I recently discovered the blog Stuff Christian Culture Likes and I loved it so much I read the whole thing front to back! Reading it was like taking a journey back to the weird and wonderful (but mostly weird) time in my teens and early 20's when I lived fully immersed in charismatic Christian culture. One particular post on "Waiting to kiss until your wedding day" really stuck with me because it brought back a lot of memories about just how confusingly complex the church's view of physical intimacy is.
Having sex is the second worse sin anyone can commit (worst is having gay sex, obviously). We use words like "dirty", "defiled" and "impure" to describe people who have been physically intimate. You can lie cheat and steal all day long but the the only time anyone would tell you that you are "living in sin" is when you're having sex. Sex is so bad you can't even have it by yourself! Most congregations have groups for men that provide "accountability partners"* to help keep them from flogging the bishop. They also help keep men from looking at the swimsuit issue of a sports magazine because sex isn't just a dirty sin when you actually commit it, it's even a sin when you just think these dirty and impure thoughts!
Sex is a wonderful gift from God and He want's His children to enjoy it. Many churches have a several week long sermon series on Song of Solomon to teach congregations that physical intimacy is a blessing and that God intended it for their pleasure. Churches therefore encourage Christian couples to have a lot of sex with programs like the 30 days of sex challenge. In other words, Christians are supposed to have a lot of sex and they are supposed to enjoy it!
It should be no surprise then that Christian young people tend to get married young and also tend to have very short engagements. The problem is that it doesn't work out that well for everyone, mostly thanks to the unholy abomination that is Christian dating and courtship.
The first rule of Bible based dating is that dating is evil and immoral and should be avoided at all costs. Since God has a perfect plan for your life, this includes the perfect marriage partner and you should let God be your matchmaker. If you start dating different people you run the risk of stepping outside of His Perfect Will by following your own sinful desires, in which case: no perfect life partner for you! Instead, a lot of churches teach "Biblical Courtship" which is a complex multidimensional system involving assorted small group leaders, accountability partners, the pastor and both sets of parents. I would explain further but it would take a very long time and I'm not sure I understand most of it. I wonder if anyone really does... Anyway, the second rule of Bible based dating is no funny business before the wedding! I'm not talking about sex, that should be a no brainer. No, things that should be avoided are anything that could tempt you to slip and fall into the sinful morass of sexual impurity - so no kissing, no hanging out alone, no touching in the swimsuit areas (and this is Christian culture so I mean one piece, not bikini!) and preferably no hand holding (though it is grudgingly allowed). After all, if everyone is destined for someone then you run the risk of getting frisky with someone elses spouse-to-be! That would be sad and wrong because you would be robbing both your true future spouse as well as their true future spouse of something meant only for them.
1 - God is a matchmaker but is also running an eugenics program. Take a closer look, those singles are more often than not of the overweight, unattractive and/or socially awkward variety. Matching them doesn't seem to be as high on God's to-do list as matching their attractive, vivacious counterparts. Coincidence?
2 - God did in fact have a perfect life partner picked out for you but then said future spouse decided to obey the Word of God and chose to stay unmarried (as endorsed by both Jesus and the Apostle Paul). Could God's perfect plan for you to get married be overruled by His own endorsement of life long celibacy? That is a question for better theological minds than mine! Alternatively maybe your perfect partner didn't go to a church that taught Biblical courtship and ended up marrying someone outside of God's perfect matchmaking plan. OR perhaps your perfect partner did go to a church that taught Biblical courtship and dating and were so overcome by their sinful desire to have sinful intercourse that they married the first best person they could find just so their desires could stop being sinful!
3 - Maybe it's none of the above. Maybe God is not your matchmaker (good guess since as already pointed out, none of that is in the Bible) and the rules for finding love is exactly the same inside the church as it is on the outside. Maybe you're supposed to do what you can to make yourself as attractive as possible, go out and meet some people, ask some of them out and find someone compatible. Who knows, you may even find someone you get on with so well that you want to marry that person! Could happen!
*This one time, at church camp, I met a guy whose mother (a Christian counselor) also doubled as his "accountability partner". He would have to go to her every time he had "sinful thoughts" or masturbated and confess his sin to her. I wish I was kidding about this!
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