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Others feel that dating can be a positive experience for teens provided they are mature enough and the parents know and trust the dating partner.

Before deciding how you're going to proceed, it's crucial to realize that contemporary dating is radically different from what it was when the majority of today's parents were kids.

The trajectory of lives and eternities are in the balance. Laying out guidelines for dating as followers of Jesus will alter lives by keeping people out of toxic and unhealthy relationships (and ultimately marriages). “The one” says you need to find the perfect person. The beauty of marriage is God sustains you despite your flaws. The shells of a shotgun are stuffed with tiny round balls. You are asked to go from a mentality that says “End a relationship as soon as difficulty arises,” to one that says, “Don’t end the relationship regardless of the difficulty that arises.” That’s a tough switch to flip.

This issue shapes our young people, friends, and family more than we could ever imagine. “Let’s just sit back and see what happens” might work in certain scenarios, but Christian dating isn’t one of them. I hope and pray these words spark conversations in your ministries, relationships, and homes. If you need to take a minute to let that sink in, I will be here when you get back… Here’s the deal: marriage isn’t a divine lottery where every person has one winning ticket. Hopefully one will end up as my spouse.” Not a good idea. So, the default for years is to leave as soon as a flaw arises. This requires discipline, restraint, and abstinence from activities that don’t promote holiness. A pure mind might be the greatest gift you can give your future spouse. ____________________ I hope this discussion continues. I pray parents, church leaders, friends, and family begin to spark conversations about God’s design for dating.

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Some parents may feel comfortable allowing a mature, responsible seventeen- or eighteen-year-old to go out on individual dates.

But once you get into the relationship, you realize things aren’t as they seemed. Having coffee or going to eat dinner with the opposite sex is not dating. There will be days when life is crashing down, your faith is wavering, and the only thing left is your spouse. In this scenario, your spouse is there to pray for you, put his or her arm around you, and walk with you.

Without a Christian spouse, one of two things will happen: you will drift away from God or your spouse will become a functional god (more on this later). There is another dangerous mentality in Christian circles I want to address…”flirting to convert.” Look…Christians are called to be missionaries.

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