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    The Consensus

    April 20, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]C[/dropcap]onsensus is a big deal these days. Consensus proves that important things are true, such as Global Warming Being the End of Mankind and The War in Iraq Being Lost. Some people would say that one really should use data consisting of Facts That Can Actually Be Known. To that I say, “Humbug!” What is data compared to the profound anecdotal evidence presented by three dear friends and myself in yesterday’s comments section?

    Before I attempt to summarize the comments into a cohesive analysis of contemporary dating, I feel the need to define the phrase. It dawned on me later that I am using contemporary dating in the way it was used over a decade ago when I was in high school. I don’t know if the definition has changed or not, but just in case, I will give my short definition of dating.

    Dating is initiated by the male when the male says something brilliant, such as, “Hey. You wanna go out sometime?” This causes the female to go weak in the knees and say, “Why yes” while trying not to jump up and down. And then they go out. And if that goes well, they go out again. If they go out a few more times, usually one or both sets of parents will check out the happy couple and give an opinion.

    Dating may or may not lead to marriage. Marriage depends on a variety of factors that do not have to be met in order to initiate the dating relationship. Dating may include some sort of physical relationship, but this is not required. Typically, in Christian circles, kissing is okay, but sex is not.

    Dating tends to imply time spent alone together. This is why there is separate terminology for group dating.

    As this applies to yesterday’s participants, I think I know you all well enough to say that dating almost always meant a relationship {i.e., “boyfriend and girlfriend”}. There was a certain level of commitment involved.

    The reason I am making this distinction is that it has come to my attention that there is also a type of dating that requires no commitment. One may date one person on Friday and another on Saturday. This is sometimes called recreational dating. The purpose may not be to attempt any sort of relationship, but rather a bit of temporary companionship to ease the loneliness.

    I think it is important to note that none of the ladies from yesterday met their husbands through recreational dating. There was a connection that they made with their future husbands prior to the first date. The first date was the beginning of finding out where the relationship was going. By the way, if it turns out I am wrong about this, please correct me!

    The Consensus

    • The first commonality I noticed between all four responses was that the marriages were born from a certain amount of friendship. My thought here is that friendship is a perfect foundation for a marriage to build on. Marriage is the deepest form of camaraderie, the sweetest form of companionship. Friendship is a good place to start.

    This doesn’t mean that women should be out there deliberately starting friendships because they may or may not lead to marriage. It is just a simple observation, and it makes me think that females should never overlook their male friends when considering potential mates.

    • Another commonality was the belief that teens should spend their time cultivating friendships rather than romance. My thought is that though teens may actually meet a future spouse at that young of an age, there is no point in cultivating the romance until they are able to actually act on it. This goes along with the idea that improper dating is part of what encourages promiscuity.
    • There seemed to be an agreement that parents should have some sort of involvement in a relationship, though we probably differ in the area of degree. My personal opinion is that a good argument for parental involvement can be made simply from the fact that, should the couple marry, those parents become in-laws, they become family. One can introduce a boyfriend to the friends, and I think that is important also. But the friends never become family.I once dated a young man for a short while whose mother was insane. I mean this in an almost-literal sense. I remember thinking that I could never marry him because of his mother. Trust me, if one of his friends was crazy it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. His friends didn’t raise him to be the person his was. His crazy mother did. So meeting the parents is important not just for the parents to assist their child, but for the potential spouse to know what he is getting into.
    • There was a consensus that the length of time spent dating should be reasonable–neither too short nor too long. I want to point out that one person rightly mentioned that the length of time may need to be adjusted when the majority of the relationship has been long-distance.
    • Most importantly, it was decided that one should never date someone one wouldn’t marry. Not a Christian? Don’t do it! When marriage is the goal, dating someone who is obviously the wrong person is a twofold mistake. Not only is there time being wasted on a relationship that necessarily must not go anywhere, there is also the risk of being tempted to marry the wrong person. Trust me. Marrying the wrong person would be a horrible thing to do. I know this because I know how delightful it is to marry the right person, to know that I not only have a wonderful husband, but a good father for my children, a good grandfather for my grandchildren. Deciding on a husband is not like finding a roommate. The entire legacy of faith for generations can be jeopardized by a choice poorly made.


    The end of Maken’s book appears to offer some sort of solution. I say appears because I haven’t actually read it yet. But I will this weekend. And I will try to post a summary of her thoughts, along with any additions or modifications I can think of, this weekend or Monday.


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