Christian Teen Dating
Christian Dating and Courtship
Parents have a hidden but important role to play in their teenage children's dating life. Many parents are afraid to let go of their children and become over controlling. Some parents are at the other end of the spectrum, being overly permissive. The Bible offers guidelines in the experience of dating and courtship. The Scriptures hold valuable advice as to the kind of people we should date and marry.
When our youth begin dating, parents need to delicately set boundaries without imposing control or compromising parenteral authority. Give them a gradual increase of freedom without becoming permissive. The best protection young people can carry with them isn't a list of rules or warnings. It's a healthy sense of self esteem.
Seek out people who treat others with respect. Avoid those who are overly critical. Our focus should be on Christ, their dating life, and courtship. We should seek out people who share that focus.
The Bible is not a love manual, but it offers great advice on certain sexual matters. It's hard to maintain one's sexual purity before marriage today, especially given the powerful social promiscuous pressures of our day.
God's moral rules are never capricious or arbitrary. They are intended for our good, and we violate them at our own risk, and put in harms way the ones we claim to love. One of the most important overlooked aspects of Christian courtship is Christian premarital counseling.
Dating and Courtship
Dating is a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. The process of learning to know and relate to the opposite sex. It's a process leading toward romance, engagement, and marriage. Dating has its joys as well as pains and pitfalls. Parents play a major role in this process.
Parents must achieve a careful balance in regards to their relationship with their teenage children. Some parents are afraid to let go of their children, and they become over controlling. Often, this is an overreaction to guilt they felt for possibly having “gone too far,” in their own past dating experience.
At the other end of the spectrum there are parents who are overly permissive, causing just as much trouble with loose guidelines. These permissive parents usually have a fear of losing their kids, perhaps a fear rooted in their own low self-esteem. They respond by trying to be “friends” instead of parents. They fail to set limits or discuss the risks of peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, and sex.
Young people should listen to their parents counsel and avoid sensuous temptations. Although an intimate relationship is beautiful in marriage, outside of marriage it is sin, and have consequences for the spirit, mind and body.
The qualities needed for a successful relationship include:
A Servant's Heart
Frugality-Attitude Towards Spending and Saving Money
An Industrious, Hard-Working Spirit
Ability to Plan Ahead for Possible Problems
Generosity Toward the Needy; and Lack of Materialism
Building Others Up Rather Than Tearing Them down
A Happy, Fun Loving, Well-Adjusted Personality
Devotion to God
Praised and Respected by Family and Others
Many young people during the process of dating and courtship, have spared themselves endless problems by applying this biblical “checklist.” Not only to people they date, but themselves as well, seeking to become the kind of people described in the above passage.
Much advice emerges from an understanding of Scripture. Seek out those who treat others with respect. Does your prospective partner respect parents? Friends? The opposite gender? Authority figures? The church and God? If not, don't expect to be treated with respect either. Look for signs of inconsistency between this person's charming, romantic behavior toward you. Expect the charming romance to fade after marriage, and expect to be treated by this person just as they treat everyone else.
Avoid over critical people. Critical people tend to be hypocritical. Yoking yourself with this kind of person, can be an unpleasant and unproductive experience. Seek out those who have learned to control selfish, sensual, and materialistic impulses.
The Bible teaches lust wars against the mind, emotions, and will. This makes people weak and unstable. It is also unwise to date those focused on status, money, materialism, and image.
These values are superficial, representing a sort of prideful, materialistic lust. Our focus should be on Christ. We should seek out those sharing this focus. Seek out people who agree with your values and perspectives on biblical husband/wife roles within marriage.
The last few decades have seen great changes in societal attitudes toward gender issues and roles. Many today, including the church, don't affirm the roles. It's important these issues be explored before emotions of romantic attraction make it difficult to be objective about these issues.
Boundaries play an important purpose in our lives. There is a good reason for two to bond in marriage, giving each other the gift of their virginity. Sin can be forgiven, but emotional, virtual, and physical consequences of it often takes years to heal. Following are some questions to consider:
Do you think premarital intimacy will heighten or lessen the meaning of relationship after marriage?
Could this be the Holy Spirit convicting you?
Do you ever rationalize sexual behavior? Do you ever minimize behavior or lie to yourself about the real emotional consequences of your behavior?
Do you think it will enhance or hinder your relationship to God?
Are you both equally committed to each other?
Are you convinced this person is the one and only person for you?
Do you think it will enhance or hinder your relationship with each other?
Have you considered a pregnancy?
Examine your motives. Are they pure?
It's difficult to maintain remain pure before marriage today given the powerful social pressures of the day. Although social standards may change, God's standards don't, and His standards are based on our best physical interests. Couples who maintain their virginity before marriage tend to be couples experiencing the greatest satisfaction, emotional intimacy, and spiritual wholeness during marriage.
Importance of Premarital Counseling
One of the most frequently overlooked aspects of Christian courtship is Christian premarital counseling. Premarital counseling can be helpful by allowing couples to see each other objectively. Through personality inventories and counseling, problems can often be identified, preventing couples from making major mistakes. In premarital counseling, couples can be assessed for:
Degree of commitment to God and each other.
Whether decisions are being made on the basis of objective consideration and not the emotions.
Willingness to love and accept each other, recognizing no one is perfect.
Whether the character of their love is essentially physical, emotional, Christlike or spiritual.
Ability to see each other clearly without illusions
Counselors also help couples learn and practice good communication techniques.
A counselor can point couples to Christian resources on marriage related subjects, making sure they have adequate information on sexual anatomy, birth control methods, etc. This includes preparation for common sexual problems in marriage, such as premature ejaculation or low sex drive.
Couples considering marriage need to understand not only joys of marriage, but it's demands. Each partner needs to assess their own personality and maturity level, as well as their prospective mate. Many couples enter marriage without any understanding of each other. Physical attraction isn't enough. Approximately half of all marriages tend to end in divorce.
The Bible is the standard for assessing such factors as spiritual maturity, commitment, and Christlike love. And we use personality inventories to discover personality types, so it can be evident how two personalities fit and conflict with each other. The point isn't to frighten people away from marriage, but objectively identify potential problems before and during marriage.
Counselors use personality assessments to explore areas where two seem to clash as well as areas where they set together a little too well. Extreme differences in personality suggest potential areas of conflict likely to arise again and again.
For example, if one has a consistently low self-evaluation and the other a high one, it suggests these two might be in an unhealthy, codependent state, where each feeds off the personality weaknesses of the other. These results will be shown to the couple and discussed, explaining how these issues could affect the marriage over the long run.
Dating and courtship should be fun and pleasurable experiences. If young people are made aware of biblical and psychological guidelines they stand a chance of safely navigating the perils of dating and courtship.
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