i am SO excited to share a post by my dear friend Dominic. a gifted writer with a good heart and an ability to love just about anyone, Dominic has inspired me immensely. he has an ability to paint a story with his words, and he’s able to tastefully use the “f” word; talents that i truly do envy. he is a part of an awesome project in Philly — it’s way worth your time to check them out.
[about the author] Dominic Laing lives in Philadelphia and works for the Neighborhood Film Company, a group that mentors/employs adults in recovery (addiction, homelessness, crime, etc). He writes because sharing his story and listening to the stories of others changed his life. Blog? No doubt. Right here. Follow NFCo on Twitter here, and Dom here.
Two months ago, I moved across the country. I left everything comfortable and drove 3,000 miles East. In my head, I’m still 40 minutes from Santa Monica. But in reality, I’m two miles from the Liberty Bell and a four-iron’s distance from Jersey.
I’m living in a house in a neighborhood most people would walk around, if they were brave enough to walk around in it, and ask me, “Here? You moved here? On purpose?”
But neither geography nor sociology concerns me, not at this moment.
What concerns me is how little I’ve talked about, in the past two months, romantic relationships, and how joyful I am to be rid of the entire fucking conversation.
A year ago, I sat in a coffee shop and listened to a group of friends talk about love and relationships. Now when I say ‘love and relationships’, you create a framework in your mind of what you think you talk about when you talk about ‘love and relationships.’
All the more if you’re a Christian, because talking about ‘love and relationships’ as a Christian always came off, for some reason, as braver than talking about Moses or predestination.
But I’ve never talked about oxytocin, the “love hormone” that plays a role in pair bonding, empathy, anxiety, social recognition and orgasm. This made up the centerpiece of their conversation. Because to them, there was no ‘calling,’ no ‘courting,’ no ‘covenant’ or ‘destiny as a couple.’ No one did devotions together and no one talked about love languages.
All that mattered was Oxytocin, Vasopressin, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Serotonin, Testosterone, and Estrogen. Love was a many splendored, multi-chemical combination. The idea of Love as a purely chemical reaction is a provoking one, and an idea I’d never been exposed to until that moment.
It scared me. Not so much the idea of Love being chemically induced, but the idea that the entire rest of the world was having a conversation, and I had no idea.
Four months ago, someone was over my house. He was in the area, auditioning for a singing competition, and the group was talking about ‘love and relationships.’
Someone brought up the conversation about couples who don’t kiss before they get married, and this guy seemed to be arguing its merits. Couldn’t tell, and couldn’t care less. Someone else started bringing up points to the contrary, but I grew more and more frustrated.
Someone else other than the other two someones previously mentioned asked if I was alright, because I have a terrible poker face and people can tell when I hate something.
I stood up, looked at the idiot trying his luck at a singing competition and said, “This whole conversation’s pointless. The only place this conversation is happening is here.”
I decided right then I didn’t want to talk about things for the sole reason of making myself feel better or validating beliefs everyone already knew they had.
And then I left.
More recently, a pastor spoke about singleness. A married pastor spoke about singleness. A married pastor with nothing particularly insightful to say spoke about singleness.
My experience has been that the church has its head up its ass when it comes to relationship status and its relative importance. This past year, I’ve met entrepreneurs who’re changing lives in Canada, Pakistan, India, Guatemala, Portland and New York.
All of them female. All of them committed and successful. And not one of them derives any strength or puts any grand focus on their marital status. They saw something wrong in the world, and they set about changing it.
Phrases like “Get Shit Done” and “Change the Fucking World” cycle through their heads and work themselves into every word and deed.
“True Love Waits” never seemed so antiquated or trivial.
Try talking about something that matters and see what happens.
When I hear a pastor huffing and puffing about relationships, it reminds me of a man glancing up to the sky and commenting on the weather. “Some clouds, eh?”
Peace be with you, and go fuck yourself.
I’m not writing to write about Oxytocin, the merits of waiting to kiss until marriage, or a biblical basis for Singleness and/or Married Life. A relationship status, to me, is a non-issue. It matters not whether you’re single or married, divorced, widowed, in a relationship, part of an online dating service, giving out your number to complete strangers or living in a cave.
What matters to me, as a Christian, is the relationship I have with God.
Do I concern myself with the same things as a nun who’s served the addicted and homeless in Philadelphia for over thirty years? What does it benefit me, as a Christian, to worry about my dating life? The moment I moved 3,000 miles across the country, that’s the moment I stopped worrying about the old fucking paradigm of relationships, of ‘what it means’ to be single.
What it does mean to be single?
It means taxes are easier and you buy fewer groceries.
Being single or married has nothing to do with your personality or your relationship with God. I know good people who single, good people who are married, assholes who are single, and assholes who are married.
When someone brings up relationships in Church, it’s almost always “singleness v. married,” and it always sets up a paradigm where you’re forced to choose one over the other, and if there’s one chosen over the other, that infers one is better than the other.
When you personally discuss it, do you say ‘singleness and married life?’ Do you say ‘singleness or married life?’ The first option is inclusive, while the second’s exclusive. And which one you use gives away your position.
Every. Single. (And/Or Married). Time.
The ‘debate’ about single life and married life is a faulty premise and a pointless conversation that does nothing to further Gospel in this world. You know God if you’re single, and you know God if you’re married. The only one who becomes more or less available if your marital status changes is you.
God, so I’ve heard, is always present.
And that’s what, at this point in my life, concerns me most. God’s presence. 3,000 miles, a new address, a new job and new friends have done much in the way of turning everything on its head. If I need anything to stay the same, it’s God.
If there’s anything I need more in life, it’s God.
If God showed up and wanted to talk about ‘courting,’ I’d throw myself into the Delaware.
Please God, for the love of You, don’t change.
Because I’m having a hard enough time with everything else, not just relationships. Because I spent too many years looking at porn and building up my definition of “intimacy” on faulty premises. I spent too many years having conversations I thought mattered, but when push came to shove, turned out not to matter at all.
Because I’m having all-new conversations about things I never talked about before; conversations about bike helmets and cheesesteaks and cigarettes and videos and creativity and grace and alcohol and violence and decay and brotherhood…
…and not a single thing about dating.
And I love it.
I believe myself to be a tender and loving man capable of intimacy, but I derive all of that from my relationship with God, and that’s where it fucking Alpha’s and Omega’s.
I believe you to be tender and loving and capable of intimacy, and I believe all of that because God created you, and devoting yourself to that relationship is the fucking Alpha and Omega.
You don’t have to have the same conversation that hits the same points every single time. Yes, you’re a woman of God. Yes, you’re made in His image…
And that’s all that matters.
The “you deserve a man who loves you” section infers that you need a man to be whole. If you get married, great. If not, great. I don’t care, and neither should you. You deserve a man who loves you as much as you deserve a golden toilet or a fruit smoothie. We, as Christians, deserve nothing. God has shown us Grace.
It doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. It might not matter at all.
Maybe someone told you, through word and/or deed, romantic relationships, or a lack thereof, defined you, for better or for worse.
They’re full of shit.
And so here’s my promise: If you want to talk about Proverbs 31 and how to use your time as a single person to grow closer to God, I’m gonna leave the room.
But if you’ve thrown your heart through a prism, and God split it into a million different rays of light, and you’re making sense of how your relationship with God has changed your view of every single solitary element of His creation…
…now we’re talking.