Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.

The Way of Heathen Dating


There is mystery in the wonderful way of a man with a maid. Wise men say, “Who can know it?”(Prov. 30:18, 19).

There is theology, good and sound doctrine for the godly way of a man with a maid. It is ours. God has graciously given it to us. It is God’s covenant. It is marriage. It is godly fathers giving their daughters in marriage. It is godly men and women, when they are spiritually mature, committing themselves with their parents and in the church to a sacred endeavor and relationship. It is a holy way, every step of the way, which shall be, God willing, and God helping the parents, the men, and the maids, for godly beginnings of covenant marriage, covenant homes, and for the godly seed.

Wise men say of that theology for the godly way of marrying: “Let us learn it!” And “Let us do it!” “Let us apply this wonderful truth to our way of men with maids!”

Fools say bah. They are the wicked. They want no Bible. They have no sacred theology. They serve not God. For them, culture rules. And hormones. And the god Fun. And they, in their way of man with maid, do learn and do the way of heathen dating.

So you have among the heathen (those are the fools) this thing called “dating.” It is a monster. She is monstrous. And that, of course, is why I believe we should do away with her.

Know her? Ever seen this monstrous heathen dating? Here she is:

Half-formed. Two unmarried young or not-so-young people pairing off, going “steady,” but not ready for marriage.

An Idolater. These two focusing first on themselves and not on God.

Cripple. Two who claim to have fallen in love and to see stars, but who are not seeing straight, not walking in love.

An Evolutionist. The beautiful, the brawny, the buxom, the bio-engineered … pairing off first. Sons and daughters of Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain going hand in hand down the hall, and off into the sunset. The others left lonely and longing at their lockers.

A Feminist. Women acting strange—taking the initiative, making moves, calling up, asking out, flattering, coaxing, teasing.

An Adulteress. Proverbs 7women. An Emasculator. Men showing off, being bulls. Cowards really. Anything but Men.

The Entertainer. Fun. Monstrous dating is all about this. Fun, being entertained, being stimulated drives dating. Dating is a beach.

Physical. Heathen dating is this in all but 90 year olds dating. And more and more physical as the night goes on and the months and years go by.

Long. The monstrous is very long. Either with one or multiple partners the dating goes on and on and on. For no one knows what he is doing.

Unruly. She’s on her own, this monstrous heathen dating! Parents especially—let her be! Two’s company. Mom and Dad are the unwanted, rule-making, stifling crowd.

Voracious. Consuming everything in her path. A destructive, gluttonous thing, this monstrous. Super-involving our emotions. Taking our bodies into her stomach. Biting off our souls. A maid for a morsel. A man for a meal. Marriage for dessert. She wants to have them all, her way, and for the elimination from the face of the earth of anything that even looks like a godly way of a man with a maid.

A Monster in the House!

It is quite possible, Grace Life readers, for us to entertain monsters, even unawares. We can even learn from them, and begin to do like them, and even to look like them. Jeremiah warns Israel in chapter ten and verse two of his prophecy that they “learn not the way of the heathen.” The implication of the text is, and the history of Israel shows, that the learning of the heathen way was indeed possible, a real threat.

We are not to think the warning is only for intractable and stiff-necked Jews. It is for intractable and stiff-necked us. Jeremiah’s shot is fired across our bows! We are the people of God to and for whom Christ is not only promised, but given. We are loved of God. Our love, our delight, is to love God back. Our lifelong desire, our heart of hearts yearning is to sit and to learn at Jesus’ feet and to know His rest (Matt. 11:28-30). But we can be rather smug about our Christianity, our being Reformed, God’s gift. There in our breasts lingers self-righteousness still. Popes tend to rule our bellies. We can show a great care for formalities, and imagine our prayers are sanctified by “thee” and “thou.” But we find it an easy thing to be quite casual about knee-bending, heart-baring, truly-with-God-communing religion. We preach against the world while worldliness creeps into our souls and lives. And it is a devil’s creeping, petty pace by petty pace, day to day, taking us away … from our God!

So prone to lifeless religion and worldliness, we are naturally willing students of heathen ways. There is a connection, a rapport, between our sinful minds and heathen philosophies. Heathen joys are our natural loves. It is not difficult for any of us to pass with ease and with honors the course of Heathen Priorities 101 entitled “Me, Myself, and I.” We easily can do well in the heathen way of living by the standards of men and not according to the Word of God, the Bible. And heathen customs can easily become our major, and our idols (Jer. 10:3).

Like Dating.

God through Jeremiah fires into the twenty-first century, and into our churches and homes, and souls: Thus saith the Lord! Learn not the way of heathen … dating!

Indeed, there is a great temptation for us to learn this heathen way of dating. And, it is my contention, as you may know (!), that we have learned it quite well.

I say this, you must understand, with regard to our learning in general. In general we are good students of the heathen way of dating. There is among us some resistance still to all of the way of heathen dating; we entertain the form, Dating, but are not altogether happy with everything about her. And, because we really do love God and we do love righteousness we try, desperately, to resist Dating’s moves and claws. But largely we have learned to tolerate and even to promote this bad way, made it the custom of our men with maids. The Monstrous has come into our homes and churches. And she is indeed having her bad way.

One indication that we have learned the way of the heathen in adopting their custom of dating is this: this Monstrous thing in her Half-Form among us! Many are there among us who do this thing called dating, who are in no wise ready for marriage. And for some strange reason we let them, and even encourage them.

What I mean by people not being ready for marriage is this: that they are not mature enough, spiritually, or they are not yet committed enough to marrying but would rather, or need to, first finish three more years of schooling (high school or college), or they have no means of supporting a spouse and children.

The Bible knows nothing, absolutely nothing, of God’s people, male and female, pairing off, going steady, betrothing, or what have you, except with a view to marriage, and therefore, when they are ready to marry. Every thing and every one must be ready, the timing, the godliness, the circumstance, the provision of God in every way, therefore, must be evident, even before there is the beginning, even, of a godly way of men with maids in God’s covenant.

Ready? As ready as Christ when He woos His bride. As ready as the church when she responds to Christ! That is how ready covenant men with maids must be before they travel the way of marrying! Marriage, according to Ephesians 5, being a picture of Christ and His church together, the way of a man with a maid should portray Christ and His church getting together. There must be readiness, therefore, when men with maids first begin along the way of marrying. For when Christ comes to take His bride to Himself, He certainly is ready. And He makes His bride ready to receive Him by the prior regenerating and enlivening and enlovening work of the Spirit. He will not come and dally with her for seven years, and play with her, and, then reject her for another. He does not come to her just to get to know her. When He comes to marry, and to call to conscious faith, He already knows them that are His, He has made them ready, and it is the time of their love. Love, Christ knows, and Christ’s bride must know, must not be stirred till He please (Song of Solomon 3:5).

Concerning the matter of our covenant people being ready for marriage spiritually, before they pursue a mate, I think we would all agree. Our people must be ready in the soul before they look for a soul-mate.

What this means, of course, is that anyone who would proceed along the sacred way of marrying must be and show himself or herself to be men and women of God. There must first be the establishment and cultivation of that vertical, God-and-thou relationship, there must first be the ardent love for Christ, before we have ardent marriage-love for a mortal being, however strong or beautiful that being is. There must be the fruit, abundant fruit of the Holy Spirit first, there must be evident responsibility and maturity first, before our men with maids dare, and before we dare let them take even one step toward the matrimonial altar.

Evidence of this true and mature Christianity in the soul we have always thought, as Reformed believers, is public confession of faith. The requirement of public confession of faith we have seen as necessary before one can partake of the Supper of our Lord. By this confession of faith one vows before Christ and His church that he or she is a believer, a discerning, mature believer. Upon this confession of faith the rights and privileges of full church membership are bestowed, and the obligations of such membership are shouldered.

But what do we have among us? The Half-Formed heathen Dating! We, as parents and churches, have given our young people the privilege of focusing on a relationship which ought to be for marriage, we have allowed them to spend a considerable amount of their time and energy on that, they have gone out together into the night and night after night after night and year after year before they have professed Christ together with the church of all ages.

Now, it may be that we think public profession of faith does not really mean much. Or it may be that we think the “dating” of our young people does not really mean much. If either or both of these are the case then we are really good learners of heathen dating! But I am hoping you will agree: both mean a lot! And the profession of a relationship with Christ means a lot more than and should have priority over and precede, therefore, profession of a relationship with Sally or Sam.

Grace Life readers, let us think on these things. And be humble. We have been shot at. But it is not some drunken grumpy writer shooting up the place. There is the warning shot from God’s Word. Let us begin to unlearn Dating, to shake off her ungodly yoke. Let us take another yoke upon us, even Christ’s. Let us come unto Him, and learn His way of godly marrying.

And know this.

This too is the Word of God.

We and our men with maids shall surely find rest!