Biblical Principles for Teen Dating

Teen_datingDating is part of the teenage experience. Most teenagers at some point will engage in dating relationships. As someone who works with teenagers I have seen almost everything when it comes to teens and dating. I have seen middle school students “fall in love.” I have seen high school students date for years and continue dating into their college years. I have seen teenagers hit rock bottom as the person they are dating ends the relationship. I have seen teenagers jump from one dating relationship to another just because they need that “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” relationship. I have sat with students who are dating that honestly want to honor God in their relationship so they set boundaries and spiritual goals for their relationship. If you are around teenagers, maybe as a parent or youth worker like me, you have seen some of this stuff. If you care about teenagers, as parents and youth workers do, you want to help them navigate and work through the strange world of dating.

So when it comes to dating many of us want to know what does the Bible says so that we can pass it  on to teenagers. We want them to obey God’s Word in all areas of their lives, especially when it comes to dating relationships. But here is the tricky part – the Bible doesn’t address dating. Yep, dating is never mentioned or even referred to in God’s Word. The simple answer as to why is because dating as we know it today didn’t exist back then.

So what are we to do? First, we tell them the Bible doesn’t address it. We need to be honest about that. Second, we look into God’s Word and draw principles out of it that can be applied to dating. That’s what we need to pass on to teenagers. We need to show them clear Biblical principles that can and should be applied to dating so they can go about it in a way that honors and glorifies God.

Here are some Biblical principles that can and should be applied to dating relationships. These are the Biblical truths we should pass on to teenagers to help them date in a way that would honor God.

Obey your parents dating rules. When it comes to dating, parents have different views. Some parents encourage it while other strongly discourage it. Some allow their children to date whenever their kid decides to while others set an age when their children can start dating. No matter what the rules are God expects teenagers to obey their parents. Ephesians 6:1 (ESV) says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Parents should set rules and boundaries for their teenagers when it comes to dating and teenagers should obey those rules.

Date other Christians. Christian teenagers should date other Christians. When a Christian teenager decides to date a non-Christian it usually hinders the faith of the Christian teenager. They will usually be pulled away from their relationship with God and be tempted to walk in a way that doesn’t line up with their Christian faith. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV) says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Even though this verse is usually applied to marriage, it also can be applied to dating. If we would encourage Christians to marry Christians, doesn’t it make sense to encourage Christians to date other Christians? I think so. In this video, Tim Keller explains how it’s not practical for Christians to date non-Christians. In her book Sex and Dating, Mindy Meier adds a good point to remember. She says, “It’s fine to have friendships with non-Christians, but do not commit to anyone who does not share your same faith. True compatibility grows from a join quest to follow God, to conform your life to the guidelines of the Bible and to draw from the spiritual resources found in Christ.”

Pursue sexual purity. The biggest issue with teenage dating is the door it opens to sexual temptation. I have never met a teenage dating couple who does not struggle in this area. Teenagers need to understand that God created sex to be enjoyed in the context of marriage. When you engage in sex, or any sexual activity for that matter, outside of marriage it is sin. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (ESV) says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” First Corinthians 6:18 (ESV) says, “Flee from sexual immorality..” Both of these verses use the term “sexual immorality,” which is the Biblical term that covers all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage. Teenagers should know that the Bible considers more than just intercourse outside of marriage a sin. God commands us to abstain and flee from any sexual activity outside of marriage.

Don’t let the person you are dating become the center of your life. Many times when teenagers date they place the person they are dating at the center of their lives. They neglect friends, family, and even God at times because their boyfriend or girlfriend has become the most important person in their life. Teenagers must understand that God should be the most important person in their lives. He doesn’t tolerate or share that spot with anyone. Whenever we put anything before God, it’s becomes idolatry. It’s safe to say many teenagers make the person they are dating an idol. Teenagers who desire to maintain a healthy dating relationship will not put the person they are dating as their first priority.

A few weeks ago I talked to our students about dating in our “Dating, Marriage, and Sex” series. Much of what I posted above was from that talk. However, if you want to hear more about these Biblical principles that can be applied to dating I’d encourage you to listen to that talk online. Click here to listen.

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Book Review: Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry

71gwlJNkHoLA few days ago my pastor gave me a copy of Is God-Anti Gay? by Sam Allberry. It’s a little book that tackles a big issue. Homosexuality is big issue both in our culture and in the church. It’s not only a big issue, but a complex issue. In this book, Allberry tackles this big and complex issue of homosexuality with a good balance between grace and truth.

Allberry tells a little bit of his story in the introduction of the book. I appreciated his authenticity as he shared his own personal struggles with homosexuality and same-sex attraction. Not only that, but he shares how he met Jesus and how the Gospel has transformed his life. By sharing some of his story in the introduction, he gains (or at least he should) instant credibility on this subject. He speaks from the stand point of a person who loves Jesus, the Bible, and the church, but also has a real struggle with this issue.

From that point forward, Allberry covers a lot of ground in this little book on the issue of homosexuality. He spends a chapter (chapter 1) laying the Biblical foundation for marriage and sex. Then from chapters 2-5 he dives into homosexuality in regards to the Bible, the Christian, the church, and the world. Within those chapters, Allberry tackles many tough Scripture passages and questions that often come up when talking about homsexuality. To each of them, he answers with a faithfulness to God’s Word, but also with commitment to the grace that comes through Jesus. I would love to share more about what Allberry says in the book, but I’d rather you grab a copy for yourself and read it. It’s worth it!

Two things I really liked about this book was Allberry’s Gospel-centeredness and his practicality. Throughout the book, Allberry makes a point to not make homosexuality a sin that is “worse” than other sins. He doesn’t put homosexuality on it’s own shelve. He treats homosexuality the way it should be treated-sin that stems from our brokenness and separation from God. He says, “Homosexual sin is not unique…Homosexual sin is incredibly serious, but it is not alone in being so. It is wicked, but so is greed. God will judge those who indulge in it. But He will also judge thieves” (page 36). He makes a point to always go back to the Gospel being our only hope and that the Gospel is the answer to all sin. He doesn’t make homosexuality into an issue that needs to be treated different, but a sin that separates us from God and our only hope in having that fixed is through the Gospel. Too many times we don’t treat homosexuality the same as other sins and we forget the answer to homosexuality is the Gospel. I’m glad Allberry doesn’t do that in this book. I also really like how practical this book was. Throughout the book, Allberry gives practical advice on what to do if you are a Christian and you struggle with same-sex attraction. He also gives practical advice on how the church can respond to homosexuality and how we can minister to friends and people we may come into contact with you struggle with homosexuality.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who may be struggling with homosexuality or just wants to learn more about what God says about this subject.

Student Ministry Advice from Mark Hall

This past weekend I was able to attend a Casting Crowns concert at Akron Baptist Temple in Akron, OH. I always enjoy going to see Casting Crowns because they are one of the few Christian band who have more of a worship-based concert rather than a performance-based concert. Something a lot of people don’t know about Casting Crowns is every band member is involved in student ministry. Mark Hall, the lead singer, is a full-time student pastor at their home church. The way they make this work is that they are at the church from Sunday to Wednesday night and the hit the road from Thursday to Saturday to do concerts. Because of his heart for student ministry and student pastors, they always have a time during their concerts where they invite all the student ministry workers to go to a room where Mark Hall shares with them resources and a word of encouragement.

With a growing number of students leaving the local church and turning their back on God after they graduate from our youth groups, we are all wondering how we can keep them involved in the church as well as consistent in their walk with God. This past weekend Mark Hall shared two things that he always saw in the students that stayed connected to the local church and continued to follow God after they graduated from his youth group.

They had a ministry. If we allow our students to just sit back and watch us do ministry, we will never really see them grow and we will rob them of God-given opportunities for ministry. Mark Hall said that the students who continued to follow God after graduation always had a ministry of their own while they were in the youth group. There are so many ways we can get our student involved in ministry, we just have to let them and encourage them to do it. Have students lead music, let them be greeters, let them set up and tear down equipment, let them decorate the youth room, let them even teach and preach! We are not successful in ministry until we can empower and allow the students to do ministry.

They were involved in one on one discipleship. With all the hype of activities and meetings, one on one discipleship can be easily left behind. If we want to see students grow and continue to follow God after graduation we must get them involved in one on one discipleship with an adult that is consistently following God. Mark Hall explained the way he does this in his ministry. He is currently discipling 21 guys and he meets with each of them for 30 minutes a week. In that 30 minutes they talk about life, read Scripture (they pick a short book of the Bible and walk through it verse by verse), and pray. He said by simply doing this for 3o minutes, students will gain an understanding of God’s Word as well as build a relationship with you that will help them grow in their own walk with the Lord. If we want to see students continue to follow God after graduation we must not only given them ministry opportunities, but also disciple them one on one.

I believe these two things are “must haves” for every student ministry. Without these two things your students will not grow spiritually and will probably not continue to follow God after they graduate your youth group. I know this because I was one of those students. If it was not for the opportunities for me to do ministry and having the discipleship, I would not be where I am today. I hope you take this advice from Mark Hall and implement it in your ministry or if you are already doing these two things already will be encouraged to keep going.