By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
If any of us attended youth group as high schooler, we know that we had Christian dating concepts drilled into us. "The woman waits to be pursued. The guy pursues. End of story." But times have changed, and either both men and women are pursuing each other, at the wrong times. Or neither are, for fear of rejections.
We can see plenty of memes poking fun of women rejecting men because they see the men as a "brother in Christ," and men assert this is why they won't pursue women.
Other types of posts chastise women for trying to make the first move and not allowing God to bring a man into their lives at the right moment.
So should we wait around for a sign from God? Or should we plug that Christian dating app into our phone, make the first move ourselves, and wait for God to make the second? Let's dive into this complicated discussion.
A Caveat: I've heard stories from all sides. Christians who gave up on dating completely, who happened to run into their future spouse the next day. And Christians who tried all means necessary and finally landed a spouse. So I won't have a clear answer in this article. But I will have some discussion points worth thinking about before a decision to pursue is made.
Why Do We Say the Men Should Pursue and Women Should Be Pursued?
Most often, we point to the pattern of marriage (Ephesians 5). Biblical marriage in some way calls for a head of the household. Whether someone is egalitarian or complementarian, when a couple reaches in impasse in a decision, someone will have to have the final say. An appointed head—usually the husband—will make the final decision based on the interests of all parties involved.
So most Christians argue that men should make the first move because it will set the tone for the whole relationship. If the man made the first decision, then he will fit into his role nicely.
I'm not going to pick a side here (although I do have strong opinions on this subject, and how it's been abused in the past), but I can understand the reasoning behind this.
On the flip side, we've entered a more egalitarian society. Both men and women have to work to support a household. The playing field has evened. And I've spoken with many a Christian guy who says they would be put at ease if a girl had initiated the first date.
No matter where you stand, someone has to make a move in order for a date to happen. So should we wait for God to make that move? Or should we pursue and expect God to provide the next steps.
Let's tackle some questions to answer.
Are You Forcing It?
I've witnessed so many Christians who go from dating app to dating app in a fervent pursuit of finding a spouse. Although God does tell us to work hard at everything we do (Colossians 3:23) we can tell when we're forcing it. Typically several closed doors tends to mean that we've entered at the wrong time and that God does not want us to pursue a dating relationship at the moment.
Trust me. I've been there. I have to fight against myself to avoid going back "there."
God often makes his timing clear. And so when he brings the right person along, the Spirit will likely give you a nudge. Especially if you have prayed fervently for your spouse. If you find yourself of the personality to try and force things to happen, you may want to wait for God to make the first move. He'll let you in on when it's time to go, go, go, I promise.
Are You Fearing Rejection?
Have you noticed someone at church or in the workplace—who loves Jesus—but have held off on asking them out because you fear that they'll reject you?
I see this so often in guys. Believe it or not, girls tend to be more bold when it comes to speaking with men. But so many guys will hold off on talking with a woman because they don't want to receive another "I see you as a brother in Christ" line. Or worse, that they'll get ghosted. Girls tend to shrink away after this has happened too many times. And I could also rant about the toxicity of ghosting in Christian dating culture—but perhaps I'll save that for another article.
We need to remember the story of Gideon in such moments. He keeps testing God to make sure that God is calling him correctly (Judges 6). In fact, we first find Gideon cowering in our introduction to him.
Eventually, God forces him into the calling and forces him to trust him. This may also be the case for someone who won't start up a conversation with someone for fear that they will receive a "no." Listen to the Holy Spirit as you pursue someone. He will make it clear if the timing is not right. But in this scenario, you probably need to make the first move.
Are You Allowing God to Move in Unexpected Ways?
Have you turned yourself off to friends and family setting you up? Do you have to meet your future spouse at church, or can it happen at a random venue? Have you considered that maybe you need to be the one to make the first move, or God needs to (whatever category that fits you best above)?
We've grown too accustomed to the culture that doesn't want to make the first move. So many people—for fear that they will get rejected—count themselves out of the dating game. Or people, for fear of being alone, will try to force themselves into it.
Allow our powerful God to give you guidance when it comes to all matters of dating and relationships. He may not move when you expect him too, or move to fast for some of the most hesitant folks, but his timing is always good, always right, and always best.
God may be needing to move right now. Or you might be. Or friends and family may need to step in. No matter what the case, continue to trust in God's timing.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/GaudiLab
Hope Bolinger is a multi-published novelist and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,200 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy is out with IlluminateYA. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.