Reasons Not To Get Love Advice from Don Miller

Reasons Not To Get Love Advice from Don Miller

By Hemant Mehta

This article first appeared on The Friendly Atheist, now hosted on Patheos.


Christian author Don Miller likes to talk about how your life ought to be a compelling story, one that’s going somewhere, has a purpose, has real ups and downs, isn’t stagnant, etc. There’s a lot of truth to that — if your life doesn’t make for an interesting story, are you really making the most of it?

Recently, though, he must have taken a page out of Mark Driscoll‘s Handbook because his suggestions to men and women for how to create a “good love story” were appalling.

For example, he told women that they should never hook up.

… when your husband finds out you were the “hook up” girl he’s going to have to have a lot of grace, which is fine, it just puts you in the category of “charity” in his mind and not “equal” or “partner.” He may still love you, but he will have serious questions about whether you’re in the kind of shape it takes to run a marathon. Unless you get over it and move on and do a period of time where you put it all behind you, he will and honestly should lose respect for you…

Because any woman who’s had sex before (without “getting over it”) isn’t worthy of complete respect…

Because, I guess, it’s not possible to have sex with someone you have no intention of marrying and come away from it perfectly fine.

Because all men have a problem dating women who hooked up with guys in the past?

He also told women they had to “be willing to suffer.”

What this means for you is that your love story needs to have a lot of lonely crying in it. Believe it or not, there will come a day when a man will fall madly in love with you and you will have the honor of sitting down with him one special night to explain that, while you weren’t perfect, you turned down plenty of guys and and cried yourself to sleep hoping somebody would come around and treat you with respect. He will be honored by this, and he will love you and feel humbled. If he doesn’t have the same story, he will feel intensely convicted and unworthy. You’ll really be giving him the foundation he needs to love your heart.

What the fuck…?

So, women, now you know what it takes to find a good man: Never have any physical fun growing up (you non-abstinent slutty slut slut) and start bawling about all those men in your past who had no respect for you. (Apparently, there’s no possible circumstance in which two perfectly decent people, with active sexual histories, just decide the relationship isn’t working out and part ways.)

So what’s the advice for men? Same stuff, right?

Not even close…

Men were not designed to have love stories “happen to them” as much as they were designed to “make a love story happen to a woman.” Do you understand. You’re the writer of the story. You’re the guy who initiates and has the character to follow through. You’re the one responsible for how the love story turns out.

Somewhere, high-school-sophomore-Hemant is thinking about the girl who was his best friend. He developed a massive crush on her, the kind that makes you think about her every waking hour, that makes you get all excited when she IMs you at night. He asked her out a couple different times. She rejected him a couple different times. (Because it would ruin the friendship.) She went out with other guys over the course of that year. He was really depressed about all that. But they stayed friends and he continued to fall for her. When the next year came around, and they were even closer friends, and he had given up hope of anything ever happening, she askedhim out… and they began to date. He had his first kiss with her and it was wonderful. During the time they dated, life was full of rainbows and cookies and puppies and babies. (Of course, like a lot of high school couples, they eventually broke up. That sucked for a while, too… but they still remain friends to this day.)

That couldn’t have been a love story, though. It didn’t happen to me; she basically initiated everything. I suppose I’m just not “man enough” for Miller.

Other advice he offers men: Stay away from the harlots:

Is she seductive? Stay away. Is she nagging? Stay away. Is she sexually promiscuous? Stay away. In my dating history, I’ve dated some amazing women. But on two occasions, I dated girls who were pretty seductive in nature, and I paid dearly. I lost sleep and nearly lost my sanity. I’ll never forget taking a flight to Vancouver BC one night, reading through the book of Proverbs and realizing what the source of my problems was, I was dating a girl the book told me not to date. I broke up with her immediately and sanity returned.

Now this does not mean you shouldn’t date a girl with a past. One of my all-time favorite girlfriends, a girl I consider amazing and will make a terrific wife to somebody some day, actually spent years living with a guy and has a fairly liberal standard regarding sexuality…

There are so many things wrong with those paragraphs… (to begin with, who the hell reads the book of Proverbs on an airplane?)

But whatever.

It’s a lot of bad advice all around.

It’s also irresponsible to say that those are the rules you must follow to have a “good love story.” They’re not. There are plenty of examples of how they’re not. You don’t even need to step outside a Christian church to find examples of that.

Miller is offering suggestions for a very specific type of relationship — one I have very little desire to have, but one which may work just fine for him.

Realize, though, that just about all of Miller’s rules can be broken without sacrificing any happiness.

I wrote most of what you just read sometime last week. It was a draft and I wanted to go back now to finish it up… but it turns out Miller deleted both of the posts. Which is a dumb thing to do, since all the writing is still accessible via Google Cache. The smarter thing to do would’ve been to just add an update/apology/whatever as an addendum to both posts.

But maybe that wouldn’t have helped since Miller deleted the posts, not because he felt he said anything wrong, but because it didn’t come off as he intended…

I’ve seen this sort of backlash before in other arenas. I’m convinced a number of preachers drive as many people away from Jesus as they invite toward Jesus through the harshness of their rhetoric. I’m not interested, then, in driving people away from a good love story simply because I used language and presented ideas they found offensive. Especially when the ideas were generated in no more than half an hour.

Another reason to take the blog down is that love and sexuality is complicated. To address sexual matters, especially, is often a graceless conversation, and yet a conversation that can only be healing in a tone of complete and utter grace. My blog, while straight and toned to the language many use while talking over a beer, lacked the tone of grace. That was an enormous mistake on my part.

That’s not true.

The rules would have been equally ridiculous over beer.

My (Christian) friend Rachel Held Evans didn’t appreciate the suggestions he made either. Her response is *fantastic*:

I am not a supporting character in a story that a man is writing.

My story is more interesting than that.

I am not defined by my sexuality, my past, my marital status, or my body.

My story is more interesting than that.

I have not cried into my pillow waiting for someone else to give me purpose and direction in life.

My story is more interesting than that.

I do not fit into the passive and predictable roles that well-meaning Christians have prescribed for me.

My story is more interesting than that.


Miller spoke with Rachel and agreed to post a formal response to his own comments, written by Rachel, on his site soon… perhaps as a way to make amends. We’ll see if that actually happens.

Meanwhile, I can’t wait to see his revised, revamped list of rules.

Looking at a few other responses to what Miller wrote, I was especially sad to read this post from a Christian woman who seems to have followed “the rules”:

… I have always dated “good Christian men.” I’ve kept myself above board in all aspects in my relationships with them. But if I’m honest, I have never been treated worse than I have in those relationships. For some reason, whether it be expectations, pressure or nerves, it seems like I leave each relationship feeling ugly, worthless and stupid. One relationship in particular left me feeling like a whore. And I don’t use that term lightly. For more than a year after it ended, I felt like a whore. And would you believe I didn’t even kiss that guy? In the three months we were together, we never even kissed. He believed it was important to wait a year before going down that road. But his words cut me deep, and it took years to repair that wound.

Regardless of what you think about her personal decisions, this just shows that following Miller’s rules and seeking out “those” kinds of guys doesn’t guarantee you a happy ending.

Oh. While we’re at it… What advice would I give to people who want a good love story?

Be with someone who makes you happy.

That’s it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a virgin, or a swinger, or divorced, or gay, or live with someone of the opposite sex, or never had a relationship end badly, or don’t want kids in your future, or want a lot of kids in the future. None of that is a problem as long as you’re with someone who understands you, respects you, and trusts you. If the two of you share the same values, you’re going to be fine.