Relationships 2.0: the dating game is screwed up

To start this series at the very beginning, I have very little respect for the way our culture handles relationships and marriage. If you want to see why, look no farther than your TV screen…

The Bachelor

And now I’m forced to admit it publicly… yes, I watched an episode of the Bachelor on Hulu. (I know, I know, stone me now…) To me, it was the most radical statement about what’s wrong with dating culture in America. 20 girls all date the same guy at the same time. They go on the world’s most amazing dates in some of the most beautiful parts of the planet, and most of them fall in love and get heart broken when they don’t get a rose.

Thankfully, most people don’t use this system for finding their soulmate. We all recognize that this is a really dumb way to meet the person you plan to marry.  But, without really thinking about it, Americans, even those who genuinely want to get married, fall prey to all the same problems by treating dating like it’s a game.

How cultural dating turns out like the TV show

Now I said most of The Bachelor‘s girls fall in love, but I didn’t mean they fall in love with the man in front of them. Nooooo… they fall in love with his TV personality, or the kiss of way to much experience, or the amazing scenery, or the adrenaline of an adventure date. Seriously; they put themselves in situations where you’re going to fall in love with something. A lot of people call this “infatuation.”

They kiss; they talk about the scenery, but never do they talk about anything that helps them decide if their relationship will actually work. When was the last time a contestant talked about their religious convictions, checked if they were on the same page about children, where they wanted to spend the rest of their life, or any of the other important “boring” stuff?

</ end rant about the bachelor>

Ok… here are what I see as the top myths about dating in our culture:

Myth 1: Dating is just entertainment. Just like in the Bachelor, people go on dates someplace beautiful. They watch a stirring movie or a beautiful sunset and then look at their date and say “this person makes me feel amazing.” No kidding… what were you expecting? Entertainment dating is a horrible litmus test for whether you would work married to a person. Do you think you’ll feel the same way watching the local news with your spouse?

And the sad part about it is that you can have a lot of fun asking hard questions. Toni and I talked for five hours the first time I asked her and I can say I really enjoyed that time. This doesn’t mean we don’t watch sunsets or movies (the new Spiderman was pretty legit) or go out to eat, but it does mean that our focus is different.

Myth 2: All that matters is us, baby. Most couples spend a lot of time looking into each other’s eyes. But a couple doesn’t exist in a bubble; it’s important to hang out with other people and I think it’s especially important to hang out with your families. It’s also really important to get some outside perspective from friends.

Myth 3: It’s in his kiss. It is really easy to get fooled on a one-on-one date. That’s one reason it’s important to be around other people, but also why I’m a big fan of dating friends. And, no, contrary to the infallible wisdom of 60s pop music, you can’t tell whether the guy is good and really loves you from his kiss.

And then there’s shacking up. Always confused me… Maybe I’ll write about what’s wrong with cohabitation later. Basically, everything’s all casual until we want to be married, but then we won’t get married, just pretend… because marriage is special. Whaaaaat? Yeah, I am not doing that.

Purposeful dating

When I first approached Toni about this relationship, I asked if she was interested in “courting.” The reason I was using this kind of vocabulary is because I definitely didn’t want the cultural norm in “dating.” But let’s be honest; there’s no point in being counter-cultural just for the sake of being counter-cultural.

I think the term we’re using now is “purposeful dating.” That really highlights the key difference between us and the world: we’re not just playing around. If you really value your date, then you won’t treat this like a game.

But don’t worry… that doesn’t mean things can’t be fun. I think, and Toni agrees, that we have a blast. This is a really important principle for the rest of life, too: It turns out that living for a purpose is more fun that just living to have fun. (make sense?)

This has been a pretty negative post. It pretty much summarizes why I see a need to think so carefully about how relationships should work. But more positive stuff is coming… trust me. Leave some comments! Maybe share what you think the solution to these problems is…

And, to end this post, a “hey christian girl” meme:


A Book; The Truth.

Warning: This is a graphic film, and just like the graphic war passages in Exodus, I’m not going to sugar coat it. Parental discretion is advised.

The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli: "I walk by faith, not by sight."

Well, I’m usually the type that reads all the reviews and makes sure that I know what I’m in for before watching a movie. Really, can you blame me with all the Hollycrap that’s out there? But The Book of Eli was one movie I didn’t do that.

After seeing the trailer, I wanted to be surprised. So, I entered the theater not knowing anything beyond the trailer about this movie. How wrong can you go with Denzel Washington?

After this two hour movie, I have three letters for you: W-O-W. Just plain wow.

It is an awe-inspiring movie with great cinematography, intense action, an amazing message, gripping story, and just all around stun power! Go see it.

The Book of Eli is a post-apocalyptic story about a mysterious lone traveler (Eli) who is on a mission to save the savage human race. His mission comes straight from heaven. According to Eli, “I walk by faith, not by sight.”

All the bad stuff.

Now that I’ve told you how much I loved this move, let me tell you all the bad stuff in it. In short, it’s not family movie. It’s got an R for a reason. Probably not for anyone under 18.

If you want specifics, PluggedIn (from Focus on the Family) has a great review that lays out all the brutal violence.

But (without ruining anything) bullets not only fly, we see them blow holes in people. Not only does Denzel fight to defend himself; he lobs off heads and appendages. Blood is all over the place, and cars explodes in a show of fireworks. Carcasses, of both machine and humans, litter this radioactive wasteland.

It’s thirty years after all the governments blew each other up and the atmosphere with it. As can be expected, anarchy prevails. We hear about (but don’t see) cannibalism as human is one of the few meats left. Woman are raped (off camera, thankfully), and cusses are flung each direction.

While this is show, none of it is condoned, which is why I think the movie has the same redeeming value as the warfare of the Judges or the conquest of Canaan in Exodus.

Now, if you haven’t seen the movie, and this doesn’t scare you off, then stop reading this review and go see it. Please, bELIeve me, you want to be surprised by the twists in this amazing plot.

If you have already seen it…

There are some amazing themes woven through this film. Perhaps the deepest and one deserving of most attention:

1) The Word of God vs. The Book of God. Carnegie (yes, that’s the bad guy’s name) thinks the book can be used as a weapon to control those who can’t think for themselves. It has power.The only reason Carnegie values the Bible is because it’s the big Book. Eli knows this, too. But he has a different perspective.

A Book or the Truth?

A Book or the Truth? from: ba1969, stock.xchng

Eli is no Indian Jones. He doesn’t protect this book as an artifact. It has power not because it’s a big book, but because it’s the Truth. When Eli finally looses it, hope is not lost, because he doesn’t need the book; he already has the Word in his heart. (literally, the whole thing memorized)

What I left the theater, I had one big question: was Eli blind all along? Had he been miraculously healed so that he could complete this specific mission? Or had he simply learned braille… maybe because a family member was blind? Maybe the coloring using in the movie actually reflected that he was color blind? I’m not sure, but regardless, there’s still this lesson:

2) In Eli’s weakness, He is strong. Eli could see things that no one else could. Great lesson: God doesn’t just gives you challenges just so you can overcome them, but also so that you can use them.

We find out at the end that Eli is one of the few people that can actually use his Bible.

Two of the greatest lessons come straight from Eli’s mouth:

3) Priorities. “I’ve concentrated so much on protecting the book, I forgot to live by what I learned from it.” Too often we get so caught up in our mission, whether it be going to church or ministering in a foreign counter. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with everything and then, as Eli puts it, put others before yourself. If we complete the mission, and don’t have love, we are nothing. (1 Cor 13)

4) Thankfulness. Eli’s companion, Solara, asks what the old world was like, before humans decided to blast each other to pieces and destroy the atmosphere. “People had more than they needed.” He says, “we threw away things people kill each other for now.”

It’s just been 30 years since the World’s climate completely changed. At one point, Eli needs to pay to get his gadgets charged. He pays with KFC Towelettes.

That was one of the big impressions my Dad got from the movie. A peak into our future helped me realize just how much I take for granted.

5) Finally… Memorization. Psalms tells us that David, the great warrior of the Bible, the Word to heart.

Psalm 119:11 (ESV)

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Not to spoil it for you, (which is why I told you not to read this if you haven’t seen the movie) but Eli looses the book. He never lost the Word, though. Eli had memorized the entire thing over his 30 years of wandering, and writes the entire thing down. The copy he had, it turns out, was written in braille.

This was quite a challenge to me. If I all of my possessions were suddenly wiped out in some kind of Armageddon, would I still have the most important thing? Is God’s word still inside of me, and to what lengths would I go to protect it?

The Final Word

And my final word is… awesome.

This story is a jaw-dropping combination of King David, Fahrenheit 451, and the Matrix. I absolutely loved it. A sentimental action movie with a plot that keeps you on your toes and, while brutal, was realistic. And a great discussion starter on top of that…

That said, I want to let you have the final word. Seen the movie and have other things to add? Is there anyone that you maybe didn’t appreciate? Let me know with a comment!


I Made a Mess of Me…

Thank goodness for the grace of the Lord. If you know where that line came from, you might be interested to know that “Mess of Me” from Switchfoot can now be downloaded for free. Here’s how:

Free Christian Music Blog: Free Switchfoot, Family Force 5, Leeland, & More!

Now you can rock it out to this and all it involved was a quick sign up. Very nice. There are a few downloads available, but this song is what caught my attention:

A week of Christian Music Videos – finalists

Alright. Well, it’s been a good, busy week. So now I’m posting our top two finalist music Videos, what I consider to be the best.

In second place…

You noticed just how diverse the songs were this week. Well, the next song is a country western with a cool story a very nice twist at the end that pushes your focus upward.

“I Love You This Much” by Jimmy Wayne. (available at Dailymotion and YouTube)

Very nice twist, hu? Well, You haven’t seen anything yet. In my opinion, the best music video of all time is…

“Praying for you” by Lecrae.

With both of these videos, make sure that you stay tuned till’ the end. It’ll twist your head in a different direction. Hope you’ve enjoyed this week. That’s all, folks.

This Week’s Music Videos:
# 1 – “Praying for you” by Lecrae.
# 2 – “I Love You This Much” by Jimmy Wayne.
# 3 – “Always” by Building 429.
# 4 – “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller and “The Motions” by Matthew West.
# 5 – “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath.
# 6 – “Send Me” by Lecrae.
# 7 – “So Long Self” by Mercy Me.

Music Video # 3

Greetings. A happy Friday to you! And It’s time for Music Video number 3. Time for you know what. Another great Christian Music video.

Better get some Kleenex. Coming up the very touching “Always” by Building 429. This song is a very simple reminder that God will be there for you always. Very touching:

“I believe always, always
our savior never fails.
Even when all hope is gone,
God knows our pain,
and His promise remains.
He will be with you

John 10:28 (NASB)

“and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

This Week’s Music Videos:
# 3 – “Always” by Building 429.
# 4 – “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller and “The Motions” by Matthew West.
# 5 – “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath.
# 6 – “Send Me” by Lecrae.
# 7 – “So Long Self” by Mercy Me.

Music Videos #4

We have a tie! Number four is between two excellent videos from great men of God, using their talents to His glory, even through adversity.

“While I’m Waiting” by John Waller. (As featured in Fireproof)

“The Motions” by Matthew West.

(embeds were, for some reason, disabled on this one. So you have to click the link so see it. Tough, hu? I know, but it’s worth it…)

Both of these are great songs that use video to re-enforce their message. We have several coming that that I believe are even able to top these moving songs, simply by using this medium to not just re-enforce, but to add another dimension. If you would like more, make it easy on yourself and subscribe to my RSS Feed.

This Week’s Music Videos:
# 4 – “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller. and “The Motions” by Matthew West.
# 5 – “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath.
# 6 – “Send Me” by Lecrae.
# 7 – “So Long Self” by Mercy Me.

Music Video # 5

One more amazing, inspiring, God-honoring video coming your way. Featuring great music from Christian Artists…

Today’s special comes from a man who took home some brass from the GMA Dove awards, including best Male Vocalists and top Pop song. Here is the Gospel Music Association’s song of the year; a song challenges my perspective on the world every time I listen to it: “Give Me Your Eyes,” by Brandon Heath*.

This song is excellent. The music video is cool, but doesn’t add another dimension to the song, unfortunately. There are four more, in my opinion, better, videos coming, so stay tuned. Even better! Subscribe to my feed. Thanks again.

“Give me your eyes for just one second.
Give me your eyes so I can see
everything that I keep missing.
Give me your love for humanity.”

This Week’s Music Videos:
# 5 – “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath.
# 6 – “Send Me” by Lecrae.
# 7 – “So Long Self” by Mercy Me.

*Note: this is the YouTube video from Reunion Record’s own channel. For some reason, they’ve disabled embedding this video. I don’t understand this. They don’t get any more money or respect. If anything, it DECREASES the song’s views. Sad. The embedded video came from Tangle, as you can tell.