To Date or Not To Date?

teenagers-dating-in-high-school1Whether we want to admit it or not, we are drawn to relationships. We desire to connect with other people. It is how God wired us. We desire to have friends, and we don’t want to be alone. We want to meet someone who understands us and cares for us. At the center of Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

We also want the want to fulfill the dream of finding that special someone to be “the love of our life.” Guys want that girl who will take care of them…make them dinner, watch football with them, do their laundry, and tell them how awesome they are! Girls want that guy who will be there to spend time with them, watch “chick flicks” with them, listen to their emotional struggles, and go on long walks just to talk.

But take a simple stroll down the halls of our school system and look at the drama that is unfolding within the way relationships are currently done. Why do teenagers insist on taking relationships to the next level? Why cannot we all just be friends?

I had one teenager say this, “One reason we date is to have fun, go out, and do things as a couple…  Another, more useful purpose of dating is to learn.  We need some experience to learn what we want in a partner, how to communicate our needs, how to serve the other’s needs without disrespecting ourselves, and what it feels like to love, be loved, and even how to be strong enough to part when we know its time.”

Another teenager said, “The purpose of dating is to get to know someone well enough that you know you want to continue a relationship with them…  The purpose of dating is finding out, even at the early stages if you could marry this individual.”

A third teenager said, “The purpose teenagers date is to enjoy each others’ company and enjoy a fun activity together.”

I believe one of the biggest reasons teenagers date is because of peer pressure and a need to belong.

Although I know through Christ we can beat statistics, I am a firm believer of statistics when it comes to student ministry. I came across these percentages while doing research for a series on purity.

  • The average age for a person to begin dating is 12
  • It is estimated that 15-20% of teenage suicides are due to the breakup of an unhappy dating relationship
  • When on a date, 77% of teenagers say the first thing they notice about their date is connected to their outward appearance
  • About 71% of teenagers that have dated say their boyfriend/girlfriend has spread rumors about them through emails and social networking sites
  • 80% of the teenage population believe that verbal abuse is a serious issue in teenage dating
  • Almost 40% of teenagers today know or have heard of a teenage friend or relative who has been in an abusive relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • By the age 19, 70% of teenagers have engaged in sexual intercourse
  • Only 5% of dating relationships between the ages of 13-16 end in marriage
  • Only 20% of dating relationships between the ages of 17-19 end in marriage
  • Almost 60% of marriages out of teenage relationships end in divorce within the first 15 years
  • Overall, less than 2% of high school sweethearts end up getting married and not getting divorced

So, why do teenagers put themselves through the drama of a dating relationship?

Dating relationships are a huge part of my past and testimony. They helped define who I was all through high school and college. I did not understand the purpose of relationships until I faced losing Autumn, my wife, while we were dating. I used every relationship I had to fulfill my desires. I was focused on what I wanted and what I needed, instead of the other person. God truly opened my eyes to making him the center of every relationship I was a part of. I have realized that almost every relationship I  ever had was not healthy, because Christ was not at the center.

Let me wrap things up with these verses out of Song of Solomon…

Song of Solomon 8:4-7 – “Daughter of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.  Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover?  Under the apple tree I roused you; there your mother conceived you, there she who was in labor gave you birth.  Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy demanding as the grave.  It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.  Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.  If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”

Too often we get too emotionally and physically attached within relationships.  It will tear you down spiritually, separate you from friends and family, and will cause you to lose focus on Christ at the center of your life. To me those are not things we should be risking, especially if there is less than a 2% chance that guy or girl will be in your life for as long as you live!

I am not a fan of teenage dating relationships. The majority of the time, students are asking for disaster by entering into a dating relationship. But, if a teenager came to me and said, “We want to date, can you help us?”  I would be there to help walk them through every step, challenging them as individuals to keep Christ at the center of everything they do and say!

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