A Texas pastor has warned a group of young adult Christians against allowing messages and themes found in Disney movies or Taylor Swift songs to inform their approach to dating and marriage.
Pastor David Marvin of Dallas’ Watermark Community Church, who serves as the director of the young adult-centered ministry The Porch, preached a sermon last week outlining three common mistakes Christians make when dating.
Marvin described the first mistake as “dating delusional” or believing the “myths” that there is such a thing as the perfect “happily ever after” and that a dating relationship will not require hard work.
“Delusional is when you are deceived. You believe something that’s not true. It’s akin to thinking and believing in lies,” Marvin said.
The pastor noted that once American children can read, think and process information, many are “discipled” by the secular world regarding love and dating.
“You’ve been discipled by Disney from the time that you were 5 years old. It’s true. Messages about fairy tales and love and what to look for in the hero, and they lived happily ever, have been ingrained in your mind and my mind from the very first breath that you took,” Marvin said.
“I love fairy tales. I love a good knight in shining armor. But fairy tales will lie. Fairy tales tell you messages like, ‘Man, if the shoe fits, it’s just going to be perfect.’ ‘You’ll live happily ever after.’ Fairy tales communicate the same storyline. There’s always a damsel in distress. She needs to be rescued, and you’re looking for her and you’re going to be the shining armor.”
In reality, he said, loving relationships are not about being the savior or rescuing somebody.
“In dating relationships and in love, you’re not looking for someone who needs to be rescued,” Marvin said. “You’re not looking to be the savior of somebody. You’re looking for a partner in life, not a project that you’re going to rescue.”
Marvin said that music also communicates “delusions.”
“Taylor Swift has probably discipled more people on love in the world than anybody else. Just think about all the ways she has shaped [us].
I mean, ‘I knew you were trouble when you walked in.’ Then, why did you date him? … Every Taylor Swift song communicates the same thing, ‘He’s bad for me, but I still like it,'” Marvin said, referring to the song “I knew You Were Trouble.”
“And that communicates and begins to make you think, ‘Man, I want to have a relationship where they kind of play the game. They don’t always just honor me and text me back. And they’re just a little mysterious.’ You know what mysterious is? It’s shady. … That’s not a quality to appreciate. But that’s Taylor’s discipling.”
Marvin contends that films also tend to convey to viewers that “it’s important to listen to your heart and follow those feelings and … its when the butterflies are there, you know you’re in love.”
“Here’s the deal with butterflies— those fade. Butterflies fly away. If you follow and live for that, you’re going to fall in love seven times a day. … ‘Soon after, they got married … and it was happily ever after in the sunset.’ That has never happened in the history of humanity and existence and marriage. Marriage is amazing, but it takes daily work and dying to self,” Marvin shared.
Recalling his marriage, Marvin said being married is one of the “greatest gifts” but also “freaking hard” and “not for the faint of heart.”
“Because it is called on husbands to die daily to their own desires,” he said. “And same thing with wives.”
The second common error many tend to make when pursuing courtship, Marvin said, is when they engage in “dating dehydrated” — or pursuing someone romantically to fill a void.
Only God can fully cure loneliness, Marvin added.
“Every person who has ever been married, they quickly learn that marriage doesn’t change your loneliness,” Marvin advised. “Marriage will fix your singleness. But it cannot fix your loneliness because that is an internal, soul-level, only-Christ-fixable problem.”
“It is so much better to be single and feel lonely right now and wait for someone who has the criteria that God says to look for than to be married and lonely in the future.”
The pastor warned listeners not to date or marry hoping that their partner will complete them, stating that Christians should approach dating as “a whole person,” not as a “hole” person.
“Don’t approach dating as a hole, [as in] ‘I got holes in my life and I’m looking for you to plug and you to fill them.’ Because they won’t be able to,” Marvin said. The final common mistake Marvin says to avoid is “dating damaged.” He said prospective daters have a “responsibility” to heal from past pain, trauma and abuse.
“If you don’t heal from hurts, from cuts, from things that happened to you, you are going to bleed out on people who never hurt you and never cut you,” Marvin warned.