Saturday, July 05, 2014

On Dating--Getting to Know You

I'm going to venture here into the tricky realm of dating philosophy, especially as it concerns Christian parents of young women. This typically blunt post by Matt Walsh has been doing the rounds on Facebook, and I like it. I have one reservation about it, which I'll get to in due course.

First of all, what I like about it: Walsh is right that "hanging out" should not be a male-female relationship category. It is so vague as to be postmodern. It typifies the unfortunate and baffling paralysis that seems to have descended upon American young men, including even Christian young men who want marriage. It is insulting to a young woman for a young man to be unwilling to admit that he is even somewhat interested in her while at the same time it is obvious that he is interested in her. It puts her in the position of not knowing what is going on. "Hanging out" as a category in itself embodies this type of insult. It says, "I want to say that this girl and I have something, but God forbid I should say that I'm dating her, or even that we have gone on one single date. That would be way too committal."

Moreover, "hanging out" as a category is, in the secular world, tied sociologically to the hook-up culture, which is an abomination. You hang out in groups and then you have sex with strangers or near strangers. The ultimate anti-relationship. Walsh is, it goes without saying, right to deplore "hooking up."

Walsh is also right that marriage is a good thing and that both men and women should value marriage and should seek it, unless called to singleness or unable to marry for some overriding reason.

Walsh is also right in his tacit complementarianism. He implies the shockingly anti-feminist idea that the young man is responsible for the course of the relationship and should pursue the young woman, rather than vice versa.

My one hesitation about the post is this: Walsh implies that the men who are "hanging out" with women rather than dating them actually know what they want and should be actively courting one particular woman instead of "hanging out." Perhaps in some cases that is true, but in other cases, they may in fact need to get to know a girl better before they know if they should be, or want to be, courting her.

I'm certainly not going to say that there was some golden age of dating in which this was all perfect, but it does seem that a category is getting left out here. Unfortunately, it's a category that young men nowadays seem to be encouraged to leave out both by the secular crowd and by some in the Christian crowd, though for vastly different reasons. That category is the getting-to-know-you date. It's perfectly legitimate for either a man or a woman to be somewhat interested in a member of the opposite sex but to want to get to know the other person better before deepening their relationship. If you have regular group activities where you can just chat casually and be friends, that's great, and it doesn't need any special label. In fact, it would be (as implied above) insulting to a girl to tell her, "I'm a tiny little bit interested in you, but I just want to continue hanging out with you at church. I don't want to take you out, because I'm not sure I like you enough to take you out." If that's how you feel, and if you see her so frequently at church, then just be normal and friendly with her at church and make up your mind whether you want to take her out! But also, don't overlook the fact that you can take a girl out to dinner without putting a ring on her finger! Taking a lady out can be a way of getting to know her better. In fact, it seems that some such category is extremely useful, because it gives two people a chance to talk to each other in semi-privacy and find out more about one another without making others feel excluded. E-mail could serve that purpose to some extent as well, but it really is no substitute for face-to-face conversation.

What seems to have happened is that some Christians decided to emphasize extremely serious courtship rather than dating at an unfortunate time in social history. They decided to tell young men to get very serious very fast about a young woman, to talk to her father before so much as taking her out to dinner, to treat a date as an extremely heavy thing, just at the moment when the hedonistic secular world was also telling the young man that a date is an extremely heavy thing. But the secular world has a different agenda. The secular world's agenda is, "You don't need to have a relationship with a woman to have sex with her."

Good Christian young men are, by definition, not part of the hook-up culture. (If they were, they wouldn't be good.) But they can nonetheless hear and accept the message from the secular side of society that a date can't be used to get to know a girl and to admit merely some degree of interest, short of very serious interest. When that message is fully internalized (to use a bit of jargon), it contributes to a debilitating paralysis in the development of further relationships between the sexes. There are many factors at work, of course, including feminism. Feminism would teach that it isn't one person's role in a male-female relationship to ask the other out (or to pay) any more than the other's. So why not wait for the girl to ask you out? Then you don't risk rejection.

The fear of rejection has always been a difficulty to be gotten over for men asking women out, but now it seems to have grown to a monstrous size, aided and abetted by both secular and Christian attitudes that getting-to-know-you dating is out of fashion and is not an option.

Let me be clear: I am not saying, literally, that a date, even a casual date, has absolutely nothing to do with marriage. Such an extreme statement is false. If that were the case, there would be no problem with a married man's taking out a woman other than his wife on a date! Obviously, dating has, or ought to have, something to do with marriage, if only as a possibility "out there." That is why in my generation Christian girls were carefully enjoined not to date non-Christians--because dating has something to do with marriage.

The courtship idea in Christian circles developed in part as an understandable negative reaction to the complete divorce (if I may use that word) of dating from marriage. Young couples could be "dating," even "going steady," for five years without anyone's so much as breathing the m-word. Or worse, ten-year-old girls had "boyfriends" whom they thought of themselves as "dating." (And then the parents wondered, after years of encouraging early sexualization and childhood romance as cute, why their unmarried daughters became sexually active at fifteen!) In fact, I gather that both of these phenomena still go on as well, parallel to the secular hookup culture and the Christian courtship culture.

So, yes, it's important to be mature about dating and not to pretend it is nothing at all. But the opposite confusion is to bind burdens on men's backs by telling them, "You must never take a girl out until you are ready to court her seriously." My one caveat about Matt Walsh's post is that it might encourage that idea. I strongly support telling men to man up, but it's perfectly understandable for the best of young men to want a period of discernment in which to get to know a woman better. If we can restore the delicate, in-between category of the getting-to-know-you date, we give young people an additional tool for that purpose so that they can move by reasonable steps towards marriage and the formation of Christian families. That is a goal that all Christians should support.


Beth Impson said...

Excellent post, Lydia, and I agree with you that the casual date should be an option for young people.

I think I would add that young people ought to be *working* together at activities that allow them to get to know each other. We knew one couple who, without a great deal of particular interest in each other, just friends from church, started going together to a farm outside the city where we all lived to get milk and deliver it to several homes a couple of times a week. No one was surprised when they ended up engaged a few months later as they got to know each other in that setting.

I often see students who work together on SGA or in ministry projects, etc., end up dating and marrying -- or deciding they aren't really compatible after all. Working together to accomplish a goal is a fantastic way to really get to know another person, as it exposes weaknesses alongside strengths and doesn't allow for continually "putting one's best foot forward" without slip-ups!

Lydia McGrew said...

I like your idea of working together as a way of getting to know one another. The thing is, opportunities either arise or they don't. I think some churches make better efforts than others to create opportunities--for work as well as for fun--for young people to be together and get a chance to know one another.

Beth Impson said...

Very true. It's another area we could surely do better in.

Anonymous said...

An excellent post! And a helpful corrective!

Graham Veale

rockingwithhawking said...

Thanks, Lydia. A good and helpful post! :-)

I got married about a year and a half ago. What's funny is when I first asked my now wife out on a date, I had in mind this getting to know you date, and thought I had made that clear to her. However, she had in mind that I was asking her out in order to move very seriously toward marriage.

Hence, when I first asked her out for lunch, she said she'd let me know. At the time, I thought this was a polite way of turning me down. But a few days later, after talking to several wise and godly people in her life including her parents about me (all of which she told me about much later when we were decidedly moving toward marriage), she got back to me, and said yes. As they say, the rest is history! :-)

Point being, it seems sometimes communication between men and women, even communication that otherwise strives to be honest and sincere and upfront and so forth, can be a bit wonky, and so it may take some work to get right, at least if my own experience is at all representative (which maybe it's not as we're both a bit funny in the head to put it mildly!). Like even though my wife and I both thought we were clear with one another about our intentions prior to dating, despite our best intentions, there was still some sort of mixed up signals or something. I'm personally not exactly sure how best to improve communication between the sexes, balancing honesty and truth with discretion and brotherly/sisterly love for one another (e.g. 1 Tim 5:2). But anyway it fortunately turned out quite well for both of us. :-)

Lydia McGrew said...

Yes, yours is not the first story of that kind I've heard. I was just at a wedding where they had a lot of speeches, including the "How did you get together" story from the radiant bride and happy groom. It was much like yours, only more extreme: The girl said, "No" when the man asked her out to lunch shortly after meeting her. And she gave as her reason that she "wanted only to spend time in groups" unless she was seriously dating someone. My family were all shaking their heads about this, asking ourselves how she expected to *get to* the point of seriously dating someone in that case. It was like she had cut off the road from point A to point B.

Fortunately, she did exactly what your wife-to-be did. She went away and chatted with the Dean of Women (I believe it was) at the small Bible college they were both attending. That wise lady played a helpful Yente and put in a good word for the man, and the rest there is history. But to my mind, the girl almost blew it and should just be thanking God that the man didn't give up and that she had another chance. There was plenty of clear communication. She had just internalized this odd "gotta hang out for a long time first" idea that I'm disagreeing with in the main post. With that sort of response from girls going around, it's no wonder the guys are unsure what to do!

So in a sense I'm telling women and the parents of women not to teach that idea. Sure, there could be red flags so serious that a girl should just refuse even to go on a single date with a guy. I don't think a Christian girl should date a non-Christian even casually. It sends the wrong message--namely, that she might consider marrying him *as* a non-Christian. And one can easily dream up other things, including such *vast* and *obvious* incompatibilities that one should just nix it at the outset in fairness to all parties. But in general, I think girls need to be at least somewhat open-minded at the outset and give themselves and the young man a chance to get to know each other.

Congrats on the happy outcome, and God bless your marriage!

William Luse said...

"I don't think a Christian girl should date a non-Christian even casually."

Hah. My wife married a non-Christian.

Lydia McGrew said...

I'm glad you're a Christian now, Bill. That's great that it worked out in your case. I'm not going to endorse the practice, though.

William Luse said...

Yeah, she got lucky. Sort of.

Tony said...

Lydia, I think you are absolutely right that we need to encourage what we call in my house "casual dating".

The problem, I think, is only partly that the pop culture has deformed the notion that goes with the term "dating". It is also that deformation has made it impossible for young ladies (or men, too) to overcome the impressions made.

Here's what I mean: suppose our young man Tom is doing exactly what you suggest, he has noticed Peggy and would like to see if he can get to know her better for the remote-ish possibility of marriage. (Remote-ish not because he thinks marriage is 10 years down the road after he has lived with her for 7 years, but because he also has his eye on 3 or 4 other possibilities.) He asks her out to dinner. He even (tactfully) manages to make it totally clear to Peggy that he isn't asking her to commit to anything more than a couple hours of her time and attention, no heavy anything - just a single date in a public place and that's all. The problem Peggy has, (and Tom has it too) is that something like half or 3/4 of Peggy's friends are, themselves, at least partly snookered by the pop-modern sense of the WORD "date" and they immediately jump to the conclusion that what Peggy said was that yes, she will enter into a "dating relationship" with Tom, i.e. a serious relationship that is not remote to marriage (or at least physical) but is quite proximate. In this parlance, it would be outrageous for either Tom or Peggy to go on a date with someone else.

Peggy can, of course, correct her friends' mistaken assumptions about what she meant, but that all takes time, effort, and embarrassment. And while her friends are likely to accept her corrections, her half-acquaintances may not take them at face value, and the two or three people she rubs the wrong way will take positive delight in spreading rumors and innuendo about it. So, with all the best will in the world between both Tom and Peggy, they STILL have an uphill battle to go on a stupid date.

Now, this may not be totally insurmountable. For one thing, one can try to be a member of social groups and entities where a proper understanding of casual dating is common. But they are few and far between, and getting less common by the day. Secondly, one can learn to have a thick skin about people's mistaken impressions, at least to an extent. Thirdly, (and this is my best option), one can revive the very venerable practice of double (and triple) dating - and have BOTH boys ask BOTH girls out, so that neither one is singled as "my date" for the evening. This makes it nearly unmistakably clear that the "relationship" on offer is merely that of a single evening (or whatever event) for dinner and nothing more.

But it still isn't easy, and it is still an uphill battle. My adult children have seen this "dating" situation front and center, and they are definitely not happy with it but nor are they fully successful in dealing with it. I think we need someone to write a book or series of essays on it that addresses the highly needful place for a casual period of slightly focused attention that falls in between the general attention you get in groups and the totally focused attention of a relationship headed for engagement and marriage.

Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks very much for the insightful comment, Tony. So, as I understand you, you see the biggest factor in this disappearance of the date and confusion on the meaning of the term "date" or "dating" as coming from the secular side in the form of casual sex? In other words, among secular people, "going on a date" with someone or "dating" someone means, automatically, having sex with that person, and this has confused _everyone_, so that even good Christian people who would never mean that assume that "going on a date" means some kind of heavy relationship at the outset?

I think that may actually be right, because it doesn't seem to me that the "courtship" movement among Christians is large enough to have had such a profound effect upon mainstream evangelicals, who aren't usually into right-wing trends.

It's the oddest confluence of effects from the far left and the far right sort of converging upon the mainstream right (in the evangelical world) and causing a sociological outcome--the end of the casual date.

I've thought of double dating several times as well and have mentioned it to a couple of people. It would be good if it could be revived, but of course one then has to have a "guy buddy" and a "girl buddy" who are suitable and also want to go on a date, and I gather that situation doesn't arise too often.

PSDan said...

Dating in accordance with a Christian/traditional conception of marriage (e.g. permanent, between a man and a women and based on the complementary nature of the sexes)can have dramatically different outcomes for men and women.

Christian men are figuring this out. The family courts are deeply and thoroughly feminist, and a man in what he understood to be a Christian marriage will, if his wife becomes unhappy, find that she is quite capable of reconciling her Christianity with feminism, often with the help of her pastor. So, in effect, a Christian marriage relies entirely on the ongoing forbearance of the wife. In this way power in the marriage is shifted subtly but clearly and permanently to the woman. This, of course, is the goal of feminists.

It is not enough to promote a Christian approach to dating and marriage, for marriage easily and almost instantly defaults to a secular and feminist version because it is the state's definition of marriage that matters, not the couple's. What is needed are vigorous and ongoing attacks on feminist ideology and, perhaps, the ability to privatize marriage. If the state has decided it has no business regulating behavior in the bedroom, then perhaps it should remove itself from the kitchen, living room, basement, attic and back yard as well.

Lydia McGrew said...
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Lydia McGrew said...

The relevance of your comment, PSDan, to the main post, is highly dubious. It looks like you have just taken my post on dating as an opportunity to come out with a little manospherian rant. Since you doubtless know what I think of the manosphere, you should probably be surprised that I've published your comment. I've done so as a courtesy and to say that I'm not interested in threadjacking the discussion to whether marriage in America is inherently feminist, blah, blah.

By the way, it's literally impossible to privatize marriage and an insanely bad idea to try. Nor will anyone, including men, be the better for it if we do try.

Anyway, that's all of that nonsense.

PSDan said...

Thanks for your response. Guilty of being OT; I read your post once again. I’ll leave it there until I’ve had time to read more of your stuff. No, wait, let me add this: I am a Christian parent of young adults (both sexes), and I have seen over the years a step-wise effort in my church to reconcile its doctrines and pastoral advice with the feminist views many people in the pews hold. I don’t think this is a fringe event that is limited to my own denomination or parish. This will inevitably affect my children’s views on dating and marriage and this is what prompted my “rant”. If our church doesn’t stand firm on doctrinal matters, even at the risk of offending the nice feminist congregants, it’s much more difficult for a parent to provide dating/marriage advice from a traditional/Christian perspective.

Lydia McGrew said...

I'm an anti-feminist complementarian, but I consider the manosphere, including the so-called "Christian" manosphere, to be extremely unhealthy. It's certainly true that many churches are making their peace with feminism, under the heading (at least in Protestant circles) of "egalitarianism." I strongly disagree with them, but the solution is certainly not either to attempt to abolish civil marriage or to become obsessed with the evils of women and the grievances of men. That is just the mirror image of feminism, which is obsessed with the evils of men and the grievances of women.

Tony said...

I have another thought come to mind that is related to your primary topic here (the casual date). In some circles (usually strict or fundamentalist Protestant, but not only there), there is in reaction to the modern pop culture an explicit view that there is no proper state of relationship between that of dating (that is, old-meaning dating, as in a man dating several women while he discerns) and engagement. There is no such thing as (for want of a better term) "going steady" in proper courting relationships.

This, I think, is yet another mistaken reaction to the evils of the culture. I think that it just takes a little careful thought to see the problem. If a man (this all works going the other way, but I focus on the man here because he is the one asking for dates, and proposing the marriage) spends time in a cultural context where he sees and evaluates many possible young women, he soon learns enough about them to discern that he might be compatible with some few of them, maybe 4 or 5 in his current crowd. These are the proper subjects for his dating repertoire. As one or two turn him down, and as he dates the others and maybe finds a couple of them - upon closer view - not compatible enough for a life-long commitment, he also expands the contexts of his activities to bring new women into his orbit. Eventually he is going to find that there is one girl that is a more favorable prospect. As he dates her and maybe one or two more, he finds that he is more inclined to call her for a date and less inclined to call the other 2. And so also, he finds that she is more often available for a date because she is more inclined to turn down other opportunities (both for dates from other men, and for other non-date events) to be with him. It is natural and appropriate for this winnowing process to lead to a situation where both of them have no interest or need to date others at this time. And, yet, they are still finding out more about each other, and still need more time to discern whether they are called to marriage with this person.

Although there is no necessity to call this stage of affairs any sort of commitment of the relationship, and there is no need that they actually state "let's go steady and not date anyone else" as a formal agreement, there is also no reason to deny the obvious fact that at this moment nobody else is on the horizon for either of them, and both of them find this very satisfactory, an entirely voluntary condition.

Nay, more should be said of this: although there is no absolute necessity for a couple to be in love in order to marry, it is certainly the case that marriage is a unitive act, which finds its highest expression in the unity of nuptial friendship, and nuptial friendship will be imperfect if completely lacking that unity of affections and emotions that is what we call being in love. But that SPECIFIC form of friendship requires a specific form of fidelity: a man is faithful to his wife not only by not offering sexual performance to any other woman, but also by not offering the intimacy of those affections and emotions to any other woman - nor even wishing or desiring to do so. But this state of affairs does not develop in an instant upon stating the wedding vows, they become a habit over time - and part of that time ought to be before the wedding takes place. If a man is not ready and willing to be singular in his affections for some period of time before he marries, how likely is he to fulfill the vow to be singular in those affections immediately after?

Tony said...

And that state of singleness of affections, then, is a natural condition preparatory to marriage. So, in my view, for sensible, practical young men, they should have lots of events in groups, and then resolve into a significant number of dates with a few different women, (which may go on for quite some time) eventually settling into dating just one woman until he has discerned with confidence that this one woman is the person God wants him to marry - which discernment normally involves a firm and singular attachment of the affections and emotions. (The same, of course, goes in reverse for the sensible, wholesome woman).

Lydia McGrew said...

I think in your first recent comment, Tony, you may be referring to what is known as the "courtship" movement in Protestant circles. I don't know if it has a parallel in Catholic circles. I'm _fairly_ familiar with it and its variants (it has a lot of variants in real life). I don't know of any that _precisely_ would be described as "nothing between dating and engagement," but in general the movement is said to be _against_ dating. What exactly this means is more or less made up as the parents go along. Sometimes it means that dating is very "heavy" in meaning from the beginning. The boy has to ask permission to "court" the girl (permission from her father) after seeing her only in group settings. Upon being given permission to "court," some couples are also given permission to go out on dates, whereas other families enforce a policy in which the couple "courts" only with a chaperone. It's meant to be very old-fashioned and sweet, but in any of its incarnations I think it tends to contribute to the over-heavy concept of dating I'm concerned about. It's almost like "going steady right from the beginning," which actually might work out great for some couples, and I guess _has_ worked out great for some, but for others might be a recipe for heartbreak.

PSDan said...

Most parents who reject the dominant secular views on dating, sexuality and marriage would be thrilled to be able to consider such issues as whether or not young people should go on casual getting-to-know-you dates. There are some traditionalist parents who home school, live within a community of like minded people, and counter or refute the secular/feminist/progressive ideas their children may come across from time to time (let’s call this the enclave response to secularism). For such parents, your fine-tuning of Walsh’s dating advice is a valid topic.

But let’s consider the more likely context for this advice. Families and their children always live within a community, never in monastic isolation. Creating or finding an enclave is difficult, and nearly impossible if there are few like minded people nearby. Let’s consider a parent who favors the enclave response, and think about a likely version of that:
1) A suitable Christian church is sought and found, in order to help create a family life within the favored enclave and to buttress and reinforce the family’s traditionalist views.
2) Parents observe over time that said church de-emphasizes or becomes silent on theological points that directly conflict with, say, feminist views on marriage and sexuality.
3) Parents observe that this is not a result of a formal and carefully considered change in thought, but appears to be a result of bottom-up re-interpretation by feminist congregants, followed by clerical acquiescence.

Here our faithful family is in a quandary. These changes are always dressed in the garb of Christ-like tolerance, compassion and love. Who can object? How does one object?
(Note that I am not just blaming women here. Men can also be feminists. And more broadly, one might say that men are tempted by other false secularist ideas or behaviors such as porn. The difference is that no Christian church “makes peace” with porn at the behest of porn addled congregants, while they do make peace with feminism.)

What are the parents of young people to think? A bit of investigation reveals that family courts are wholly owned subsidiaries of state sponsored feminism, and deeply suspicious of fathers. For young men, then, the risks of the phony enclave are a bit different than the risks for young women, though one might conclude that the young man’s additional risk is “of this world” and perhaps not important for the fate of his immortal soul. Indeed, to the extent that a young woman is complicit, the risk to her immortal soul may be greater than his. The phony enclave is dangerous for all concerned.

Not losing hope, however, our parents confront the issue at their church, only to be told that, among other things, their son ought to man up. The parents would readily agree with this if the Christian enclave was real, but in this case it seems to be phony. It’s easy to see that the man up mantra coming from a proto-feminist church, within a feminist state, places their son on a path to lifelong subjugation. This is not aimed at “biblical marriage” as the Protestants call it, nor is it consistent with Catholic thought, which calls for a mutual gift of oneself by both husband and wife – feminists assert that the wife must not be asked to make a gift of herself, though they accept and enforce the husband’s gift. Here the parents would be right to question whether marital subjugation is what God had in mind for their son; likewise, they ought to consider that the phony enclave endangers their daughter’s soul.

At this point, the family can uproot itself and seek another suitable church, but that’s not always possible, and some think it’s better to remain and puzzle out how to fight back. There is a long tradition of this in Christianity. In this context, discussions about getting-to-know-you dates don’t seem so important. And the call to man up, perfectly valid within a successful enclave, is dubious or entirely invalid outside of it.

Lydia McGrew said...
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Lydia McGrew said...

Well, first of all, PSDan, if you don't think that my post is about a topic that is interesting, you are under no obligation to comment on it. You will notice (and there are a lot more examples on Facebook, because people don't always comment here) that there _are_ fellow Christians who think the discussion and advocacy of "getting to know you dates" or of fine-tuning dating strategy _is_ relevant and interesting. You may say that they are suffering a massive delusion, not realizing how irrelevant and trivial all of this is in the midst of a feminist-addled culture, but those of us having the discussion and finding it useful will venture to disagree.

As for an "enclave," every Christian needs to have _some_ kind of Christian community. The Bible itself is explicit about this, and all of the people who have been interested in this post, here and elsewhere, do have such a community in which dating could take place or does take place. To what extent such a community is an "enclave" will vary, and it is unreasonable to get absolute about it: "Your post is irrelevant except to people who are in an enclave, but most Christians aren't Amish or anything, aren't isolationist, so they aren't in an enclave, so your post is mostly irrelevant." Sociological categories like "enclave" just don't have sharp lines like that.

Finally, even if a family is attending a church that is _somewhat_ friendly to feminism of some variety (and it would have to be a fairly mild variety in order for the church in question not to be simply crazy-heterodox), that does not mean that every young woman whom the unmarried men of the family will meet has been turned into some kind of feminist clone who will ruin said young men's lives. These things have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, if the young man never "mans up" at least to the extent of asking a girl on a date and getting to know her, he'll never find out how much of a feminist she is! You will notice that in my main post I _expressly_ fine-tuned Walsh's advice by saying that it is understandable for a good guy to want to get to know a girl, not just to go bald-headed for courting and marrying her without knowing enough about her. It is in that "getting to know you" stage that the two people find out whether their approach to and ideas about gender roles make them compatible. It is in the course of the relationship before marriage--both the casual and the more serious portions--that they learn to trust one another as individuals.

As you note, porn is a problem with young men, a huge problem. You are right that churches haven't made their peace with it, but as a statistical matter, so what? If you want to go on and on about the terrible risks that men take, even within the church, thereby discouraging them from proposing marriage, one can just as easily go on and on about the terrible risks, *statistically considered*, that young women take in possibly marrying a man who is already addicted to porn or who will come to be addicted later, which will terribly harm their marriage and leave the innocent wife with a life of grief. Nor is this the only risk one can envisage, generally considered, from the female side.

Life is not without risk, and marriage is one of the biggest chances we take in this life. Both men and women have understandable statistical concerns, especially in our very dark world, but fortunately one doesn't marry a statistic. One marries an individual, and if one is wise, one goes through a good, hefty period of discernment first concerning that particular individual.

Lydia McGrew said...

In my opinion it is unhealthy to "diss" marriage, and it is all the more unhealthy to do it from a strongly partisan perspective--be it feminist or manospherian. If all you can do in response to a post about Christian dating is to brush it off as irrelevant because marriage is such a big risk for men, churches are too feminist, etc., etc., etc., then you are riding a hobby horse. And hobby horses have a nasty way of turning into obsessions and doing harm to everyone, especially the person riding them.

Speaking as a mother, I want my children to marry balanced people. A man who is filled up with constant, class-related grievances on behalf of his own sex and who considers all women suspect is not a balanced man. The same is true of a feminist woman who goes around filled with grievances on behalf of her own sex and distrusting men generally. Parents should warn their children against marrying such people. Young people should warn themselves against becoming such people. And above all, parents and older married folks, who have a responsibility, should not encourage the young to become such people.