Letter to a Young Man in Waiting

Dear son,

I’d like to have a brief talk with you about your dating life.  I know—you haven’t started dating yet.  But I know that you want to, so now is probably the best time for us to have this discussion.  Before we start, you should know that I think it is okay that you are not dating right now—I don’t want you to get the impression that you have to be dating at this stage in your life.  Yet, you want to enjoy marriage someday, and dating is obviously the first step in that direction.

From talks that we’ve had before, I know that you would like to have your own family “when you get older.”  Scripture says that this is a good goal for you to have (Genesis 2:24, Proverbs 18:22, Psalm 127:3).  As you know, this is a very serious goal—one that that has to be approached in the right way (2 Corinthians 6:14).  So, I hope that you are putting in some real thought in to approaching this in the right way.  A lot of people your age have a difficult time knowing when to start seriously thinking about and pursuing this type of goal.  Maybe you feel that you are not old enough to begin planning and preparing for something like marriage, which seems like it will take place far into the future.

There are a couple of things that we can say here.  First, hopefully you understand that you have already been preparing for marriage for many years.  Yes, really, you have.  You have heard many sermons about marriage relationships (such as how the Lord provided a wife for Isaac in Genesis 24, or how Ephesians 5 describes marriage as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church), you have been instructed about important principles of marriage during your catechism training (for instance, the applications associated with Lord’s Day 41), and during your personal worship you have been praying that God will lead you in your life according to His will.  Now it is time for you to begin using the knowledge and wisdom that you have gained from these past experiences to begin pursuing your goal of marriage.

Second, you have already made confession of faith, and by that you have proclaimed before God and men that you understand and subscribe to the Reformed faith.  By your public confession you have shown that, by God’s grace, you possess a certain level of maturity.  That’s right—your public confession of faith is evidence that you are mature enough to understand important aspects of life like dating.  That is why we did not let you date before your confession of faith.  I know—many of your friends have been dating for years before they made their confession of faith, and some of some of them still haven’t stood up to confess Christ and the Reformed faith.  And yes, I understand how you think this has put you at a disadvantage in your dating life.  While some of your peers have been dating for years and have become really comfortable with the dating process, you had to sit on the sidelines.  Now, you feel that you are jumping into the dating arena late, after many others have gained lots of dating experience.  But I still do believe that until you had both the understanding and maturity publicly to confess Christ and the Reformed faith, that you did not have the proper understanding and maturity to seriously date.  The purpose of dating is to find a spouse.  The relationship between spouses is one that reflects the relationship of Christ and the church.  How could we let you participate in a dating relationship if you were not yet mature enough to publicly confess that you understood and believed what the ultimate purpose of dating is?  You are now a young man now who has confessed Christ.  Now it is time for you to be a man in your understanding of dating.  Put away the childish idea that dating is something you do in high school for fun.  Use your Christian maturity along with the wisdom and knowledge you have gained about marriage to guide you as you think about dating—put your faith into practice in this respect!

So, what are some of the ways that you can put your faith into practice as you look towards dating?  I know we already said that you have a certain level of maturity, but let’s talk about that a little bit more.  There is at least one way you should be looking to gain additional maturity.  Don’t ever pause in your own personal devotional and worship life.  As a man, you know that you will be required to lead in the worship life of your marriage as you pray and study the Holy Scriptures together.  Because this is such an important aspect of marriage, you should definitely be praying and searching God’s word with the young woman that you date.  So, you need to prepare yourself for this role now, before you start dating.  Search the Scriptures now with an eye towards those passages that you think would be good to study during your dating life.  For example, you can study the book of James for practical advice on living a sanctified life with the young woman that you date, or as your relationship matures you can study the many Scriptural passages that give direct advice on marriage itself.  Pray for wisdom and confidence in this respect—it is a great responsibility and one that is necessary for a healthy dating relationship.

Let’s move on to another way that you can put your faith into practice in your future dating life.  As we’ve said a couple of times already: you have a godly desire to have a marriage and family of your own.  This means that, at some point, you are going to have to approach a young woman and discuss this with her!  This will take a certain amount of confidence on your part.  So, you need to be confident in the type of young woman that you want to date.  Obviously, you want to date a young woman, who, like you, has made it clear that she loves the Lord and is committed to the same faith as you are.  You’ve heard this said many times before, so I won’t dwell on it other than to say that this is actually pretty important.  You really do need to find a young woman who is both not afraid to demonstrate her love of God and who has united herself with the same Reformed faith as you have.  The young woman that exhibits these characteristics is likely mature enough to date and is likely spiritually compatible with you.  Remember, when you begin to date, you are not just out to have a good time; you are instead out to enjoy a relationship with someone and at the same time find out if they are compatible with you for marriage.  This means that you should look to date a young woman who you have a certain level of confidence regarding what type of wife and mother she would be.  Make sure you evaluate these things as you consider young women that you might consider dating.  Finding this type of relationship will make the dating experience extremely enjoyable!  Having said all of this, having confidence in the type of girl you want to date isn’t necessarily going to take away all of the anxiety associated with asking a girl out.  If you are like me, there is really no way to completely get around that anxiety.  But remember, the Holy Spirit speaks many times in the Scriptures about anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7, I Peter 5:6-8, Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 55:22).  Go to your heavenly Father in prayer and cast your anxieties about approaching a girl on him.  You will find help through searching the Scriptures and in prayer—even for nervousness about dating!

Please know that your mother and I are praying for you in this respect.  We pray that you will remember those things that you have been taught about marriage as you look ahead towards dating.  We pray that you will have the confidence necessary to find and approach a godly young woman.  We pray that you will find much enjoyment in your future dating life.  And we also pray that you will come to us and ask us for advice if and when you need it.