From the time we become attracted to the opposite sex, boyfriends and girlfriends are on the forefront of our minds. I remember my first boyfriend at the age of five. He was in my kindergarten class. I don’t remember his name or anything else about him. I don’t even think he knew I had labeled him my boyfriend. I thought he was cute and that was it. Nevertheless, it wasn’t lasting.
As I moved into middle school and then high school, it seemed everyone was paired up with someone (at least for a month or two). They never really lasted. Broken hearts and broken promises is how they ended. It seemed before the tears were even dried, they had filled that space with a new love. One of my friends in high school, while dating one guy, broke up with him because she had found “true love” elsewhere. Their relationship excelled pretty quickly and both thought they were destined to be married after high school. She put everything into that relationship and clung ever so tightly. Family, friends, hobbies and common sense all trailed behind due to the time and energy she put into her relationship. Consequently, before the school year was completely finished, he broke it off claiming she was “too possessive.” Another broken promise and broken heart. My friend was devastated and extremely heartbroken. She couldn’t bear to see him at school so she dropped out in order to be homeschooled the remainder of the year. It took her a good year and a half just to get over the rejection she felt.
Our teens have been taught, unknowingly, by our culture that finding a relationship is normal and they’ve believed it. But can we blame them? No one has told them otherwise. Dating, intimacy, lust and fervently pursuing the opposite sex are all looked upon as a normal part of growing up. This topic has been taken too lightly for too long.
Being in a relationship is almost expected among adolescents. When I was in high school, a friend of mine informed me of a guy who was interested in me. My response was that I was not interested. She looked at me as if I had a third eyeball in the middle of my head, as if to say “What is wrong with you?” Later that week, I guess the word got around. Another girl in my class trying to ridicule me asked if I was gay or something, just because I didn’t pursue this potential relationship.
The sad thing about all this is it’s no different in the church. It is a subject that is not touched upon because it is so widely accepted even from the Christian community. Boyfriends and girlfriends are on the front burners of every young person’s mind. Teenagers learn in youth group how to date the “godly” way by covering two important points: 1) not being unequally yoked with an unbeliever based on 2 Corinthians 6:14, and 2) not having sex before marriage based on Hebrews 13:4. These are awesome principles to live by, but unfortunately, the instruction on dating stops here. As parents and leaders we have unwisely believed that if we have one Christian teen who is dating another Christian teen and we teach them “No sex before marriage” that we have the makings of a “God-inspired” relationship. When in reality, we’ve only taken a worldly concept and doctored it up with Christian principles. Looking at the surface it looks innocent enough, but we fail to acknowledge the dangers behind teen dating. We’ve taken godly instructions that were geared towards marriage minded mature adults and applied them to adolescents that are nowhere near ready for a committed relationship.
The Bible teaches plenty about relationships. The thing is, they all focus on husband and wife relationships. Encouragement and blessing is only offered to husband and wife covenants and not to temporary fleeting ones.
Emotions, hormones and commitments are to be reserved for our future spouse. When we play around with any 3 of these by offering them to others before its time, we are awakening a part of our self that is not ready. When we do this over and over again, our emotions become unstable, our hormones out of control and our commitments shallow. We are robbing our future spouse by giving what solely belongs to him/her to the next person who catches our eye. With each new relationship, we open a window to our soul and allow them to have a place in our hearts and minds that will never be erased.
WHERE IS THE COMMITEMENT?
There is a high we experience when we enter a new relationship. It feels good. After being in a relationship for a while, the excitement wears off and like clockwork a new one is sought out. Then the cycle is repeated. This seems innocent enough when there is no matrimony commitment behind it, but what kind of pattern is being engraved in the mind of the adolescent? When things get old, trade it in? Sadly, many people bring this same mentality into their marriage. And why not when it’s the same way it was done in earlier relationships? We have been programmed to deal with relationships this way based on earlier experiences.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF DATING?
Love relationships serve one purpose: to lead into marriage. Teen dating is like serving a 3 course meal and then telling the person he/she can’t eat any of it. He can prepare it, look at it and even smell it, but he can’t have a bite of it. The same relationship techniques used in getting to know your future spouse is used in dating, but the end is empty.
Relationships should only be reserved for those that are marriage minded. Unfortunately, they are used by many teens to fill voids in order to make the recipient feel accepted, loved and beautiful.
WHAT CAN WE DO AS PARENTS?
As parents and teachers we must recognize adolescents for what they are: young adults in training. It is every Christian parent’s goal to see their son or daughter become godly adults practicing self-control, righteousness and holiness. When they learn to exercise these principles at such a vulnerable age in their lives, they will be better equipped to face bigger obstacles later in life.
Timothy reminds us of the snares that youth face and encourages them to pursue what is really important. He says, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). During those fleeting adolescent years, encourage your son or daughter to seek and practice that which pleases God and to surround themselves with those that do the same.
There is nothing wrong with males and females befriending each other as long as they treat each other with respect and purity. Many of our youth don’t really know what the Bible teaches about how to deal with the opposite sex. In 1 Timothy 5:1-2, young women are taught to “Treat younger men as brothers,” and in verse 2, young men are taught to treat “younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”
When we live by these truths, our minds and hearts are freed to grow not only in friend relationships with the opposite sex but also spiritually in our Lord Jesus Christ.