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Why Some Christian Men Won't Date Women They Meet At Church

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Why Won't Christian Men Date Women Who Go To Their Church?
Love

What does this mean for all the single ladies?

"I've only gone out with a couple of girls at church, and I won't do it anymore," says Luke*, a 40-year-old Christian man living in Southern California. "At this point, I'm happily resigned to not ask a girl out at church ever again."

This was one of the first statements I heard from the group of four Christian men I interviewed — and we'll just call them Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They all attend Bel-Air Presbyterian Church, and range in age from 28 to 40 years old.

In addition, they are all currently single, and their words formed a striking correlation with what I heard from the single, Christian men in New York City: They're all interested in finding someone to spend their lives with, but not particularly keen on finding her at church.

For single Christian women, this isn't exactly what we want to hear, especially for me, personally.

I've been attending Christian churches for a substantial chunk of my life, and it stands to reason that I've often thought I might meet my future husband there. It would be easier than meeting him at a bar, or a gym, or my workplace, wouldn't it? At least at church I can presume that the men I'm surrounded by share my faith, and that we have similar beliefs and values in common.

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However, as the years have passed by, the dates I've had with men at church have been rather few and far between. And I'm not the only woman who has found this to be true with Christian dating.

When I was living in New York City, one of my female friends dropped a rather pointed allegation about the Christian male population: "They're not pursuing us," she said. "We're all single, yet no one is being asked out. The men need to step it up." 

Or, perhaps, the women need to step it up? Or at least ask why. This is the 21st Century, after all.

On a mission to answer this question, and many others, I talked informally with a group of men in New York City, and then sat down with the guys from Bel-Air Presbyterian to chat about the pursuit of love, about Christian dating, and about why on earth they don't want to date women who go to their church. Their answers were rather complex and revealed a whole host of issues I never would have considered.

Here is a little snapshot of what I learned from them over an evening of pizza and beer.

First off? They do want marriage. Their frustration with pursuing women at church has little to do with laziness or indifference about dating. All the men I talked to were searching for love. Some had even been married or engaged in the past, and now found themselves single once again.

When I asked them why they wanted to get married, Luke, age 40, admitted that he's wanted to be married and have kids ever since he was an adolescent: "Between the ages of ten and thirteen, I developed a vision of what I wanted my life to be like when I was a grown man. Marriage and kids have always been part of it. That's what I've been working towards and building towards all these years."

Alex, age 36, lives in Manhattan and said simply, "I want a companion in life. Experiences are not nearly as rich or colorful without someone to share them with."

John, age 28, took a more spiritual approach: "The thing I'm most excited about, in terms of marriage, is waking up next to someone and seeing God through her eyes. I want to grow my faith by learning through her and the way she sees God."

All the men agreed that their faith is extremely important, and that it shapes the way they go about dating. It's integral to the way they approach life and make decisions. They're looking for a spiritual connection with women who have similar priorities.

Which naturally begs the question: Why not date the women they meet at church?

1. They're worried about their reputations.

From a man's perspective, pursuing women in that scenario is often a no-win situation. As Alex explained, if a guy were to attend a church for five years, and only pursue one girl per year, some might see that as being wimpy and tell him he needs to step it up, be more of a man! (This sounds somewhat familiar, doesn't it?)

And as Alex points out, on the other hand, there's always going to be that group of people who think, "That 'Tom' guy has had five girlfriends here at church — don't go near him!" In the meantime, "the fact that Tom has been at the church for over five years is completely ignored, and he is suddenly seen as a villain."

The men from Bel-Air Presbyterian agreed, and said they never want to be seen as "that guy" — the one who goes to church to prey on women. This is not to be confused with praying on them, of course.

2. Rather than giving them more options, dating girls at church actually gives them fewer options.

Here's why: Women have one unspoken rule between each other, and Christian men are well aware of it.

"If I ask one girl out at church," John says, "I'm immediately eliminating about ten others because they're all her friends. If I find it doesn't work out with that girl, then I can't ask out any of the rest of them because they're all off-limits. It's a lot of pressure, so before I ask her, I have to know that she's definitely worth it."

3. It complicates things.

Luke was once engaged to a girl that went to his church, and said that he lost the good majority of his friends after the engagement was broken off.

In addition, the men in New York complained of the potential drama and gossip that can occur when people either date or break up within their small church. Rather than voluntarily placing themselves in the center of it all, they learned over the years to avoid the gossip mill by dating women elsewhere.

4. There are so many better ways to meet women. 

"There actually aren't a lot of opportunities for meeting girls at church," Matthew, age 31, says. "You're not going to date someone in your small group or your Bible study group because it's awkward, and I rarely ever meet new people at church. Most people just show up, talk to whoever they already know, and then leave."

"I'm meeting a lot of great Christian girls on Match.com," Luke agrees. "I also like meeting girls more organically, through friends of friends."

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5. It feels inappropriate.

Out of all the answers the men gave, this one was the most disturbing because of what it implied about the nature of Christian churches. "The assumption is that we have to ignore the fact that we're men and women," says Mark, age 35. "It's not appropriate in a Christian environment for us to be human."

It's not appropriate for us to be human? Isn't that how God designed us, after all — as human beings with hopes and desires?

As saddened as I was by hearing that, I looked at the other men's faces and they all nodded their heads. The mere idea of flirting with someone, or of asking a girl for her number within the confines of the church walls was too "shady" of a prospect for them to even consider.

"It feels like you're contaminating the sanctuary," Luke said. "And it's all a bunch of narrow-minded, judgmental B.S., but that's just the way it is."

"So, you don't pursue women out of guilt?" I asked.

"It's not guilt," Mark answered, "it's fear. There's the fear of not only being rejected as a man, but shunned as an inappropriate Christian." 

Again, I was saddened by this statement, and reminded that although I love the Christian church, it has a few important things to work on. Perhaps, the narrow-minded, judgmental BS would be a good place to start?

In spite of all the negative drawbacks to dating in church, both John from Los Angeles and Alex from New York admitted that they don't want to rule out the possibility entirely. Alex even said that he prefers dating girls at church because he gets to observe them in a community context. He states, "I see how they treat their friends, how they react to certain situations, and what their confidence level is in Jesus."

I then asked the guys whether or not they liked it when women pursued them. A few were open to the idea, but most agreed that they liked it best when they were the pursuers.

"Being pursued by a woman is something that sounds good, in theory," says Matthew, "but when it actually happened, I found that I really wasn't into it. It just felt weird." Mark agreed: "When a woman pursues me, I find that the rhythm of our relationship is off."

All the men emphatically agreed that the best thing for a woman to do is communicate her interest in a guy, and then give him room to pursue her. Just don't assume he'll be doing this at church, ladies!

After talking to all these men, I understood where they were coming from, but it didn't make me feel any better about my dating prospects. I envisioned myself at a church service surrounded by attractive men, and the phrase, "Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink," suddenly came to mind.

Yet, as Luke had mentioned, the side benefit of refusing to date women at church is that he gets to go there each week without any distractions. When he's not focusing on who he's going to meet and how he's going to ask her out, he is then free to focus on the whole point of going to church in the first place: to worship and to meet with God.

The same is true for us women. I've had countless moments where my original intentions for going to church get muddled the second I notice an attractive man sitting a few rows up and to my right. I immediately start wondering whether or not he is single, and have an uncanny habit of visually scanning for wedding rings during the middle of a sermon. I become detective extraordinaire, waiting for him to remove his left hand from underneath the Bible he's holding. Is there a ring on there somewhere?

Meanwhile, I am losing sight, in more ways than one, of what matters most. By searching for wedding rings in the middle of church, I am losing sight. When I analyze men and their preferences for meeting women, I am losing sight, and when I trust in statistics and probability ratios for finding love, I am once again losing sight of my faith in a God who is not only loving, but who created the entire universe and is capable of absolutely anything. 

I recognize that not everyone who is reading this believes in God. But if you do, then consider this: In James 1:17, it says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." 

It doesn't say some good and perfect gifts, it says "every" good and perfect gift, and I would consider finding love with another person to be exactly that: a gift from above.

When we get overwhelmed by where and how we're going to find this gift, of the probability ratios, or the logic and reasoning behind it, we forget Isaiah 55:8 where it says, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD."

We never know who is going to be brought into our lives at what time and by what means, but we do know that we always have God, and that "he never leaves us nor forsakes us" (Deuteronomy 31:6). God is with us, even if we feel lonely. And he will provide according to his perfect plan. Plain and simple.

Granted, I will be the first to admit that a week from now, I will have likely forgotten my own advice. I do that. Frequently.

Then, as the months or perhaps years pass by and I am still single, I may start focusing again on the probability ratios and the lack of available men, and I will need to be reminded that "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). In fact, the more impossible or unlikely the situation seems, the more obvious it will be—when I do meet that person—that it was God who brought him into my life.

I will be able to give Him all the glory. What can be better than that?

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Christy Krumm is a freelance writer, food and wine blogger by day, and a restaurant employee by night. She's constantly experimenting in the kitchen, and loves collecting new recipes as well as new restaurants to try.

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