My Darling Dancer,
I wish we had a script to follow for our relationship. Dates set on my calendar for the correct time to ask you to dinner, a first kiss, to propose, and the like. Loathe tho I am to admit it, relationships are a dance, not a science. Scientists measure, calculate, and predict. Dancers must feel the rhythm and music of the song being played, adapt to the other dancers in the room, and learn to read, react to and anticipate their partner.
Just as songs change, so do cultures. In traditional societies, they practiced (and still do in many cases) arranged marriage. They did in Bible times, to no condemnation of the practice. A century and a half ago in our United States, dating hadn’t yet been invented, and courtship ruled. Those were the songs those cultures played, and if you wanted to dance (experience romance and engage others in the culture), you followed the music.
Now, for better or for worse, we are on a third or fourth iteration of this cultural tune we call “Dating”. Like it or not, it’s the song the band is playing. We can dance to it, or we can sit it out and pout. Just as different songs have different rhythms, cadences, and energy levels, so too our cultural romantic harmonies require us to move accordingly. To dance a courtship waltz (which I imagine to be a refined, line-of-dance invention of Strauss) while the band of our culture plays a dating tune (I think of a five-alarm swing with a crowded dance floor) is to be out of step, and not in any position to engage with the other dancers. If you are unhappy with the songs the band is playing, don’t complain. Change will only come if you become a fantastic dancer that can request their own songs or rise through the ranks of musicians until you become a composer and band leader and choose the songs yourself. To translate from this metaphor, it would mean to engage dating and do it with grace and dignity that inspires imitation (become a master dancer), or become a culture-shaper that can impact the way Americans do romance by gaining influence with individuals and media (band leader/ composer).
I understand why many Christians decry our current dating system. It is far from perfect, contains many downfalls, and seems completely void of Christian influence. Isn’t that our fault, though? Shouldn’t Christians always aim to shape the culture around us with our words and deeds? If no-one knows that Christians suggest that we date in a different way, isn’t that a result of us not saying anything constructive? Decry all you want, but the Jesus we follow came to redeem EVERYTHING, including all of sin-stained creation and our man-made cultures. Since I don’t believe that dating in inherently sinful (it is possible to date without committing adultery, believe it or not), it can be redeemed. There is a possible future in which Christians bring the Kingdom of God into the realm of romance. It will take concerted effort by many Christ-followers to become master dancers and band leaders to this tune. It won’t be a one-time-for-all thing, but rather something that each generation must actively influence, lest the tune drift when all-new musicians take over. I want to date in such a way as to be one of the influencers, how about you?
A Christian Guy