I had a pair of Sunday School teachers, the unofficial leaders of the Singles Group in a church I used to attend, who were always encouraging us to date and get married. Two things fueled this, I suspect: 1) we had declared ourselves “Bachelors til the Rapture” (thus having a bit too much of a “thou dost protest too much” feel about us – especially since all of us are now married); and 2) they just wanted us to be happy. They liked us, saw all the good things about us, and were concerned that we might prematurely be cutting ourselves off from potential fulfillment. They didn’t want us to miss out.

Be they family, friends, co-workers, or folks at church, singles often have to suffer through the slings and arrows of well-intentioned though insensitive, intrusive commentary that was rarely asked for. To be fair, most of it does spring from concern (mixed with people’s general busy-body nature). It’s a shame that the stance of not dating has to be defended. It’s bad enough that the choice to remain single so often has to be defended from those who put family on an altar. However, I’ve come to realize that fundamentalists come in all stripes and there are those people who can only be described as “dating fundies.”

One of my first blogs in the Friday Night Date Place attempted to answer the question “why date?” I’m mean, really, why bother? Why get involved in the game, the silliness, the drama? Why put yourself through the emotional roller coaster over and over again? Why invest or risk so much of your self-esteem, self-image, and personal happiness on the possibility of going out with someone? Why do we end up defining ourselves, our well being, and our worth through the eyes of another?

The short answer then boiled down to us being wired for intimacy. However, just because we are wired for intimacy doesn’t mean that we have to date. For some people, the choice to start dating depends on the answer to a different question: are you ready to get married?

Each person has to answer these questions for themselves. Not everyone is always in a place to date. Sometimes it’s emotionally, not wanting to put themselves through the risk and vulnerability that dating so often requires. Sometimes it’s their place in life. With school, work, ministires/volunteering, and other things going on (especially if they have plenty of friends to sustain their need for intimacy), dating isn’t that much of a priority. Regardless, the key is that they have to answer these questions for themselves. They shouldn’t have to be held to some societal standard that says “you have to date”. It wasn’t that long ago that we did things via arranged marriages and let me tell you, I barely trust my parents to pick out my socks much less a life mate.

“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.” I Corinthians 7:8

Ah, the singles defense verse. Do you know what I often hear to that verse? “It’s rare that this verse applies to anyone.” Let’s be real: we don’t believe this verse. Many of us don’t think ANYONE is called to be single (or if we do, we believe in these “called” single people like we do any other mythical creature. You know, they may be out there but no one has ever seen one.). If people aren’t dating or show no interest in dating, we don’t think “maybe God has called them to singleness.” We don’t think “maybe they aren’t in a place to be dating now.” What do we think?

There must be something wrong with them.

Well-intentioned concern still can lead to awkward intrusions. However, the risk of having people in your life is the risk of the occasional awkward intrusion. But we really ought to consider what messages we are sending to people with the questions we ask and the “concern” that we show. It’s bad enough that our culture has turned us into “dating fundies”. Even worse that the church has sanctified this to the point that singleness is a condition one needs to be saved from.

It is possible to be a fulfilled single, joining in the mission of Christ, without dating or, *gasp*, being married.

And I don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy.

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