Last Friday night I was finally back in the city for a decent night out on the town. Being as it was Good Friday, and I had worked a good long day, I wanted to have a good night. Out.

Caught the 8pm service at church, where Dave and I met up to head down to the West Village. His brother and his brother's wife and some friends of theirs were down there having dinner (they had gone to an earlier service). We met up, walked around for a while, and discussed the problems that Christian singles have with actually meeting other singles. Let's put it this way: when there's a whole sector of a whole industry actually directed at helping Christian singles meet each other, we have a problem.

Defining it is surprisingly simple.

Christian guys, in general, enjoy going out. Having a beer, playing some pool, maybe even meeting some girls. Problem is, most of the girls the Christian guy meets, while out, aren't Christian. Most aren't even interested in the topic. But still, sooner or later he meets a nice girl, who looks pretty good on paper, its just that her life resume is missing that one critical reference - she doesn't have the same Best Friend that the guy does. (Let's put the whole 'missionary dating' conversation on hold for the moment). But he meets a girl, maybe he has - or has not - ascertained where she ranks on the spirituality spectrum, and maybe he meets up with her for coffee or something at some point to gauge it a little better. Its usually the same story, though. He's an attractive guy, she's an attractive girl - and at some point not too far down the road, the guy finds himself in the awkward position of having to have a conversation to define why pursuing things further just won't work for them.

Why can't he just meet a nice Christian girl?

Well, because, I think, in large part - Christian girls don't like going out...at least not in the sense that Christian guys do. And with good reason - most bars are rife with guys with less-than-admirable aspirations, waiting to meet them. Just the first few minutes in the bar we were at on Friday would tell you that story, ten times over. I see guys and girls relating in ways I'd never really think to, in these bars. I mean - its a little shocking to me, but how much more so to a decent Christian girl - the prospect of getting treated the way a lot of these girls do. Suffice to say - based 100% on their looks - its pretty clear what that does to a girl's motivations (and psyche, simultaneously). In the end, at best, the Christian girls resort to going out in large groups of friends - which, frankly, any guy, Christian or not, finds it a little intimidating to break into. At worst, they're sitting at home reading Jane Austen and trusting that their beau will someday plop down in a pew next to them, ready to propose.

"But what happened to all those Christian guys who like going out?" you ask. Well, they still like going out... but after a while, they get used to not seeing so many prospects in the pond, and fishing it becomes a less and less enticing project. Not to mention those conversations with the girls where things just aren't going to be... certainly no more pleasant than pulling a catch off the hook and throwing it back in the water.

Its a downward spiral. Christian singles stop going out for very nearly the same reasons we see so much avoidance of a healthy understanding of sex itself. There are so many bad things associated with sex, we begin to taboo it, avoid even defining and teaching and celebrating the good things about it. There's so much in the bar / dating scene that is just not pleasant, or downright wrong, that we begin to avoid it en total. And that's not right. The Christian guy or girl begins to let their social skills with the opposite sex languish, and next thing you know, when they do (somehow, don't ask me how) run into a decent prospect, they're too rusty to convert.

So, problem defined. Now you expect me to offer the solution. Not so fast.

Dave and I talked on this at length, and actually put together some ideas on working to fight against the norm - practical ideas. More on that to come.


jan@theviewfromher said...

What a great post! I especially love hearing a guy's point of view. But let me ask you...why not a coffee shop? I personally know 2 people who met their spouse in a coffee shop. Coffee feels more safe, friendly, conversational... is it that guys have to have an activity? :-)

David said...

Yeah...well...walking up to a girl you don't know in a bar (a place designed to meet people of the opposite sex) - hard enough. There's a whole art to it.

In a coffee shop? The guy who can do that has mastered said art.

In a coffee shop in NYC, where talking to a stranger outside of a bar is practically unheard of? The guy is a Jedi.

April said...

Ran across your blog tonight. Just a little comment...I am a Christian girl who goes out with the girls quite a bit. I'd never expect to meet a good Christian guy either. Crazy enough...this guy asked me to dance...ok...asked for my number...umm, wasn't sure about that one, but ok...we went out and discovered that both of us were Christians. It hasn't been too long yet..and I'm still not sure where it's all headed...and I know this is totally out of the norm..but the two dates we've been on have been the BEST ever. So I guess my point is...I think it's important to get out there and enjoy life. I also think it's important to be careful about who you give your heart to. But at some point God's just going to set up a divine appointment and all that worrying we singles do will come to halt. At least that what I feel happened here in my little world.

Diane said...

I must admit that I am just a little confused. Why would a Christian guy want to go to a bar?

There are plenty of upbeat restaurants where both Christians girls and guys wouldn't feel awkward at all. And there are 2-3 single men to every single man in almsot every church in the land. So don't give me the "I cannot seem to meet nice Christian girls" routine.

No, you won't meet them in a bar. And if you did, wouldn't you kind of wonder why they were there?

David said...

Umm...well, Diane...a Christian guy (like myself) might enjoy going out (to a bar) for the reasons I mentioned, and then some: have a beer or two, shoot some stick, throw some datrs, watch some football, meet some friends, meet some girls, etc..

I don't think there's anything wrong with any of the above (done in moderation, of course).

As for restaraunts, well, yes, there are plenty of great ones, especially in NYC. When's the last time you went to one, alone, or with a friend, for the express purpose of meeting the people at the table next to you and making friends? Restaraunts aren't designed for that, is my point. They're designed for interaction with people you go there with, no matter how up-beat they are. At least in my experience...

As for meeting them at my church - well, that's a great idea for writing about in next week's Tuesday blog, thank you very much.

And, if I met one in a bar, I wouldn't be wondering why she was there - I'd be thinking it was for the same reasons I was.

Christians need to be *in* the world, not of it. Take a quick look at where Jesus hung out and who with, and you'll see what I mean.

Laura said...

I agree that there's nothing inherently wrong with a guy or a girl going to a bar to have a good time and/or to meet members of the opposite sex. I'm thinking it's just probably highly unlikely that someone will find marriage material in that type of environment. At least if you are a Christian and seeking the same in a date/mate.

I'd rather meet someone in an environment that was NOT designed for meeting, greeting and hooking up. I need to see a potential date/mate in a setting where he's being his truest self. And probably over a longer course of time than just one night in a smoky, crowded room.

Seems like people would not be their true selves in the bar scene. Then again, maybe that is the place where they ARE their truest selves, especially after the buzz kicks in?? Dunno.

David said...

Good points Laura. I agree that ideally you will meet someone in a setting where they are being their truest self.

I've always hoped I would meet someone in my youth ministry volunteer work - because I feel like my truest self there and would love to have a relationship with someone who feels the same and enjoys the same work.

But that hasn't happened yet. After a while you begin to realize that you might not meet that person - that other "truest self" - in your current environment. Maybe they're in a similar environment - the youth group at the church across town - whatever...point is that sometimes those environments where people are being real don't always lead you to the right people for *you.* Because there are lots of such environments.

And great last points about truest self in a bar scene. I think in a fallen world, perhaps there's no better metaphor for the fall itself than in the way the world now seeks to create relationship: in the dark, smoky, alcohol-sodden bars. I'll say it again - probably the first place we'd find Jesus, if he hadn't come until today.

sbp said...

Really great post, David. Nice to hear something so well-thought-out from a male perspective.

I'll comment on this more at length on FF, but I wanted to show my support here -- as a girl who goes to the bar every now and then (mostly with friends -- you're absolutely right, I HATE being treated like a piece of ass by most of the non-Christian libertines who assume that my mere presence in such an establishment is an invitation to blatant carnality) to enjoy a drink and company with someone other than my cat.

It's a lonely life, this. A tough one. But we keep plugging away because we can't give up hope.

Dawn said...

Good post, Dave. My feelings are similar, through from a "where are all the Christian guys?" standpoint.

I'm generally not much of a bar person, unless it's to hear live music--but I do have a lot of friends who are guys (maybe most of my friends are, actually). But even non-Christians will say they're tired of the bar scene and the kinds of people they meet there. It's interesting--I feel like I'm meeting new people all the time because I'm extremely social, but finding someone who's dateable/marriageable is a whole different story.

Tina said...

passer byer here-- nice blog.

I have never gone into a bar looking for Mr. Right because: a) I don't think he's there, and b) that's not where I would want to meet the love of my life anyway. I wouldn't blame Christian women for the lack of wanting to go to bars, because some of us (not all) certainly do. . . and we're wondering where the Christian guys are. It's a 2-way street.

Generally speaking, I am not sure that bars are the best venue to meet Christians, but it's not impossible. We are there, as are you. It's just the % of strong Christians in the world is very small. The of % of Christians in a bar, even smaller. And I can only imagine, but I assume the % of Christians in a bar in New York-- teeny tiny.

So good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi, just a question for somebody to give me advice on. My girlfriend and I are both Christians and have an excellent relationship. The relationship is about 4 months old and we haven't even argued. Last night she went out to a bar with her girlfriend and told me that her girlfriend and her talked to guys and that some bought her a drink. I was feeling jealous and wondering if I was being controlling,or if some of my feelings were justified. Not sure whether to let it slide or bring it up in a non-confrontational way. She is very social and likes to go out with her girlfriends and most of the time it is working out or movies. Just a little confused on this aspect of dating. Would love to hear from someone, especially a woman's perspective. Thanks

David said...

Uh, dude...you're making a comment on a very old post on a not-too-frequently-read blog. Just so you know.

I'll probably be the only guy who ever reads your question. Since you're looking for a woman's prespective, I won't bother throwing my thoughts out here, but I suggest you check out this site for further female insight.