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As a little girl in the 1980s, I used to dream about my wedding day.  I remember looking through my parents’ wedding album and imagining what my wedding would be like.  Somehow, I talked my brother into having pretend wedding ceremonies with me; we even dressed up.  In preschool, I completely embarrassed myself when I told a little boy he was so going to get married when he grew up because he had to marry me 😳. In elementary school, I had a bride and groom Barbie and Ken.  My absolute favorite movie as a kid was Muppets Take Manhattan because *SPOILER* Miss Piggy and Kermit get married at the end (Best. Ceremony. EVER!)!  By middle school, I was playing MASH with my friends to find out who we’d marry and (most importantly) what color our weddings would be.  Maybe my obsession stemmed from my being the flower girl at my cousin’s wedding when I was very young.  Perhaps I was just affected by the society around me; I did grow up when Prince Charles married Princess Di, Buttercup married Westley (if you don’t get it, I’m so sad for you😥💗), and pretty much every animated Disney film ended in a wedding.  Either way, I always knew I’d get married one day.  And I did marry my very own Westley at the wise age of 18 after dating a whole four years (couldn’t wait a minute longer😉).

Fortunately, I had good, Christian parents who taught me the importance of marrying a Christian, and they provided me with some guidance in whom to marry and how to date.  However, for today’s generation, the rules have changed!  Nobody “dates” anymore in the traditional sense.  Couples “talk”, meaning they probably text or possibly facetime without much face-to-face human interaction at all (which would be called “hanging out” but NEVER a “date”–lest you embarrass yourself).  Of course, you can skip the whole awkward “talking” business and simply “hookup” or meet up for sex.  Social media platforms such as Tinder have made casual sex as simple as swiping right.  Studies indicate that “casual sex” or sex with an acquaintance, stranger, or friend is on the rise particularly in the last 25 years.  Sadly, many millennial relationships end in “ghosting” which is when one partner simply falls off the face of the digital earth–they no longer respond to messages or even bother to actually, you know, talk face to face to break up.  How do you find a faithful Christian spouse in this mixed up culture?!  I’m afraid that there are many young ladies (and young men) out there today who dream of their wedding day like I did but have no clue how to navigate the minefield of messed up “mating rituals” to get there.   

I can’t speak as to how it was growing up as a millennial; I literally missed that label by four months (go Gen Xers!).  I DID grow up in a time when attitudes towards dating, sex, and marriage were under a swift transition, and I am raising two post-millennials who will be looking for spouses in a time when “dating is dead” and “hookups” are the new normal.  I’m prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom in this because I certainly have a vested interest in Christian young people learning how to stay pure and faithful despite the debauchery that surrounds them.  Therefore, I’d like to offer a few (hopefully) helpful suggestions for Christian singles to untangle this dating mess.

The first is a shameless plug: attend the UNTANGLED seminar on January 18-19 at the Buford, GA Church of Christ.  Seriously, it will be a great opportunity to learn what God has to say to today’s singles.  Plus, it’s right outside of Atlanta.  What could be more fun than a weekend trip to Atlanta?!  Bring your friends😀.  Click here to register today at untangledministry.org.  The cost is low, and a few meals are provided.  This is MLKJ Day weekend, so you should have a little extra time on your hands.  Come spend it with the Lord💗.  There you can listen more in-depth to lessons on this subject than I can possibly go into on one blog post.

Second, do “single” right.  God blesses us with different seasons of life for different purposes (Ecclesiastes 3).  I know you’re busy, but single people really do have more time than married people, especially married folks with kids.  Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34, “…An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord.  But the married man is concerned about the affairs of this world–how he can please his wife–and his interests are divided.  An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs.  Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.  But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world–how she can please her husband.”  If you don’t believe me (or Paul), I’ll find a couple with young children you can babysit for a few days.  Or you are welcome to come manage my teenagers.  Either way, you’ll see that taking care of one’s self is very different from functioning in a family unit.  This is not bad; it’s just different. 

Satan tempts single people to waste the time with which they’ve been blessed.  You can waste being single by envying married people and wishing you could find a partner.  You can waste being single by filling the time you have after school or work with frivolous activities that don’t bring you closer to God.  For example, some singles spend hours working out, playing video games, or on social media, yet don’t even spend 5 minutes a day with God in prayer or study.  Instead, do single right by investing the gift of time that is at your discretion on drawing closer to God.  Would you define your single-years like Paul, as “undivided devotion to the Lord.”  If not, why not?  If you’re unhappy being single, maybe you’re not doing it right.

Next month, I’ll offer a few more thoughts on being countercultural in your approach to dating and being prayerfully content in whatever state you’re in (or you can come to Untangled in a few weeks to learn a lot more😉).  Loneliness, wedding dreams, and fleshly desires can tempt us into making poor decisions in our love lives.  It is not hard to see that the world around us has some pretty messed up attitudes towards sex and dating.  My desire is that we as Christians can look to God’s word to help us learn how singles should behave.  I believe, if we follow the Lord, we can untangle all the sin, bad ideas, societal expectations, and wrong motives from the whole “dating” issue, and we can find true love in Him.

Works Consulted

Lemiller, Justin.  “Infographic: Changes in American’s Sexual Behavior in the Past 20 Years.” Sex and Psychology, 25 May 2015. https://www.lehmiller.com/blog/2015/5/21/infographic-changes-in-americans-sexual-behavior-in-the-past-20-years

Marcantonio, Sarah and Em & Lo.  “Dating’s Dead, Long Live These 10 Millenial Mating Patterns.” Huffington Post, 6 December 2017. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/em-and-lo/datings-dead-long-live-th_b_9574582.html

Stuart, Ben.  Single Dating Engaged Married.  Narrated by Michael Lenz, Audible, 2018.  Audiobook.

Vrangalova, Zhana. “Is Casual Sex on the Rise in America?”  Psychology Today, 25 April 2014.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/strictly-casual/201404/is-casual-sex-the-rise-in-america