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Posted March 26, 2008

Book: Dating: A Practical Catholic Guide
Author: Jason King
Knights of Columbus. New Haven, CT. 2007. Pp. 34

An Excerpt from the Booklet:

Various Views of Dating

Dating is Wrong

While not a view held by many people, it is held by numerous critics of our culture as well as many Christians, Catholic and Protestant alike. It should be no surprise that the best selling book on Christianity and dating is titled Why I Kissed Dating Goodbye. The concerns these people have about dating are multiple. Since dating relationships break up, they cause suffering and suffering should be avoided. Since they end, they are also a practice for divorce and train people to give up when relationships get difficult. Dating, even if it does not involve premarital sex, tempts one toward it. For these reasons, it is argued that dating is wrong.

It might be easy to dismiss these individuals as curmudgeons, but they allude to a reality often glossed over in the more romantic notions of dating. Violence often accompanies dating. 65% of people experience emotional, verbal, or physical violence in dating relationships. More than a third of dating relationships in college have incidences of nonsexual dating violence.

This violence is overwhelmingly directed toward women, who make up 85% of the victims of dating violence. In colleges, 67% of all sexual assaults are cases of date rape, with 94% of the perpetrators being male. In fact, date rape is the most commonly reported crime on college campuses. Rape is more common at private colleges and major universities than in society at large. (Institutions with a religious affiliation, however, have rates lower than the national average.)

Such violence deserves the strongest condemnation, and the Catholic Church provides the foundation necessary to completely reject this destructive behavior. Given Catholicismís devotion to the Blessed Mother, its upholding of the dignity and vocation of women, its insistence on the procreative and unitive value of sex, and its uncompromising pro-life stance that abhors violence directed at other people, the troubling reality that these rape and violence statistics suggest is obviously incompatible with the practice of the Faith.

Dating is Wonderful

This understanding of dating is more widespread and common. It is the one most people have when entering into relationships and is the one most often portrayed in books, television shows and movies. Like the understanding of dating we just looked at, this one also has a basis in reality. The joy and excitement of a new relationship are overwhelming at times. We learn about another person, experience new things, and visit new places. The world itself seems magical and delightful.

This experience is so joyful and profound that Catholicism has historically used it to describe the relationship of Godís love for humanity. The Song of Songs, found in the Old Testament, is a long poem describing the pursuit of the beloved by the lover and the lover by the beloved. Catholics have traditionally understood this book as a metaphor for understanding Godís pursuit of us and our pursuit of God. The fun and happiness that we experience at the onset of a new relationship give us a glimpse of what our life in God is destined to be like.

While there are experiences that seem to justify condemning dating, there are also wonderful experiences that lead to a support for dating.

Table of Contents:

A brief history of dating

What is dating?

Various views of dating

Which one is the Catholic understanding of dating?

A Catholic understanding of dating

Implications of the Catholic approach

About the Author

Endnotes

Books for further reading