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Are Adventist Teens Allowed to Date?


Are Adventist Teens Allowed to Date?

Steve Answers:

Can Adventist teenagers date? The Bible gives explicit instructions regarding this in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. These can be found in Exodus 20:12,13 and Ephesians 6:1-4.

Actually I’m teasing (sort of). There is no text in the Bible that talks specifically about dating because people didn’t date in Bible days. It simply wasn’t an issue the way it is now. Relationships between males and females were regulated and determined by others, usually the parents. How would you like that?
God simply brought Eve to Adam (after God crafted her by starting with Adam’s rib). And Adam seemed pretty excited about it (see Genesis 2:18-25).

Later we read how Abraham sent his trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac. Eliezer returned with Isaac’s female cousin, and the two became husband and wife without any wedding ceremony, as we might expect in our culture today (see Genesis 24).

And then there’s the story of Jacob marrying Rachel, or was it Leah? It turned out to be Leah instead of Rachel, but then Rachel was added a week later (see Genesis 29). Awkward!

Parents played the major role in pairing young men and women together in Bible times. The unruly Samson pushed his parents to choose a Philistine woman who caught his eye (see Judges 14:1-4). When his parents objected, because she wasn’t one of God’s people, Samson retorted, “Get her for me. She looks good to me” (Judges 14:3, NLT).1 That didn’t turn out very well, even before the weeklong ceremony had ended (see verses 5-20).

When Goliath taunted the Israelite armies, Saul offered one of his daughters in marriage to the soldier who would kill Goliath (see 1 Samuel 17:25). But Saul reneged on that promise (see 1 Samuel 18:19). Then Saul used another daughter as bait to try to get David killed (see 1 Samuel 18:20-27).

You might not like these Bible stories, especially if you’re a female; women were often treated more like property than people.

What are we to do?

What about those first two passages we looked at—the Old Testament and New Testament instructions about dating? The Old Testament counsel comes from two of the commandments—the fifth and the sixth. “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12, NLT). If you want to date, just ask your parents—and then obey them! If you don’t obey, it might lead your dad to break the sixth commandment, which is, “You must not murder” (verse 13, NLT).
Once again, I’m just kidding (sort of).

The New Testament version continues on a similar theme, but then gives it another twist. Ephesians 6:1-4 reads, “Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (NLT).

Once again, obedience to one’s parents shows promise. But Paul adds an admonition to fathers/parents—don’t exasperate your children. Instead, bring them up to love the Lord (my own paraphrase of verse 4).

As a father, I know that I’m capable of exasperating my daughter. And she is quite capable of doing the same to me! In those years of transition, from being daddy’s little girl to becoming a young woman who will pledge her love and devotion to her future husband, there can be some tumultuous times. Dads often feel “overly protective,” or simply protective. Young women might venture into something they aren’t prepared to handle. Hence, the fear factor that sometimes drives parents to do crazy things.

Here’s what I suggest: Because attraction to people of the opposite sex tends to take off during the teen years, you would do well to stick with a group of friends rather than focus all of your attention on just one special person. If your church doesn’t provide social opportunities for young people to do fun things together, start them yourself! Invite plenty of others to join. Get to know each other and have some social interaction in addition to the worship, study, and service activities you do together.

“Dating” one person consistently tends to isolate you from others and leads to increased physical intimacy. Then the physical aspect becomes the focus until you break up and end things with lots of hurt feelings. That’s the way it usually goes.

Moving toward increased intimacy is appropriate when you are getting ready for marriage. But with marriage being put off later and later, you’re probably much better off “dating” in groups with a bunch of people rather than just one person. There’s not a Bible verse for that, but it relates to what I’ve already written.
Solomon had a warning to give to someone who might get caught in sexual promiscuity. He wrote, “You don’t want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but [skin] and bones, Saying, ‘Oh, why didn’t I do what they told me? Why did I reject a disciplined life? Why didn’t I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously? My life is ruined! I haven’t one blessed thing to show for my life!’ ”(Proverbs 5:11-14, Message).2

There is no official Adventist rule or belief that says, “No dating.” In fact, Seventh-day Adventists are very much in favor of marriage and great human relationships. We often make intentional plans for young men and young women to meet each other so they can develop healthy interpersonal relationships. We tend to not promote dating until people get closer to a marriageable age because of the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social damage that often happens while dating, especially during the teen years. Parents usually set the standard, but church members are sometimes left to support it as teens become increasingly independent and aren’t handcuffed to their parents’ sides.

In reality your parents want you to connect in significant ways with other young people. They just don’t want you to rush in foolishly. That might make it seem as though they are opposed to dating. Talk to them. Ask them about what happened when they were your age. That might explain why they are nervous about the possibility of you dating.

Enjoy the moments you have right now, knowing that you will have many more, and that your current desire is likely to change, and change again, and again. Talk to your parents and other people at your church. And talk with God about it as well. When you can talk with God, and the people close to you are part of that same conversation, then you’re really getting somewhere!

1 Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2077 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
2 Tests credited to Message are from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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