Last blog I mentioned the Parent Summit that will be taking place on August 27th. The Summit is for students and parents, but the focal point of this blog and the previous one was our “Post-Conference” that will be discussing the issue of courtship. I want to say, regardless of what your personal conviction is regarding this matter, I don’t think one would have to think too deeply to conclude that they way dating is set up in our society is something pretty modern from an historical standpoint, and something that few really think biblically about. I want to take some time to simply mention some points that Joshua Harris makes about some natural defects of dating and comment on them. We will discuss these in detail at our Summit.
1. Dating tends to skip the friendship stage of a relationship: Now, there are some relationships that are an exception to this, but few. If there is no friendship and everything begins and hinges on “romantic” or hormonal feelings, it would be really difficult to discern the character of that person. When I am more concerned with getting closer physically than getting to know them better and understanding them as a person, it can be problematic.
2. Dating often mistakes a physical relationship with love: Love is a self-sacrificing commitment. When a physical relationship begins move to sinful areas it is always selfish. One is not looking for the best and desiring God’s best for the other, only that their own passions are met. A physical relationship can only skew things when determining love.
3. Dating isolates a couple from other vital relationships: I look at my life in high school, and even for a while in college, and found that at the time I really needed godly people in my life to walk with me, to hold me accountable and to confront sin - I was dating a girl and was consumed with developing a relationship that really helped me be a better boyfriend, but in truth never really enhanced me spiritually nor helped make me a better husband.
4. Dating can distract young people from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future: Serious dating does nothing to prepare someone to be a better spouse. The goal of all we do is to glorify God! The goal of our students should be to be conformed to the image of Christ so as adults they can be as arrows shot forth for the Kingdom of God. How does focusing on a few serious relationships during a 6-8 year period enhance this?
5. Dating can cause discontentment with God’s gift of singleness: The majority of our children will grow up and be married, but they are single for a time. They are single because there are some things they can learn. They are single to use this energy in multiple godly relationships with both sexes and to be involved in multiple areas of service in the Kingdom. There is nothing wrong with ball, band or any other activities as long as they become activities and not “jobs” and/or “gods.”
6. Dating can create an artificial environment for evaluating another person’s character: My wife and I regularly go out on dates. It may or may not be a “big-to-do” but nevertheless, we enjoy taking a break from life. No cooking, no cleaning up, and usually for a short while, we are alone with no kids. It is a moment in time that gives us a break from real life. But when a dating relationship consists of…well, dates, - then everything is built around pretending to be something he/she are not. One thing they are pretending to be many times is married. They celebrate “special dates,” they romance things up and, many times all of this is promoted by parents who, for some reason become completely oblivious to what they are doing. The dating scene is not the best arena to teach about marriage, because it is artificial by nature.
7. Dating can often become an end in itself: What should be the goal of dating? Is it to find out who you want to marry? If this is so, do you really want your 14 year old princess to be a fiancé right now? If not, then what is she really trying to find out? Is it to have fun? Certainly it can be fun, but is it less fun for 7 Christian students to out than it is for two? Is it just to date? If that is your goal then it becomes the end in itself, and if this happens when does it stop? Is there a magic age when you just turn that thought off and say to yourself after 7 years of just dating to have fun, now I need to hunt for a spouse?
Again, these are just questions that, if you are like me, prior to really thinking through this biblically they never occurred to me. An alternative was never presented to me and if it was sprung on me at age 15 or 16, I would have hated it. Now, you are probably saying “So why torture your children?” - Because from about age 10, this has been taught to them, and the older they have become, the deeper our discussions have gone. Also, thank the Lord we have many parents today that see there are good, healthy, alternatives… and thankfully, wonderful books like I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl and so many more that help parents really think this through. If you disagree with this, come and discuss it at the conference – Again, there is nothing in the Bible that prohibits dating, but there are countless verses to warn us against conducting our lives they same way the world does. So, at the very least we need to ask ourselves how our child’s relationships will be different than the worlds’.