Chapter 4: If Dating is Dead, What’s Next?

This is post five in a twelve-part series reviewing and critiquing Dan Boone's book, Human Sexuality. Read more: Intro / Chapter 1 / Chapter 2 / Chapter 3

This chapter is pure conservatism. The main thrust is this: Dating rituals are changing, and good relationships simply cannot be formed within these new norms.

Of course, this assertion is just not true.

For one thing, the “hookup culture” that Boone is so concerned about, is a myth that’s been debunked over and over and over and over again.

And while we’re debunking myths, it’s also been shown that cohabitating couples are not “statistically less likely to succeed in marriage” as Boone claims.

Jordan Weissman, who offers commentary on a 2012 study of births “out of wedlock,” explains that “among high school graduates… 28 percent of children were born to cohabiting couples. Combine that with the 41 percent of children born to married couples, then most babies were born into two-parent households.” Weissman then goes on to say that “The problem is that cohabiting couples don’t always last.” While this is true, of course, it fails to take into account that neither do married couples. And further, the simple fact of a child’s parents being married does not necessarily mean that the child is in a loving, affluent home. This is the same error Boone makes: Married parents do not make an idyllic home. Marriage is not the answer to society’s ills. Single parents can raise children excellently and married parents can raise children poorly. To fail to address this is to oversimplify the issue in order to push the evangelical agenda.

Boone’s predictions about “where this is headed” in regard to changing dating rituals sound a lot like his “10 Concerns About the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling.” That is, they’re unfounded and arise entirely out of misguided fear.

Basically, Boone holds up his own experience of dating his wife, and their subsequent happy marriage, as the ideal, indeed the only, viable method of developing a healthy, lasting relationship. While I’m very happy for him (truly—he and his wife are adorable), and respect his experience, I also respect the experience of several others I know, who followed all the same rules he did and yet ended up divorced. Additionally, I respect the experience of several others who had “unconventional” dating experiences and have celebrated decades of fidelity. There is no silver bullet when it comes to dating. There is no formula for success. Partly because “success” means different things to different people. And also because each relationship is as unique as the individuals that comprise it. To promise a fairy-tale ending if people follow a specified path is foolish, and leads to the kind of disillusionment and frustration that’s not uncommon to young married evangelicals.