Protecting Our Children Day 5: Dating Decisions
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22, ESV)
If you’ve read some of my prior material (or if you know me fairly well), you already know this: I have dated exactly one person in my entire life. She’s the last person, too, because I hit the jackpot! I’ll never forget driving to the smallish airport in Greensboro, NC, and landing in the smallish airport in Akron, OH (on the now-defunct AirTran). Walking down the hallway in her fabulous Carolina blue sweater that perfectly matched her eyes was the woman I would marry 2 ½ years later. It was a long way to travel for a first date, but to say it was worth it is a huge understatement. It’s a decision I don’t regret in the least!
For those of us who are parents with young children, I’m sure we’re all in the same boat. I stress and worry about who my daughters will date. How could I not? It’s not that I don’t trust them; it’s just that I’m a dad. We’re supposed to worry about it, right? It’s hard not to think about all that could go wrong. Thus, this article. Maybe this is the time for me to pour out my concerns to my future dating daughters (and yours… and your sons).
So what can go wrong? Regardless of age, the first part of the verse above will always enter the chat (“youthful passions”). Even if you have it all together, the person you’re dating might not. You might be strong, but they might be weak. Don’t let these passions overtake you and lead you into something you’ll regret. Think about this—you’re only going to have one first kiss in your entire life. Do you want it to be with some random kid in 6th grade that you don’t even know that well? That’s a very minor thing compared to some other “firsts,” some of which the Scriptures tell us are reserved for a married couple. So keep that in mind, too. But if you choose to date in your mid to late teen years, keep some things in mind. If you’re a Christian, date a Christian. That should be non-negotiable, because it’s also Scriptural: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14, ESV). If the person wants to do things that, physically, make you uncomfortable, don’t do it. Tell them you’re not comfortable doing it. If they think you’re ridiculous and keep pushing, consider ending the relationship. Seriously. If they don’t respect you now, why would you expect them to respect you later in life? Take note of how they treat other people as well. If they aren’t kind and caring to others, it’s quite likely that they eventually won’t be kind and caring to you. Dating is designed to lead to marriage, so make these decisions carefully and wisely.
Of course, you might make the right decision! I’m not naïve enough to think that everyone will have the same experience as I—your first date ending up being your spouse for life. But I hope that my children find the perfect match. Paul sums up what would be a perfect spiritual match. Just read through these words again: “Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Taking the passage in reverse, the key is to do these things with those who are believers with a pure heart. That’s a great start when you’re dating! But he doesn’t stop there, because, in my mind, that isn’t enough. That person should also actively pursue the four ideals mentioned in the first part. Passively sitting back, spiritually speaking, and doing nothing shouldn’t be acceptable to you. Date someone who has a passion for the Lord and for serving His people. Believe it or not, that often translates to a person who will also serve you in your relationship! Dating a person like that can keep you accountable, help you grow as a believer, and enrich your life in every way. Ultimately, that’s the real purpose of a relationship. The two of you together should be greater in your service for God than each of you individually.
Lives have been drastically changed through choices in dating, both for better and for worse. I can only hope and pray that my children make choices that make them better.