How should teens handle dating?
There’s a question that seems to not have a perfect, clear, crystal answer: what exactly should dating between two teens look like? Although the simple answer is just a plain “no”, it usually does not work for students. For our proteges, that is usually the answer they get without any reasoning. Whether from their parents, guardians, teachers, or principals, the only thing they’ll ever hear is no. However, God has naturally designed us to be attracted to the opposite sex, and it just so happens that those desires begin to peak as kids turn into teenagers. It is important that they hear the reasoning behind sexual and emotional purity.
John Piper provides this answer about teenagers dating on DesiringGod.com:
“I think that it is good to postpone dating and pairing off as long as possible. Meaning, postpone it until it’s ready to mean what it was designed to mean. Pairing off is a powerful thing. If the relationship here means groups of 4, 8, or 20 people doing stuff together without the dynamic of “she and I are a thing,”, that’s great. But this question is talking about pairing off. Pairing off is hormonally charged, psychologically charged, physically charged, spiritually charged, and it is meant to be! It’s meant to lead somewhere! And it’s beautiful where it is meant to lead.
Therefore my counsel is that as the electric charge begins to happen between two seventeen-year-olds, they better think really clearly about how to manage that. And if they don’t intend to get married in the next year or so, they better not pair off but keep it in groups and step back from it.”
I agree with John Piper advising that student wait to date or “pair off” until they are ready to pursue marriage, and am thankful for his reasons for saying so. He highlights that dating is powerful, and leads to other things, and because of that, students should wait. Encourage your protege to get to know one another in groups of friends, or with other people. It’s perfectly fine that they’re attracted to the opposite sex, they’re supposed to be! But rather than watch them go through confusion, or regret, of let’s pray that proteges are able see the value of dating, and it’s benefit, and not just as something to take lightly. Rather than just telling our proteges that it is too soon to date, or that they’re just too young to understand yet, let’s remember that God created man and woman to be together in order that His glory be shown through them. If you’re married or engaged, invite your protege into your life so that they can see what a Godly marriage looks like, and if you’re single, be the example of what a Christ-centered life looks like. Odds are right now we’re the greatest chance of seeing the gospel lived out, so let’ live the way God has called to, and be mentors that shepherd not just command.
-Nathan Elizondo, Relationship Coordinator