“What are your thoughts on dating in high school and early college? I’ve heard that if you aren’t serious about getting married, you shouldn’t date.”
Just the other day, I had a conversation with a sweet friend of mine who told me that people shamed her for having a boyfriend in high school. They told her it was pointless, but more importantly, that it wasn’t what God intended and that she was damaging her heart by dating someone when she wasn’t seriously considering marrying him. (which you shouldn’t be in high school– thinking about marrying your boyfriend, that is)
I’m pretty sure if my friend had looked closely, she would have seen steam coming out of my ears. I get really, really mad when people tell other people what God “thinks” about something that isn’t clearly addressed in the Bible. I’m fairly certain none of the prophets, apostles, or other Biblical authors wrote a chapter about how dating in high school is wrong. Please email me if you have seen verses on that. I’d love to read it.
Now, let me break this down in a few different questions. Also, be warned, I’m slightly opinionated about this.
What does the Bible say about dating?
Spoiler alert. I already told you. It isn’t addressed in the Bible. When the Bible was written, parents chose their children’s spouse. Typically, girls were married at ages 13-14 to men who were much older than them. Dating didn’t exist. At some point, we created this idea of dating people. Now, that doesn’t mean dating is wrong. It’s not a moral or immoral subject matter. Now, what can be moral or immoral is how we handle ourselves when dating. Which means that the Bible has a lot of things that to say can be indirectly applied to dating. I’ll give you three for now.
Love your neighbor as yourself – we need to treat others well with kindness, grace, mercy, and God’s love. We need to do this as we date by being respectful and treating others like we’d want to be treated. We have to do this when we break up with people too. –THAT’S the hard part.
Be equally yoked – In this passage, Paul is talking specifically about not marrying people outside of the faith. While this isn’t about dating specifically, if we are being wise, we should be choosing to date people who’s faith and values are very similar to ours.
Strive for sexual purity – This verse is pretty direct. It’s God’s will and desire for us to abstain from sexual immorality, to control our bodies and not operate out of lust. A lot of people hate this part of the Bible, and while it’s certainly not fun, it’s absolutely for our benefit. We need to strive for sexual purity in our dating relationships because that is obedience to the Lord, and also because we end up hurting ourselves when we don’t. I could go on forever, but I will spare you. So onto the real question here…
Is it okay to date in high school?
I’ve heard many people with opinions like my sweet friend heard. You shouldn’t date in high school. It’s a waste. It’s bad. Whatever. Now, if your parents have a no-dating rule for you, then the answer is simple. No, you shouldn’t date in high school. Ugh. I know you did not want to read that. My parents had a no-dating rule until I was 16. No-dating meant no-boyfriend, not just no-going out on dates. I probably didn’t do the best job of honoring that rule (read: I definitely had “boyfriends” before 16), but I should have respected and honored my parents rule–even if I thought it was ridiculous. The bible doesn’t directly address dating. You know what it does talk about A LOT? Honoring and obeying your parents. [Ephesians 6] In fact, it’s the only one of the 10 commandments that comes with a promise… If you obey and honor your parents “it will go well with you (in Eph. 6) and that “you may live long” (in Exodus 20). So, do yourself a favor, and just obey your parents. Moving on…
Is it okay to date when you aren’t seriously thinking about marriage or at an appropriate age to marry?
Yes. I think it’s a great thing to do. Here’s the problem with not dating until you think you want to marry the person: How on earth are you supposed to know if you want to marry someone without a) initially dating them and b) dating other people to figure out what you are looking for? When we date, we get to know ourselves better and we get to practice some of the things I listed above.
Overall, I think the current Christian culture has made way to big of a deal about dating. You don’t need to know if you are going to marry someone before you go out on a first date. (and how can you?!) You don’t need to enter into a “covenant courtship” or some other weird thing we invented to get to know someone and date in a “proper” way. You need to honor God, be obedient to Him, and live your life. If living your life happens to mean there is a really cute boy, who treats you well, and wants to take you out on a date, I’m pretty sure that’s permissible.
Bottom line: In high school, early college, or really any point, as long as your dating relationship isn’t distracting you from growing in the Lord or isn’t pushing you to disobey Him, it’s just fine.
Now that I have completely oversimplified dating… what other things have you heard or what other questions come to mind? Comment or email me.
3 thoughts on “Should I be dating or waiting?”
Hanna: great thoughts as always.
I was definitely the girl who didn’t want to date in high school because I thought I should only go out with people I considered to be marriage material. In my early 20’s, I stopped taking each date so seriously and loved getting to to know people through dating. The trick is learning to set really strong boundaries from the beginning. (This could be a whole other blog post.)
On the other hand, I also think our culture has made a shift towards dating so long and not committing in order to “get our life more together” (whatever that means) and I wish that we had more people encouraging marriage for couples who do date in high school and college. Here’s a great article by Univ. of Texas sociologist, Mark Regnerus, on the Case for Early Marriage in Christianity today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/august/16.22.html?paging=off
Great Blog! I completely agree. Hebrews 10:24 comes to mind in regards to dating.
If you are dating, then how are you spurring your bf/gf on or being spurred on by them (this could apply to many areas/aspects of life)? If you are not – is it a wise investment of your time – or would your time be better spent in other areas/relationships?
I agree that we have made dating too serious of an issue. I know that in my own life, I was extreme about this issue because I was fearful. As I look back, I can see opportunities that I missed out on because I cared more about maintaining control than trusting the Lord to be in control. My thoughts now? Be respectful but have fun! Yes, make sure you have honest people in your life to hold you accountable – but for the love – go out with the guy … talk until midnight, laugh until your stomach hurts, learn to ask questions, learn to listen … serve one another and the people you introduce to one another. Get to know him, and yourself – and hopefully more of Jesus along the way.
Some great thoughts!