Dating Relationships

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    FriFeb172012 ByBetsy CorningTaggedOlder Children Personal Convictions Your Questions

    Dear Betsy,

    We have a 17-year-old teen who has asked to start dating. The boy she likes is very nice, but she is unsure if he is a Christian. She argues that it is hard to have in-depth conversations if she’s never alone with him, but we are reluctant to give her the OK to go out with him if we don’t know if he’s a believer or not. What do you suggest?
    - Concerned Mother

    Dear Concerned,

    When your daughter reaches the age that you determine as fitting for her to date; be sure that you have also established clear delineations for dating, such as “how often," “how late,” “with whom” and so forth.

    The “with whom” part is extremely important not only for the obvious immediate impact and implications on your daughter’s life but also for her future. Therefore, whether you hold the conviction that “dating is for the purpose of choosing a mate” (meaning that every suitor is evaluated as a potential spouse) or you hold the conviction that “dating is a testing ground for various relationships that eventually lead to choosing a spouse,” you want to have clear guidelines to keep your teen’s relational ship from succumbing to the heavy emotional waves that are sure to come during these dating years.

    Certainly we want the best for our children, and as parents we are often the best objective voice of reason to them. We cannot place particular boundaries around their emotions but we can and must place guidelines and boundaries around their choices. They need to know that we have their optimal benefit in mind and to seek your approval before their heart engages in a relationship that you do not approve.

    The Scriptures tell us (2 Corinthians 6:14) not to become unequally yoked with unbelievers, referring primarily to the marriage relationship, but we would not want to set up our teen to have a relationship that could eventually result in marriage to an unbeliever. Allowing a teen to dabble in relationships with unbelievers is playing with fire — no matter how “nice” he seems. A young man may seem nice, polite and all that, but does he hold the same standards as you do for your daughter in the areas of morality, purity, media choices, speech and so forth? An unbeliever simply will not. 1 Corinthians 15:33 warns us very directly, “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” Being “nice” or “a great guy” falls desperately short of the godly young man who (while also young and susceptible to emotions/hormones) hopefully has your daughter’s best interest at heart and respects you as her parents. In other words, Christian kids need accountability, too!

    Many young men interested in lovely young ladies will declare their belief in God thinking if they say the right words they will “win the prize.” This happens all too often, I am sad to say. Often young couples marry only to discover in time that they are unequally yoked.

    Any worthy young suitor should be happy and willing to speak to a young lady’s father/parents for permission to date. It is not a private matter between the young man and your daughter. That argument should raise a red flag for you. His willingness to speak to you as the parents demonstrates his respect — or lack thereof — for you and your husband.
    A person may refer to himself as a believer, but this is not the same as a profession of faith in Christ. Any true believer has no qualms about sharing their faith or their testimony. In fact, it is the natural declaration of a person who has the Holy Spirit residing in them.

    I once had a conversation with a close friend who was considering a relationship with a man. I asked her if he was a believer and she emphatically stated, “Yes!” Then I asked her to confirm that he was a born-again believer to which she replied, “Well, I don’t know about THAT!” “THAT” says it all. It cannot be both ways and you will be able to tell.

    I would encourage you not to allow your daughter to date anyone who does not have a clear profession of faith in Christ as their Savior and Lord and a testimony of how they came to this faith. Even though he is young, you will want to know that he has developed convictions for his life and that he lives under the authority of God’s Word.

    In the Entrusted with a Child’s Heart book, we refer to these indicators of faith as “vital signs of a true believer” (see pages 477-478). The Bible instructs us that we can evaluate a person’s spiritual life by their spiritual fruit.

    Here are a several examples of how this works:
    • Does the young person profess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? True believers cannot help but speak of what the Lord means to them and what He is doing in their lives. Believers do not treat such matters as “private” or as “none of your business.”
    • Does he seek out and enjoy the fellowship of other believers by attending church, youth group or other Christian fellowship? Or does he attempt to isolate your daughter and keep her from you, from her Christian friends, commitments, or devotional time?
    • Does he exemplify godly character in his attitude and behavior? Does he demonstrate respect for you and your daughter by following your instructions or boundaries? Or is he dismissive of you and the standards you have instilled in your daughter?
    • Does he have a track record and convictions for moral purity? Does he separate himself from the world’s value system and activities? Can he state his convictions to you? Or does he think that you are unrealistic, too rigid, out of touch or old-fashioned?
    • Does he encourage your daughter’s relationship with you as her parents — or does he pull her away from you, encouraging your daughter to be sneaky or keep secrets? Is he drawing her into things that are compromising her relationship with you or her walk with the Lord? In other words, does he lead her in the paths of righteousness or cause her to stumble? At some point, you will be helping your daughter choose a man who will be her leader, provider and protector. Do you observe the potential for these things in this young man?
    Having a good chat between Dad and the young man, before emotions are overly engaged is essential. Even if Dad says, “No” to a particular suitor and your daughter becomes distraught, hang tough. It is a precious and pure demonstration of a father’s leading, provision and protection over his daughter. Some day he will consent and will essentially transfer this responsibility to his new son-in-law. Don’t give in to the emotional pleadings of your daughter if you KNOW the relationship is not in her best interest.

    May the Lord bless your relationship as you grow together in directing your daughter down the path of making one of the most critical choices in her life. Show her how much you care for her and love her. And I pray that she will trust you as you seek the Lord in these decisions.

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