...and that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Ephesians 4:23).

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04 June 2010


One of the highly charged and significant aspects of teenage and college life is the pursuit of a member of the opposite gender-- the dating and marriage process. This process is designed to lead to the second most important decision that we are called upon to make in life-- whom we will marry. It is good for teens and college students to put much thought into the process.

We have recently received the following request in terms of dating:
I would like to know your view on teen dating. What's a good age? How should we date? Should we date alone? Is kissing a bad idea? Some guys I know don't think dating is good until you are in college, but others say that it's good when you're a teen. So I would like your view on this.
These are very good questions, and are on the minds of many conscientious Christian teenagers as they begin to explore the dating process.

This matter is made difficult for many reasons. First of all, teenagers are called upon to make some pretty important decisions during the time of their lives when they are least prepared to make them. Furthermore, you bear a burden not borne by many of your ancestors: most marriages in the past were arranged in some form, and for a large part of history, marriage was done in the middle to late teen years. Now we choose our marriage partners, and marriage is getting pushed off later and later.

I say all this to say that the Scriptures do not give many direct answers to the questions presented. The Scriptures do give the young man and woman guidance, nevertheless, and they should consider that guidance when making decisions about who to date, when to date, and what to do when dating.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? For we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

We can derive some important principles from these passages. We must take care to choose whom we would date carefully; we must make sure that we are in no way becoming "unequally yoked" with an unbeliever, and have our good morals corrupted by bad company (1 Corinthians 15:33, 2 Corinthians 6:14-16). Likewise, we must make every effort to flee from fornication-- get away from it as far as we can (1 Corinthians 6:18).

So, then, what about the questions posed earlier? The questions are really not for me to answer, but indeed each and every one of you based on a study of the Scriptures, prayer to God, discussion with any date, and advice from good brethren who have already been there.

What's a good age for dating? That will depend on the individual: when are you ready to handle the emotional responsibility present in having a relationship that may lead to marriage? Are you focused on spiritual things? Have you prepared yourself to begin to strive to be a deacon and then an elder, or a deacon's wife and then an elder's wife (1 Timothy 3:1-12)? Are you ready to start being responsible not only for your own spiritual welfare, but the spiritual welfare of the one whom you are dating? Some people are ready for the beginning of this process as teenagers; others do better to wait until the college years.

How should one date? Should a couple date alone? From what I have been able to perceive, I do not think it ever wise for a young unmarried couple to be alone and unsupervised in any way; no matter how strong their faith may be, temptation will be present (1 Corinthians 10:13, James 1:14-15). As to other decisions that are involved, again, that will depend on the people involved. Some people can handle long-distance dating or even prefer long-distance dating; others choose that such is not for them. Some enjoy going out with other couples or more single friends; others may want to be in a public place but not with any other pairs or persons directly. These are decisions that you are called upon to make and to make them informed by the Scriptures and prayer.

What about kissing? There are many differing opinions involved in this matter. If kissing leads to sexual impropriety, kissing should be avoided to avoid fornication. If a couple can kiss and not have it lead to sexual impropriety, there is no condemnation for them. Some people find that having the first kiss be the wedding kiss is very important to them, and that should by all means be respected. Again, you must make a decision based on what you have studied and gained from prayer and communication with the one whom you would date.

I hope that you have gained some benefit from this article, and I would greatly encourage everyone to give great consideration to the dating process. It is important to remember that we ought to date to marry, and remember throughout the entire process that we must consider marriage to be for life (Matthew 19:4-6). Making good, wise, and well-considered decisions now will make for a much happier life later. It is best to take the process very seriously, realizing how much responsibility there is when one works to create a bond for life with another person (Genesis 2:24). Study the Scriptures; pray for wisdom; seek out the advice of your elders. You will not be disappointed.

Ethan R. Longhenry
November 2006

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