Thursday, January 27, 2011

#208 Missionary dating

When someone in Christian culture meets a delicious non-Christian they will usually try to assume a missionary position with them.

Missionary dating is when you date a non-Christian for the express purpose of proselytizing so as to instigate their conversion. Youth group leaders heartily disapprove of missionary dating. It is the subject of many a youth pastor sermon.

They say there is nothing inherently wrong with dating a non-Christian but that it is unwise (the line between being unwise and outright sinning appearing blurry and rather mobile, it is often moved about with authority but not always with biblical backing. This helps color in those gray areas). The pastor will sometimes say that scripture indicates that the Christian's faith actually sanctifies the non-believer in the relationship, but is quick to add that this does not mean dating a non-believer is a good idea. The pastor will also cite the verse "bad company corrupts good morals" and use the term "slippery slope."

In missionary dating the missionary figure takes the unsaved-savage figure to their hip (Christian culture's version of hip, anyway) church and hopes to win them with its display of community and cultural relevance. But people can sometimes smell an ulterior motive, and this sixth sense has foiled many a lustily prayed-for conversion.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#207 Marrying young

Christian culture gets married young. The reason isn't entirely clear, but the general consensus is that it drastically lowers the risk of fornication. You just can't fornicate if you're married, and that takes care of that.

Fornication is Christian culture's natural enemy. Bible colleges (aka "bridal colleges" - what did I tell you?) require students to sign a convenant stating they won't drink, swear, be gay or have premarital sex. But even Christian students at secular universities roil under biblical sex mandates. When you combine guilt with evangelical horndogs you get a lot of marriage proposals and short engagements.

Even apart from the sex issue, Christian culture highly recommends getting married. The overarching message is "once you find the person God has chosen for you then everything will fall together, your life will finally start, your ministry will really get off the ground, and your problems will be solved." The notion that your problems could really just be getting started isn't even in their frame of concept.

When your earnest Christian ass graduates college without a boyfriend or girlfriend, you are peppered with questions by family members and people at church about when exactly you will get yourself an eligible Christian companion. Then once you have a boyfriend or girlfriend you are peppered about getting married already. The peppering is combined with concern that you are not "living right" and possibly Doing It outside the confines of marriage. The unspoken message is deafening.

The ideal marrying age in Christian culture is 22, when you're fresh out of college and haven't even been to Europe, lived away from home apart from a dorm, or paid one installment on your student loan. To people outside of Christian culture this is sheer madness. But the people in Christian culture are relieved that the fornication window is finally closed and they can now set busily about writing Facebook statuses that they're married to their best friend.

Soon after the guileless, low-budget Christian culture wedding you can expect them to start popping out babies. If they're not trying to get pregnant by their second anniversary, they may not be full-fledged evangelicals.

This post originally appeared at Beliefnet. The original post and comment thread can be seen here

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

#206 "You are now entering the mission field" signs

89% of evangelical church parking lots contain one of these signs. The signs are never positioned so that you see them while you're driving into the lot. They're placed so you can only see them as you're driving away.

The implication is that you were not in the mission field while you were on church grounds, but in a cozy bubble away from pesky non-believers and moral miscreants.

Some churches post the sign above the church exit. Maybe they're reminding you that even the parking lot is a battlefield.

Other churches post the sign on your way out of the sanctuary, maybe as a heads-up that there could be some spiritual warfare in the narthex.

To my knowledge no one has ever posted one of these signs on the way into a church building, even though a lot of the time you are safer away from a church than inside of it.