Ever been in a conversation where a statement that is made leaves you shaking your head? And you start wondering whether this individual has any idea the context of the conversation. After the bad advice “pow-wow” breaks, you have to do damage control.
But most of the time the damage is done. This is the problem with advice, in general. Especially if someone comes asking for it. Whether the sage (I use the term loosely) delivers good or bad advice, the individual asking will heed it.
I wish I could tell you Christians never give bad advice. Unfortunately, I would be lying. This is just another product of our brokenness. Christians have a tendency to make statements that, if they were tangible, would be some form of smelly poo or rotten milk. And I am guilty as well.
Combine the potential to deliver bad advice with a strange topic like dating, the chance of smelly poo or spoiled milk increases exponentially. Let’s be real, church. Dating is strange to us. We know we will be inevitably confronted with it. But we are not sure what to do when the confrontation happens. Some assume dating ends in something really bad (you know what I mean). Others fully embrace it. The rest are just bamboozled by the topic altogether.
I embrace dating (not me dating, but dating in general). I believe Christians must talk about it. And we must advise people, young and old, about the positive and negatives of dating as a follower of Jesus.
With that said, if someone comes to you for advice, the individual expects you to provide them with advice. But, for the love of all things good and righteous, avoid these statements.
Here are 8 terrible pieces of dating advice Christians give.
1.) “Follow your heart.”
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.Proverbs 14:12Now this piece of advice appears logical. Someone comes to you for advice. The individual has feelings for another person. But doubt or uncertainty is also present. So, how do you move forward? “Just follow your heart.”
Steer clear of the rotten milk. Here’s why this statement is toxic. Riding the waves of emotions and logic will eventually lead to a crash landing. Emotions and logic can be helpful. They can also be deceitful. Like a blind man relying on his cane. It can be helpful. But relying on a cane to get from the house to the store? Not a good idea.
A better option? Follow the advice of others. Pray for clarity. Seek the Lord.
2.) “You are married to Jesus. Focus on your relationship with him.”
This is another piece of advice that seems good. As long as you aren’t the one receiving it. And you aren’t a dude. Ever heard a guy receive this piece of advice? Me neither.
This is more a copout than a piece of advice. The statement is legitimate, yes. Jesus must be the center of a relationship. Your love for him must be significantly greater than your love for any other person. But what Christian doesn’t know this?
3.) “You should always date to marry.”
I need to be careful here. Don’t want to contradict myself. I believe strongly in intentional dating. I also believe strongly in Christians dating Christians (more on this later). But refusing to date unless you are sure the individual is “marriage material” is overkill.
Christian dating is a lot about figuring out yourself. Not to mention having this cloud hovering over any relationship adds unnecessary pressure to it. Dating should be fun. It should be pure. And it doesn’t have to end in marriage. These relationships can teach you something about yourself that prepares you for the one you will one day marry.
I say that is valuable. You decide for yourself.
4.) “Stop being so picky.”
People who have higher standards and higher expectations for their marriage have the best marriages, not the worst.John GottmanLook, marriage is forever. God designed it this way. So you should never compromise on the values you have for a spouse. Make a list. Keep the list close. And make sure any potential spouse meets the qualities on your list.
This goes for dating as well. It is better to remain single for a lifetime than compromise values just to marry. It never ends well for people who do this.
Those who have a high standard in a spouse will have a high standard in marriage. Having a high standard for marriage is an important value for having a great marriage. And God desires couples to have great marriages. It is worth waiting months or years to find the person who meets the standards you believe are essential.
So, if you hear someone telling you to stop being so picky, be sure the advice is bad. Spoiled milk.
5.) “It’s ok to date a non-Christian…just don’t marry one.”
There are certain non-negotiable filters in dating. This is one. Christian dating can be a field day for Satan. He uses dating like he uses everything inherently good…To spread lies and destroy your life.
For this reason, date someone who shares your values. Shares your passion for Jesus. Shares your desire for purity. It’s not that dating a non-Christian is sinful. The Bible never talks about dating. But it is critical to date people who won’t create tension between the desires of the flesh and the will of God.
Dating Christians doesn’t ensure this won’t happen. But Christians should work with you to pursue the holiness God desires.
6.) “You will meet your spouse when you stop looking.”
You know who makes statements like this one? People who are married…or really old. No offense to my older people. Love you guys (and girls). The idea with this statement is you are trying to hard to find a spouse. But you are adding unneeded pressure and stress in the process.
This is the picture I get when I hear this statement.
Instead of trying to find a spouse at every corner, you proceed to sit at the house with a bag of Nachos or ice cream. And wait. Then, magically, a cute, Jesus-following guy or girl rings the doorbell with a box of chocolates (or, for the dudes, a jersey from your favorite sports team), asks you out on a date, and the rest is history.
Of course, we know this is garbage. And if you are the one person reading this who had this experience, don’t leave me a comment. Thanks.
The better solution: pray for a spouse (if you believe this is God’s design for your life). Live expectantly. Don’t force what God is not ordaining. But go to work, school, wherever, with eyes open to how God is moving in the world around you…Whatever you do, don’t compromise.
7.) “Singleness is a gift from God.”
Again, this is a copout answer to someone most likely struggling with singleness. Like the woman who is struggling to get pregnant. Or the person who lost a family member to cancer. Copout answers don’t work.
Yes, singleness is a gift from God. I believe God calls certain people to singleness to show himself to them in a way relationships never would. But don’t tell that to the guy or girl who sees friends progressing down life’s natural road.
The better response? Ask questions. Allow those struggling with singleness to share emotions and frustrations. Encourage them in Christ. But, as a general rule, stay away from copout statements like this one.
8.) “There are plenty of fish in the sea. It’s time to move on.”
I remember the first time a girl broke up with me. I was distraught. The break up taught me a lot of relationships and dating. But the future lessons learned didn’t remove the present pain.
We are not robots with an on-off switch. Relationships hurt. Rejection hurts. Moving on hurts. Hurting another person hurts. You see the idea? We have emotions. And dealing with emotions isn’t a mechanical process. This statement implies that emotions aren’t important.
If you are a parent with a teen hurting from a break up, don’t dismiss your teen’s emotions. Don’t minimize them either. Help them process. It could be a catalyst for growth.
If you have a friend dealing with the pain of rejection or a failed relationship, walk with them. Don’t encourage moving on when emotions are raw. Be a friend. Listen. Process. Pray.
Granted, most of these statements are true. But a true statement is not always a good piece of advice. Discernment must be used. Always.
It’s your turn. What are some other bad pieces of dating advice you have received? Leave a comment below. Let’s continue the conversation.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!