This post is featured in the CAPC Magazine, November 2015: All God’s People 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.

I noticed today that Paul Maxwell over at The Gospel Coalition broached the subject of dating, asking the question, “What Does ‘Intentional’ Mean in Dating?” I must confess that I am at a loss as to why such a question is necessary because ‘unintentional’ dating is not something I am familiar with. I have never in my life encountered a couple who, after having dinner together, found out that they had accidentally and unintentionally been on a date with one another. But perhaps I am sadly behind the times and it happens often enough to warrant the inquiry.

I am uniquely qualified to talk about dating because I once successfully dated a girl who I managed to marry. So far, she has stayed with me for ten years, and I thank God for that. I am also qualified to address this topic because I am a pastor, and if anyone knows anything about dating, it is pastors. Finally, I am qualified to talk about dating because I was fairly horrible at it. It wasn’t that I was unintentional, but rather that I had difficulties getting anyone to date me — mostly because I was too chicken to ask.

The author at a young age, attempting to radiate as much class as the chandelier behind him.

That, in point of fact, is always my major concern when the subject of “dating” comes up in Christian circles. It is inevitably brought up by pastors with “smoking hawt” wives who had the luxury of dating a bunch of different women and are therefore now qualified to tell everyone else how, and how not, to do it. Compounding this difficulty is the fact that they apparently tend to address their advice to men who can get girls to go places with them whenever they want to. In my experience in Christian circles (e.g., youth groups, seminaries), girls with good sense would not date guys like me if we begged them. The fact of the matter is that most dudes are weird, and I pity them. Which is why I am trying to help them now.

My nerdy evangelical brother, I know that your biggest problem with girls isn’t your ability to commit. I don’t know where these men live who do not wish to commit to a woman, but in my experience, it isn’t in evangelical churches. Most of you want to get married so badly you can’t stand it. We are, after all, the last bastion of men on earth who wait until marriage for sex. I am very glad for this, as it both honors the Lord and gives you part of the motivation needed to seek a spouse. However, the fact that you are burning with desire can cloud your brain and cause you to forget that the woman you hope to pursue is a human being and not simply made as an object of your desire.

So here is my advice, and I want to keep this simple because finding a friend who is a girl who will take you seriously is plenty hard without our adding layers of nuance to how to date. First, you should try to find a girl that you like because she is smart and funny. Second, you should pray that God will fill you with the Holy Spirit and power so that you can move to step three. (This is crucial!) You should walk right over to the girl, preferably after you have asked twelve of your friends and her friends about her, and you should say, “Hey _______, would you like to go to the movies or the theater or something like that?” This is how I found my wife. I just called her up and said, “Hey Amy, I don’t know if you court or date or if I need to call your dad or whatever, but if you’d like to go hang out with me some time, I would do that stuff!”

Now, you may be thinking, “You did not do that, please tell me you did not do that.” I most certainly did do that. It was awkward and horrible. It is important to remember that this entire event of bringing a guy and a girl together is a miracle ordained of God. In fact, there is hardly greater revelatory evidence of the existence of a benevolent Christian God than the fact that many Christian men I know have wives who love them. I’m not kidding about that.

So my advice is to relax. Just find a girl you like and ask her to go do something and see if you like each other. Try to have fun. Eat nice food. See fun movies. Go play miniature golf. Wear nice cologne (not too much though). Open the door for her maybe. You kids have fun.

photo credit: sebastien.barre via photopin cc


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  1. I’m going to propose that this is a problem the church has by and large created itself.

    One pastor says “get to know someone in a group setting”, which has become a de facto form of Christian “dating” before the courtship phase.

    The next pastor says “a group setting is not a date” and you should ask someone out for a one on one time. But then that’s “worldly dating” and not a courtship.

    So which is it, experts of the dating law? What’s the true and proper way to ask someone out and date them, let alone court them? Why is it that every girl I’ve ever asked out for just coffee, the next morning is convinced we are dating? Why is a single date not “dating with intention” and not automatically leading to courtship? Why are “courtships” slang for “fast track to marriage” instead of a “Biblical” alternative to worldly dating?

  2. “Relax” is GREAT advice. You would not believe the weirdness we get from Christian guys who’ve been so messed up by deplorable Christian dating/courting fads (take a bow, Josh Harris!) that they seem to think women are some species from another galaxy. Articles like this are much needed and much appreciated.

  3. brad, this made both my husband and me (I?) LOL. we met at bible college, where it is true that most boys wanted to get married so badly it was terrifying. burning with passion and all that. also, that picture of you is amazing.

  4. “It is important to remember that this entire event of bringing a guy and a girl together is a miracle ordained of God.”
    Loving this, and remembering an awkward, terrified young woman who went on a number of awkward dates in my life and had a bunch of awkward near-misses in group settings.
    I do think a lot of this “intentionality” stuff pushes people to either commit too early or never give things a chance. I think a little ambiguity is ok. If asking someone out is akin to a marriage proposal, no wonder it freaks out guys and girls to the point of not being able to do it at all.

  5. Also, a little feminine advice: I know you may be intimidated if you sense the girl you like is really smart, but the solution is NOT to pretend to be profound. She can see through that a mile away and will think you are ridiculous and shallow. If she’s a nice girl, she just wants you to be yourself. But if you’re wearing an “I take myself way too seriously” placard, that may as well be a “Kick me” sign to smart girls. Seriously. But there is hope. Just lighten up, and the sharks will have dinner WITH you instead of having you for dinner.

  6. The first sign that I had that my wife was “the one” was when I called her up to ask her on a date and we had about 30 seconds of awkward silence in the course of our conversation and she didn’t think I was a total loser but went out with me anyway.

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