Dating: Why and When?
About the Guest
What kind of person do you want your teen to date? Dennis and Barbara Rainey encourage parents to talk to their pre-teens about dating with the help of the Passport2Purity tool from FamilyLife, which includes practical projects and lessons and even a "wait to date" contract designed to get your teen to think about his or her future relationships. Together the Raineys address the seven ways of seeing dating differently.
What kind of person do you want your teen to date?
Bob: If you ask a group of elementary-age girls what they’re looking for in a boy—trust me—that question is already on their minds.
Girl 1: He has to be cute.
Girl 2: He has to be nice and funny.
Girl 3: He has to be nice to me and other people because if he’s mean to all my friends, then we can’t all go out and do something.
Girl 4: Understanding and thoughtful, and remember things like holidays and birthdays, and stuff like that.
Interviewer: Define “cute”.
Girl: Okay; alright. Good-looking, like the perfect eyes, good hair—you know—knows what to wear.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, May 18th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. When is the right time to start talking with your sons and daughters about purity? Maybe, sooner than you think. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I don’t know exactly how old those kids were, but they sounded really young.
Dennis: Well, they sounded young; but if you listen to them, they’re thinking this through.
Bob: Yes, I’m telling you. Again, they may be fifth grade, sixth grade. They’re trying to figure out, “How soon can I get to dating?” Right?
Dennis: Bob, I taught the sixth grade Sunday school class over 15 years ago; okay? I taught it for 11 years and ended back in the late 90s. Every year, when I came into class, I was astounded at what these little—I mean, kids—little nerds—little immature, little boys and girls—what they’d heard, what they’d experienced, what they’d seen, what they talked about, the movies they’d gone to, the language they used.
I mean, I literally—every year, as a parent, I was unprepared for what I would learn of what they’re being exposed to. I’m going to tell you something: If that was true back then, it’s 3 “X”, 4 “X”, 5 “X” today because of digital media, and what’s available to kids, and the access they have to screens—cell phones, computers, TV—their own and their friends’ and their parents’. I’m just telling you, it is game time. It’s time for parents to step up and prepare their children for adolescence.
Bob: I honestly wonder whether kids even go through the phase where they think members of the opposite sex are yucky anymore. I really wonder if they—
Dennis: Yes, they do, Bob. It might be a little younger because, I think, they’re getting interested at a younger age, too.
Bob: They make the turn—before their body has made the turn. Their minds are already starting to make the turn.
Dennis: No doubt.
Bob: And that’s the reason we created the Passport2Purity getaway experience for moms and dads. We created this 15 years ago; but it has just gotten a complete makeover—completely refreshed. The team has done a great job! In fact, you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and find out all that’s in the kit, and how the weekend experience is coordinated so that you and your son or you and your daughter can have your own getaway together and start to talk about what’s going to happen during the adolescent years—get your son or daughter prepared for what’s ahead.
Over the course of the weekend, as you and your son or daughter are together, you’re hearing about peer pressure, you’re hearing about how the body changes during adolescence, you’re hearing about human reproduction, you’re hearing about purity—what the Bible has to say about purity.
Dennis: And you’re hearing about dating and how they should approach this subject. On this topic, it is imperative that your son or daughter has some standards in place before they begin this process. That begins with how old they’re going to be, how mature they have to be, the choices they’re going to make, how they’re going to think about the opposite sex, how to treat them, how to let the opposite sex treat them. Alright—you with me?
Bob: Right. And as you’re together on a Passport2Purity weekend with a son or a daughter, and you have a chance to listen through these sessions on CD as you’re traveling from one activity to another—as you’re doing something together that’s a lot of fun—you get to begin the conversation around some of these important subjects.
As you said, one of the sessions is on dating. We thought, today, we’d let moms and dads hear a portion of that session about dating so you can hear how the sons and daughters get engaged on this subject and then how you can pick up the conversation, as a mom or dad, and continue that conversation once the session is over.
Dennis: Yes. Each of these sessions is between 35 minutes long to over an hour. So, they’re going to only hear a few minutes here.
Bob: Yes, just a portion of what they’re going to hear as we introduce the subject of dating, and as you and your wife Barbara engage with these young men and women and their parents on this topic.
Dennis: We’re going to spend some more time answering this question later; but right now, let me say that the person that you go on a date with first and foremost—are you ready for this? You should expect it by now. It has something to do with Colossians Chapter one, verse 18. It needs to be a young man or a young woman who knows and walks with Jesus Christ.
Now, I’m not talking about somebody who just goes to church. It’s a young man or a young woman who is really committed to Christ and allowing Him to be his or her Master. Secondly, their character ought to be approved by your parents. That means that your parents are going to get to know them.
The question for you is, “Are you willing to let them do that? Are you willing to invite your mom and dad into this area of your life and get their counsel and help?” Honestly, this is one of the most important questions Barbara and I will ask you this entire weekend. It’s really important to give your parents access to this area of your life. This is a very important step in showing that you are mature enough to begin to date.
Now, with all four of these questions, we’re emphasizing the importance of having a relationship that honors Jesus Christ. That’s why we chose Colossians 1:18 as the core memory verse for the entire weekend. It says, “Jesus Christ came to be”—you already know the word; don’t you?—“preeminent.” It means to have first place in everything.
He came to have first place in your relationships. In fact, He is the God of all relationships. He’s the One Who created us to have relationships, and He’s the One Who wants us to learn how to relate to another person, love another person, get along with another person. As we follow the Scriptures and God’s blueprints that He’s laid out in the Bible we’re going to learn how to love another person the way God wants us to.
Now, let me remind you of something before we continue. Did you hear that? [Animal sounds] Yep, it’s the herd. They’re back. You can expect them. They’re always going to be there. Peer pressure. Sounds to me like a stampede. Here’s the deal. You’re going to experience a tremendous amount of peer pressure to fall in with the herd on this issue. Remember when we talked about this earlier? Remember peer pressure? Remember the stampede—the pressure to conform?
Well, let me tell you something. You’re really going to feel it around dating. That’s why God gave you parents. He really did. It’s to help cushion and be a shock absorber with the herd. They’re going to really help guide you all the way through your teenage years, if you let them.
You’re also going to need some ways of seeing dating differently. That’s what page 58 in your journal is all about—seeing dating differently.
Barbara: And you’ll notice Number 1 says, “Focus on serving others.” We learned that people who start dating—young men and young women—who start dating too early are really focusing on their own needs and their own desires. They end up in a relationship where they end up using one another.
Sometimes guys want to have a girlfriend just so that he can look like he’s really cool because he’s got a girl on his arm, or girls want a boyfriend because they want to be seen as cool in the eyes of their girlfriends. They like being seen together because it gives them status. It helps them feel important. That’s really just another way of saying they want to use dating for their own selfish needs.
We’re saying that instead of that, instead of looking at dating as a way to meet your own needs, think of it in a more mature, grown-up way, which means serving one another. That’s what Jesus Christ has called us to do—is to live in a way that’s not focused on our own needs, but focused on the needs of others.
[He Humbled Himself]
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit;
But in humility, in humility,
Count others more significant than yourselves—
Let each of you look, not only to his own interests,
But also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves,
Which is yours in Christ Jesus, in Christ Jesus.
Being found in human form,
He humbled Himself. He humbled Himself
By becoming obedient to the point of death,
Even death on a cross, even death on a cross—
Dennis: I really agree with that song, and I also agree with what Barbara said before we listened to that song. Did you hear what Philippians, Chapter 2, was talking about? Do absolutely nothing from rivalry, or conceit, or from a selfish motivation. In other words, look out for what other people need instead of looking out just for your own needs.
That’s great advice for making relationships work, both now as you move into the teenage years, and later on when you’re an adult. One of the biggest problems in marriages today is that two selfish, sinful people have to live together under the same roof. If you can learn now how to be selfless and deny your own needs, it’ll go a long way later to helping you, as a young man or a young woman, serve your spouse.
That really leads me to the second way we need to see dating differently. Number 2—you need to wait until later to have a serious boyfriend or girlfriend. Did you catch that? Wait!
Barbara: That means when you’re more mature. That means when you’re older. That means when you’re able to handle the pressure that comes from what we call an exclusive dating relationship because, when you have a serious boyfriend or a serious girlfriend, it means you’re exclusive with one another.
When we were in school, we called it, “Going steady”. Our kids called it, “Going out,” but it doesn’t really matter what it’s called. It just means that when you’re exclusively dating one other person, you need to be mature enough to follow that relationship through to marriage, if that is God’s will for you.
One of the problems that we saw with our sons and our daughters is they started being tempted to look for love and romance at an age that was way too young for them. That’s going to be true of you because the culture magnifies dating. It glorifies dating. It glorifies relationships in movies, and videos, and all of that. You’re going to see it everywhere, and you’re going to want to participate in it because it looks like so much fun; but we want to encourage you to guard your heart. To guard your heart, you need to allow your parents to help you by protecting you so that you don’t date when you’re too young and you wait until you’re old enough and mature enough to handle a serious relationship.
That leads into the third principle of seeing dating differently. That will help add additional perspective. So Number 3 is, “Spend time in group situations.”
Dennis: What that means is hanging out with a crowd that you really like to be around. Remember, they need to be the First Corinthians 15:33-kind of people. Remember that verse?
Barbara: They are good apples; right?
Dennis: Good apples. A bad apple can spoil the whole barrel. First Corinthians 15:33 says—
Bad company ruins good morals!
No, ruins good morals.
Dennis: When you hang out with a crowd of good folks, it is fun, it’s safe, and it’s a great way to get to know people, develop relationships, and learn how to relate to each other. It also takes away risks like being alone with the opposite sex or sharing too many personal details with someone who really isn’t all that committed to you. A group situation can be a great protection for getting to know other people of the opposite sex and learning how to relate to your friends.
It’s taken a few years for Barbara and me to come to these convictions—but as we have raised each of our six children, we’ve seen them spend time in exclusive dating relationships; and we’ve seen them focus more on a group setting. The difference between the two is like night and day.
The ones who focused on group situations, frankly, had a whole lot more fun. Their lives were pretty simple, not too complex. They didn’t pair off, they learned how to get along with a lot of people, met a lot of people in the process, made a lot of great friends. In fact, some of them are friends for life right now because they learned how to hang out with a good group of young people. Now, remember when we talked about hanging out with the right group of peers? A good group of peers, who are looking for wholesome fun that honors Jesus Christ—I want to tell you something—that’s a safe place to be.
Now, let me give you the fourth principle for seeing dating differently. Number 4—remember, you are most likely spending time with somebody else’s future spouse.
Barbara: You probably haven’t ever thought about that. In fact, most teenagers don’t ever think about that. The guys and girls they go out with—they’re just thinking, “This is fun, and we’re going to have a great time.” They don’t ever look at that other person and think, “Wow, this is probably somebody else’s husband,” or, “Gosh, I may be spending time with somebody else’s wife.”
Because the chances are, the person that you’re dating or spending time with exclusively, of the opposite sex, is going to be someone else’s spouse someday. More than likely, you are not going to meet the person that you marry in high school. Statistically, that just doesn’t happen that often these days.
So be aware, when you’re dating or when you’re hanging out with other guys and other girls, that these friends of yours are probably someone else’s spouse. It might make a difference in how you relate to them, what you say, and what you do with them. The bottom line is—you need to be treating other young men and young women with respect and with dignity because that is how you would want someone treating your future spouse, if they were taking them on a date.
Dennis: Number 5—Do you know what this means? Don’t missionary date. What, in the world, is missionary dating? [Laughter]
Barbara: I’m sure they’ve never thought of that one.
Dennis: Yes. Well, here’s what some people think today. Some young men or women have it in their heads that they might be able to rescue a young man or a young woman, who is headed down the wrong path, by dating them. They think, “I can really help them; so we can go out together.”
Well you know what? Let somebody who doesn’t have a romantic interest in them reach out to them and redirect their path. You pray for them. You be a good friend to them, but you don’t need to go out on a date to talk with them about Jesus Christ.
Barbara: I really agree with that because it’s such a temptation to get involved in a dating relationship, and try to fix somebody else’s life, and to think that you can help that person. It just doesn’t usually work, so—
Dennis: And usually you’re the one that gets drug down by that.
Barbara: Yes. It’s the bad apples and the good apples thing again.
Dennis: Right. What is number 6?
Barbara: Number 6 is—“Since you’re not married, don’t act like you’re married.” That kind of seems obvious, but a lot of teenagers get deeply committed in relationships and treat one another as if they were in a marriage relationship. They become way too intimate, too honest, and too open with the opposite sex. In fact, as a couple, oftentimes teenagers will share details about their lives that were really only intended to be shared in a marriage relationship.
If you do end up spending time with someone of the opposite sex in a dating relationship, keep it fun, keep it lighthearted. Keep it from going to the really deep heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul, and body-to-body things that really are intended for marriage. Save the romance for later. You’re better off just hanging out together, going on mission trips, or doing things at school, or with your youth group—but not exclusively focusing on another person, so that you get too serious too soon.
Dennis: I agree 100 percent. Number 7—“Physical touch is off limits until you’re married.” Now you knew I was going to say that; didn’t you? I know I’ve already been on my soapbox about this, but it’s worth repeating again. Reserve the sexual dimension of a relationship for marriage. I want to promise you something. You will never, ever be sorry. Never! Protect your innocence and virginity.
I know one guy was being pressured by another guy to have sex with a girl. Now, the guy who was pressuring him had already had sex with a girl. He was challenging the young man who was a virgin to give away his virginity. But instead of caving in to the peer pressure, the young man who was the virgin said, “Look, I want to save my virginity and give it to my wife. I can become like you anytime I want to become like you, but you can’t ever become like me because I’ve never given that gift away.”
Save the gift and give it to the one you love—the one you’re committed to and the one person you’re married to—after you get married.
Bob: I think there’s something very helpful for a mom or a dad to have a son or daughter hear you say that—rather than the mom or dad being the only voice they’re hearing say that. You know, it’s kind of like, as you’re going through a Passport2Purity weekend with your son or your daughter and you’re hearing conversation about dating—if it was just mom or dad saying, “Here’s what I think,” the son or the daughter can wonder, “Is this just my mom or my dad?”
But to hear you unpack some of this stuff and then mom or dad to come along and say, “Boy, I really agree with what Mr. Rainey was saying there.”
Dennis: I’m going to tell you something. In this culture, you need all the voices, on the right side, you can get—
Bob: Yes, that’s right.
Dennis: —your child listening to. It’s not a matter of too many voices. It’s a matter of taking every possible avenue into their hearts, and taking the truth there, and helping them determine, in advance, what they’re going to do. One of the things we have, Bob, in this session, as we conclude it, is the signing of a “Wait to Date” contract.
I have a big grin on my face because this is a great time to discuss this, folks. It’s not an issue. At ten, 11, or 12, they haven’t got their knickers all tight about waiting to date. They don’t care, at this age. So, you interact. It’s not this screaming match. It’s not an accusation. It’s not that you’re stupid yet. You have a chance to have the conversation before it becomes the issue; and you get them to ink it with a pen, on a piece of paper.
Bob: Is it legally-binding? Can you take them to court?
Dennis: I wish it was that simple.
Bob: But the “Wait to Date” contract doesn’t say you’ll wait until you’re 18 or until you’re 21. It says, “You’ll wait until we’re in agreement—till you, and your mom, and I”—or, “you, and your dad, and I think it’s the right time.”
Dennis: Right. And you talk about what some of those points of maturity are so that they can be trusted to be alone with the opposite sex.
Bob: And about why it’s important to have your mom and your dad as your allies—that Mom and Dad aren’t there to keep you from fun—but Mom and Dad are there to help protect you and make sure that you get pointed the right direction. Again, this is all a part of what takes place during a Passport2Purity weekend.
You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the Passport2Purity resource. Our website again—FamilyLifeToday.com; or call, toll-free, at 1-800-FL-TODAY and ask about Passport2Purity when you get in touch with us. We have the kit that has the CDs, and the journal for the student, and then, we’ve got a separate Project Kit. You can either put your own project kit together or get one prepackaged from us.
Again, all the information is available, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call, toll-free, 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
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And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend; and I hope you can be back here on Monday when we’re going to meet a young man and a young woman who made the decision that they would wait to kiss until the minister said, “You may now kiss your bride.” We’ll hear their whole story coming up Monday. Hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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