"Dating doesn’t even have a place among people who aren’t ready for marriage.
I know, bizarre statement in our culture. “Dating” (a relatively new term in America) was originally a way two people got to know each other in the context of families to see if there was potential for marriage. Parents observed the potential spouse, stopped some before they ever approached, and helped guide their children through the hazards/benefits they saw in the potential partner. The actual idea of recreational dating–dating at 14, 15, 16 years of age “just because”–as a mere hobby–is absurd if anyone will take the time to think it through.
Often I get the response, “Right…and I’m so sure you can convince your children of that.” Or, “if you *make* your kids do that they will rebel”.
Another grave misunderstanding about the whole thing. When children are raised with the idea that recreational dating is, well, dumb and worse–harmful, it’s not a forced idea; they embrace it for themselves, much like any other idea you are diligent to teach your children.
We aren’t talking about “arranged marriage” either. We’re talking about parents being involved in one of the most important decisions in the life of their children, just like they’ve been involved (hopefully) in the other ones. It would seem only logical, and yet we’ve been convinced it’s “meddling” (???)
And, although we want a “how-to-manual” for the alternative, I don’t think it’s a formula…I think it’s a principle, that will look different in possibly every situation.
And that principle basically says you spend your youth developing your skills, your character, your interests and gifts–preparing for what the Lord has for you as an adult. You do NOT spend it in intimate relationships with people who will one day be complete strangers to you. That in no way prepares a person for marriage, and as we’ve discussed, can actually bring detriment.
When a young person is of the age he or she is considering marriage, prayerful consideration is the first important step. Trusting that God will honor those who seek Him for a marital partner is key.
Then as families come into your family’s life, people get to know each other–in a real way, not just in a “dating facade”. As interests are expressed, the parents and son or daughter can have objective discussions about compatibility and potential problems, without a blind, emotional screen.
I plead with Christian parents to really think about this thing. Who should be dictating the method by which we escort our children into the most important institution on earth?
Believe God…trust HIM to guide this crucial process. The alternative is trusting the culture’s method. With its track record, who in their right mind would continue to gamble on it?"