Episode 071: A Conversation on Dating, Confrontation, and Christian Satire
A Conversation on Dating, Confrontation, and Christian Satire
So, who should pay on the first date? Some of you automatically think “the guy of course,” but don’t speak so fast. Culture might be pushing to change that. What about criticism? Comedian John Cleese has said that he won’t speak at American universities anymore, due to their lack of being able to be criticized. As Christians, is there such thing as healthy criticism and confrontation? And finally, with many Millennials lacking a fear of God, do people like John Crist and sites like Babylon Bee help? Does this satirical, Christian-based humour help us fear God? This week on indoubt we hear 3 Millennials tackle 3 topics.
*Below is an edited transcription of the audio conversation.
With me today is the lovely Brittney.
And the lovely Jake.
Before we get into the different pieces that we’re going to discuss, Jake, tell us what’s been going on in your life.
I’ve had a lot going on in my life. I’ve been super busy for the last month – I’ve had some school wrapping up (I’ve been in full-time schooling), I was working two jobs (I had a part-time job at the church, being young adults director, and I was working at a clothing store)…
Yeah, OshKosh B’gosh. We only sell children’s clothes, I wear them though. My tiny frame.
But I’ve been super busy. What’s really cool is that I applied for, and actually got, the job as full-time youth and young adults pastor at my church, which has been going since around May 1st. Really, really cool opportunity. It’s new and exciting because I’ve never done the youth ministry before. It’s very unique and different, even though there’s only a couple years between youth and young adults. It’s been great. I’ve been really humbled by it. Super, super excited.
And your schooling, what are you exactly in again?
I go to Trinity Western University, and I have a major in English and then I have a concentration in Religious Studies. Hopefully I’ll do a Master’s afterward.
What about you Britt? I mean I know a little about you, but you can tell Jake and our listeners! What have you been up to?
Right! Well, I, like Jake, am a student and I’m actually graduating this semester with my full Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. So yeah, it’s been busy as well! But it’s been really good. Seeing this chapter come to a close has definitely been something really exciting, because it’s been a long process!
We were talking about it the other day, and it’s like, I don’t think you’ve taken any time off – since grade twelve, you’ve just: school.
Yeah, people thought I was going to be a permanent student. No, it’s not happening folks!
You’ll never be able to pay back the loans. Permanent student.
Alright, so, as I’ve already mentioned at the beginning, the purpose of today’s conversation is for three young adults – people born anytime between 1980 to 1999, anyone in that generation – it’s really for the three of us to talk about three different issues, behaviours, beliefs, in our culture, whether they’re life things or faith things, that you’ve either personally experienced or that you’ve seen around your peers. Alright, sound good?
Britt, you’re up first. Give us your piece.
Alright, so I guess mine is a behaviour that I’ve noticed. Just in chatting with different friends and stuff. There seems to be a bit of confusion around dating and gender norms, I guess? And gender stereotypes. Specifically, who pays on the first date? That’s kind of the flashing question that’s been coming up in a couple different conversations I’ve had. And I think there’s a lot that plays into the confusion, given the way that culture is significantly changing in regards to gender norms and gender identity.
Also in regards to age of dating. It seems that, especially in Christian circles, that people either date and get married really young, or there’s a big gap and people are getting married in their thirties and forties. It’s interesting!
Okay, the first aspect when you talk about who pays on the first date, what do you mean by that exactly? In my mind, I’m thinking, guys pay. What about you Jake?
Yeah, definitely. I mean that would be my assumption. If someone’s asking me who pays on the first date, my mind would automatically go to the guy.
So, why do we think that way?
I think that’s just a cultural norm. Like, I’m not sure if I could pull something from Scripture, well, maybe, if you’re like a complementarian or something.
You say that it’s a cultural norm, and I think what Britt’s trying to say is like, “Is our culture changing that to make it not a cultural norm?” You know what I mean?
Yeah, it definitely used to be a cultural norm when you think about employment – women used to be unemployed way back in the day, I mean that’s way back.
And uneducated as well.
Uneducated, unemployed, all that. So that’s obviously made a huge sweeping change over centuries. But even more so, I think there’s been a lot of push from women in secular society –that’s a push for independence, a push for equality, and associating a monetary value to that. So I think, in culture, women feel inferior if a man is offering to pay. I guess I’m just concerned that that’s a, I don’t want to say a bad way of thinking about it, but I think it’s kind of twisting the roles a little bit.
Right, and you were talking about an article in some major news source…
Yeah it was the Washington Post. There was an Op-Ed piece. A woman basically reamed out a situation where she was on a date and the waiter gave the man the bill. And she wrote a big response as to, “I have money – let us figure out who’s going to pay, it’s none of the waiter’s business,” all this stuff.
Do you think people are just looking for something to get upset about though? With those kind of articles?
Yes, but I think that, specifically when it comes to this whole idea of responsibility when it comes to genders, that plays a big role in this. And I think you’re right though, the whole feminism movement, this independence in the woman, definitely has a…
…part to play. But it’s shooting women in the foot, essentially, for women who do appreciate that old chivalry.
I think it’s interesting, I think back to one of my first dates when I was actually allowed to date. So my parents didn’t allow me to date until I was graduated from high school. So right when I graduated I went on a date. And I remember going to Tim Horton’s (a Canadian coffee shop) before going to the movies with this girl, and she wouldn’t let me pay for her. And it felt weird. It just felt wrong, almost. It felt awkward for me because I just knew, it was just ingrained in me to pay for her. This is what you do! I’m going on a date; I’ll pay for her. And when she was like “No, no, no I’ll pay,” it was almost like, “Hey, you’re taking this away from me.” It’s almost as if – you know when you reject someone’s gift? It actually hurts them more than it hurts you. It’s good to receive.
To all you young ladies, when a man wants to gift you with coffee or to pay for the meal on the first date, let them do it because it’s a huge gift to us.
Yeah, I think, for the sake of completely deromanticizing dating and stuff like that, what I’ve actually done because I’ve been in a few relationships, past the first date, because the first date is a little different, for that I think whoever asks the person on the date is usually the person who pays, I would imagine.
Like, you’re the one wanting them to come with you and that sort of thing. Whether that’s the girl or the guy. But after you’ve been dating for a while, I think it’s okay to just talk about it. Do you know what I mean? With finances and that stuff. If they want to go do something, say, you know that would be fun, but I might not have the money for that right now. Would you be okay…? If you really want to do that. And sometimes it’s not super romantic, but you’re realistic and it kind of avoids the awkwardness.
I think it’s interesting though because you mention – well, I agree with that, I think that makes sense – but if you back up to the first couple dates, that’s often where the problem and confusion is I think. And I think it’s an interesting point, asking who is inviting who, that’s where the responsibility of the payment falls, that’s a really interesting way of looking at it. Some people have shared experiences where there’s this underlying idea of because it’s the first date you just fend for yourself. So, he pays for himself, and she pays for herself.
Or, I’ve talked to people with online dating and the first meet in person, there’s also confusion around there.
If we’re neutralizing everything to making it equal for both, we both pay, then there’s less things for someone to know “Does this person like me or not?” I just think, guys, pay, just do that.
If you like her, pay!
If you like her, pay for her, if you don’t like her, don’t pay for her! Then she’ll get the idea.
I’d say the one thing I would make sure, besides everything else, is don’t go in expecting the other person to pay for you.
Because that can lead to the most awkward situation, where you’re just sitting at the table and looking over at them, or you’re both doing the same thing, and then yeah, you have the awkward conversation.
Well, to be honest, if any guy was expecting the woman to pay on the first date, to me that just seems weird. “You got this one right?”
Let’s just say that the first date is always awkward. The first couple dates, even the first few months of dating can be awkward. It’s going to be awkward, it’s inevitable.
Alright, let’s move on. Jake, what do you got for us?
Yeah, it’s a little bit more of a controversial subject. What I want to talk about is – it seems like in our culture, and a lot with young adults because they’re steeped in our culture most of the time, is that we’ve lost the ability to be critical. We’ve lost the ability to be critical about everything in our society.
For an example, there’s a guy, I think it’s John Cleese. Is he Monty Python?
He has a video online, and he will no longer go to American universities and perform comedy. Because he says, at the core of comedy is this criticism. You know, you’re critical about something or making fun of it. Not in the way where you’re being super harsh or hating it, but that you’re critical of it. And he says that when you go into American universities now, you just can’t be critical about anything because they’re just so sensitive about everything in our culture.
And I think, for a Christian’s sake, we’ve kind of become, I don’t want to say soft, but do you know what I mean? No longer do we say or make real statements about anything. You know, you have hot topic issues like homosexuality or gender or whatever it is, and now, I don’t know if it’s for the sake of being loving or something along those lines, but we just won’t take a stance.
I think part of that’s, I don’t know, maybe it’s Scriptural poverty that we have – that we don’t actually know what the Bible says about anything. A part of it too is that we just have this huge skewed view of love nowadays. Love is automatically connected with condoning something, or accepting what people believe. And like, I’m not saying this before I get a slew of emails calling me some sort of bigot or something like that, I’m not endorsing bullying or something that like that. I was bullied as a kid and it’s not good. But I think we live in this culture that, you have to be safe all the time – at least emotionally safe. Like, we have these safezones and all these sorts of things. And then, you can’t say anything about how anybody’s living.
And that results in the fact that everyone’s just sensitive and no one’s critical about anything.
I think it’s kind of interesting too that, you know, we look in Acts, and I shouldn’t say it’s one of my favourites…sorry, it’s not in Acts, it’s in Galatians. I just think it’s awesome because it’s so contrast to our culture now, but Paul straight up calls out Peter for hanging out with just the Jews.
He leaves the Gentiles because other Jews are coming, and he starts to people-please, and we see this critical calling out of Peter. And that makes you go into the whole idea of, you know, confrontation and being critical of sin in our culture, and I think that plays a huge role in it. I don’t know if you guys think the same way, but we don’t see a lot of that. You know, even among Christian friendships, we don’t see a lot of people being critical of someone else’s behaviour or sin because you’re worried you’re going to offend them because everyone’s trying to be sensitive.
And Paul and Peter were like, brothers in Christ. And he called him out in front of everyone. So we don’t see that anymore in our culture! And I think that’s exactly what you’re talking about. There’s this sensitivity everywhere.
Do you think it’s a result of, even social media and just the accessibility that we have to different opinions, and also the platform for people to essentially get really aggressive online in response to any differing opinion?
Well, yeah. To me, social media has definitely put up that seemingly fake wall where you’re safe to kind of say and do whatever you want. Do you know what I mean? But it’s been overboard, because everyone’s critical online, but then face-to-face there’s nothing.
It’s actually interesting. I had an interview with Phil Callaway, which you guys know, he’s the host of Laugh Again. And he said there was this big thing, there was some famous Major League Baseball player from New York, and he was going to be traded to a different team. And outside of the stadium they were doing this interview with different fans, just random people, and they asked “What do you think about this guy leaving and going to a different team?” and people were just angry, being critical, and that kind of stuff. And what it ended up being was a big test of social interaction, because right then the baseball player walked out from behind the wall and he had heard everything. And instantly their attitude changed when they saw him face-to-face. And it just shows the silliness of what that fake wall is.
I think you’re right, social media has created less of a connection I think.
Yeah, a personal connection, like the face-to-face connection. And yeah, within that we’ve – again, I think it’s a misunderstanding of what confrontation actually is, and how it’s not actually a bad thing, it’s actually a good thing. But I don’t know why there is this skewed idea of controntation and how it’s bad and nobody wants to be straight with people or confront somebody that’s bothering them.
Do you guys see healthy confrontation in and amongst your millennial friends? Do you see good confrontation? Have you been confronted by a friend? Or have you confronted someone?
I do it all the time, and like, maybe it’s just because I’m a very open person and I’m not really afraid of being critical, but with my young adults, if there’s something they’re struggling with in their life, it’s always with guys, I’ll go and have coffees or whatever. Maybe it’s something to do with relationships or sex or whatever that may be. The first thing I tell them before we get into it is, “Hey, you okay with me being very honest with you? Because this is what this conversation is going to be.”
So prepare them for that. And usually they say yes and then I’ll talk to them about it, but I’ll also temper that with letting them know, “I’m telling you this because I care about you, and there’s a better lifestyle that I believe is better for you, and this is why I’m saying this to you. Not because I think you’re a bad person or that I’m a better person than you” and that sort of thing.
And I think that’s what we’ve lost. Usually you get this Christian criticism all the time, that all it’s about is, “Hey don’t do that because you’ll go to hell.” Do you know what I mean? “Well, maybe.” It’s part of being separated from Christ, and that kind of conversation could happen. But really what you want to do too is say, “Hey, there’s something better for you here than that. And this is why I’m going back to Scripture and understanding why.”
But I think that if we don’t do that, and know our Scripture as well, then we totally leave ourselves open to being misled. Like, you read the book of Jude. And if you don’t know Scripture and know who Christ is and what He taught, then you leave yourself open to these lifestyles that are just completely contrary to what Scripture teaches.
And I think you bring up a good point, just backing up, when you go and have a coffee with a guy and you say at the very beginning, “You’re good if I’m honest with you right?” And they’ll always say yes, right? I think that’s a great way practically speaking, like, if you’re listening right now and you think, “I want that kind of friendship,” then that’s a great way to begin. Go to one of your best friends and just ask them, “Hey, can I just be honest with you?” Just ask their permission! And then go for it. That’s just a good practical way.
I think if you are in Christian community, then I think your Christian friends and family deep down do want that honesty even though they might be afraid of it. I think deep down they do want that and appreciate it. But I think it’s a completely different story when you’re dealing with non-Christian friends and family.
Yeah, and that’s a whole other conversation!
Alright, well, let’s move on. And this almost ties in, especially at the beginning of yours when you were talking about comedy and humour. Obviously humour, comedy, these things have been around for ages. They’ve been used as rhetorical devices, they’ve been used in other things – stories, entertainment, but also pretty much anything and everything.
But lately, I find, with the internet and social media, it’s been really easy to share and promote humour.
Back in the day you’d imagine a family get together in the 17 or 1800s, and you’d have the dad say, “Okay, everyone, I’m going to tell a joke,” and then everyone sits and listens. We still see that today at family gatherings, but now it’s a lot easier because you simply share everything on social media and stuff like that.
So I did a small inventory of about 16 or 17 random Facebook friends, and they’re all Christian Millennials, and I just wanted to see what their last 10 posts were. And humour/things-to-make-people-laugh was the top, one of the top things. That’s over things like, pictures of their family, or things that they were doing, or news things they were sharing, it was something “funny.”
And, in the past while you’ve seen in social media this Christian-specific humour – celebrities and organizations that really appeal to the younger generation. And so you have people like John Crist who does all those videos of like, the parking lot church thing, or the Christian proposal. There’s also Tripp and Tyler who do a lot of Christian stuff, like Christian Tingle and that kind of stuff. And then you have things like the Babylon Bee, which is, again, promoting this humour through engaging the Christian culture.
And I believe comedy and humour can definitely wake someone up from a reality that maybe isn’t true.
But here’s my question: if one of the biggest struggles that millennials have, and I believe this, is a loss of the fear of God (there just doesn’t seem to be a seriousness when it comes to God or the church or the Bible). Is this kind of Christian-specific humour that’s being shared all the time amongst Christians on social media, is that actually helping this issue of helping millennials see and fear God?
And I’m not asking just so you can say, “Well obviously not,” and now we all feel guilty. I’m not asking it for that way, I’m just honestly asking. Because comedy is a rhetorical device that’s used to help us and wake us up, is something like the Babylon Bee and John Crists’s videos – do they actually help us in this issue of fearing God?
If I can say something to that, and I’ll make the statement right away: I love the Babylon Bee. It kills me, it’s so funny. Most of the time there’s that hint of truth – enough truth to make it good.
And that’s the point I think.
But how I learn from that, or any of the satirical stuff, is I’ll be reading this stuff and I’ll be laughing and enjoying it, but usually I’ll have a revelation, and this is the powerful thing about the satire: it’s funny, but sometimes it’s so funny that it’s sad, because it’s that true. You know what I mean?
There was an article they wrote called, “Fog Machine Shuts Down in Young Adult Service and Holy Spirit Leaves the Building.” You know? And everyone leaves and says, “We’ll never let this happen again! It ruined the service! God was gone!” Obviously it’s an exaggeration, but you can go to these young adult’s services, and I’m a young adults pastor so I’m not ragging on them, but seriously, if it’s not the peak of production or the laser lights or whatever and the fog and the perfect music and stuff, people are just like, “Ugh, I’ll just go somewhere else – somewhere better.”
Do you think the majority – when you see that though, you’re not someone, like, I know your church and I know you, and you don’t have the crazy production and so, you can read that and laugh and think, “This is really true to our culture,” but, what if people, the thousands of people, are in that? Does this article help them? Will that wake them up?
I think that’s interesting. I don’t know. Do people who are in it, see it? Is humour enough to help them see it? Or is it just a blatant ignorance?
Well, the thing is this: whenever I look at a Babylon Bee, I instantly know what they are satirizing. Is that the right way to say it?
You’re an English major, just wanted to make sure I was using that correctly.
Thank you. Anyways, I’m not boasting, but with every Babylon Bee, I understand the foundation (as do many probably). But does everyone think that way? What about the person who is a young adults worship leader and they do have the huge production and they really believe in it. If they read that article, will they laugh?
Or it’s just a regular article to them. Absolutely the Holy Spirit left the building! I get it!
Yeah, does it do anything?
Or does it make them mad because they think that’s indicative of a heart response as well? Like, if you read something that’s so obviously criticizing the way, for this example, the way that young adult church services are manifesting in our 21st century church. If someone reads that and gets upset then yeah, is that indicative of – yeah, maybe there is something wrong with it. Because the reason the article was written in the first place is because they’re making fun of it because there’s an issue. Something’s ridiculous about it.
I don’t know. I’m just thinking though, if our struggle is a lack of seriousness when it comes to who God is and our responsibility as Christians, does this kind of stuff help?
I think, if I can make a suggestion of how I do it, because I do preach sermons once in a while too to the general congregation, and I’m a humourist – that’s how I speak and how I present. But I make sure that in every instance that I’m being funny or whatever you want to call it, that you have to temper it with a real serious point. And make sure that they actually know what you’re saying, not just to get laughs, but this is purposeful and it actually connects to something.
That’s an interesting comment too, because I was just thinking as you were talking about that – I think that if you have a good sense of humour, I think you do have a wealth of depth. Because you recognize – like you said before, the reason why you’re making a joke or you’re satirizing something, it’s because you see something beyond the surface.
Right, and you almost have that responsibility – if you have a good sense of humour – you have a responsibility to make those things known.
Yeah, and humour is an amazing way to do it in a way that can actually make something obvious – obviously ridiculous to someone, and maybe help them see outside of what’s before them or whatever. And do it in a way that’s light-hearted. So they don’t feel like crap.
Yeah. There you go, we talked about payments on the first date (who pays?), we’ve talked about criticism and love and sensitivity, and also Christian humour and what it does. But anyways, thanks guys for coming on the show with me today.