Q: What is your perspective on dating before marriage?
I definitely think that it’s best to wait to date until you’re in a place where you can do “something about it” (in other words, get married if he’s the one). I figured out over the years that dating just to date is beyond pointless because it always ends up in heartache. So really, you should be dating with the idea that you’re trying to see if this is the man you want to spend your whole life with. I’m all for hanging out with guy friends in groups, getting to know them as friends, being a “student” of those guys to find out what makes them tick. When you’re sincerely just friends with guys, you get to learn so much about who they really are. (Instead of what they want you to see while you’re going out.)
That said, I don’t think it’s a sin to date when you’re in high school, as long as your parents have said that it’s okay (that’s huge!) and as long as you are bringing God glory (doubly huge!). You can “make God look good” in your relationship by keeping your feelings in check, by putting God first, by setting up clear boundaries physically, and by practicing biblical love (like it talks about in 1 Corinthians 13). I talk more about God’s guidelines for relationships and lots of other game-changing tips my book Crushed: Why Guys Don’t Have to Make or Break You.
Just because dating isn’t a sin, doesn’t mean it’s God’s best for you though. And the more I grow in my understanding of God’s Word and of His desires for us as His daughters, the less I like the idea of dating in jr. high and high school at all. It’s like Solomon (the wisest king who ever lived) said: Can someone scoop fire into their lap and not catch on fire? (see Proverbs 6:27-28). In other words, can I act like I’m married to someone (by having an “exclusive” relationship, talking to him all the time, and even getting physically intimate) and not expect to fall into sin? We are created to be intimate with one man in marriage. So when we date before we’re ready for marriage it’s like we’re “playing house.” (I talk more about the dangers of dating like you’re married in this blog post.) And the physical temptations are so strong–practically and statistically–that it’s almost impossible not to “catch on fire” and fall into sin.
There are a couple of other reasons why dating before marriage age ends up costing more than its worth. Unfortunately, the chances of a high school relationship lasting until you’re old enough to get married are pretty slim…Which means that at some point there will be a breakup…and those hurt! Also keep in mind that every time you care for a guy in a romantic way, in essence you’re giving a small piece of your heart to him. The more relationships you have, the less “heart” you’ll have to give to your husband when God does finally bring him your way.
Whether you date, court, commit to singleness or some combination of all three, my deepest prayer is that you’ll focus your eyes on your Heavenly Match-Made-in-Heaven and try to bring Him glory in all you do (or don’t do!) in the world of love.