Over the past few years I’ve noticed a problem among single, Christian guys when it comes to dating. It’s something I like to call “Guard Her Heart Syndrome.” Its symptoms are simple and widespread. Many of us have grown up around this adage when it comes to dating, “Guard her heart.”
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.Proverbs 4:23“Guard Her Heart” is a nice, but extrabiblical, outlook on dating relationships that stems from a misinterpretation of Proverbs 4:23 and a lofty view of chivalry of old–chivalry that never actually existed. “Guarding her heart” is all about making sure that young men don’t emotionally “damage” young women in dating relationships. It is a saying that, while well intentioned, has lead to a generation of neutered men, afraid of being bold and straight forward.
We’ve taught these men that the only way to have a healthy dating relationship, is to start as friends. The idea being a guy should get to know a girl first as a friend, and so when he asks her out, he is already sure he is interested. Many young men believe that they must be willing to marry a girl, before its OK to ask her out. Seriously. As a result, young men are pursuing friendships with women when what they really want is to pursue is a romantic relationship with them. As someone who had a romantic relationship stem from a friendship, I have to admit it is an awesome way to go. However, when that friendship began, I honestly had no interest in a romantic relationship with her. There are certainly scenarios where men should seek friendships first: when distance is a factor, when you work or go to class together, or when you are interested, but circumstances don’t lend themselves to a relationship.
Those scenarios are totally different from the situations in which men suffering from Guard her Heart Syndrome find themselves. These men are really hiding their true intentions, in an effort to avoid causing undue pain. That’s a noble goal, but it had serious problems. It causes more pain that it solves, it minimizes the value and autonomy of women, and it goes against biblical themes.
I know for a fact that there are young women out there totally confused, and in fact hurting, because of the actions of a young man in whom they were interested. She meets this guy, he’s pursuing God, she is interested in dating him and it seems like he feels the same. However, his interest seems to come and go. Why? Because he’s trying to hide it. He is not sure and “can’t” let her on to his true feelings. That confusion hurts. Then there is other side of the coin, a guy spends 2 years trying to build a friendship, so that he can build a relationship. When he finally goes to make his move she is not interested. Ouch. Dude, wouldn’t you have rather found that out 2 years ago?
Men, it is not your job to shield your sisters in Christ from pain that results from life. Finding a good relationship is hard. It is going to hurt at times. That is OK. God has equipped her, just as he has you, with everything she needs to protect her own heart. God’s command in Proverbs 4 is to “guard your heart.” If she is seeking God, she will guard her own heart. You don’t need to make those decisions for her. Don’t cause intentional pain, of course, that would be sin. But she is not a fragile thing who depends upon you for protection; she has far more worth than that.
Finally, Guard Her Heart Syndrome results in double sided men. The bible has a clear theme of straightforwardness. Matthew 5:37 says, “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.'” and Revelation 3:16 warns against people who are lukewarm. In context, neither of these verses are trying to talk about dating, I want to be clear about that. They do show that we are called to be honest in our behavior.
So what does this mean? Single, Christian, men, let’s be men. If you meet a girl, and you are interested in dating her. Don’t seek to cause undue pain, don’t lead her on, don’t ask out every girl in small group. Of course not. But if you’ve met a girl, who is pursuing the Lord, and you’re interested, then ask her out. Be bold. Be confident. It’s ok.
Thanks for reading,