I’m a 20 year old Christian woman. After years of telling myself I was too busy to date, I’m finally dating a little bit, mostly guys at my private Christian college. Here’s the problem. I struggle with finding most other Christians (especially men) boring. Too nice. Too goody goody. Too average, normal, vanilla. I feel like I can’t let my hair down around them, and that we don’t share anything in common. It feels like their world is smaller than the one I live in. I know that’s kind of the stereotype and a terrible way to feel about my brothers in Christ, but it feels true to me for the majority that I meet. Even though I consider myself a solidly religious Christian, I feel much more comfortable around less religious Christians, and non Christians. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being plain, and kinda conservative. But I don’t think that’s the right person for me. But, I also absolutely, unashamedly want to save sex for my husband. And it seems like the more conservative types are the only ones on the same page as me when it comes to sex. Except, that’s only one of many pages, and they’re on none of the other ones with me. It feels like the Venn diagram of Men I Am Actually Into and Men Who Want To Stay Pure are just two circles a mile apart. Am I attracted to the wrong things? Should I ask God to change my heart so that I don’t find these purity-minded men so milquetoast? Are all the interesting AND pure men already taken by the “ring by spring” crowd? Or am I just not looking hard enough??
So here goes:
I think maybe you’re in the wrong place to find Christian men YOU would find exciting!
I’m not saying that there can’t be exciting Christian men at a private Christian college, but let’s think about this for a second.
What kind of people go to a private Christian college? In general, people who really enjoyed their family life and Christian community, people who love God and who are quite satisfied with their theology and with everything that their family believes, and people who want to continue in pretty much that exact same community.
In other words, great, godly guys who are happy with continuing the life that they have grown up with.
Now, I know that is a huge generalization, and I don’t mean that as an insult. There is nothing wrong with loving your family and loving your Christian community and wanting that exact same thing for the rest of your life. This would likely qualify as the “salt of the earth” people. These are many of my best friends and people that I respect immensely. The world needs MORE of these kinds of people!
And many women would indeed find that sort of Christian man attractive.
But not all of us are made in the same mold. And some of us live to question authority. We like debates. We like the big city, travelling, thinking about big questions.
Honestly, that’s why I went a secular university, and why I sent my kids to one, too. When you join the Christian groups on campus, you tend to still get an amazing group of people seriously committed to Christ (it takes a lot on a secular campus to decide to go out to a Christian group). So you have your community, like you would at a Christian college. But you also get your people who are studying to be doctors and engineers and government leaders and people who will likely have different types of careers than those at Christian colleges.
I’m re-reading this and it really does sound so condescending, and I don’t know how to make it less condescending, because I truly don’t mean it that way. I sure hope people don’t take offence, because if I were to count on my hands my best friends, some from small Christian colleges would be there.
(That sounds like a white person saying, “some of my best friends are black”, which is just so condescending too. I don’t know how to make this better! Just forgive me if I’ve made a mess of it).
But there is a “type” that goes to these colleges, and there’s a “type” that tends to go elsewhere, and perhaps she’s just immersed with the wrong type! So don’t give up on the idea of finding someone totally committed to God, totally committed to purity, but ALSO totally excited about living the kind of life that you want.
God does make us all the same; we are all called to different things in God’s kingdom.
Some people are called to be more stabilizing influences, the pillars on which everything else stands. They’re literally the “salt of the earth”, preserving things.
Others are called to be world-changers, to shake things up, to challenge the status quo and push for more of Jesus–more justice, more mercy, more God.
Others are called to be more contemplative, to find new ways of expressing the gospel that don’t fit the typical mold, but also aren’t about loud activism.
And then there are still more.
God does make us all the same; we are all called to different things in God’s kingdom.
All of these types show a different aspect of God; none is right and none is wrong. All are necessary.
What is wrong is to try to fit a type that you weren’t made to be.
As we get closer to God, He makes you more “youier”, as John Ortberg says. He made you with gifts and passions and personality to do specific things with your life. Knowing God frees you to be more you, and less like what other people are pressuring you to be.
But these types tend to hang out in different places.
Over the last few years I’ve travelled around North America, mostly in our RV, speaking at all kinds of different churches. I’ve been in urban Lutheran churches, and rural Pentecostal and non-denominational churches. I’ve been in large, multi-racial congregations, and in traditional smaller churches.
We go to a fairly large church (by Canadian standards) of about 500 or 600, where most of the congregation is under 40 and the Sunday School is so busy. Our pastor is down-to-earth, really practical, but very biblical, calling us to more holiness in our daily lives.
But for Christmas Eve, we chose as a family to attend a High Anglican service, to experience the wonder and even the chanting!
All these churches had wonderful saints in them, but they all had very different “feel” and character.
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Figure out what your type is–and then go with people of your type!
Maybe she needs to be in a bigger city, in a large, multi-racial church that is involved with combatting sex trafficking in Asia. Maybe she needs to do post-graduate studies at a secular university, in a city with lots of dynamic, multicultural churches. Maybe she needs to be in an urban church plant where there isn’t even any building yet, but people are busy dreaming up new ways to reach the inner city.
But at the same time, maybe there are some young moms at that church plant, who just want a nice moms’ Bible study they can go to, with older mentors who can come alongside them, and with some schedules and routine that would be so much better off in those more traditional churches with salt of the earth people.
So, no, you don’t have to change your standards. You don’t have to change who you are. Stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Grow in the knowledge and love of God, and become more “youier”.
But then find where people who are like you tend to hang out–and join them. Even if it means changing your life.
One Final Thought–It’s okay to change your church
This reader is not the only one who has expressed sentiments like this.
I’ve had several commenters who have talked about how they can’t date anyone in their church, because their church firmly preaches the “every man’s battle” line about how every guy will lust; their church preaches that women must be modest or else guys will be tempted to use porn; their church preaches that women’s bodies belong to their husbands, rather than stressing the mutuality of sex (which is the point of the 1 Corinthians 7 passage). And so they have said, “I can’t date anyone from my church. I find non-Christians are more respectful of me and don’t leer at me.”
I know what they mean, because some churches are very toxic environments.
But, if I may suggest something: not all churches are.
And if you’re in a “Christian” environment where you find that secular men treat you better, then may I suggest that you find a different Christian community?
There are so many churches where men value women and where men are respectful. Maybe you’re in the wrong church–or the wrong denomination! We grow up in these communities and we assume that all churches are exactly the same, and they’re simply not. So if you’re looking around at your church, and you can’t find any marriageable prospects because they’re all weird or even icky, then perhaps you need a new church.
Don’t blame Christianity and say that there are no good men. We know that’s not true. We know that the Holy Spirit transforms us to be more Christlike; and we know that God loves men and women alike. To blame Christianity as a whole is really to malign God, since we are God’s people.
Maybe your individual church isn’t good, but the church–the true body of Christ–cannot be bad. So if your congregation is toxic, it’s on you to find another congregation. And I think that will make it much easier to date, too.
What do you think? Have you ever been part of a church congregation or Christian community where you just didn’t fit? What did you do? Let’s talk in the comments!