Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend

Stop. In the name of love.Sometimes, Christian perspectives on dating can be (may I be brutally honest?) downright stupid. Boundless, a webzine from Focus on the Family, actually has a pretty decent article on the subject, though - and written to dudes.
"Too often in dating relationships we think and act like consumers rather than servants. And not very good consumers at that. After all, no one would ever go down to his local car dealership, take a car out for an extended test drive, park it in his garage, drive it back and forth to work for several weeks, maybe take it on vacation, having put lots of miles on it, and then take it back to the dealer and say, 'I'm just not ready to buy a new car.'"

"But so often, that's exactly the way men treat the women they're dating. Endlessly 'test driving' the relationship, without any real regard for the spiritual and emotional wear and tear they're putting her through, all the while keeping their eyes out for a better model."
If you've been lookin' for love in all the wrong places, you should read the rest of the article.

18 comments:

Truitt said...

"looking for love in all the wrong places"

i think i will write a song about that. oh wait…

R. Mansfield said...

All dating is consumerism applied to marriage.

I didn't think about it before I got married, but that's all it is. It's a modern phenomenon and I believe it's directly tied to the high divorce rate. "If this girlfriend/spouse doesn't work out, well I'll just get another."

It's a huge cultural problem both inside and outside the church.

Allie said...

Fascinating. I agree that male-female relationships today are a mess of miscommunication, unfair expectations, transactional behavior and greed. But i am not sure what the alternative to dating is? To some degree, everyone who is married today had to "test" out their spouse through the strange process of dating. Where I don't agree with wreckless abandon and using people for the sake of excitement, I think that there is a dangerous alternative that I see many of my friends suffering from that they arrived at via the Christian community. Namely, that dating is wrong and the only time to enter a relationship with someone is if you're pretty sure you can/will marry them. I think, in some ways, this puts just as much pressure and a strangely disguised level of selfishness on the process. Sure, we shouldn't date someone we'd never marry. But, it's nearly impossible to know that you could marry someone without having spent some quality time with them, usually in a dating environment. Also, it's kind of transactional to say that you won't spend time with someone or even try to get to know who they are unless there's a really strong chance you'll marry them. People aren't commodities to be consumed -- whether in the context of flippant sexuality or possessive, controlling desire to design one's future marriage. What about getting to know someone for the sake of it? Or, because you think there may be potential, but you're not sure? Should single Christian folks never mix or have any meaningful interaction with the oppossite sex unless it's extremely serious? This creates a huge gap between folks in young adult circles; either you're 27 and married with a kid, or you're 27 and don't talk to members of the oppossite sex or date in years. Something is really unhealthy about that, and I think both sides of the spectrum are at work.

Truitt said...

i don't think i like that article by focus on the familia. and here is why. i think dating should be a "consumer" venture of a sort. not in a selfish "give-me-everything-i-want-and-then-i-will-dump-you" sort of way, but more in a "i-will-be-a-kind-and-serving-friend-to-you-but-i-am-still-testing-you-out" sort of way.

in my life, it has proven dangerous to commit to someone too early, because it becomes easy to overlook major character flaws.

and i think that car illustration is ridiculous. what girl wants to be compared to a Ford Taurus?

Deanna Regina said...

don't get me wrong, i am encouraged that a group of people care about our generation and desire to see us live lives that commend the gospel...that being said i would like to see an article writen by someone who is not 1) married and 2) been married since they were 18...that also being said was i supposed to marry the first guy that came around for fear that I would die an old spinster? because let me tell you i had a lot of girlfriends who did and now, 4 years later, are completely miserable.
these articles always make me stop and seriously praise God that he is sovereign EVEN over my marital status...can someone please write an article with THAT title...
um, i would like to be compared to a mercury sable if that would be okay...

-mike- said...

Great post! Consumerism affects everything in our American culture. We ARE consumers. We look around till we find a girl but are constantly ont he move to upgrade. We find a church that's comfortable with us but are always looking around for a newer model (I have changed churches several times but for matters of theological conviction and christian witness. I find myself in a historic church now with a dedication to the mission of God) It's everywhere.

Lord, have mercy.

van.diesel said...

rick, allie, deanna, truitt - good comments, all.

i would agree with rick mansfield in that dating has become largely consumeristic, which is indeed a problem.

But the other points have validity as well, and i would say we tend to embrace extremes (either i will date everyone i can until i find "the one" or i will completely cut off all contact with the opposite sex).

but allie asks a very good question - what is the alternative to dating? it seems like there is a correct way to date, and there is obviously a very wrong way to date.

are terms like "dating", "courtship", etc. just a matter of semantics, all the same basic thing called by different names? when i was in college, "dating" was frowned upon by the Christian community there, but "courting" seemed to be okay - even though it basically looked like the same things. is it the method these things are done it that makes it "good or bad" or the heart intent?

maybe a better way to phrase the question is "is ALL dating bad?"

This is tricky stuff...

van.diesel said...

mike - great observations. i think the "upgrade" mentality is very ingrained in most individuals who make up our society. why do you suppose that is?

Lord have mercy, indeed.

-mike- said...

We are capitalistic consumers born into a free market and we never leave. We despise monopoly and love to have options for anything and everything. It's what we're taught to be and it's what our perversions like to take advantage of. We won't escape until we realize that the earth is Lord's... and everything that goes with it.

van.diesel said...

Booyah.

Lord Veritas said...

Is not the article a little bit one sided? Is it just blokes that do the 'test drive' I think they could have put in a bit more thought and research. Yes , duurrhh, I saw the title but remember relationships are two sided and who's test driving whom? Some people regardless of their gender continually relationship-hop to see if they are actually on a good wicket or they get bored easily. Either way a bad intention and a bad result. Some jump at the first opportunity of a relationship as it might be their only chance instead of being celibant and relying on God in His Sovereignty to provide sufficient grace for them regardless of their humans desires. We should be thinking of spiritual desires first. One could right a whole article on 'Stop test-driving your religion' I agree with you van some people really are fulfilling the doctrine of Total Stupidity.

Truitt said...

i'm just gonna call my father and get him to betroth me to someone.

-mike- said...

Hehe...

van.diesel said...

Veritas - you make a good point. my wife told me that most of the unmarried women she has known are in a constant state of "evaluation" when it comes to their interatctions with males. Perhaps we should add "(or Boyfriend)" to the title of the article.

Truitt - or you could hold a raffle. either way, let me know how that works out for you.

mike - indeed!

Lord Veritas said...

Van D - to be more accurate most men and women - even those in marriage - evaluate their partner in comparison with others and with other relationships to see if there is anything better. So we hide the truth if we think that it is confined to relationships outside of marriage or a prelude to marriage.

van.diesel said...

Veritas - again, point well taken. in no way is this theme of relational evaluation/comparison confined to pre-marital or extra-marital realationships.

why would you say this is a common thread in relationships of whatever sort? mike (see comment above) contends this is a result of our self-centric capitalistic society. would you agree?

anyone have any comments as to whether this is simply a north american trend - since we have so many readily available options - or is this evaluistic/consumeristic mindset inherent in all people?

Lord Veritas said...

As Mike has mentioned, and I concur with, we need to have and maintain a Christian worldview in all aspects of life with our relationships included – perhaps especially our relationships. In a world supermarket of religions and a local supermarket of relationships be they hetero or otherwise there is always so much choice. Think of McChurch and McWorld. Value systems have changed a lot over the past 30-40 years with the tendency to personal gratification and instant gratification. Definitely here in Australia there are so many different options available. Too much opportunity for opt in or opt out without the commitment either to the faith belief or to the relationship. Some people pride themselves that they are serial monogamous but that only means they relationship hop but just one at a time.

It does reduce to the common denominator of self and what the person is going to get out of the church or what they are going to get out of the relationship not what they are going to commit to putting in towards the relationship.

As always God help us.

van.diesel said...

Amen.