A lot of Christian books on relationships and finding your life partner are identical in message. Save sex for marriage, ask God to bring the right person along, then sit back and do nothing.
Rebecca K Maddox would agree with all of those principles, except the last one.
“There was a tendency in my church to encourage people to just wait and pray and see what happens. I thought to myself, if I was looking for a job or looking to go on holiday I would pray and think about it but I would also take action. Why can’t I take the same kind of approach to meeting a life partner, so long as it’s done in a Christian way?”
The result was a process that Rebecca admits was partly an “experiment”.
“I decided to go on 20 dates with 20 different people who I met in 20 different ways.”
Over the course of a year, Rebecca went on a variety of first dates. Her book is the story of what happened. It’s a fun tale full of humour, cringe worthy moments and good, honest advice.
“The whole experience of going on those dates helped me to lighten up and stop being so intense about finding ‘the one’. It made me realise there are a lot of really nice decent guys out there. I wrote the book as an encouragement to other single Christian women who are reaching the big 3-0 and looking for someone to share their life with.”
Does Rebecca think there is pressure on Christian women to be married?
“I think so. It can be quite tricky as a single person in the church because if you join a new church you’re often told about all the different things you can get involved with but very often there isn’t anything specifically aimed at single people. You can feel quite outside the main family of the church and certainly I’ve felt like that at times.”
The other problem that Rebecca has come across is some Christians’ attitude towards dating.
“There isn’t much of a culture of dating as being acceptable in the church. You’re supposed to just somehow ‘know’ when you meet someone that they’re the right one. You’re just going to have a thunderbolt moment when you think ‘yes’ as soon as you see them. The message of this book is it just isn’t like that sometimes and you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.”
While Rebecca enjoyed the experience of going on lots of dates, she does believe that younger Christians in their teens and early twenties should be more careful and "guard their hearts".
“A lot of the books out there advise you to [guard your heart] but I think once you reach a certain age, you realise action does need to be taken and compromises do need to be made. The approach of my book is more along those lines.”
“There are no hard and fast rules of how you’re going to meet that one person. If you’re both committed to God and each other, the relationship will work. There isn’t necessarily just one person out there who God has ordained me to marry. We always have a choice.”
“When it [courting] works, it’s a good thing. But if somebody has had experiences where things haven’t worked out and they haven’t married their first boyfriend of girlfriend or it has been hard to find that person I would say Joshua Harris’ approach is a little bit discouraging.”
“When I read them [his books] I found it didn’t’ apply to me because I’d been through a lot of different things. But I do believe it’s good to approach each date with the view that you might end up marrying this person and to bear that in mind and think about it without getting into a panic.”
“There’s nothing wrong with meeting people with a view to looking for somebody. I’m not ashamed of doing that as a Christian women because it’s what God has made us for, to be in relationship with each other. I don’t feel any shame in searching.”
All of Rebecca’s dates were with Christians, and the author says she’d find it “hard” to date someone who didn’t share her beliefs. But Rebecca doesn’t like to be boxed in and struggles to define her own beliefs.
“I have been in a Baptist church, a charismatic church and a middle of the road C of E church. As my spiritual life has developed, I find out more about God and what a broad spectrum of beliefs there are.”
Has Rebecca learned anything through the process of dating 20 people within a year?
“I’ve changed my attitude about who I am looking for and in the future I’m going to look very differently at the more humble and quiet men I might come across in a Christian context because if somebody is very servant hearted and works hard, it says a lot about them.”
It’s been fascinating to hear Rebecca’s story. 20 First Dates is certainly not the average Christian book on relationships, but perhaps that’s why the book has already proved to be very popular?
The name on the front of the book says “Rebecca K. Maddox”, but that’s not the author’s real name. In order to save embarrassment, both the 20 men’s and the authors name have been changed.
I finish by asking if Rebecca has any final words to say on the important, yet strangely controversial, subject of dating in the Christian world.
“I didn’t think it was true and I’m surprised to hear myself saying this. But actually, being single can be an opportunity. So enjoy every stage of life for what it is and make sure God is at the centre of it.”
“I hope people enjoy the book and I wish them all the best with their search.”
20 First Dates: My Search for My Right is published by Authentic Media
March 11th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes