“I just have one question for you…”
I watched the lips of my Tinder date form the words.
“What do you think about…”
Sex, sex, sex. My mind filled in the blanks. That’s what people usually want to know my thoughts on when they find out I’m a Christian: am I saving sex until marriage?
“What do you think about…” I inhaled, ready to share my views on the third-date rule.
“Space?” I asked. It was our second date and he wanted some space?
“Yeah, like the stars and shit? I’ve just never met a Christian before,” he went on, our date descending into an episode of Russell Brand’s Under the Skin.
I hadn’t seen it coming. Not that he’d be shocked that I go to church but that he was bothered about it. The thing is, this date had just told me he was, “liberal, you know, proper open minded.” Now he was up in arms. Maybe I just wasn’t his type? But my hunch is that his U-turn had more to do with stereotypes about Christianity instead.
Don’t get me wrong, stereotypes can be helpful in some circumstances. It just so happened that this date had never met a Christian, never mind one in their twenties, and so all he had to go on were the caricatures seen on screens and the loud sandwich-board-wearing man shouting “turn or burn” on the end of his street. We were both millennials working in creative jobs in London but as soon as he found out I was a Christian, it was like I was saying I was from a different planet – you know, if I believed in space…
The first assumption my date had made was that Christians wouldn’t be on Tinder – an app sometimes seen as synonymous with hook ups. The truth is that for the many Christians looking to date someone who shares their faith there are dating apps specifically designed for doing just that, from Salt to Christian Connection. And yet, you don’t need me to tell you that just because someone identifies as part of the same group as you it means they share the same values (Trump posing with a Bible is my own case in point).
He also assumed that I wouldn’t be confident, fun and love a drink. In reality, I know people of all faiths and none who choose not to drink but for me Jesus turning water into wine is evidence enough that the guy loved a party. He also assumed I don’t believe in science when 65.3% of all Physics Nobel Prize winners consider themselves Christians (obviously I wish I had quoted that stat at the time). Though I was taken aback by my date’s line of questioning, I’ve sadly known of people having it much worse. Tola Doll Fisher, author of ‘Still Standing – 100 Lessons From an ‘Unsuccessful’ Life’ shared their experiences with me. “Dates have assumed that I’m dumb, can’t think for myself and that I don’t have sex, since I’m currently single…”
It’s well documented that Christians believe in saving sex until marriage, and I do know many people who believe that a loving, committed marriage (as sadly, not all are) is the best context for sex. I also know Christians who don’t or do but in reality, find that too difficult to achieve. Regardless, it makes me so sad when the Church becomes known for what we stand against rather than what we stand for – which is sharing God’s love with all people, not just some.
It’s for this reason that when my date’s indignation came thick and fast, I dug deep and listened; he had his world view and I had mine. And, when it comes to developing a long-term relationship, it often helps to have a similar outlook on life. But by the time I came to my third date with another Tinder guy, Nick, I felt a little jaded.
My space-date’s questions, though shocking at first, had kind of taken root. Maybe I wasn’t going to find someone who shared my beliefs on an app like Tinder? I believed God is everywhere but maybe he’d swiped left on that particular site? And so, there I sat on my third date with my now-boyfriend as I assumed he was about to take a similar U-turn.
“I know you think you like me,” I began. “But I really don’t think I’m your type…”
“Why?” Nick looked confused; we’d been getting on well.
“I’m a Christian,” I confessed. “I assume you think that’s dumb…”
“Stop assuming,” Nick smiled. “And maybe ask me what I believe instead.”
‘What Are Friends For?’ By Lizzie O’Hagan is out now in paperback, priced £8.99, Headline Review.
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