Unification News for October 1998

I Kissed Dating Goodbye

I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua Harris, Multnomah Books
Reviewed by David Kasbow MRE, MA, LLP

Although we have seen some relief from America’s obsession with sex in the "True Love Waits" movement, Joshua Harris’ book is a breath of fresh air in that it goes beyond the pledges of abstinence to propose a new lifestyle for singles, that of not dating. It’s a solid, principled proposal, and has the extra punch of being written by a 21-year-old and directed to young people his age. Parents with teenagers who have experienced the problems of dating will also benefit from having these dangers spelled out in black and white. Harris describes in detail the destructive aspects of this cultural pastime. And, he knows what he is talking about. Even as a very Christian young man, he was engulfed in the dating scene. He describes from personal experience the tricks, the lies, the game of "dumping" someone before they dump you, and the terrible hurt that is caused when it happens.

We think of dating in America as being as natural as Mom and apple pie. Harris reflects on Beth Bailey’s work From Front Porch to Back Seat, to remind us that dating is a relatively recent phenomenon; it was only after the invention of the automobile that it really took hold. Here Harris could have gone further, informing his readers of what the traditional customs of America were before the 20th century, and reminding us that still, in much of the world, dating is not the norm as a way for two young people to come together.

The cornerstone of his work is the chapter entitled "The Seven Habits of Highly Defective Dating." Here he lays out the false goals and assumptions which dating embraces. Defective Habit Number One is that dating stimulates intimacy but lacks commitment. In high school two teenagers meet, date, become a unit, and then "go steady." But for what purpose? The logical goal of such a unit is marriage, but this is far from any kind of reality in their minds. The relationship deepens emotionally with no thought of where it will go. Harris likens it to two climbers supporting each other going up a mountain but then, at any random point, one just says he needs his freedom and leaves the other to fall or survive as best she can. The relationship is for recreation and to serve the individual’s needs. When it is time to move on, it is broken off with the resultant turmoil for one or both partners.

Even when partners want a long-term commitment, Harris rightly points out a fallacy in our concept of how commitment comes about. We tend to think that intimacy promotes commitment. In reality the reverse is true. Commitment promotes intimacy. As Harris states, "intimacy is the icing on the cake...intimacy without commitment, like icing without cake, can be sweet, but it ends up making us sick."

Harris describes another defect underlying the common notion about intimacy, the mistaken belief that sex equals love. In fact, the cornerstone of dating is the fantasy of "falling in love" with a physically attractive person. However, based on stimulated emotions, the relationship steamrolls much too quickly toward intimacy. The passions of the moment take center stage and outweigh any other consideration. With no other considerations, the gauge of the seriousness of the relationship is the level of feelings. Thus the rollercoaster of falling in and out of love begins and too often chaos is the result.

Harris deals with the core issue when he gives the Biblical perspective on love. He states that the world’s deceptions flow from the central problem-that love is seen as being primarily for the fulfillment and comfort of the self. Here Unificationist thought can be of great use in Harris’ proposal. It is only when we understand that the cause of the fall of man was the misuse of love that we clearly understand his statement, that this "comfort of the self" revolves around the sacrifice of others to gain love for the self. From a Unificationist perspective, what Harris is describing in the culture of dating is the activity of young Lucifers, Archangels, hunting for Eves to entice and use for their benefit. He does have some intuition of this: his direction to guys is to stop acting like "hunters" trying to catch girls. Instead, he proposes men be "warriors" standing guard over them. Instead of warriors, Unificationist thought would urge them to a broader ideal, to be "True Adams" displaying the image and character of God, as Jesus did, in male-female relationships.

So dating is flawed. As Harris says, "God’s true love pretty much nullifies dating as we know it." Incidentally, this is why the True Love Waits movement, as it stands now, is not likely to succeed. Leaving dating in place and saying "control yourself" is a losing proposition. But what is the alternative? Harris’ proposals for an alternative lifestyle are to be commended: singleness is a gift from God to be used to its fullest while one can. A better way to get to know someone is by working with them on a service project rather than putting one’s energy into creating false impressions on a date. Parents of both parties should be included in the equation when getting to know the other person. Good as they are, they still come short of the perspective presented by Unificationism. That perspective includes nothing less than the creation of a marriage culture. It’s only when we realize that God designed the world around the marriage of man and woman, that the goal of life is not to be a holy individual, but a holy couple, that we get a true perspective on marriage. When children are given this vision with the extensive guidance and example of Rev. and Mrs. Moon, we have hope of transforming our sex-obsessed culture into a culture of the highest dignity of conjugal and parental love.

David Kasbow is the Michigan state leader and has a private practice in clinical psychology. He was blessed in 1982 at Madison Square Garden in the 2075 Couple Blessing.

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