I started to leave the world's longest comment in response to the excellent discussion and questions raised on my last post here about "True Love Waits", and then remembered...this is my blog. I could just start a new post!
I know I've opened a door here with the no-dating thing...Obviously, I don't have all the answers to this question! If I did, I wouldn't have posted the question on my blog!!! But here are our thoughts.
It's not a topic I think is easily tackled. It's one that we have been thinking about for a couple of years, and really examining in the scriptures and in my own life. I've also heard some amazingly wise things from people at my church who have been thinking about this longer than me. It's hard to summarize here, but here's a few questions.
Really and truly, honestly, are you glad that you dated anyone besides your husband? That you gave your heart to them? Kissed them? Were intimate with them in any way (emotionally or physically)?
Obviously, as many have shared, those who were sexually intimate, even with their own husbands before marriage, have shared that they wish they hadn't been.
Why do we allow high schoolers to date? What's the purpose? To find a mate? Well, we wouldn't allow them to get married in high school, so that's silly. To learn how to form relationships?
I fully believe they can develop those skills within the context of good friendships, like we had in our youth group.
My husband never had a serious girlfriend before me. He was in no way ill-equipped to be a husband. He had never given his heart to any other girl, and his dating experience was very casual. He came to our relationship with almost 0 baggage.
I, on the other hand, had bounced from one serious relationship to another. I had a super-serious relationship in college that was incredibly damaging to me emotionally. I came to our marriage with TONS of that baggage. My sexual purity was intact, but I had been way too close to the many boyfriends, and that produced consequences for me emtotionally, and also for Rusty.
I WISH I HAD NEVER HAD A BOYFRIEND BEFORE RUSTY!!!
Even though when I first started thinking about this, I wanted to quickly run to bat for this idea of American, Christian dating, when I stopped to examine my reasons, they were faulty. I truly do regret all of it. I think having friendships with guys before marriage would have equipped me fine to relate to my husband when I met him.
Also, every time I had a boyfriend, and then later a break-up, it was ALL a distraction from my relationship with the Lord. It did NOT draw me closer to the Lord, it pulled me away every time. EVERY TIME.
And the time I wasted!!! I should have been focusing on God wholeheartedly, and spending all my free time with my girlfriends, like you Laurie, going to Taco Bell and the $2 movies in Tomball!!! (ha!) I regret that I wasted time on boys in high school and college that were distracting, temptations to sin, and that's it.
I didn't learn anything valuable from those relationships, because I continued to make the same mistakes over and over. I was not lost. I was saved, and I truly, truly had a passion for the Lord. But I was not wise. I did not make wise decisions. And I regret how hurt I was, how I hurt others, and when I think of holding hands or kissing a boy that wasn't my husband, I want to throw-up! I shouldn't have done that! Seriously, it turns my stomach. Where in scripture do we get the idea that trying other people on first is okay? It's so totally acceptable to the world, and we clean it up a bit for the Christian version, but I think the results are often tragic. Again and again, I hear stories like these lovely ladies have shared about being a Christian couple, who fully intended to wait for marriage, had the ring and everything, but were given the freedom to date, and they were sucked in by the powerful tornado that is sexual sin.
As for me, I just felt like I had been beated down my tornado winds by the emotional damage and various forms of sin dating produced in my life.
We could allow our high schoolers to date within certain confines, but why? If dating is to find a mate, they can't do that in high school, and I don't think they need the practice.
I want them to develop real friendships with guys and girls alike, go out in groups and have fun, and be free when they are a little older to find their mate without the baggage.
Should we trust high school guys and girls to be alone together?
No. I think everyone knows that is probably a temptation too great for them, whether we like that truth or not.
I don't want to communicate distrust to my wonderful kids, but I want them to know that dating was altogether unwise and we are going to protect them the best way we know how.
We counsel couple after couple in Countdown who are struggling physically, and the bottom line is they just can't be alone together, and they can't kiss without it progressing.
So Rusty and I HAVE TO listen to this, and look at the scripture about running, fleeing, having nothing to do with sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6, 2 Tim. 2), and practically applying that for our kids, as well as guarding their hearts (Proverbs 4:23), and not arousing love before it so desires. (SOS) High School is not the right time. It's arousing love before the appropriate time. I truly believe all physical intimacy should be kept for marriage, and that is part of keeping the marriage bed pure. (1 Cor. 6)
Emotionally I want to protect my sons and daughter from giving their hearts away to anyone before God brings them their mate.
Of course, I know that if my kids are not on board with this, they could rebel, they could hide relationships from us, they could be sneaky. We don't want that. But I'm encouraged by the fact that I see families like our pastor's family who has teenagers who have just known all along there would be no high school or casual dating. I can't attest to their every feeling about it, but they seemed to have accepted that fine and those kids are serving the Lord and the church wholeheartedly, making great friends, and waiting for the right time in their lives.
My sister has survived her high school years without any boyfriends, and I'm SO GLAD@
What does the right time look like?
Now granted, again, if I had all the answers to these questions, I wouldn't have posted the question on my blog. So these are just the thoughts of Rusty and I, what we've observed among some wise families and college students we know, and how we are applying the Word to the idea of courtship.
But dating for the purpose of finding a mate, when you are of the right age and stage in life, is intentional. It is incredibly purposeful. There should be a lot of observing and getting to know one another before a guy even pursues a girl for the purpose of marriage. I see college students at our church hang out together, serve the church together, go to movies, go to dinner, watch the Office together, WHATEVER, in groups and really get to know one another before a relationship is pursued. (Instead of starting a dating relationship and THEN getting to know the person.) And then they are purposeful, and wise about not spending alone time together, watching movies in their apartments with the lights out and no roommates home. STUPID!!! They are careful not to treat the relationship like a mini-marriage, which is how I treated just about every relationship I had, so that if they determine they are not right for one another, they don't have to go through a mini-divorce. I've actually seen this! When they decide not to date anymore, despite the disappointment, I've seen them remain friends, and still be able to stay in the same church and circle of friends, because they haven't been physically entangled, and they haven't named their kids together, and put down a deposit on the church.
I don't know all the answers to this.
What if you meet and live in different cities? I don't know.
What if, what if, what if? I don't know.
I just know there is great wisdom being exhibited by these young people that I desperately wish I'd had an ounce of when I was their age.
It's so encouraging! And I want that for my kids! There's no reason for them to make the same mistakes we made. That would be foolish.
I do think that training their minds about dating, marriage, and the wonderful gift of sex, needs to start super early, so I want to hear from more women who have thoughts on this now.
Thanks everyone, for engaging in this discussion! Let's keep it going!!!