Last night I have a talk to our middle school students on Dating and I think it would be helpful to layout my views on the matter here. I will also start off by saying something that will feel offensive to many people; I don’t believe in dating.
Of course I believe in it, “I’ve done seen it.” But I don’t believe in it in the way the world does, nor do I believe it to be wise or even good. Now this will take some fleshing out of course because there are (what I have found to be) 3 different types of what we could or would call dating. It is only one of these that I am opposed to while the other two are about as harmless as a rattlesnake in a mailbox.
So lets get our definitions in order.
The first kind of dating is the one that led me to think on this subject. Dating as our culture sees it. This kind of dating is when two individuals come together through mutual attraction in order to create a pseudo commitment. It is a relationship with no clear end in mind, caught in an exploratory state. These relationships are the most common and the most damaging and they only increase in volition the older you get. In middle school they appear to be harmless little treks into adulthood. In high school they become boundary crossing, emotion and lust fueled cosmic pranks and by the time you get to be a young adult they can become the kind that moves in with you.
I call this type of dating: Fraudulent Marriage.
The second type is the kind of dating that doesn’t ensnare you in a long term commitment bubble of deluded fabrication like the first. It is dating, as in going on dates. This is about meeting people and learning more about what you like and don’t like. This is where boundaries are explicit because the relationship is new and is entered into with boundaries. This sort of dating has a goal: Meet people.
The third is like it and starts off with the same boundaries but has a further goal than just meeting people. We could call this courtship. Yet, what is lost on our generation and especially upcoming generations is that courtship is something that a man does to a woman. Courtship is about pursuing, and pursing rightly. It is difficult to properly pursue a woman through texts (or sexts). And it is even more difficult to pursue a woman if one has never looked for one worth pursing. But Courtship happens when the two interested parties find themselves in that right time and ready for a chase.
Now, the reason that I find dating (the first type) especially abhorrent has to do with what I believe we really desire, and that is “intimacy”. What people really want is a marriage relationship whether they know it or not. I believe that God instituted such a relationship because it was the only context in which that desire could be fully satisfied.
So I tell my students “Don’t date, go on dates.” Don’t commit to a relationship that will always leave you feeling unsatisfied on some level. Guys will always be sexually frustrated in a dating relationship because the woman will always feel emotionally frustrated. Marriage is the solution to this problem (and it may be the only thing it solves). Marriage gives men and women the boundary and commitment that we all need. It is (or should be) a relationship built on a covenant.
There is of course a temptation for those of us who did not heed this warning to think that upcoming generations need to go through the same cycles we did, but I think that is just wrong. I have no problem with admitting that failure in this area of my life has caused me more regret than any other issue. As adults if we are honest with ourselves we could admit that none of us got out unscathed and that all of us have scars of relationships that did not honor God.
God gave us these standards for our good and not to keep us from good things.