I have a question that I can't find info on: Is it OK to ask out a guy?
All of a sudden a guy I know has been brought to my attention. I have known about him for a year but only considered him a couple months ago as a potential partner. And I respect and really like who he is as a man and a godly servant. I could see myself marrying someone like him even though we don't know each other very well. I want to get to know him better; we go to seminary together and live in the same on-campus apartment building, but rarely have an opportunity to hang out.
I'm very worried that he thinks I don't like him romantically, so I prayed about this for a couple months and felt like I was supposed to initiate with him in some way. So I went to his church Sunday. I didn't see him, but then I felt like I should ask him on a date, and I've never thought of doing that before. But now that I've mustered up the courage to do it, a friend of mine who also goes to my seminary told me that I absolutely should not ask him out.
She said it would be too forceful. I feel like since I’m a girl, everyone is telling me I need to let him pursue me, but I just don't think I should wait this time. I thought God was telling me over the past several weeks to pursue him the way that Jesus pursues me. But now I'm so confused and have no clue what my role is.
Whose voices do I listen to? What I thought God had told me? Or what others are telling me now?
Thanks for writing. A lot of women have this same struggle. Let me try to offer you some thoughts on two aspects of your question: (1) your approach to the question, and (2) the substance of the answer.
Let’s talk first about how you are approaching your search for an answer to your question. Your question focuses a lot on what you “felt” you were “supposed to” do, and what you perceived God himself to be “telling” you or “saying” to you about pursuing this man by asking him out on a date. Practically, this mystical, subjective approach to decision-making is a recipe for a lot of uncertainty, self-deception based on our own desires, and unwise manipulation of circumstances. Speaking more theologically, I don’t think the Lord typically “directs” us in the way you’re describing.
As I’ve written in this space before, feelings are obviously useful in helping us discern what our hearts desire, but normally the main way God authoritatively leads his people is not through mystical “directives” from him or subjective feelings, but through his word, properly understood. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “[a]ll Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (emphasis added). This is the main passage supporting the doctrine of the “sufficiency of Scripture,” which just means that God’s word is sufficient to guide us in all areas of life and doctrine – even areas of life not explicitly dealt with in Scripture. As a general matter, I would encourage you to look to God’s Word in your decision-making instead waiting for an authoritative “feeling” from God on this and other questions. A great book on this idea is Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something.
As to the bottom line answer to your question, yes, it is “OK” for you to pursue this man by asking him out on a date in the sense that it is not sin and therefore is permissible for you to do. That said, I generally counsel people that it is unwise and inadvisable for women to pursue men and initiate dating relationships, and I would not recommend that you do so here.
Among the different roles assigned to men and women in the Bible, men are assigned the role of leadership in the family and in the church. This is in no way a signal of male superiority or of the greater importance of men. It is simply God's design and assignment of equally valuable roles among spiritually equal beings. Men initiate, women respond. Biblical support for this position is found, among other passages, in the creation order in Genesis 2, in 1 Corinthians 11:7-9, and Ephesians 5:22-33. True, these passages refer to marriage, but it is wise and right to set patterns that will serve you well in marriage, especially if you believe that the purpose of dating is to find a marriage partner. If you want to find a husband who will take initiative and lead you well in marriage, why set a tone at the outset of the dating relationship that reverses the roles each of you will be called to in marriage (Ephesians 5: 22-33)?
In my view, the much wiser course in a dating context – both for purposes of evaluating a potential spouse in biblical terms and to lay the groundwork for a biblically sound marriage – is for the guy to model godly initiative and leadership with the woman’s good in mind, and for the woman to respond to that leadership.
Does all that mean that, even if you really like this guy, you should do nothing? No. I would encourage you first and foremost to pray. The Lord answers prayer, and marriage is a good and godly desire (so long as we don’t make an idol of it). Pray that the Lord would bring you a godly husband and that you would grow into a woman who can be a godly wife. Pray, if it’s the desire of your heart, that the Lord might give you a chance to see whether marriage to this particular man might be a good thing. Be bold in asking for good things, and then trust the Lord’s loving providence.
Keep in mind as well that waiting for this guy to pursue something more deliberate doesn’t mean you can’t talk to him. You’re classmates and neighbors! Be friendly. Initiate conversations. Be yourself and treat him like any other brother in Christ in a Christian community. If the two of you are part of a larger friend group, organize some group activities. Again, trust the Lord’s goodness and timing and see what happens.
I will pray that the Lord would give you wisdom and patience in this, and that you would find a godly husband.
Copyright 2015 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.