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What is an appropriate age to start dating? #
Here’s a simple rule of thumb: you can start dating when you possess the maturity and ability to marry within a year, and take care of a baby within a year after that.
Maturity includes self-control; the ability to rule your own spirit. So if you don’t have reasonable control over your sexual desires/impulses, don’t date or court. Get that figured out first.
Now, someone will quote 1 Cor. 7:9: “But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Let’s briefly consider that:
Firstly, do you think this verse means a father should allow his daughter to marry a man who compulsively masturbates to porn?
Secondly, did you check the context of the verse? If you look back to verse 7, you will see that Paul is speaking in the context of the gift of celibacy, building on Christ’s teaching in Matt 19:11 (more on that in our article, Singleness Is Not Normal). In other words, those who don’t have that gift (i.e., those who burn with sexual desire) should marry. But lots of people without the gift of celibacy aren’t enslaved to porn either. Burning isn’t talking about a guy with zero control. Marriage is a help to fight against sexual immorality. It isn’t a solution for a porn “addiction.”
The 3 stages of dating #
This is a fairly obvious and basic concept, but sometimes people need the obvious pointed out in order to take it from intuition to useful knowledge:
Dating is kind of like a funnel that increasingly narrows, from “acquaintances” to “engaged.” As you work your way down, there are fewer candidates, and the intensity and intentionality increases.
For modern Christians, there are three major stages that occur along this funnel. These are broad categories—you could splice them up and create more, if you love complexity, but it helps to keep things as simple and flexible as possible:
Stage 1 is “interested but not exclusive”
This is where the possibility has been tabled of the relationship moving toward something more than mere friendship. It doesn’t have to explicit—often it is implicit. You might grab coffee, or go to an event together. It may be one time or several. But the intensity is low. It is more a getting to know you phase than anything else. Is there something here? Is there chemistry? Is this mutual? Is this person a possible candidate for marriage?
Consequently, there is no need for it to be formal or exclusive. You can be “seeing” multiple people in this sense all at once. But it is important that you don’t lead someone on. If there’s no chemistry, if you don’t feel the connection, then you back out.
Generally, the courtship crowd requires the permission of the father to even enter into this stage. This is usually unnecessary and unhelpful. It unnaturally dials up the intensity to way higher than it should be, way faster than is wise. It often obligates the daughter to see someone she isn’t interested in. It also gives hope to guys who don’t have a chance, and would be best to look elsewhere. It turns what could be a single “date” into multiple dates. It’s just bad.
Stage 2 is “interested and exclusive”
This is where mutual interest, general shared commitments, and chemistry has been established. The question being asked is not if they could be a candidate for marriage. That has been established. Rather, the question now is if they are the candidate.
At this point, you stop “seeing” all others, and dial up the intensity. You dive deeper on all things. What is his/her family like? Do they like you? Is it a total mess? How much in common do you have—not just on general issues, but secondary things? Is she disrespectful or discontented? Is she unwilling to follow a man’s lead in even small things? Is she emotionally stable? Does she desire motherhood? Does she have a lot of debt? Etc. Women should also be asking these kinds of questions. Is he crazy controlling? Does he rule his spirit? Is he just a dreamer, or is he a doer?
This is the most important stage. It is the stage where the major decision (marriage) has to happen. Therefore, consulting your parents, or other trusted counselors, before becoming exclusive is highly advisable. It is not required. You are adults. But do you generally make major decisions without getting good advice first? If a woman is still under her father’s roof, she should generally honor his authority in this matter. But there are times, especially in today’s jacked-up world, where that will actually lead to her being tyrannized by him. And there are other times when he just doesn’t care. This is why having some basic discernment, instead of trying to follow a cookie-cutter rule-set, is so critical.
Stage 3 is “engaged”
This is where you have mutually established that, as far as you’re both concerned, you are the candidate for each other. However, you still need the approval of the broader community: parents and the church. This stage exists as a heavy check before vows are exchanged. It lets you slow down and make sure you’re doing the right thing, instead of getting caught up in the emotion and potentially wrecking your lives.
Courtship and reality #
Courtship proponents seem to imagine that the path to marriage always takes place with 18–20 year olds in a solid church, with enough good families to provide good spousal options for men and women.
Do folks not realize how uncommon this is?
If that’s your situation, praise God. But it is not common.
We could post screenshots of all the emails and messages we get from parents, pastors, and individuals looking for spousal candidates. It’s no exaggeration to say that they come through every other day.
There’s also a clear relationship between the modern practice (not doctrine) of courtship and safetyism.
In The Coddling of the American Mind, Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff explain that “safetyism refers to a culture or belief system in which safety has become a sacred value, which means that people are unwilling to make trade-offs demanded by other practical and moral concerns.”
You can see how this applies to life in general, especially after covid. But safetyism has wormed into the modern mind in ways that are not always so obvious.
In the case of courtship, fornication is a real danger. So is a poorly and hastily matched marriage. You can’t be reckless.
But there is the danger of missing or running off a good match, and the even greater danger of undue delay of marriage that turns into a long life of unwanted singleness.
A water-tight systems that guarantees short-term safety can produce long-term danger.
We’re not saying don’t court. We’re not saying our way is the only way. Rather, the basic path we recommend is a way that is suitable for multiple contexts.
We’re not gurus or experts. But we are fairly informed. Especially Michael, who has done not just research, but counseling with hundreds of people in various contexts.
That’s it. So take it or leave it. If you have found the way, good. Share it with the world and resolve this problem.
Or…if you have a different way that’s working for you, stick to it.
How dating apps and porn sites have fetishized our attraction to the opposite sex #
All of the elements involved in attraction have been amped up and blown out of proportion by our artificial ability to suddenly filter for them online.
We are granular in our wants, desires, and standards for our spouse.
We’ve allowed ourselves to be trained to filter by very specific variables. Even when we are actively trying to be sensible, our mindset is this:
- She must be a redhead.
- He must be over 6 foot.
- She must be no older then 24.
- He must make over 6 figures.
Each variable exponentially shrinks the pool of options. It doesn’t take too many of these variables to empty the pool completely.
Have your desires and standards.
- Maybe a 27 year old brunette who loves the Lord would a great wife for you.
- Maybe a 5′10″ jr salesman making 55k will be a wonderful husband, father, and grow into the provider you hoped for.
Some people are too particular to even explore the possibility. That’s your choice. And you are responsible for your choices.
Remember, it’s ideal to catch someone on their way up. In other words, get them while they are still unfinished, but have demonstrated their potential.
Generally speaking, you become the “complete package” in marriage—not before it.
“Finished” spouse candidates don’t really exist…because someone else had the good sense to put a ring on them while they were still unfinished. Then they grew together in marriage.
Q&A: should you want a woman who “sees through you”? #
Here’s a good question we received:
I’d like a woman who can see through me and understand me. Then be there to refine me by being an extra set of eyes and speaking into my life the encouragement to build with my gifts and talents. Does this fit biblical manhood?”
It’s rare to marry someone who immediately “sees through” and “understands” you. Men and women usually have different communication tendencies and relational motives. This can lead to a lot of difficulties in early marriage. Consequently, it takes time to develop this sort mutual of understanding.
It can be done—but not if you demand too much too fast. That’ll stall the whole learning process.
You also must come to terms with the fact that a spouse may know you better than anyone else…but you can only fully be known by God Himself.
We often expect too much from our spouses. It’s unfair, and at odds with reality.
That’s neither biblical nor manly.
Grace, mercy, and a willingness to listen is the soil in which mutual understanding grows. It’s a sanctification and maturation process which is continual, and will not be finished in this life.
Quick tip: #
If you’re treating dating or courting like an interview, marriage is going to feel like a job.
Wisdom from our men’s group: #
The reason one sucks at making conversation is because they’re self-centered. Attempts to get better are simply attempts to learn to care/relate to others more.
This is especially true in dating, where the self-centeredness takes the form of too much concern about what the girl thinks about you, and what you think about her.
Learn more about our men’s group
New content this week: #
- The Social Landscape | @Arthur Kwon Lee | Full Speech - YouTube
- Raise Your Kids In Christian Community | Jared Longshore - YouTube “There is a world of difference between children obeying their parents, and children obeying their parents in the Lord.”
- Antichrist and His Ruin - Official Trailer - YouTube
Dominion Dating is a new patriarchy-friendly dating site for Christian singles #
This is a project that Bnonn is heavily involved with. Its goal is to help accelerate a marriage reformation, by guiding biblically-faithful singles to find biblically-faithful spouses.
There is a strict statement of faith that includes assent to key tenets of gendered piety, and you have to get endorsed by your pastor (or relevantly similar shepherd) before you can even use your account.
Dominion Dating is about to enter closed beta. You can still get in by becoming a backer, but only for the next day or two. Once the beta launches, backing closes.
Get access to Dominion Dating
Btw, we’re not pro dating sites. In the postmillennial christendom of 200 years from now, they won’t exist. Local community is always better. But for now, they are one way to connect like-minded believers in a disconnected and fragmented world, where most “Christians” are no more interested in marriage than anyone else.
Talk again next week,
Bnonn & Michael