In Kids & Family Commentary

Should they wait to date?

Kissing dating goodbye?

Dating is one of the preeminent components of teen culture. It is constantly pushed on us in movies, with school dances and with friends.

The pressure to have a boyfriend or girlfriend in high school and middle school is enormous. One of the constant conversations between guys is how far each guy have gone with different girls. Everyone has accepted dating as the norm. Everyone except for Joshua Harris, that is.

Harris is a Christian author, who wrote a book a couple years ago called "I Kissed Dating Goodbye." He begins by talking about some of his own personal experiences with dating. Throughout the book he talks about the dangers and hardships that come of dating. Teens who are dating often end up violating each other morally, even though it may be voluntarily.

They try to take on the struggles of constantly having a significant other, having to always spend time and money on them and giving up other things that teens should be doing to be with that person. Harris talks about these, then gives reasons why you shouldn't date so young.

He talks about how a relationship with God is much more important at this age than focusing all attention on another person with whom the relationship most likely won't last past high school. He references the Bible often in his book, while answering questions like, How do I know how to look for the person I should marry, and how to keep myself pure before marriage? He uses Biblical answers to show what God says about marriage and relationships.

My mom showed me the book and I was immediately reluctant to read it. I am a 17-year-old teenage boy who loves to spend time with teenage girls. However, my mother was quite insistent that I read this book. As I went through each chapter, I was indeed challenged by what this author had to say. As a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, I realized how much dating takes away from a relationship with God.

Each section made me pause and examine my thoughts on the dating game that everyone loves to play. I took a look at some of my friends and their relationships. One of my friends in the last year has had three girlfriends. Most guys would be jealous, but let's take a closer look. I am friends with all three of the girls that he dated. They all started out friends with this guy, but soon moved it on to being a couple. They had a good time for a couple of months, but then separated. Now they hardly talk with him at all. Instead of maintaining a great, fulfilling friendship, they escalated it and it ended after such a short time.

Dating may be wonderful for a time, but hardly any of these relationships continue to be anything meaningful after high school. In high school, dating takes away from more than just God. It takes away from quality time with other friends, schoolwork, a job, and perhaps sports.

Rushing through homework to be able to take this person to a movie, blowing off other friends time and time again to go do nothing at this person's house, or even quitting a sport to spend more time with this person may seem the right thing to do at that moment, but when you look back after the relationship has ended, was it really worth it all?

Now, you may not agree with this viewpoint, as I don't even like to acknowledge it as a teenage boy. But if you look around, it is true that it's more beneficial to everyone to stay friends for a long time than rush into something for a short period of time. I would encourage you to check out this book, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," by Joshua Harris and examine your view of the dating game. You can find this book at most Christian bookstores.

Be sure to check out my next story, a follow-up to this with dating from girl's perspective and some reactions to this idea from other teens.

Talkbacks

michellemerkel | Feb. 12, 2008 at 9:25 p.m. (report)

I am a Born-Again Christian, however, I spent most of my life life not being one. I started to build a relationship with God about seven years ago, before then, well it was a different story. I had a "typical" American girl life. I went to school, had a job, had lots of friends, and did dumb, dumb, things to get boys to like me. I don't want to take any heat from people out there, because we all have done stupid things we are not proud of for the benefit of the opposite sex. I spent a lot of time lamenting about not having a boyfriend and dating the wrong guy because having a boyfriend was and still is the norm. I fell in love with a guy who was not available. That entire situation broke my heart and my life completely spun out of control. And then one day, I stopped all the silliness. It wasn't a faith-based decision, I just worked my two jobs, hung out with my sister, and spent my evenings with my friends. A few months later, God sent my husband to me. We started out as friends and getting to know one another, and then we started to date. We have not apart one day since our second date. We got married. That was 11 years and two babies ago. I wish I had someone in my life to say, "God has a plan for you. You do not need to date. God will send him to you." No other man in my life is more special to me than my husband. I love him and he loves me and I didn't need to have other boyfriends or even sex to figure this out. I plan to teach my children the wisdom of God. not the wisdom of Cosmo. You don't need to have lots of relationships to find, "The One," you just need to have faith and patience.

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Eek | Feb. 11, 2008 at 11:23 a.m. (report)

No, I think there's great value to having emotional and relationship experiences as a teen. It helps teach you how to maintain successful relationships later in life. It's important to learn how to care for someone else and how to relate emotionally to a "significant other." When you're married will your wife get in the way of your relationship to God? If a girlfriend in high school would do that, then it seems a spouse would hinder that even more. And, by no means have a child, because children will most definitely get in the way of your relationship with God. They're pretty needy and demanding.

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Hckyboy00 | Feb. 9, 2008 at 4:02 p.m. (report)

I'm not even sure where to begin, so this will certainly become a stream of consciousness post. One, while dating during the teenage years can be stressful, how on earth are you going to date in the real world when you are socially crippled by not having a social life during your younger years? As far as the arguement against the "long term benefits" of dating are concerned, what are the "long term benefits" of any friends, job or sport you may have in high school? Unless all your friends end up going to the same school (which either means a) you have few friends, or b) instead of challenging yourself, you all sacrificed your education careers to stay together), you will lose most of your friends the summer after graduation. At 18, you don't have a real job, and the best you can get promoted to is a shift manager to watch other 16 year olds flip burgers. and unless you are truly athletically gifted, your sports career is done after high school, maybe you can walk on to a school team, but the chances that you make it to the big stage, all because of the talent you found after giving up girls in high school is somewhere stuck between slim and none. There are things much worse than girls in high school, i still look back fondly on the lenghty relationship i had in high school, and more importantly the lessons it taught be about budgeting my time, as well as the virtues of patience, wither it be dealing with schoolwork, sports, parents, or the myriad of other things that kept us apart. While we didn't end up getting married, by no means would i have called those years wasteful, or neglectful of what i could have done. I really believe an important lesson is to choose wisely, and not date a girl after her friend passes you a note saying she likes you. Get to know her first, she's not just a girl, she's a girlfriend. I can go on and on, but i think most of my point is laid out. While i think there's a place for social management in high school, i think keeping a child completely closed off to the world of dating, is wrong. Even the author himself dated, and then realized it wasn't for him. At least be able to make that decision on your own.

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