Stephen Arterburn is one of those dads who believes no one is good enough to date his daughter. But the founder of the Women of Faith conferences and New Life Ministries still offered his teenage daughter the unlikely advice that helped him recover from a devastating divorce and find love again: Date as many people as possible. “I'm interested in people dating a lot of people and not just settling for someone because they're convenient or persistent,” he says.
In his new book, Is This The One? Simple Dates for Finding the Love of Your Life (Zondervan, April; reviewed in this issue), Arterburn lays out a simple strategy for lonely hearts. He went on twenty dates, but he took a break from official courtship. He got out more, “started looking up from the tops of my shoes,” and got some hobbies.
Not that the chairman of New Life Ministries, a faith-based broadcast counseling and treatment ministry, has a lot of time for hobbies. But he met the love of his life by taking a break from serious dating and learning to get to know at least 20 women. “There are some [Christian] books that suggest that singles don't date, that God will deliver them the person of their dreams,” Arterburn says. “That is not my philosophy. I'm trying to get people out there, and along the way they may meet the person of their dreams.”
When singles date one person at a time, “They’re desperate, maybe, and they latch on to that one person,” he says. “They marry that one person and develop these regrets that divide or separate them from the person they're married to. This is why I say it might be a good idea to take a break from dating and you'll meet some other people. It really adds to your security when you've done your homework like that.”
Arterburn wrote his first book in 1984, after working at a psychiatric hospital and seeing the impact of family relationships on patients. Since then, Arterburn has written more than 70 books. “In Is This The One? I think it's important that readers get to know the person [they want to date] well enough to know what their relationship was to [their] Mom and Dad,” Arterburn says. “There’s a lot of emphasis in the book on taking your time so that you get to know the person you’re involved with.”
In addition to winning numerous writing awards, Arterburn has two honorary doctorate degrees. He attended Baylor University in Texas and the University of North Texas, and is currently a doctoral student at Newburg Seminary and Bible College.
In a recent guest sermon at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, when Arterburn talked about toxic faith he mentioned something that keeps some singles…single. “One of the beliefs that gets people in trouble is, ‘God is going to deliver to me that perfect mate,’” Arterburn says. “We need to ask God to help us in the mating process, but we also need to do everything we can to help out in this area of our lives.”