By Alyssa Aldape
When I was 6 years old, I was obsessed with the movie Father of the Bride. I still am. Steve Martin and Diane Keaton — what's not to love?
At 6 I was convinced I would marry at the mature age of 22, just like Annie Banks.
When I headed off to attend my small, private, Baptist university, friends and grownups told me that I was a catch. At orientation, at least one speaker per session would remind us that some of us might end up family by marriage. You could almost hear The Dixie Cups singing “Chapel of Love.”
They put so much emphasis on this possibility that I probably should get some type of tuition reimbursement because I did not find a spouse. A lot of classmates did. Most got married during their college career. Some waited a bit longer, like the week after graduation.
During college, Bible studies were dedicated to things like, “What Does the Bible Says About Dating?” or “How Far is Too Far?” or my personal favorite “Modest is Hottest!”
Now in my second year of seminary, I've read the Bible a few times and discovered for myself what it says about dating: nothing. Shocked? Me too.
Even what it says about “too far” is contradictory. Deuteronomy 22 has some great stuff in it. It's every girl's dream to be bought for 50 shekels of silver and bound to her rapist for life. Then there's the story of Ruth uncovering Boaz's feet, which didn't make sense until I took Old Testament last fall and learned what “feet” means in the Hebrew Bible.
The church has struggled with what a Christian dating practice should look like, because the Bible technically doesn't say anything about it. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone use Ephesians 5:25 as the example of how a man pursues a woman, I'd have enough money to buy myself a new purity ring.
The classic line was the worn-out advice sisters in Christ would share with each other to “guard your heart” until the right man comes along.
“Guard” the heart until “the” man pursues you like Christ pursued the church. Then have the Pinterest-worthy wedding with the most unique song to walk down the aisle to as a photographer captures the perfect picture of the groom as he watches his blushing bride approach.
If this is the ultimate goal, sign me up for every adopt-a-dog weekend, because I quit.
Christians put such an emphasis on “the one God has for us” that we have made young brilliant women and men feel there is something wrong with them when they are not married by 25. So what might the church do better?
For starters, we should remind ourselves that Jesus was not married and turned out just fine. We can view young people like individuals who have a future as an individual and not just as a spouse.
This article is adapted from a version published on ABP on November 6, 2013 and is used by permission.
Alyssa Aldape is a student at the McAfee School of Theology and wrote this article as an assignment for her Ministry of Writing Class.