Enchanted by the story of Cinderella, we are captivated by the notion of the dishevelled yet deserving princess, the unexpected but perfect knight, the lost slipper that is destined to fit, and the prince who will pursue his Cinderella at all cost.
We may not be inclined to admit it, but the Christian dating ethos marries this tale like Solomon and his 700 concubines. It’s unnecessarily complicated, misguided, and blatantly unbiblical.
Too tragically, this fairy tale reflects expectations we hold captive for ransom, expecting them to be fulfilled, and left found sipping on the tendrils of disappointment when they remain unmet.
The Princess and The Slipper
Consider the princess and the slipper. A princess, deserving of something she does not possess, and a slipper perfectly fitting, a symbol of all that is found lacking in her life.
How many anecdotes must we suffer before we realise this mirrors one of the most popular approaches to Christian dating?
Rather than being all-consumed and found in Christ, men and woman hold subtly to the belief that we are not only deserving of reciprocated love, but that the need for this will be met in another like us.
It is tempting to believe that moulding ourselves to another like us, to search for the slipper which fits perfectly, will satisfy what we are seeking.
Yet Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthian church writes in 2 Corinthians, chapter 3, verse 18,
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
The beauty of grace, found in salvation, is this very sober reality that we are found radically lacking in ourselves. Yet, in God’s own good mercy, He is conforming us to the likeness of Himself, to one who is perfect in all his ways.
This is not the slipper we expect, nor the one we often desire, yet it is the one that fits, though we often fail to realise and accept it.
As if the slipper were not deceiving enough on it’s own. If only it was the only stumbling block in our thinking. Yet, if we are not careful, we will find ourselves accepting the farce that we can somehow complete one another.
If we are not the one looking for the perfect slipper, then we will likely be the one attempting to be that perfect slipper to another. We attempt to be their hero, their prince charming, their own personal saviour.
This should be simple enough to accept, yet how often do we hear of people ‘completing’ each other. They will not admit it, but they have become each other’s personal saviours.
How long will it take to realise that Paul’s declaration found in Romans chapter 3, verse 23, that we have all fallen short applies not only to all of us but speaks of every facet of our lives?
The True Prince
Life is not a romance comedy; there is no happy ending by our own doing. If we are not found ourselves changed in Christ, the true prince in this tale, then we will either be ever searching for our perfect slipper, or attempting to be the hero, the perfect slipper, in someone else’s tale.
Rather, let us pray,
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace (Bennett, 1975, p. 76).
Hailing from North Auckland, Blake Gardiner sounds American, looks Swedish, but grew up in Laos. As an introvert, Blake lives life on the edge by socialising. When he isn’t putting his life at such risk, he enjoys reading theology and debating whether Interstellar is truly the greatest movie of all time.