Some of the thoughts in this post came from my reading of this article. I highly recommend it. The article’s author and I don’t share the same theological affinity, but I think there are some wonderful things he expresses in his post.
When it comes to dating women, I’m not terribly experienced. I’ve never been in a dating relationship per se… but I have taken two women out on dates. I’ve been turned down flat by two others. I’ve never dated a man.
I’m about to start my third year of seminary and am taking the summer to read and think. I opted not to take any summer classes–I’m convinced that my never taking summer classes prior to seminary is why I actually enjoyed school at all, so I’m testing that theory. So far, so good.
One of the things I’m thinking about is whether or not God is calling me to be an unmarried minister. I really don’t know, so I sought out some advice from close friends who have told me that one way God’s will is revealed in these situations is to date. That’s more than a little scary for me, honestly.
When I was in Junior High through college, I didn’t have any young cousins. There’s just me and my brother, who is only four years my junior. I’ve never been around a ton of kids, so they mostly scared me. I’ve always been the guy to have friends who are older than him and the idea of relating to people who were younger was scary.
But the more I’ve worked with kids, the more I’m open to having some of my own. I’ve had friends who have elementary age children. I’ve worked as a music teacher in an elementary school…and kids need godly role models who are men. Sorry ladies…not that what you do isn’t important, but it makes me sick that more guys aren’t involved in children’s ministry and elementary education. I think I was in Junior High before I ever had a male teacher, with the exception of my gym teacher. I certainly didn’t have a male Sunday school teacher until the same age. Why is discipleship of children women’s work?
But I digress. In having taught children, I’ve developed a love for them that I didn’t previously have. I’ve wanted not only to educate them but maybe to have some of my own. The trouble is without a wife, I can’t have a family in the sense that I can have a child who is really my offspring. I have no desire to raise a child by myself and deliberately rob that child of a mother. Two dads, as popular as that idea is now, simply don’t make up for the absence of a mom.
Moms are not simply an incubator for sperm, after all. Father and mother are not interchangeable concepts or roles. I want to disdain the hypocrisy that says “I was born this way–it’s natural” with one breath and “A mom and a dad, though natural, is too narrow a definition for a family.” Holding the two opinions together is simply not consistent or helpful.
What is consistent and helpful is for me to ask, “Should I date?” And then, having asked that and gotten thumbs-up from friends of mine that they think it would be wise, dating women. Maybe at the end of the day I’ll still be single. That’s ok in my book; God has sustained me now for thirty years. He’s more than able to do the same for the next thirty and longer. But for me to paint myself in a corner simply because my primary attraction is toward men seems foolish and a possible outright denial of the transforming power of the Gospel.
I have more thoughts on attraction, but I’ll save them for another post. Maybe my desire for a family is simply something that won’t be fulfilled. God is not the giver of my every whim. But maybe my budding desire for a family is his way of changing my heart toward women. And I’d be a fool to turn God away.