“I’m just gonna keep it 100…” A cultural phrase used by teens, adolescents, and young adults. In essence, it means they are going to be straight up; not repress any feelings or thoughts on a particular person or topic. “Real talk…” A phrase used to express similar sentiments. I’m amazed at the transparency people exhibit in their social circles. Social media threads reveal some of the most intimate, unhindered thoughts from some of the most reclusive, introverted people. Christian singles? A different story.
It’s crazy how folks can keep it 100 with others, but are not able do the same with God.
Why is that the case? It begins with leadership in the Church.
If people in a congregation don’t feel they can “keep it 100” when they come to church on Sunday, then we’ll continue to produce masquerading Christian singles who look put together on the outside.
In truth, they may be struggling with things they “aren’t supposed to be struggling with” on the inside. So they do what we Christians have learned to do best. Suppress it, rather than address it. And we go on living empty, meaningless lives because we refuse to acknowledge it’s a struggle that affects many singles. Trust me, most Christian singles aren’t so focused on Jesus that they don’t desire companionship in another person. They see married people doing married things. There’s a longing to have the same experience.
The African-American Church has toiled for years, wrestling with the tension created by single believers and sexual desire. And they address that tension in radically different ways. Some believe sexuality to be ungodly, unholy, and unbecoming. Others have congregants who reflect the postmodernity of our culture. They scoff at the idea that anyone would attempt tell them how to dress, when to dress, and why they should dress a certain way. It’s a tension that continues to play itself out each Sunday, as we observe congregations nationwide that reflect this reality.
Young professionals in Christian Louboutin shoes (or knock-offs) and “come get me” attire exchange glances with older saints in traditional church garb.
Is deacon Jones judging me? Why does she think she can come up in her looking like that? Doesn’t she know this is God’s house? This demonstrates one thing: the African-American Church has yet to figure this thing out. When will we start to “keep it 100” in the Church when it comes to sex, dating and singles? When will we truly become comfortable talking about an issue singles deal with every day?
Let’s enter a “keeping it 100” first date and see how the conversation goes:
Vernon: “So I just wanted to let you know a little bit about myself. I’m insecure as a man. My father was not around, so I am going to take that insecurity out on you and be very possessive and jealous. I am not going to like you going anywhere without knowing where you are going and when you are coming back. I am a momma’s boy, so I’m going to need you to replicate everything my mother did for me. By the way, I have an STD and I’m probably going to give it to you.”
Tabitha: “So let’s see–about me. I have plenty of emotional baggage from past relationships. In fact, you probably aren’t going to measure up to my last boyfriend, so don’t even try. I am going to expect you to know what I’m thinking at all times. And when you don’t, I’m going to probably just shut down and not talk to you. And when you ask if anything is troubling me I’ll answer, ‘It’s cool, I’m fine, really.’ I was raped by my uncle, so I don’t really like to share intimate moments with men. In fact, I think kissing is repulsive and I have lost all feeling for a real relationship. I don’t know in which I can be myself. Other than that, I’m cool.”
Not exactly how first dates go, right? They usually go through the usual questions/answers. Where are you from? What kind of music do you like? Toilet paper: over or under? Toothpaste: fold or roll? Because that’s the important stuff, right? Why can’t single Christians “keep it 100” with one another when dating? Because “keeping it 100” will probably shrink the candidate pool. We start to believe the myths. There are far too few “God-fearing” believers out there, so we don’t want to disqualify ourselves by divulging any information we deem irrelevant. Let me be clear. I am by no means advocating that singles disclose vital, intimate information to another person on the first date. I am, however, advocating you eventually reach a place where you keep it real with the other person.
If you aren’t looking for something serious right now, say that! It’s okay! What’s not okay is leading someone to believe that you are in a monogomous, serious, “about to pop the question” relationship.
If you aren’t comfortable visiting his/her place after a certain hour because you know you couldn’t handle that temptation, say that! There’s nothing wrong with realizing your inability to resist temptation in certain situations. What’s not okay is compromising your self-imposed limitations for the sake of securing a date.
If you are really serious about growing with someone else in Christ and would like to spend more time with them going to church together, reading scripture together and less time doing “other stuff”, say that! There’s nothing wrong with realizing that a relationship is much more about spiritual connection, than the physical connection. Here’s the the that’s not okay–continuing to do that “other stuff” and feeling like crap afterwards because you’re doing it to appease someone else.
If you have tough questions to ask the person you are dating, do it! There’s nothing wrong with requesting information that goes beyond the surface level stuff from someone who desires to be in a relationship with you. What’s not okay is allowing your relationship with that person to be a walking, talking lie without ever addressing the tough issues.
Whatever you do…keep it 100. Unless, of course, you are content with continuing to play games in relationships.