Tag Archives: rules

Dating and Relationships: The Church Rules

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The Rules

  1. A boy and a girl must never ride together alone in a vehicle. Not for any distance, any purpose, or any length of time. The ONLY exception to this rule applies to a boy and girl who are brother and sister. Obviously, any other combination of male and female riding in a car alone will lead to the car being pulled over so they can have wild sex in the backseat before they arrive at their destination. Obviously.
  2. Boys and girls must sit at least a Bible’s width apart at all times. Those tiny New Testaments the Gideons leave around don’t count. We’re talking regulation biggest-Good-Book-we-can-find size.
  3. A female must wear clothing which covers every portion of her body from her chin to her knees. If she has pretty legs, those should probably be covered also. Beauty tempts young men. Men should never have to face temptation. If clothing is truly “appropriate”, men may even forget women have boobs – which is exactly as it should be since men are incapable of controlling themselves around women they find attractive.

These are the top three rules pounded into the teen-aged girl’s head about dating or relating to the opposite sex by Sunday School teachers and youth leaders nationwide. Boys cannot be trusted around you. You cannot be trusted around boys. If ever you two are left alone together, babies emerge nine months later. No exceptions. None.

For a girl who actually wants to be pure, these rules are very intimidating. You see, when I was young and naïve, I believed I could accept a ride from one of my male friends. But by the time I was 17, I understood how inappropriate that looked and that he would likely rape me at some point during the five minute drive. At one point in time I believed that it was a good thing for a man to look at me and recognize my beauty. Before I exited adolescence I realized that my beauty is wicked and dangerous when noticed by men. When I was a little girl, I loved to cuddle close to the men in my life. But soon after puberty hit, I learned that all physical contact with the opposite sex is completely unhealthy and will somehow give me AIDS.

What’s really sad – is that I wouldn’t even call the churches I attended legalistic. It scares me to consider what truly legalistic congregations are teaching young people if I learned such skewed lessons where I went. Unfortunately, teenagers hear from their Christian leaders that they cannot be trusted – they cannot even trust themselves – to make good, healthy decisions regarding the opposite sex. Fear tactics are fired at them in the name of purity. Instead of being trained to enter healthy relationships, teenagers are taught to avoid relationships at all costs because relationships lead to sexual immorality.

According to the typical Christian youth leader, I am a success story. I escaped high school with my virginity intact. But if you ask me, purity is so much broader than virginity. And if successful means terrified of intimacy and unwilling to be vulnerable to a man, then I agree. I am very successful.

But sometimes success is overrated.

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Free-Spirited Singleness

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I’m not a rebellious person. But I am a free spirit. Others often get the two mixed up.

I didn’t like to go to school. It’s natural to neglect that which you do not like… School was often neglected. My teachers told me if I did not show up to school, I would never show up to work and I would never hold down a real job. They mistook me for a rebel. A rebel does not show up because she is told to show up. A rebel is looking for someone or something to defy. A free spirit, on the other hand, is looking for a choice. A free spirit does not show up because she did not feel like showing up. A rebel can’t hold down a job because she cannot fight the compulsion to go against that which she is told. A free spirit can hold down a job, because she realizes choices have consequences, and those consequences help her decide how to make those choices she values so much.

I often skipped school to prove that I had a choice. I did not have to be there – although I was always told that I did. I went when I so desired. Many of my teachers viewed me as a rebel – acting out. In all reality, I was exercizing my love for freedom by escaping the prison I envisioned school to be.

I will always be a freedom-lover. It shows up in every aspect of my life. 90% I would choose to wear my seatbelt. No matter what. It’s a natural instinct to reach for the strap and stretch it across my body. But I resent the fact that wearing a seatbelt is forced upon me. If I don’t feel like wearing my seatbelt, I choose to flip off the government by hopping on my motorcycle instead. I equally resent that in New York it is mandatory to wear a helmet on a motorcycle. If I lived in another state, a state where riding without a helmet is legal, I would still choose to wear a helmet. Why? Because I appreciate my face. But I hate that I don’t have a choice where I live. I hate that my freedom is limited.

My free spirit, by nature, runs from boundaries. I felt as if my teeth were being pulled when a man asked me to commit to work for his company for at least a year during an interview. It took me at least three minutes to agree that I could commit for a year. I’m now approaching my fifth year with that same company. When I signed a year-long lease for my apartment, I nearly panicked. What if I want to move? What if I have the opportunity to live in another country before my lease is up? I sucked it up and signed the lease. My year has passed. Two months after my lease ended, my landlord and landlady brought before me a new lease. I told them that as long as I had a choice, I’d rather not sign a new one. I assured them I had no plans to move (because I don’t), but as long as I have access to that freedom – why give it up?

It’s this love for freedom that leads to my hesitation toward commitment. Hesitation? Okay, fear of commitment. Fear? Fine, terror.

I see a cage. It’s not that I do not want to get married. I want a choice. As long as I am single, I have a choice. If ever I get married, I will give up that freedom. It’s not that marriage is bad. It’s not that marriage should be compared to bondage. But it’s a commitment that eliminates the freedom I so enjoy. I imagine if I ever enter that covenant, it will be similar to my job or my lease. Despite my concerns, it will last and I will appreciate it until the end. But for my lease and for my job I promised a year. In marriage I will promise a lifetime. Anyone else feel intimidated by that?