Ah yes…young love, dating, courtship….It can be a perplexing time for parents. Where do we draw the line? What is wholesome, what is not? What is too rigid? What is too liberal? Ouch!
Modern Day “Dating” – The Unscriptural Sociological Fluke!
Perusing through scripture, I found that a legal divorce was required to break a betrothal. I thought WOW…they really took this betrothal thing seriously! Then I thought….why don’t we take it serious anymore? So many young folks have been physically and emotionally “wounded” from dating experiences.
My next thought was that I had eight little ones and I had better check into this matter! For years, I knew that God must have had something better in store for us than “the dating game”…it never seemed “God ordained”.
I am in my 30’s and like most of you, I had dated prior to marriage. Even during my youth, I thought dating was kind of absurd. Funny thing is, so did my husband! We were encouraged to date…just for fun. I thought, why date someone who you know you would never marry?
Our parents and friends pressured us to “have fun”, “live a little”, “get out there”…all the while, we were feeling like…whoa, something is wrong with this picture! The obligatory dating ritual that our society and even church has conformed to, bothered me.
Multiple dating experiences did not seem like a healthy preparation for marriage to me. It was obvious that dating situations were temporary romantic (and many times, occasions of sin!) relationships. Because it was temporary, there was the logical break up. Sounds more like preparation for future divorce, not future marriage to me!
Need we wonder why our culture has been experiencing an epidemic of broken marriages? Multiple dating experiences lead to multiple break ups and after all, the more you do it, the better you get at it!!
It was at age 17 that I decided that “dating” was not “my thing”. I came up with specific “Godly criteria”. Did he love God? Would he be a good husband, father , friend and provider and so on. I then prayed to see if this person was truly sent from God. During my first year of college, God sent that man….there was no doubt.
Well, you say…how in the world is one ever to get married? First, I want you to realize that dating is a recent historical phenomenon. To be more exact, it came from the eighteenth century philosophical movement we now call “Romanticism” which emphasized, among other things, passion rather than logic.
Jean Jacques Rousseau, a famous writer, was upset that Western civilization had fallen for exalting reason over feelings. He thought we should make decisions based on emotion rather than intellect. How dangerous! Yet, that is exactly what we have done….and what we have encouraged by “dating”.
Emotions in motion….
As we all know, after marriage, we give our physical love to no other. But many are guilty of giving their emotional love-feelings for one who is not their spouse. Many times I saw those who would never dream of having a physical relationship with someone involved in emotional love affairs.
They saw nothing wrong with these secret romances in which they enjoyed fanning the flames of their passions without giving release to physical affections. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about…it’s called flirting!
The Catholic Church has obviously rejected the idea of being married to one person while harboring romantic feelings for another. But, why have we largely accepted the practice of emotion-only romance between non-married (and multiple) partners before marriage?
It is generally accepted that it is healthy for young Catholic singles to cultivate and express these emotional feeling towards one another without any permanent commitment as long as there is no physical involvement.
Quite frankly, I could never separate the emotional from the physical. I don’t think God intended us to.
Doesn’t it sound quite absurd that we encourage our young folks to kindle these temporary (and often multiple) infatuations into a fever pitched passion and expect them not to fulfill their lusts physically?
Oh, it’s okay Johnny….see Susie every day, take her to dinner, the movies, go to the beach, share intimate thoughts but don’t ya dare touch her! Are we leading our children into temptation? Unfortunately, we are.
It worries me to see so many parents promoting and encouraging dabbling with these dating temptations. We all know what the Lord says about these type of “offenses” toward children and the “millstones” for those who cause them (Matthew 18:6-7). Yes, I take this matter seriously. I pray that you do, too!
So, do we own one another when we get married? Yes, there are certain rights. What if you found out your spouse was saving their body for only you BUT, their emotions were not all yours? Personally, I would be devastated. We owe each other our emotional fidelity as well as physical.
Are we encouraging our young folks to be emotionally promiscuous? Yes. And this is inconsistent with what we teach them about marriage. God wants us to save ourselves physically as well as emotionally for the life-long partner He has chosen for us!
God intended for us to reserve, for His great Sacrament of Marriage, to be physical and emotional virgins. Yet we keep encouraging this man-made (satan-approved!) institution we call “dating”. So many young folks are being wounded, sometimes beyond repair.
All along, God has had the answer….we just chose to ignore it!
As for my husband and I, we are teaching our children the dangers of modern “dating” patterns. There will be no experimental courtships. We will tell them how dangerous it is to cultivate romantic feelings toward anyone until they know, for sure, that God has shown them that this person is going to be their life-long spouse. It is our intention to lead our children “not into temptation” and to spare them any regrets in this area.
Our modern day “dating game” is a “real bad” sociological fluke, but the betrothal model is scriptural! God’s design for marriage is far superior than anything this world has to offer!
“If you’re like the rest of us, you won’t know the best answers to life at once. But if you make sure that your answers to all the little questions will match the right answer to the big question – if you constantly ask whether this act you’re considering, this goal you’re seeking, will help you save your soul – you’ll have a standard to guide you. No matter what’s happening around you, you’ll be secure; you’ll have something sturdy and unyielding to cling to.” -The Catholic Youth’s Guide to Life and Love, Rev. George A. Kelly http://amzn.to/2riNfU5 (afflink)
“There is a dream of St John Bosco that is not well known but is about the virtue of purity. How can we protect ourselves from sins against purity?” This is an excellent sermon…worth the 15 minutes it takes to listen to it!
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