Subscribe via RSS Feed

Review of “Christian Dating Simplified”

August 8, AD 2017 1 Comment

Aaron K. Torch’s Christian Dating Simplified: A Short, Practical Guide to the only Four Questions You Need to Ask is an enjoyable read, weaving scriptural exegesis and personal experience into a compelling analysis of how to date in a holy and healthy manner. As a Catholic who has studied scriptural theology, I have quibbles with some of his statements, but overall I agree with his advice.

Torch begins by describing his attitude to dating right after his conversion – it was legalistic, rule-bound, and ultimately illogical and stifling. While trying his best to live by the words of Scripture, Torch applied Holy Writ and friendly advice to his relationship in a strict, over-literal manner, and this caused him and his girlfriend no end of grief.

He writes: “Too often, things are over-complicated and made unnecessarily difficult, with the guise of being godly… [there is] the danger of putting a weight on your relationship that God never meant for it to bear.”

Torch begins with the story of redemption, going right back to Adam and Eve. He points out that Scripture presents marriage as a ministry of redemption (Ephesians 5:32), mirroring God’s love for us. Torch emphasizes the covenants of the Old Testament, culminating in the New Covenant, sealed by the blood of Christ.

I would have liked Torch to have mentioned the ancient definition of a covenant, being an exchange of persons, so that the other is received permanently into one’s family. Torch refers to the contractual understanding of an agreement, which does not capture the depth of a covenant, and lends itself more to the acceptance of divorce. Happily, Torch points out that the New Covenant demonstrates God’s unconditional love for us, and that divorce is not an option.

Torch then goes through three myths about dating, regarding soulmates, God’s will, and holding the other to a mental checklist of Biblical perfection. He emphasizes the need to look at the other through the eyes of grace, lest we crush them under the weight of our expectations.

He then address the question of compatibility in faith, the importance of true friendship with the other, the purpose of dating, and each person’s vision of the future and “what [their] relationship can offer the world”. He makes it easy to grasp each issue by outlining various hypothetical situations and posing relevant questions to ponder over.

Finally, Torch stresses the need for a supportive community to help your relationship develop into a fruitful, life-bearing witness to Christ.

As someone who has struggled through incompatible, unhealthy and Puritanical relationships, and has recently embarked on a delightful new one with a fresh convert who is doing his best to live a holy life and demonstrate his love in virtuous ways, Torch’s book really resonates with me. I recommend it for anyone who feels overwhelmed by conflicting advice about dating and relationships, and would like a simple, reassuring and frank analysis of how to date in a loving manner.

I was invited to review this book by Top Christian Books.

About the Author:

Jean Elizabeth Seah is a 28-year-old law and liberal arts graduate. She has had several adventures with Our Lord and Our Lady, including running away to join a convent after law school. The journey is tough and the path ahead is foggy, but she knows that as long as you hold firmly onto Our Lady’s hand, you’ll make it through! She blogs at http://signum-crucis.tumblr.com/ and http://allthingscatholic.tumblr.com/.

  • Elijah fan

    Nice review. I read the whole Bible and all of Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and a curious thing happens that Aquinas didn’t notice. He held that the death penalties for mortal sins in the old covenant told Christians even now…which sins are mortal. But if you went by that guideline, you’d excuse premarital sex ( I don’t ) which has no death penalty in the old covenant. Instead lol….the premarital sinner couple were “punished” with Catholic, no divorce marriage…in a culture wherein Moses and God permitted divorce due to the hardness of heart in that culture. There are translation problems in the passage because “seizes” is contradicted by ” they are discovered “…(scripture elsewhere asserts the girl is obligated to cry out in real rape cases.) So this is mutual consent and “seizes” probably misses the original denotation and connotation.

    Deuteronomy 22:
    28 If a man comes upon a young woman, a virgin who is not betrothed, seizes her and lies with her, and they are discovered,
    29 the man who lay with her shall give the young woman’s father fifty silver shekels and she will be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her as long as he lives.

    Exodus 22 elaborates that the father of the girl can prevent the marriage:

    15 When a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall make her his wife by paying the bride price.
    16 If her father refuses to give her to him, he must still pay him the bride price for virgins.

    What I like is that God has furtively mandated Catholic marriage ahead of time to the
    couple caught in premarital sin within the old law. There is a leniency in this when compared to God’s execution mandates for other sexual sins in the old covenant.