Archives For Christian Culture

Wedding Cake TopperThis post is inspired by two overlapping events. The first is the approach of Valentine’s Day, when lovers are expected to show their affection through clichés (hopefully breathing new life into old traditions) and social media reflects the desire of many single people to be in relationships. The second is the progression of the Spring semester, during which college students instinctually know that the time to begin relationships is upon them.

A few years ago I wrote a six part blog series on “Why Christians Are Bad at Dating.” That’s not a fair title, of course, but I was trying to capture some of the awkward tension that comes from the Christian community’s disagreement over what dating looks like, what it should even be called, etc. I also addressed factors like the suffocating pressure we put upon young Christians to be married—soon.

In my view, many Christians have forgotten 1 Corinthians 7, in which Paul recommends singleness over marriage. Instead, single Christians don’t make it very far into their twenties without suspicious looks and comments from older (married) Christians. I also think some circles of Christianity have over-exalted forms of “dating” (whatever you want to call it) that make dating into a trial run for marriage.

I am convinced (perhaps naively) that if we do our dating right, our social lives won’t disintegrate into two-person love bubbles, our breakups won’t feel like divorces, and the single Christians in our midst won’t be treated like lepers. These are all major problems within the church. I don’t claim to have all of the answers for getting us to this point, but I’ve heard from many people over the last few years who have found the simple guidelines in that blog series helpful. So I’m summarizing and linking to those blog posts below, in the hopes that you might find them helpful as well. And for those over-achievers who want a book length treatment on the road to marriage and the accompanying dangers, I highly recommend this book: Altared: The True Story of a She, a He, and How They Both Got Too Worked Up about We.


Dating Series Part 1Part 1 – You Don’t Need to Get Married

Many people in the church assume that every Christian ought to be married. There’s a good chance that you believe that you ought to be married at some point (and soon!). But this mentality actually contradicts Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 7. Some assume that they need be married based on poor interpretations of 1 Corinthians 7:9 and Genesis 2:18… READ MORE >>>


Part 2 – What Do We Even Call It?Dating Series Part 2

Though every marriage (aside from arranged marriages) begins with a “getting to know you and find out if we should be married” stage, Christians disagree (sometimes passionately) about what this stage should be called. Some call it dating. Some insist on calling it courting. Others are “just hanging out.” Some will identify as boyfriend and girlfriend, others avoid these labels. All of this disagreement leads to more unnecessary confusion and awkwardness… READ MORE >>>


Dating Series Part 3Part 3 – The Love Cocoon

We all know those couples who are so grossly into each other that they make everyone around them feel awkward. If your dating relationship makes all of your other relationships crumble (relationships with friends, parents, God…), then your relationship has become an idol and is doomed to failure. The key is to be the kind of couple that loves each other, but also loves and acknowledges the other people God has placed in your life… READ MORE >>>


Dating Series Part 4Part 4 – Test-Driving Marriage

In Christian circles, we tend to encourage dating couples to become intimate in every way except for one: physical intimacy is off limits. But this creates huge problems. When a couple becomes more socially intimate, more emotionally intimate, and more spiritually intimate, we shouldn’t be surprised when the physical intimacy quickly follows. This is how we’re wired. But there are actually other major problems with treating dating like a mini trial run for marriage… READ MORE >>>


Dating Series Part 5Part 5 – Playing the Field

Many people think that if you’re not “out there” actively “playing the field,” you won’t get married. There is nothing wrong with going on dates, even seeking them out, but your relationships with the opposite sex cannot all be focused on evaluating their marriageability rather than getting to know people as peopleREAD MORE >>>


Dating Series Part 6Part 6 – Successful Dating Relationships Can End in Breakups

Most people would consider a breakup to be a failure. But when you’re dating someone, you’re really just getting to know that person better until you find out whether it would be more glorifying to God for you to get married or not to get married. Either is a helpful discovery, and in either case your relationship should be able to continue in a God-glorifying way: as husband and wife or as brother and sister in Christ… READ MORE >>>

Selling Jesus

Mark Beuving —  December 3, 2012 — 4 Comments

GodtheFather ShirtChristian bookstores give me the creeps. A lot of that stems from the fact that they contain very few books. Some of it also comes from the decorative knickknacks that cover every shelf and display table.

I have to be fair. I know people who love their local Christian bookstore and are genuinely cheered and encouraged by Christian décor. And the Christian bookstore isn’t the only knickknack heavy outlet I try to avoid. Hallmark stores are equally silly (to me) in that they have all types of quaint figurines and decorative pieces. It’s not my style, but that shouldn’t be a strike against either place.

Here’s my problem. The Christian bookstore tends to be like the Hallmark store but with one major difference: everything is plastered with Bible verses or Christianeze phrases.

On the one hand, you have cheesy Christianeze paraphernalia. T-shirts made to look like The Godfather that read “GodtheFather.” Shirts made to look like Goodyear that read “God’s-here: Acts 2:17.” Twilight-esque handbags that read “InTheLight.” Apparel that proclaims “GodIsKing” rather than Burger King. Keep the font, baptize the slogan. That seems to be the modus operandi.

Upon This Rock ShirtAnd then you have Scriptures ripped from their context and emblazed on every item imaginable. I’ve seen t-shirts featuring electric guitars with the slogan “Upon this ROCK I will build my church (Matt. 16:18).” Flashlights that boast about being “the light of the world.” Mini-sound systems emblazoned with Psalm 96:1, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” In every case the use of a Bible verse is cheesy, and in every case the verse cited is taken out of context, its meaning is reversed or severely distorted, and its application is comical at best.

The most shocking item I’ve seen is a multi-tool engraved with Job 1:10, “You have blessed the work of his hands.” It sounds like a fine verse for a multi-tool, but apparently the people who created this fine product didn’t consider that Job 1:10 is a quotation from Satan. They could market it like this: “This holiday season, get that special man in your life this handy tool adorned with the words of the devil.”

It’s no stretch to say that faithfulness to the truth of Scripture is not the primary goal here. It’s almost as if these people are using the Bible to make a buck. But would people really use Jesus’ name as a marketing gimmick?

Devil Quote Multi-ToolBefore we answer that, let’s take a quick look at the “Christian technology” sector. Yes, it exists. You no longer need to mess around with secular companies like Apple or Windows. Now you can buy a Christian “edifi tablet.” It’s essentially an iPad, but they are marketing it using Romans 15:2. “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Okay, Paul is talking about edification there, but is that any reason to buy an edifi tablet? I’m not sure how that logic works. I’m not sure why we need a Christian version of the iPad. What does it even mean for an electronic device to be Christian, anyway?

I have to be careful here. I am not anti-Christian-bookstores. They sometimes come in handy for me (though I increasingly find myself on Amazon instead), and they are frequently handy and encouraging for many of the people I love.

Here’s my point. We need to question the marketing strategy that says, “If Christian terminology will make it sell better, or if we can get a share of the secular market by creating a Christian equivalent, then let’s get in there and make some money!” Let’s put our energy towards creating and propagating things that are genuinely creative, useful, and that honor the biblical worldview from which we operate. If it looks Hallmarky, that’s fine. What I want to see is integrity, creativity, and biblical faithfulness. And by all means, let’s please stop waiting for the secular marketing world to come up with another semi-clever ad campaign so that we can turn it into a Christian t-shirt.