Egalitarian Dating

You've heard us sing the praises of Christians for Biblical Equality before. They are an amazing organization spreading the good news of the "biblical foundation for gift-based rather than gender-based ministry and service." We are members of CBE and have derived so much encouragement from their resources.

The latest issue of their magazine Mutuality is all about dating. Primarily it deconstructs the cultural traditions (both Christian and secular) surrounding dating and unpacks them. I recommend getting the issue (or borrowing it from me), but they have some good posts and discussion on the subject on their blog right now.

I'm bringing this up because so much of it resonated with Eric and I. When we first started dating, we knew we wanted an egalitarian relationship, but we had no idea what that looked like. It served us well to throw everything out and start from scratch. We read books, talked to people, got counsel, read the Bible, and went through a lot of trial and error. And we had an extremely romantic, inspiring dating relationship.

I wrote the following responses to questions posed by a very good post entitled "Biblical Principles for a Cultural Practice":

* Who initiates/how should a person initiate if it is not automatically assumed that the man will?
I think waiting on the other to initiate is problematic, but waiting for a sense the other is interested could be good. Also, initiating spending time with a person of the opposite sex doesn’t have to be such a big deal. When I first met my husband, I asked if he wanted to carpool to where we both attended grad school. It gave us the chance to get to know each other better without pressure, and six weeks later we went on our first official date.

* Who—the man or the woman—should plan and pay for dates?
This varies for every couple but I think should be discussed early on. My now husband joked on our 3rd date that if we wanted an egalitarian relationship we should trade off planning for dates. I thought it was a great idea and that’s what we still do, 3 1/2 years later. While we were dating we decided he would pay for our date night and I would pay for other activities (spontaneous lunches, etc.)

* Isn’t it simply a desire to be lazy and passive when men want women to initiate?
Maybe a way to look at this is that men and women are both capable of initiating, so if either refuses to do anything before the other, that’s the bigger problem.

* How can relationship conflicts be resolved when there is no designated head?
Discussing conflict resolution before any major conflict came up helped us to determine how to go about this. No one is "in charge" and therefore we have to turn to each other to peacefully and respectfully deal with the issue.

* Doesn’t every man want to rescue a beauty and every woman want to be a beauty to be rescued?
I think more people want a warrior king or queen to fight alongside! Giving up the rescuer/rescued dynamic has freed a lot of my friends and us to embrace healthy and fulfilling relationships.

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cary-anne said...

thanks so much for posting this! i've been considering some of these same things recently as i've been going through a revolutionary feminist journey these passt few months. thanks for sharing your experiences.

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