Recently, on Facebook, I posted a link to this article. It deals with the teachings of "emotional purity" and the notion that Christians should stay as far away from the dating scene as possible. Read the article if you wish, but you don't have to.
So, how should Christians face relationships and finding their future spouse?
Granted, I am not an expert on this. I'm basically just giving my two cents on the issue. I did date boys while I was a teenager. I frequently was looked down upon and shamed because of this. Other kids I knew did this to me, as did their parents. And to be honest, my choices of a boyfriend weren't always the smartest. But that's how I learned. And thankfully, God helped me through it and lead me to meet my wonderful husband.
There's nothing wrong with dating, okay? Just because you go to a coffeehouse or to a movie (not my favorite idea for early dates, though, since you can't really talk and get to know one another) or for a walk in the park together, alone, does not mean you are sinning. If you hold hands, you are not sinning. If you even kiss, that's okay. As long as you do not lead each other into sexual situations you are okay. And trust me, the temptation will be there. God gave us physical attraction, so in itself it isn't wrong. But you should probably set boundaries for yourself. And follow them. But also remember that if something does happen between you and your boyfriend or girlfriend, there is still forgiveness. I'm not really going to go into teen pregnancies and such, because I have no experience with that and thus am not qualified to write on the subject. But the point I want you to remember is that we are all human and therefore inherently sinful. Things will happen, no matter how hard we try to prevent them. This is true of all areas of life and it is no different when it comes to boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.
So there is nothing wrong with dating. And your parents should definitely have a say in when you're old enough to date, etc, if you are yet a teenager. Once out of the house, it'll be different in each family. And certainly don't be angry if your parents set rules for dating, because they are looking out for you. Seriously. I had many an argument with my parents that I would like to take back. If you're reading this and you are out of your parents' house, I suggest that you not be afraid to ask your parents for advice! Other family members, as well. They went through this stage of life, too. And they've also known you your whole life; your parents are most likely very good judges on who would be a good husband or wife for you, even though the choice should ultimately be up to you.
Those are the basics of how I feel about dating and relationships. It all comes down to your faith, your character, and remembering that nobody is perfect. I like to use the phrase "everything in moderation" to describe most of life. There is a good middle ground for most things, and in this almost completely amoral culture, we as Christians have to remember that we are just as sinful as those who are not believers. Being humble and willing to take responsibility are two qualities you almost must have in order to build a solid relationship. And being strong in your faith in Jesus Christ will help you a lot. As far as religion goes, remember that dating outside the faith is very hard. You will be put in more compromising situations than ever, because those who are not believers don't usually hold the same standards. But also remember that there are so many different denominations within Christianity, and that will also lead to strife. Trust me, I dealt with this so many times that I was ready to give up.
A few other things and then I will be done.
You also want to consider the things like his or her personality and interests. Just because she's hot does not mean she would be a good partner. Just because he's cute and dresses well does not mean he would be a good partner. But the thing is, these aren't even the most important things. Looks (that physical attraction I mentioned earlier) are definitely helpful in the search for a spouse. And boys, you may notice a pretty girl and take her on a date to the park and then realize afterwards that it just won't work. But you tried. And you may even try for a few more dates. That's okay. Girls, that's okay.
Broken hearts happen. You will date the wrong person. But we heal. God made our hearts to hold so much love in them. Just because Alicia breaks up with Dan doesn't mean she has been ruined for her future spouse. Just because you said "I love you" to more than one boyfriend/girlfriend in your life doesn't mean you don't have all of your heart to give your husband/wife at the altar. Just because you kissed all three of the boyfriends you had doesn't mean that the man you marry somehow lost those kisses, or something. I can't understand that line of thinking, and it's not Christian in the least. God IS love, so why should we not have the capacity to love so much? (Of course, this doesn't mean that you should be able to say "well I still love so-and-so even though I'm married now..." That is wrong.)
Bottom line is this:
Everything in moderation.
Rely on your faith.
Remember that we are poor, miserable sinners and that absolutely no one on this earth is perfect.
Make sure you enjoy spending time with the person!
And don't be afraid of advice.
I hope this all makes sense. I could talk on this for hours, but translating my thoughts on something like this into the written word is difficult. I just want my fellow Christians to realize that they should stop looking down on others for dating, etc. I want them to realize that people make mistakes. If no one ever made mistakes, well, then why did Christ come?
But I digress.
Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone!