Do you remember that old television game show “The Dating Game”? If you don’t here’s how it worked: one young lady was given the chance to have a dream date with one of three mystery bachelors (who are hidden from her view). She chose which bachelor to date by asking each of them a series of questions. Following her selection she gets to see her bachelor and then go out on a date. The show was funny and not overly serious. Fast forward 40 years and we have new dating shows like The Bachelor, where a person is looking to select his wife from a small harem of eligible women. Culturally, it is difficult to escape the pressures of the dating world and the selfish nature which we see dating modeled (by the media and our peers).
This is why the issue of dating is so crucial to youth. At Frontline we played a mock Dating Game (which was well acted by our youth) to set-up the lesson about what culture says dating is for, and what the Bible says about relationships. I recently heard it said, again, that teenage dating is divorce practice, and I must admit most of the ways that young people choose to date develops a habit that can lead to easier divorce. Right now the divorce rate in America is hovering around 50%, and most statistics don’t show Christian marriages surviving any better. While there are a ton of factors that play into this alarming trend, the model of dating has to be examined. A majority of teens will fall in and out of love with multiple partners, and with each of these experiences the nature of bonding deeply to one person for a lifetime begins to erode. This leads to an “easy come, easy go” mindset to relationships, which in a marriage is a fatal flaw.
So what is the alternative? I don’t necessarily condemn teenage dating. I dated as a teen (with some negative effects), and I even married my high school sweetheart. But the cautions within the Bible are worth heeding. Song of Solomon 2:7 encourages young people to avoid awakening love before it is time. This means don’t rush into relationships before you are emotionally and spiritually mature enough to handle them. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 instructs young men (in the church) to treat the young women in the church as sisters with ALL purity. I challenged the students to think seriously about their actions with the opposite sex (would you think that about your brother/sister?). 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 tells the believer to live to please God, and one of those ways is to be in control of our bodies. In the dating world, that means to control ourselves entirely (physically and verbally) from damaging anyone else.
Dating is a tough issue. As parents you have a responsibility to talk with your youth about dating and to help shape their attitudes toward the opposite sex. I am here to support you as you teach your child, so don’t hesitate to use me as a resource.