Let’s talk about missionary dating.
It’s one of my favorite topics because it’s such a visible example of how 99% of the time when we don’t follow God’s directive and choose our own emotions instead, it goes awry.
When I was 15, I had a boyfriend named Brian. But like, not my current husband who is also named Brian. Brian was a nominal Catholic who took me to my first Mass and midway through our relationship decided he wanted to get more into his faith.
Totally cool, I said, go for it. Until he suggested we stop cussing so much. My (censored) reply? “F*** that, I’ll f***ing cuss if I f***ing want.” (By the way, the closest you will come to this Before-Christ Alicia is if we are playing the original Super Mario Brothers.)
But I went to church with him a few times cuz he wanted me to, which was fine, but I was very confused when to stand up and when to sit down and when to kneel (It’s cool though, Catholics, you do what you do; I’ll just be along for the ride.) Really, it didn’t affect me either way. I considered myself a Christian person, probably because I went to church on most Christmases and Easters, but I didn’t really understand what it meant.
We broke up eventually, but I don’t remember it being because of the religion thing. It was probably because one of the reasons I was dating him was because I was more in love with his best friend, who I never ended up dating.
I’m not saying 15 year old me is someone you should take lessons from. In fact, whatever I did, pretty much do the opposite of that.
At 16, I got saved in another church thanks to an invite from my sister.
At 19, I had moved 60 miles away, started attending a fantastic church (that I’m still at) & doing my associates degree at the local community college. My dating smarts had not improved however, and my standards continued to be dating the cutest guy, whether from church or school, who showed interest in me, and THEN deciding to assess their spiritual levels. It wasn’t a fantastic measuring stick.
Then, If I found them lacking, I tried to use the relationship as a tool to get my guys more interested in Jesus.
Here’s a few points on WHY what I did was wrong and misguided:
It made me the judge of my boyfriend’s spiritual walk
While there is (hopefully) a moment when you assess whether the relationship is helping/hurting you spiritually, taking into your own hands whether your boyfriend is “spiritual enough” and “needs more Jesus” is a controlling spirit that makes YOU the judge. More importantly, does he give place for God to speak into his life about where he needs to change, and does his actions show that he’s changed? Meanwhile, the man himself may be spiritual, but the relationship may be toxic.
And on the reverse side of this mindset, me being the judge automatically put me into an (undeserved) preeminent position in matters of religion.
It allowed my boyfriend to equate his relationship with Jesus to his relationship with me.
If you missionary date, 99% of the time, his relationship with Jesus will last exactly as long as his relationship with you. Because, in his mind, the two are connected. And if you break up and you’re both very connected, generally one will go to a different church because it gets too weird to be around your ex so much.
I couldn’t express my true questions/frustrations/thoughts with the Church and Christianity without worrying what kind of PR I was giving the guy about Christianity.
This one is selfish, true. If my boyfriend was only recently going to church, I couldn’t go to him to get great Godly counsel. Not only was he a brand-new Christian if at all, but I was always worried about if what I was saying would confuse him/turn him off to God. First of all, it was incorrect thinking in that God doesn’t need my good PR. (Although, there are some twitter accounts that are definitely giving Him bad PR that need to zip it.) But as much as I wanted to confide in my boyfriend about any doubts/fears/confusion I had with my faith, I didn’t feel free to do so. And, if I would have asked him, I wouldn’t have gotten guidance from someone with a strong Christian mindset.
So there you go. There’s just some of the reasons why missionary dating is a bad idea, and my experiences with it. While I have heard less than 1% of stories of how missionary dating has been successful, hopefully you can learn from my hilarious mistakes and don’t do it.