claim otherwise, a man who professes to be uninterested in the attractiveness of women and sex with them is either gay, abnormal, or just a big liar. None exactly good marriage material for a woman.
As for courting, I think there is nothing wrong with keeping an eye on the big picture and using dating as a method to reach a goal of marriage but I would disagree with all the planning and criteria it sets at the start. The woman I thought I would want when I was younger vs the one I married were two completely different beings. Is it because I couldn't get what I wanted and had to settle? No. Its because life experiences through dating showed me that what I thought I wanted was completely different what I actually wanted. My inexperienced brain was not able to conjure up the woman I wanted.
Dating is healthy and I think a great way to find out what you want in a partner and a way to find out whether a given person is who you want as a partner. I think its a shame that many modern societies have included sex in this try-out for compatibility but that doesn't mean the dating model is flawed (just means you don't have to have sex with your girlfriends).
If you are interested in this girl, save the theological questionnaire for the actual date. My wife didn't dropped the C-bomb on me (a joke we have about when you tell your date you are a Christian) until we met on our first real date (after first meeting as a school social the week before). It wasn't awkward nor inappropriate but if I was not a Christian and instead hoping the date was going to end in my dorm room it did allow me the option to gracefully step out without it becoming uncomfortable for either of us.