Relationships are in the air…
As I look out the window of my Seattle office this morning, the sun is shining, there is not a cloud in the sky and I’m beginning to see buds on the trees and shrubs around the neighborhood. It’s an indication that spring is not too far away.
Of course when the trees begin to blossom, something else begins to blossom in the college students I work with: hormones. With Valentine’s Day approaching this coming Monday and the season of twitterpation among us, we are set to kick-off a new series about dating and romance at the Inn.
There is no doubt that it is, in fact, hormones that seem to influence most of the early decisions about dating and romance. I’m confident to say that it is by design. Attraction and excitement is important in a dating relationship, especially in the early going. A first date that feels like someone’s cross to carry should likely be their last date with that person.
What does the Bible say about this subject? Not much. The Bible is primarily a book about God’s rescue mission to the world. As such, it is not a manual on how to date well in 21st Century America. The Bible does, however, communicate to us some values of God’s heart and Kingdom that folks should keep in mind as they approach the dynamic experience of simply getting to know someone else. Exploring a handful of these values is really the goal of the next four talks at the Inn.
Our starting point is to understand that dating is primarily about discovery. It is about the discovery of God, and God’s image and likeness in another person. It is about the discovery of God’s grace and redemptive work in another person. It is about the discovery of God’s presence in us as individuals. Dating is not merely spouse tryouts, rather it begins with a process of discovering who God is by seeing God’s image in ourselves and others.
Dating is an unavoidably risky. If one is to do dating well, it will at some point require honesty about one’s story and personality that may not necessarily be favorable or exciting. We necessarily risk being rejected and judged. No doubt this can be a painful process. But anytime we are going to share ourselves we open ourselves to that risk. Dating is no different.
However, we need to resist being reckless. Someone who follows Jesus, I believe, can take a risk without being reckless. Keeping our friends close helps us avoid being reckless. Establishing healthy expectations helps us avoid being reckless. Embracing ourselves as God’s children, not being a slave to what others may think of us helps us avoid being reckless.
Dating is risky, but it should not be reckless. We get reckless when we leave our community out of it. We get reckless when dating and relationship becomes a secret. We get reckless when we try to control someone. We get reckless when we reduce someone to merely a body or specific part of the body.
My hope over the next four weeks at the Inn is that we can set some folks up to take a risk in dating without being reckless with someone else’s heart, or their own heart for that matter. I hope we can capture a vision for how we can practice the lost art of commitment as good daters during spring quarter.
Written by Ryan C, UMin Director