Dating can be one of the most enjoyable experiences a young person can have.
It can also be the cause for some very traumatic times. Some boys fear rejection. Some girls are afraid that they will never be asked for a date. Often both are jittery because they do not know what is expected of them, so they cannot be themselves. Some boys and girls use dates selfishly, either to build their egos or to seek their own ends.
In some respects, young people treat the subiect of dating too seriously, while at other times and in other respects they treat the subject too lightly.
While dating is supposed to be an enjoyable event, it is worthy of some thought and serious consideration. “Oh, but dating is just for fun; after all, we are not going to get married.” For some such a statement is an attempt to calm their nerves. Others use this statement for an excuse to date just anybody (even someone not one “in the Lord” with them – I Cor. 7:39).
Although the actual date should be fun, some serious matters should be quietly considered prior to the date. Allow me to present three matters which show this.
- Dating does lead to marriage. I am well aware of the-fact that not all dating and every date leads to marriage. But it cannot be denied that every marriage began with dating. This is exactly why dating is not totally a play thing. This is why we should not date someone we cannot marry “in the Lord”. I Cor. 7:39 teaches us that we may marry whom we “will, only in the Lord”. It has been argued that whereas this obviously applies to marriage, it could just as well be applied to dating. There may be exceptions, where a friendly relationship leads to conversion, so that there can be union in the Lord Jesus. However, then it could be said that dating is not the proper nor the best vehicle to use for converting. The point remains unchallenged that while not every date leads to marriage, every marriage did begin with dating. Therefore, dating is somewhat serious.
- Another element that keeps dating from becoming only a big game is the fact that the future roles as husband and wife are developed while dating. This is much more true after the boy and girl have been dating together “steadily”. The one who is to be the loving head of the home does not begin to be so when he says, “I do”. Nor does the girl begin to fulfill her God-given role of Biblical submission on the day of the wedding. It is while dating that the couple begin to know each other and they “fall” into the pattern of their relationship, which pattern is carried into the marriage. This serious matter is not to be completely neglected while dating.
- And dating is serious because the devil labors to use the weakness of the flesh for his sinful ends. I am speaking here of the sexual overtones which affect every dating couple, especially if they have been dating on a regular basis. The devil uses our good, God-centered desires unto evil ends. First, we must say that the desires for sexual intercourse, as the ultimate expression of mutual love, are not only natural, but they are normal. It is the way God made Adam and Eve and all men. However, God also set this activity only within the sphere of marriage. This activity anywhere outside of marriage is unqualifiedly described by God in the Bible as sin, the sin of adultery and fornication. So God has put His command upon the place for and use of sex. But the devil works passionately to tempt us to mis-use this divine gift. Secondly, the world has made a god of sex and this undeniably has influenced the Church and its young people. Sex is sometimes the only reason some date. Many like to “pet” the god of sex and play with it or tease it, falsely thinking that they will not get burned. Thou fool, no one tampers with God’s command without inevitable and serious repercussions. So the fact of sex makes dating a serious subject.
* * *
On the other hand, dating is not as serious as it is sometimes made out to be.
Some young people feel compelled to date, that it is required of them at a certain age. The thinking is that if you do not date, then you are not “in”. This is taking dating too seriously.
Others have the strange thinking that one date means the two people are “going with each other”. You almost need an announcement in the school paper to inform everyone that they “broke up”. One date does not lock two people together.
The key idea to remember in the discussion of the subject of dating is FRIENDSHIP. It is a time for discussion, recreation, and fellowship.
It is very important that young people, not only on dates, but also outside the scope of dating, develop friendships with young people of the opposite sex. When you get to high school you should be old enough to have rid yourself of the idea that the opposite sex has contagious diseases (in my day it was called “cooties”). Get to know each other well enough to be able to talk together without embarrassment and showing off.
The best way I can put it is to say that you should learn to get to know each other as brother and sister. (Of course I mean nice brothers and sisters, those that have good relationships.) It is very wrong to think that because someone is “like a sister or brother” they are no longer prospective dates. I have heard it said that because you went to Christian grade or high school together with someone, they could not possibly be considered dating material, because it would be like dating your sister or brother.
First of all, it is only a date, not marriage; one date will not hurt anyone, and you just might find out something pretty nice. Secondly, the apostle Paul was convinced that if he were going to get married, then the only possible prospects he could consider were those who were his spiritual sisters. Look at what he says in I Cor. 9:5, “Have we not power (the right – RVO) to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” If Paul had wanted a wife, he would have looked for one among his sisters in the church. But my point is that he considered the unmarried girls in the church as sisters. Develop, therefore, Godly brotherly and sisterly relationships with fellow-saints of the opposite sex.
* * *
Allow me to give some brief comments in conclusion.
- It goes without saying that you would not date someone who is not “in the Lord” with you.
- This idea of developing friendships with those of the opposite sex applies not only with those you are not dating, but also and especially with the one you are dating. What else is dating for, but to get to know each other better.
- Older boys should be very careful that they do not lead the younger girls astray. They should not date the young girls to see what you can get, or give them the “honor” of dating an older guy if they will go to a movie with you.
- There is plenty time for dating in one’s lifetime. So do not start dating fast and furious when you are young, thinking that time will run out on you. No one in grade school should be pushed into dating. Although they may do so, with parental permission; I believe the parents (mothers?) to be very foolish who push and prod their grade school children to date. There is all kinds of time for that.
- Sex is out of dating. Keep your hands to home!
- Contrary to what seems to be the popular opinion, there are plenty of wholesome activities a dating couple can attend. This is also true for those not dating, but are just going out with the guys or girls. I believe that parents could do much more to help their young people think of and find these wholesome activities. Left to themselves, a young person is inclined to follow the wide and broad path that leads to sinful activities. Also, I would encourage young people’s societies and the Federation Board to continue to sponsor activities for the young people to attend all year around. Some may not be well attended, but this should not discourage those sponsoring these activities. Keep giving the opportunities and occasions for good fellowship. And parents should encourage their young people to attend these activities.