Taking serving seriously may change your attitude toward dating. You have been programmed to "put your best foot forward" so that you will impress the other person. Consequently, you may be reluctant to discuss what is bothering your date, fearing he may walk away from you. Genuine service demands that we speak the truth in love. We do not serve each other by avoiding one another's sadness or depression.
Don't believe me? Log on to the Internet. According to the London School of Economics, nine out of ten children who go online, usually to do homework, will stumble across hardcore pornography. Let me repeat: 90% of children will fall victim to pornography in their own homes. And then there's intentional porn consumption by kids. Oh, children might pass around a pornographic Web address at school, but it's in the safety of their own homes—often in their own bedrooms—that they close the door and consume hours of pornography. Over 50% of kids who enter chat rooms—where conversation is often raunchy and racy—say they have given out personal information to complete strangers. Chat rooms and sites such as MySpace.com have become playgrounds for sexual predators, often luring kids to situations of abuse and even death. Online pornography is a more than $10 billion a year industry, working 24/7 to make porn addicts out of our kids, and too often succeeding.
One report suggested the United States as well as other western-oriented countries were different from the rest of the world because "love is the reason for mating," as opposed to marriages being arranged to cement economic and class ties between families and promote political stability. Dating, by mutual consent of two single people, is the norm. British writer Kira Cochrane, after moving to the U.S., found herself grappling with the American approach to dating. She wondered why it was acceptable to juggle "10 potential partners" while weighing different attributes; she found American-style dating to be "exhausting and strange." She found dating in America to be "organized in a fairly formal fashion" with men approaching women and asking point blank for a date; she found this to be "awkward." She described the "third date rule" which was that women weren't supposed to have sex until the third date even if they desired it, although men were supposed to try for sex. She wrote: "Dating rules almost always cast the man as aggressor, and the woman as prey, which frankly makes me feel nauseous." Canadian writer Danielle Crittenden, however, chronicling female angst, criticized a tendency not to take dating seriously and suggested that postponing marriage into one's thirties was problematic:
Proper dating takes some preparation. First, you will guard your mind from the types of things that brainwash you into the point of view of the immoral world. You will not swallow the lies promoted by today's decadent society such as: advertising about romance, sexually immoral music, TV shows and movies. Entertainment that endorses and encourages living together out of wedlock, homosexuality and out of control partying will only drag you down.
Beware of the lukewarm factor. Of itself, having a party is not wrong. But, what happens when the world influences its activities? People fall into dissipation, into abuse of their God-given responsibilities. Christ worries that although we intellectually say the world is full of self-centeredness and excess, we will still find it attractive. He warns us to be careful because, if we are not, the consequence is that the Day of Judgment, or the day of Christ's return, will come on us unexpectedly.
From about 1700 a worldwide movement perhaps described as the "empowerment of the individual" took hold, leading towards greater emancipation of women and equality of individuals. Men and women became more equal politically, financially, and socially in many nations. Women eventually won the right to vote in many countries and own property and receive equal treatment by the law, and these changes had profound impacts on the relationships between men and women. Parental influence declined. In many societies, individuals could decide—on their own—whether they should marry, whom they should marry, and when they should marry. A few centuries ago, dating was sometimes described as a "courtship ritual where young women entertained gentleman callers, usually in the home, under the watchful eye of a chaperone," but increasingly, in many Western countries, it became a self-initiated activity with two young people going out as a couple in public together. Still, dating varies considerably by nation, custom, religious upbringing, technology, and social class, and important exceptions with regards to individual freedoms remain as many countries today still practice arranged marriages, request dowries, and forbid same-sex pairings. Although in many countries, movies, meals, and meeting in coffeehouses and other places is now popular, as are advice books suggesting various strategies for men and women, in other parts of the world, such as in South Asia and many parts of the Middle East, being alone in public as a couple with another person is not only frowned upon but can even lead to either person being socially ostracized.