How To Find An Egalitarian Partner
I’ve had several Egalitarian or Feminist individuals tell me they are having trouble finding a Christian partner with whom they share mutual attraction and who shares their same value of equality in marriage. I do not think this is due to a shortage of Egalitarian singles, but that the evangelical church tends to unite patriarchalists primarily, thus giving the impression that Egalitarian Christians only exist on the fringes of Christianity. In other words, Patriarchalists have done a better job of marketing their beliefs, so we doubt the existence of “regular jane/joe” Egalitarians.
Patriarchalists claim that hierarchical relationships are natural. They often make the assumption that equal relationships are worldly, so only non-Christians can be relationally feminist. On the contrary, I believe there are a lot of Egalitarians out here, that we’ve been here for a long time, and we just need to do a better job at connecting.
I am by no means a dating expert, but I met and married an amazing Egalitarian man shortly after I left the patriarchal mindset. This happened right after coming away from a courtship, in the buckle of the Bible belt, in a small town where patriarchal churches are in the overwhelming majority.
Finding love is one of those things that doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and marriage is not a reward for being a good Christian. You don’t work up and achieve marriage like levels in a video game. However, I do think you should be an active participant in looking for a spouse if you want one (note: it’s a-ok if marriage isn’t for you).
Being An Active Participant In Finding A Spouse
I believe that if you want something you should make every effort to go out and make it happen. I believe in being active participants in our destiny. If you want a spouse, it is ok to look for one. If you wanted to be a doctor, you would study and get a degree, not assume that God would drop a degree in your lap. If you wanted a specific job you would apply for it. If you wanted a particular ministry connection, you should make calculated efforts to meet them.
Can God drop a spouse in your lap out of the sky? Sure. But is that likely? Probably not. The church often tells people (particularly women) to just wait on God’s timing for a spouse. This may be helpful in some cases, but isn’t it strange how this is one of the only situations where people repeatedly give such advice? For almost any other big life decision, people advise you to make a plan and walk towards the path you feel God calling you toward. Because of this, I am a believer in actively seeking out a mate if marriage is a path you feel the Lord calling you to right now. I can’t promise this will speed up your journey to finding a spouse, but I think it will at least help you escape feeling hopelessness that comes with waiting without action, and it can be a lot of fun in the process.
Ideas For Meeting An Egalitarian Spouse
Ask Trusted Friends
There is no shame in telling trusted friends and family that you are looking. This isn’t being desperate, this is being smart. Good friends often know you better than you know yourself. Let them know you want suggestions, and be clear about your core values. Give it a shot if they have recommendations that are outside of your normal “type.” Remember, you’re only saying “yes” to one date (and it can be cut short if you don’t like the person). Unless you feel the person is unsafe, why not give it a try? Sometimes the type of person you would envision for yourself is different from the type of person who is actually good for you. Friends can sometimes see that more objectively. Give it a go. My husband and I were set up on a “blind date,” and it has been fantastic.
Seek Out Group Activities
What do you like to do for a hobby? What would you like to learn or try? You won't meet someone just sitting on your couch, so join groups of like-minded people. Don’t limit this to Church and Bible studies (chances are you’ve already checked there). Check out the MeetUp app and peruse group activities in your area to meet people while doing things that you love. If you want to up your chances of meeting an Egalitarian individual, join a social justice campaign or volunteer with an equality organization that you agree with.
Try Online Dating
From what I hear, you get what you pay for. Free dating apps will likely attract people who signed up on a whim. You have a better chance of finding someone who serious if they had to fill out an application and put down a bit of money. You can use your profile as an opportunity to mention your Egalitarian beliefs or social justice passions as well to narrow down the search. Why not set your profile to a picture of you in a classy feminist T-Shirt?
Try attending CBE International Conference, Missio Alliance Awakenings Gathering, or the Sojourners Event. These are great Christian Egalitarian events where you could meet someone as passionate about Christian equality as you are. Take advantage of small group opportunities, and invite people you don’t know to a group lunch during breaks. Not only will you enjoy the event, but you’ll have a good chance of bumping into like-minded people. Don’t forget your business cards!
Rock Wedding Season
Weddings could be a reminder that you haven’t tied the knot yet, or they could be an opportunity to meet new people, especially people from out of town that you wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet otherwise. If you are close with the bride or groom, ask them to seat you near someone they think you should meet. Couples who are in love usually want nothing more than to help other people fall in love. Even if you don’t know the couple very well, the wedding reception can be a great time to introduce yourself to someone who looks interesting. You can start off with the standard “so, how do you know the happy couple?” and go from there.
Ask Someone Out
It’s scary sometimes but why not? The worst they can say is “no,” and then at least you’ll have an answer. Maybe you know them super well and just haven’t gotten up the nerve. Maybe you’ve only just met them. Heck, it’s ok to chat someone up in a coffee shop and see if they want to get lunch later. It doesn’t have to be planned or have an intense build-up. You can even do a “soft ask”. Instead of “will you go on a date with me” you could say “me and my friends are doing such and such on Friday night, want to join us?”. It doesn’t have to be a “date,” just another chance to hang out. If you’re really serious about looking, have a weekly casual get together with friends so you always have something to invite someone too. Encourage people to bring new friends each time. Women, this one isn’t just for the men, you can ask people out too! You’re Egalitarian after all.
Keep It Casual… Until You’re Ready
Until you’ve agreed to exclusively date a person, it’s ok to go out on casual dates with multiple people. That’s not being a player, it’s being open-minded. It’s important to be open and honest, and if things start to get serious it’s time to talk about expectations, but until that happens it’s ok to go on one-time dates with several different people in a short time period. This helps you evaluate if you really like the people you are dating, and helps you feel less desperate or prematurely attached to someone because you feel you are out of options. I do not advocate leading people on, being dishonest, or dating around once you are in a relationship, but until you’ve made a commitment it’s ok to get coffee with several different people in a short period time.
They Might Change… But They Might Not
The last thing I would say it this, if you are reading this blog post you are probably passionately Egalitarian, but you have to remember not everyone is passionate about theology. And that’s ok. Because of this, some people operate as Egalitarian but use patriarchal language taught to them by their church because they don’t know any other way. Others practice patriarchy to an extent but again it’s because they’ve been told this is the only way to be a good Christian. Don’t write off a nice, respectful person just because they aren’t using Egalitarian terminology. Ask questions, explain your views and why they are important to you, and see how they respond. Some people might jump at a chance for a theology change, others might realize they’ve been Egalitarian all along and didn’t know it, and still others might genuinely be willing to examine their patriarchal views. It’s important to make sure the person has actually changed before you get serious. And, it’s not good enough for them to try to change for you. They need to change beliefs for themselves. Patriarchalists seem to do a better job of marketing their theology, so it’s worth a shot to bring up the conversation and give the person a new equality-based perspective.
What do you think? Do you know someone who should try this dating advice? Married couples what worked for you? What am I missing?