Listed below is a response to Josh Harris’s list of “defects” with dating. I borrowed this from a blog and have that blog owner’s permission to post this:
Josh Harris wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye when he was 21. I daresay his experience with dating was minimal, so he doesn’t actually know what GOOD dating looks like. I have added my own commentary in italics to his Seven Habits of Highly Defective Dating. It doesn’t have to be defective.
1) Dating leads to intimacy, but not necessarily to commitment.
Dating doesn’t always lead to intimacy either. The “intimacy” could be just a peck on the lips at the end of the evening, holding hands or putting an arm around each other at the movies. Is that wrong? It’s up to you to decide–somewhat depending on your cultural background. Affection is a normal desire and can stay pure. In fact, I would suggest that not touching each other at all sexualizes even the smallest touch. Some people have vastly different affection needs and can hide this behind the rule of not touching at all. This may lead to great unhappiness.
One thing that Josh Harris doesn’t distinguish between is longer term dating (going steady) vs. doing something with a person of the opposite sex as a friend or even as a way to get to know you event.
I have seen the opposite where groups that “kiss dating goodbye” leads to single men and women being afraid of other. In other words they learn to avoid relating with those of opposite sex vs. relating to someone of the opposite sex.
2) Dating tends to skip the ‘friendship’ stage of a relationship.
A Christian couple I knew “skipped” the friendship stage and went right into dating and commitment. He gave her a ride home from a Christian camp and shared a peach together–this resulted in some kissing. They had four children together, ministered at church together and would still be married today had he not been killed in a tragic car accident.
From what I have seen and hear about courtship, it certainly skips the friendship stage. Single men and women are afraid of time spent together with those of the opposite sex and thus only relate with each other after they are in a courtship relationship.
3) Dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love.
Not necessarily. But some physical attraction and affection important to a successful marriage. This is what sets apart a good marriage–I don’t mean sex, I mean other kinds of physical intimacy.
Speaking of attraction, I have heard reports that in churches where courtships is practiced, some of the couples who marry report having attraction issues later in their marriage. This is certainly something to think about.
4) Dating often isolates a couple from other vital relationships.
Not necessarily. Isolating oneself from others is a sign of an unhealthy relationship, one that is important to watch out for. But there is a need for couples to find out how they interact with no one else around or marriage will be a complete and total shock.
5) Dating distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future.
Dating can be a part of preparing for the future by developing the social skills to communicate with the opposite sex. Though it’s possible to develop some social skills in other ways, the skill set needed for communication with a spouse is a slightly different skill set–at least for a successful partnership. There does need to be a balance. Just because dating can do something like this doesn’t mean that one should react and not date.
6) Dating can cause discontentment with God’s gift of singleness.
The statement holds the assumption that the person has the gift of singleness, that it is an actual gift and that wanting relationships with the opposite sex is not healthy. The idea of the gift of singleness for so many singles is a modern concept. For Christians to say to a single woman “the Lord is sufficient and you have the gift of singleness” sounds like a spiritual version of Gloria Steinam’s quote “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
7) Dating creates an artificial environment for evaluating someone’s character.
Meeting one-on-one for ice cream, going out to dinner, seeing movies, talking on the phone, going to church together, going on walks together–these are artificial environments?? Since when? They work for our friendships, why wouldn’t they work for someone we are dating or even courting? If anything, college and high school are artificial environments because you are surrounded by peers who are close in age. The working world is drastically different. A spouse is someone with whom we will have hours upon hours of one-on-one time. How will we handle it if we have no experience with being with that person? Dating couples can do practical things together like running errands. It’s not all artificial.
Unless a man is prepared to ask a woman to be his wife, what right has he to claim her exclusive attention? Unless she has been asked to marry him, why would a sensible woman promise any man her exclusive attention? This is the only part I actually agree with. However, many times exclusive commitment may be a prelude to engagement without a formal betrothal.
Is it just me or was church once about actually going to church and worshiping the Lord as opposed to everyone keeping increasingly bizarre rules? I’ve come to the conclusion that at once time society was more moral and therefor these rules did not fall to the church alone to dictate.