Most people don’t realize it, but Jesus gave some of the best dating advice you’ll ever hear. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “But in Jesus’ day they didn’t date.” You would be correct. Marriage in those days was less: (So-called classy man) “You stir up my hormones; want to go out?” (Definitely not the best pick up line) and more: (Father figure) “You have a goat; I have a daughter. I think we need to get you two together.” That’s not an exact quotation and more of a pickup line from a Dr Seuss book and I’ve thrown in a bucket of facetiousness, but the modern day concept of love and soul mates wasn’t the main motivator for marriage back then. Marriage in Jesus’ day probably resembled closer to my Muslim friend’s. In his particular culture (this is not the practice for every Muslim) he followed the tradition of prearranged marriage. He never dated while we went to school together and never worried about it. He was essentially stress-free about the issue because he wasn’t under the same pressure as someone like me who was continually questioning: (typical Western culture person) “Who should I date? More importantly, who will date me? If I date someone, how will I know whether to stay or not?” For him, one day he said to me, “Hey Chad, I’m really excited I get to meet my wife soon.” (A very confused facial expression from me, so he continues) “My parents have set it all up. She’s sounds awesome.” (me) “You haven’t met her?” (friend) “No, why would I need to do that? My parents have done all of the work to make sure she’s the right one.” And that was how it worked. His parents found someone through friends. She was well respected and had a great reputation just like my friend did, so it made sense for them to be together. In a way, this is like a dating website, but 10 steps ahead: (dating website): “Based on your answers to random questions that sometimes have no relevance, here are your possibilities for dating. Try contacting these 100s of people and maybe 5 will reply.” Good parents, on the other hand, are more like this: (parents) “We love you son and want to find the very best for you… partially because we don’t want to hear you complain about her and also because we don’t want to deal with a crazy woman. We’ve done our research and have found the one for you based on us knowing you at your best and worst. She is a beautiful girl who is very well liked. She has a great personality, she has a good family and she will fit in really well with us.” The side bonus of parents setting you up is if you don’t end up liking your spouse you can blame your parents for life… that some more facetiousness thrown in. After writing about prearranged marriage here I’m thinking dating isn’t so great after all… what about you?
Anyway, this article is supposed to be about Jesus’ dating advice, so back to Jesus. Jesus didn’t specifically teach about dating, but he taught about how to be a better person. He taught how to be more peaceful, joyful and loving, which essentially make you a better person for dating. If you want to have a healthy dating relationship this is the first step: fix yourself; make yourself a brighter light. I know some people go into dating looking for fixer upper opportunities, but you don’t want to date someone like that because that’s usually a sign that they’re so broken they’re trying to avoid their own pain by focusing on you. Plus, who wants to have someone continually telling them: “You need to change. You need to change. You need to change.” (If this is what you hear… have fun). One of my favourite lines Jesus says is: “You are the light of the world… No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Mat 5:14-15) Many of us are afraid to show how good we really are. We’re afraid to say hi to strangers; say a nice word to someone beside us in line at the store. People use the excuse of being shy, but it’s actually selfish to not share the good thoughts you think of others whether you know the person or not. At the same time, some people for whatever reason have been so hurt that their light has dimmed. If we want to date and have healthy relationships then we need to be letting our light shine. If we’re shining bright from the goodness we share with others, we will attract people to us. Too often people seek a dating a relationship by trolling around begging: “Will you go out with me? Will you go out with me?” Or they’re so focused on, “How do I look? Are people realizing how attractive I am?” This is not how you should meet people. Saying to someone, “You have a great personality,” is not the compliment we generally want to hear because what we hear is, “You’re ugly,” but personality can make you more beautiful or ugly. Personality is a powerful force. Essentially, the better our personality, the brighter our light shines and if our light is shining bright we will make new friends who will increase our chances of meeting more people through them. Often the best way to meet someone is through a friend: (friend) “You’re such a great person; you have to meet my other friend who is also a great person.” This of course isn’t an instant solution to meeting people, but it leads to better, healthier relationships.
If you want to date, be a light that shines and makes this world a brighter and more beautiful place.
This week may you discover the courage to show love to everyone around you. May you have loving comments you can share with strangers to brighten their day and warm words for those around you at work and home.
Rev Chad David, Emotional Sex, relationship tune ups