by Kenny Jackson
In 2012, I started asking audiences of young Christian singles to help me write a definition for the boyfriend/girlfriend dating relationship. My logic was motivated by the notion that to engage in an activity that one is not able to define makes no sense. I’ve done the exercise in places like the USA, Australia, South Africa, South Korea, The Netherlands, Belize, Ecuador, Norway, and the UK. Believe it or not, I get the exact same response everywhere. The room tends to explode into absolute chaos with people shouting over one another, because everyone is convinced their own perspective is the right one.
The other question I ask (which I already know the answer to) is, “How many of you ‘professional daters’ have experienced a relationship break up before?” Usually it is 100% of the people who either have been, or are currently in a romantic relationship. What does that tell us? WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING, yet we carry on doing it the same way we see it done in the movies, at work, school, even church – expecting a better result next time. Collective, societal insanity.
The final in-class experiment comes when I give the students 10 minutes to find all the Scriptures about dating in the Bible. More frustration ensues, especially when I dismiss each of their feeble examples of anything in the Bible that allegedly resembles what one might mistakenly compare to modern-day, boy-meets-girl culture.
By this time, very little further convincing is required to help everyone see that the world’s approach is clearly dysfunctional and risky (although not necessarily sinful or “wrong”). “So, how are people ever supposed to come together or even end up married, Kenny?” they usually implore. How about Dating 2.0? Betrothal. Some call it courtship.
Betrothal is an approach that is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is an option many might find far too “serious” for those content to keep things casual. It involves inviting trusted, wiser advisors to be involved in the relationship all along the way, even from the beginning. They are expected to ask the tough questions – even to recommend boundaries, not for the purpose of control, but safety. One of the casualties of the generation gap, introduced in the 60s, is access to truly wise counsel.