I've started reading Cloud's book and so far my hackles are up and I'm not convinced it's going to be the world's most helpful book. But as a wise old man shared last night one of the keys as Christians is humility and being prepared to listen to other people's perspectives on God's Word and to ask God to reveal His truth to us, rather than assuming we're right. I'm not even sure what I believe when it comes to this issue anyway!
It's funny how your views change over time. Years ago I went out with a few guys just on one or two 'dates' and it was fun (mostly anyway!), though I wasn't particularly keen to develop a long-term relationship with a few of them from the start, the date/s gave me the opportunity to confirm that, rather than just writing them off. Now things are different. I guess there are less opportunities when you've got kids - a single mum probably isn't particularly desirable, if I were a guy I'd be looking and praying for a single woman who hadn't been married before and didn't have kids.
Anyhow, I digress. Many of Cloud's comments raise questions and concerns for me. He writes this pledge:
'I will date as an end in and of itself. I will not longer see dating as a place only to find a mate, but as a place to grow, experience, and serve other people. It is my new laboratory of learning, growth and experience.'
Laboratory?!!!! It sounds terrible!!!!! I guess all relationships are that to some degree, but for some reason it doesn't seem fair in a 'dating' relationship.
I'm all for growth and learning, and relationships are an important part of this, but I'm still not convinced that we should 'use' dating in this way. It sort of turns it all around as though to say it's all about me, which it shouldn't be at all. It should be about mutual enjoyment, encouragement and growth.
He also writes, 'I advised her to look at a date as an activity to get to know someone and spend time doing something fun, with no pressure.' I think this is good - being free to relax and be able to be yourself rather than having to put on some sort of dating fascade.
Cloud gives an example of a divorced woman who in his view needed to date for the sake of learning so that she could improve her ability to pick a good man, rather than jumping into a relationship where she felt 'in love'. I somehow doubt that dating would help her on this front!!! She's just as likely to fall 'in love' with the first person she dates. I'm sure it's a whole lot more complex than that.
Anyhow, I'm sure Cloud is a very wise man, I'm not meaning to give him a hard time, I'm just wanting to think carefully about his recommendations and figure out how I can best glorify God in this area of my life if there's an opportunity to in the future, which I'm hoping there will be! :)