Radical Dating By Diane Montgomery, Gabrielle Pickle and Sarah Bubar
This new book by three friends, Diane Montgomery, Gabrielle Pickle and Bubar entitled Radical Dating is a foray into the world of dating from a Christian and biblical perspective. Rather than just devote an entire book to purity or boundaries or any other specific topic, the authors seek to elucidate the answer to the question of how Christ (specifically Christian faith) change the way we view dating, from the beginning to end. Although the book is dedicated to girls, I thought it might be good to gain a better perspective on dating from a Christian female lens. Each chapter is broken up from the perspective of one author while some chapters are a combination of the three authors. The authors indicate from the opening introduction that the who, how, and why women date matters ‘because our lives are a witness to the world and a sacrifice of worship to God’ (12). There is a public witness that matters in our personal relationships and a vertical relationship toward God that matters ultimately.
The first chapter on True Love was refreshing because it laid the weight of the argument on seeing love through the lens of God’s character and his self-giving love. Since love comes from God and is supremely manifest in the Father’s giving of the Son for the redemption of the world, this is the starting point for understanding love, not a romantic Hollywood film (16-17). Gabrielle is right to point out the contrary vision of love promoted in movies, society, schools and places of public debate differs from the robust vision of love from God. Instead of self-serving, instant self-gratification, and ultimately full of what can love do for my well-being, the biblical vision is one of sacrifice, patience, and pursuing the good of the other. The criticism I have of this chapter is one of a specific nuance. Gabrielle states at the end of the chapter that, “A culture that has rejected God has also rejected has also rejected true love” (18). There is a difference between the eradication of God in the public arena and the promotion of an idolatrous view of the world. God has not been entirely erased from culture because he has made the world in such a way that it reflects himself in every aspect of society. Although we see many distortions of the concept of love in mainstream media, God even uses these mediums to speak of the consequences of sin and the dissatisfaction with living with a me-first attitude. Yet, even some romantic comedies point out the power of a commitment to live beyond the momentary.
The second and third chapters focus on defining how love is exhibited in the life of the believer from the lens of 1 Corinthians 13 and the Book of Hosea. Sarah bears witness to the all-embracing face of love amidst the trials of life. She wants her readers to know that love from God’ s eyes is a commitment that ‘is not destroyed by the brute force winds of reality’ (24). Chapter 3 written by Diane is one of the best chapters in the book. In closing up her chapter on beauty and love from a position of God’s grace, she signals two things that women need to understand: one, their validation as a woman comes from God alone, and secondly, people will let them down and leave them, but God will never leave them (28). What a fresh wind of encouragement here that God is faithful even when boys are not, or even when they feel that their past haunts them in such a way as to cripple their future. Although finding our validation from God is either said than done, this type of truth frees God’s children, daughters and sons, from a desire to erect idols of anything but God for validation.
The rest of the chapters in the book deal with the details of dating from do’s and don’ts to finding the godly attributes of a man and if he is interested in you and not just what you can get from you. One thing I thought Gabrielle pointed out in the chapter on Why We Love Jerks is the necessity of having close friends/counselors who can discern smooth talking and character in a certain guy (66). How many times do girls and guys go head over heels for somebody, rely fully on their emotions and are blind to the smooth talking of the other person in the relationship. Wise counsel leads a woman to see the truth right before them instead of resting upon their feelings for the truth.
I thought this book is a good reminder to girls of the supreme importance of finding their foundation upon Christ and what he says about them. The sections on dating and the specific questions asked were good in promoting good discussion amongst girls. At times, the book read more like a series of blog posts, which I realize that this book was created out of that very thing. Overall, I hope this book is an encouragement to those girls wanting to serve Christ and understand how dating can be approached from a biblical lens.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and Christian Focus Publications for the copy of this book in exchange for review.