This post is featured in the CAPC Magazine Issue 2, Volume 4: Going Solo issue of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine. Subscribe to Christ and Pop Culture Magazine by becoming a member and receive a host of other benefits, too.

My girlfriend and I broke up this week. It was horrible. Embarrassing tears were shed, trite advice was heard, regrettable texts were sent – all of that stuff. And all because I made the stupid choice to become vulnerable. Or, at least, secular and Christian advice alike would boil it down to that.

Take, for example, the non-Christian Sherry Argov’s Why Men Marry Bitches (Simon & Schuster, 2006) and the Christian Gerald Hiestand/Jay Thomas’s Sex, Dating, and Relationships (Crossway, 2012).

Argov explains to the would-be wife, “When you need [a man’s] approval, it blinds you and you quickly become the vulnerable one in the relationship. Adopt the philosophy of ‘approval neither desired nor required.’” (Argov, 12)

She gives the first principle of romantic jiu-jitsu: “When [a man] can’t [push your emotional buttons], he’ll often crumble and become the more vulnerable one in the relationship.” (Argov, 128)

In fact, “It doesn’t matter how unemotional they seem, men are vulnerable as well. They, too, can get squashed like a grape.” (Argov, 197) Moreover, “If a man really cares, he feels vulnerable. That’s when he needs a protective shield the most and that’s when he’ll often behave more coolly.” (p. 197)

Argov’s approach to dating unto marriage replaces delicacy with armor, vulnerability with invulnerability, fragility with weapons, sharing with “squashing,” and sensitivity with “shields.” Her approach is biblical in that it carries echoes of Joel 3:10: “Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, ‘I am a warrior.’” I can attest: that is what some of my own dating relationships have looked like – emotionally and relationally, twisting innocent words into fatal weapons in order to protect myself at the other’s expense.

Surely those secured by Christ’s love have something different to say.

Hiestand and Thomas, coming from a Christian perspective, comment, “[W]e do have a problem with a man romancing a woman outside of the context in which sexual intimacy can be properly expressed.” (H&T, 84-85) The implication is that vulnerable romance is inappropriate in a non-secure context like dating, a perspective not so different from Argov and her followers.

They continue, “Unrequited love may be an inevitable part of life, but a bruised heart is better than a broken heart. . . . Contrary to popular opinion, broken hearts need not be a standard part of premarital relationships.” (H&T, 85, 86)

Whether it’s through putting your romantic other in an emotional armbar or keeping them at arm’s length to “leave room for the Spirit,” secular and Christian thinkers alike are trying desperately to find a preemptive cure to heartbreak. The question we must each answer for ourselves is: “Should we avoid vulnerability until marriage in order to avoid heartbreak?” Many may legitimately answer yes. In the midst of heartbreak, my answer is still no.


To read this issue of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine in full today, become a member for as little as $5 per month. Members also get full access to all back issues, free stuff each month, and entrance to our exclusive members-only group on Facebook—and you’ll help us keep the lights on. Join now.


    1. Lila,

      I suppose this response assumes the same things as H&T: that vulnerable romance means sex. Of course premarital sex is sinful, and therefore harmful. But can we equate vulnerability with sex? Or should we avoid vulnerability because it hurts? Or, perhaps the most basic presupposition we want to have beneath our theology of dating that may not be quite accurate is: “Vulnerability is sinful because it often causes heartbreak.”

      …maybe. But is it impossible to endorse premarital celibacy, as well as premarital romance in dating? I have yet to be convinced.

  1. Man, I needed this. I just went through a break-up last June and I still feel the sting from it and ocassional melancholy from it on some days. One of the things I asked my friends to do for me after was to keep praying for me, that bitterness wouldn’t rot me on the inside. I knew I’d wrestle with it on and off, and I knew it wasn’t the end of the world for me. Even now I know there’s a probability that I’ll meet someone new and start over afresh, but the subtle lingering sense of distrust is something I have to deal with (and keep praying over). I appreciated this piece. Definitely for me.

    1. Thanks for your openness, Ruben.

      Your patience is encouraging – Christianity only seems bearable to me when I remember that God gives us grace today for today. I wish I got my lifetime of God’s favor in a lump sum, but it would be as good as a grain silo on Israel’s way to Canaan – faith wouldn’t have been grown, and the whole thing would have been pointless. But your past 9 months is a testament to the glory of a waiting, wandering faith.

      Strength and courage, bro.

  2. Pingback: Articles

Comments are now closed for this article.