To date or not to date is an interesting question the Bible does not mandate one way or the other. However, I have seen how serial dating can become the teen’s version of marriage and divorce. If done often enough, it sets poor relational habits that affect the teen’s future marriage.
You may want to read:
- Rick’s 31-Day Teen Devotional
- Rick’s 31-Day Parenting Devotional
- Dating: The Artificial Season That Does Not Count
“Jenny” was sent to me for counseling by her parents. They could not control her any longer and wanted me to counsel her into a right relationship with God (Ephesians 6:4). The parents admitted their lack of relationship modeling (Philippians 4:9) in their marriage, as well as a lack of parenting practices regarding Jenny.
They expressed hope that I could fix Jenny. I was working from a disadvantage (1 Corinthians 3:6). My prayer for Jenny was for God to show mercy by leading her to Himself (2 Timothy 2:24-25). If He could use me, in some way, that would be a joy and privilege.
Jenny was bubbly and talkative. She was warm and witty. She was an open book during our interactions. We hit it off. Within minutes we were talking about some personal things in her life (Ephesians 4:29).
It was evident she wanted someone to talk to, someone who would not condemn her (Romans 8:31) but would listen and offer insight into her frustration (James 1:19). In a spirit of encouragement and hope, I tried to be that to her.
Jenny told me how she began dating when she was eight years old, and she was now on her sixth boyfriend (Song of Solomon 8:4). I asked her why she divorced five times. She gave me a quizzical look and then asked me to explain myself.
Date Until Love Cup Is Full
I told her that she dates a guy until she gets tired of him. She agreed. When he no longer meets her expectations, she dumps him. She said that was true too. I explained how older people do a similar thing: When they get tired of someone they drop them. In the adult world, we call it divorce.
I asked her what was going to keep her from this “breakup pattern” after she became an adult. What would keep the “divorcing kid” from becoming a divorcing adult? She told me she would find someone who would love her and not be selfish (Romans 3:23).
I bit my tongue.
While I appreciated her optimism about the males in her world, it was apparent she did not have a sound view of the doctrine of sin (Romans 3:10-12) or the doctrine of man. I reminded her how a marriage certificate is not a deterrent to divorce or a condition for selflessness.
Marriage vows are virtually meaningless to a selfish person, and Jenny, like me, was a selfish person. She understood what I was saying and readily admitted she was selfish, though she lived in the delusion that she would find the perfect man.
It was apparent Jenny needed counseling, but she was not the only one. Her parents needed help. They were setting their daughter up for a lifetime of failed relationships.
My recommendation to Jenny was to get in a healthy, gospel-centered local church where she could be cared for by pastors and others, who would love to lead her. I appealed to her to find friends for social opportunities to serve (Mark 10:45) and encourage rather than looking for someone to fill her love tank (Proverbs 29:25).
The solution for what had broken inside of her was not a boy, but a man. His name is Jesus. Only the Gospel can satisfy a person’s desires for approval, acceptance, and love.
Jenny liked what I was telling her. Somebody was finally making sense to her, though she had no working template for how to have non-selfish relationships. For the past five years, she was trying to figure out how to be loved through the trial and error method modeled by her dating culture.
Now the sad news: I do not know what happened to Jenny. I do know her parents did not want to lead her by offering their marriage to her as a Christlike example (1 Corinthians 11:1). Their hope was for me to fix Jenny without their involvement. They wanted her following someone who was following Christ.
Call to Action
- Which direction does the love flow in your relationships? Is it more about you being loved or providing love?
- The test for how you love others can be determined by how you respond when someone does not like you the way you want to be loved. What is your typical response when you are not loved the way you want to be loved?
- You should love with an expectation for love in return (Hebrews 12:2; Ephesians 5:26) but you must not love with a demand for love in return (Romans 5:8). Do you manipulate love by getting angry if you’re not loved the way you expect it?
Also published on Medium.