Published by Baker Books on March 2, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian, Marriage
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Everyone wants to be loved--to find someone who will stick with them through all of life's ups and downs, someone who is in it for the long haul. But in a world where dating is increasingly based on split-second decisions and geared toward casual relationships rather than marriage, it's easy for single people to feel discouraged, used, or unworthy of true love and lasting affection. Reality just never seems to match up with our (often wildly unrealistic) expectations.
Jonathan "JP" Pokluda has counseled thousands of young singles through the pain and heartbreak of dating the world's way. Now he wants to dispel the myths, misconceptions, and fairy tales you've believed about dating and replace them with the truth from the One who invented marriage, created you to crave relationship, and is the very embodiment of true love. With plenty of true stories about relationships healed and love found, this practical book explains God's purposes for singleness, dating, and marriage and covers why you should date, who you should date, and how you should date.
If you're ready to trade the world's way of dating for the way that actually works, it's time to begin dating well.
Christian dating books are usually exceptionally cringey, so when I say that JP Pokluda’s Outdated is only moderately cringey, please understand it as a compliment. Seriously, the sex/love/dating books that tend to get popular in the Christian evangelical spectrum range from good but formulaic (5 Love Languages) to hello, fellow kids cringe (Chasing Love) to actually psychologically harmful (Every Man’s Battle). It’s not a huge compliment to start off by noting that Pokluda falls into none of these traps, but it’s also apparently a great achievement.
Outdated is divided into three parts: 1) Why We Date, 2) Who We Date, and 3) How We Date. Part one sets his ground rules: Singleness is okay, and dating should have the goal of marriage. This foundation changes a lot of how modern dating is treated, where dating is seen as a part of normal social life. If the goal isn’t marriage, Pokluda says, it isn’t dating. And that changes the context, boundaries, and goals of the relationship. This is a super healthy, grounded foundation that sets the stage for what’s to come.
Next part is Who to Date. Some in Christian culture are wanting on The One. It’s supposed to be the person that is absolutely perfect for you and if you don’t get him or her, then it’s all ruined. Pokluda exposes that for the myth (and mathematical impossibility) that it is, and follows it up by tackling the myths of Love At First Sight, and Love is A Feeling. Pokluda—again basing the dating relationship on the foundation of friendship with a goal of marriage—portrays dating as something about shared lives, that involve substantive relationships based on deliberate choices. Nothing is exactly revolutionary, but it’s way different than the way dating is something portrayed and it’s done simply and conversationally.
The last part discusses how to date. Here, JP covers the issues of setting boundaries, growing the relationship, and how to know when to break up (or pop the question). Again, nothing here is wrong. JP’s worlds less cringey than other evangelical takes on the matter, and my only criticism is that I really wanted more substance. Somebody is finally setting the groundwork of dating in a clear, concise, Christian way, but the book’s length keeps him from really doing a deep dive on subjects that we can’t afford to stay shallow on.
One other note: It’s a relatively minor point, but it irked me (@ me if you want, Pokluda), but Pokluda writes with absolute certainty that all marriages are dissolved in heaven. Writing on singleness, he uses the Saducee’s catch-22 and Jesus’s response as evidence for marriage not being a thing. I’m not convinced. I could pull out my Greek textbook, but this isn’t really the place. Let’s just say that it’s super awkward to write a whole book about the process of getting married, but then say that when God comes and makes everything perfect, that relationship won’t exist anymore.
Outdated is a concise, foundational manual for Christian dating. I’m not convinced it’s enough. There’s so much that our youth get thrown at them—damaging elements of purity culture on the religious right, anything-goes culture of the secular left. Outdated correctly stands in the middle, placing itself as the reasonable third option, but I don’t know that it does enough.
And maybe that’s okay, because, let’s face it, some guy you’ll neve meet who wrote a book probably shouldn’t be the key influence in your child’s dating life. Outdated is a good resource, but it’s just that—a resource. It could be deeper, it could be more substantive, but it’s a starting point. I give it credit for that. Fresh, foundational, and fun, the principles in Outdated aren’t new, but they just could be revolutionary. JP Pokluda’s witty addition to Christian teenage dating books just may be the breakthrough that Christian culture needs.