Non-christian culture has a saying (a proverb) for dating. You might have heard the saying "play the field before you settle down". I still hear this proverb being used everywhere from TV shows to magazines, and I think it's true to say that our culture still views dating as a means to find a more permanent and stable relationship. This is true in the Christian view of dating too.
So if this is the case, when should I date?
This will probably upset a few people, but my hot tip is that you shouldn't start dating until you've at least left high school, and I have 4 reasons for taking this line...
1) To avoid extra temptation.
Entering into a relationship with the opposite sex is going to provide more temptation for sexual sin because there are more opportunities for it. Let's not kid ourselves... if you don't have that one-on-one exclusive dating relationship with the opposite sex, the chances are you're not really going to have any opportunity to be tempted into sexual activity with another person. It may happen... but unlikely. Eros love (sexual love) can be a dangerous thing, so why open yourself up to more temptation? 3 times in the book Song of Songs the beloved woman warns the young women "Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires." (Song of Songs 2:7, 3:5, 8:4).
2) Because break-ups are messy.
It's awkward when 2 people - who are part of a larger group of relationships like youth group - decide to break up. It's awkward because break-ups don't just affect the 2 people involved, but the whole community. It can breed a whole range of unhelpful feelings like resentment, jealousy, envy, and loneliness. I've seen what teen break-ups have done in youth groups and the destruction it causes when some stop coming to youth group because they can't handle being around their ex, or friends are forced to choose sides. Not to mention the heart ache of being rejected or dumped. Relationships are already pretty fragile around the teenage years, so why put them in jeopardy by risking a destructive break-up? You will still risk the hurt of break-ups when you're an adult, but hopefully by then your faith in Christ will have matured and strengthened, and you will have formed a strong and stable friendship base to get you through.
3) Because people change.
During your adolescent years at high school you are undergoing some massive changes physically and mentally, and the values that you have in your high school years may change dramatically once you finish school and start Uni or join the work force. People change throughout their lifetime in all sorts of ways, but the changes that happen in transition from adolescence to adulthood are probably the most dramatic. There's a massive chance that the person you liked in high school will not be the same person you'll like as an adult. Having said that, I do know a Christian couple who starting going out when they were 14 and are now still happily married in the 50's.
4) It's fun being young and single.
You've got the rest of your life to be married (and marriage is good!) but you are only young once and you should enjoy the time you have to be young and single. Marriage is good and wonderful, but there is more freedom during your years as a single person. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 "An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband."
What do you think? Leave your comments below.