By Mike Higgins, Executive Director of Hope Children’s Home
In 26 years of ministry of working with young people, I would say that dating is definitely at the top of the list of things that gets teens into trouble. In my experience, a majority of the problem is that most parents have no clear direction on the topic of dating and relationships for their teenagers. With a lack of direction combined with so many opinions that have been adopted from a worldly standpoint, our young people are nearly doomed for failure. May I say to parents that this is a critical topic, one that you cannot avoid dealing with. It needs to start much younger than what most would think.
Biblical dating is not the most popular topic, and for many, it will be classified as “old fashioned” and “outdated.” I firmly believe that we have an obligation to God to do the best we can to train every child that He has placed into our care at Hope. With that in mind, I take the time every year to have a dating seminar with our 7th-12th graders. For most all of them, it is the first time in their lives that they have looked at boy/girl relationships from a biblical perspective. Let me share with you a few of the principles we teach our children.
1 God placed Adam in the garden. Because of Adam’s walk in life, the garden was the most important thing to him. His heart’s desire was taking care of the garden. Because of our teens’ walk of life, the most important thing for them should be studying, serving the Lord, sports, church activities, etc.
2 God created the exact, perfect, ideal woman for Adam. Adam did not have to go looking for Eve. Adam was faithfully serving the Lord when God brought Eve to Adam. Our teens do not have to go looking for someone. They should faithfully serve the Lord, and in God’s timing, He will be faithful to bring the exact, perfect, ideal mate for them.
3 Then the big question. What is the purpose for dating anyway? Is it just to have fun and spend time with someone you enjoy? Or could we be honest and say that dating doesn’t normally stay at a friendship level but grows deeper. I believe the purpose for dating is to find a life mate. When two people date, regardless of age, it always leads to a more intimate relationship.
4 Unless your 16 year old son or daughter is ready for marriage, it may be worth rethinking this whole “going out” and “going steady” thing. There is certainly nothing wrong with a bunch of young people spending time together and enjoying each other’s fellowship.
As a matter of fact, it’s healthy. The youth department of your church is a great avenue for just that. The problem comes when young people want to start singling off, trading rings, and establishing some type of ownership of each other.
Remember, parents, that God has trusted you with that teenager, and if anyone “owns” them, it is you and you alone. This ownership does not change until the day you walk them down the aisle in marriage.
I would encourage every parent to begin at a very early age to train your children in the biblical perspective of dating and proper relationships with those of the opposite sex. There are so many broken lives of young people that could have been saved had parents took a stand and applied some of these simple Bible truths. God’s way still works!