I often hear from people--both parents and children alike--who ask my opinion on dating, from a Christian perspective. I don't profess to be an expert by any means, but I do often share with them some of my own experiences as a parent. I tell them candidly that I did not allow my own sons to date until they were 18 years old. I came to this decision after much prayer, as well as the realization that I didn't want to automatically accept the world's view on dating. I recalled the fact that my father always regretted allowing my sisters and me to enter the "dating scene" when we were only 16 years of age, and as I looked back, I understood the basis for his regrets. All of us had experienced heartbreak and misery that we could have been spared if we had just waited for God's will and timing, where our relationships were concerned. When I finally made my decision about my sons, I began hearing disturbing warnings from other parents. Some said that I was robbing my children of healthy, valuable experiences that would benefit them later in life. Many said that my kids were "missing out." I must admit that there were times when I wavered, and wondered if I was being unreasonable or legalistic. It was especially difficult when I saw my sons struggling with feeling left out of groups of their peers that were all couples. But by the grace of God, we all got through it, and I believe to this day that I made the right decision in making them wait.
My older son, Joseph, has been married the last two years to a wonderful young lady named Miriam, whom he met through his college Bible club. They met when they were both 18 years old, and they married after knowing each other for five years. Joseph and Miriam are deeply committed to each other, and I believe they have many happily married years ahead of them. In only a matter of months, my younger son, John, will be marrying Amy, a sweet young lady whom he met through his high school Bible club. By the time that John and Amy walk down the aisle together, they will have been together for five years. Both Amy and Miriam are godly young women, and delightful additions to our family. And both are totally devoted to my sons. I don't bring all this up to boast or to tell you what you should do, but to give you an example of just how wrong some of the world's views on dating and child rearing can be. Yes, it's certainly true that my kids "missed out." They missed out on untold amounts of misery and heartbreak, as well as all the far-reaching, negative consequences of being involved with relationships that were out of God's will and timing for them. And while it was difficult for my family to take an unpopular stand, and to wait for what we believed was the Lord's timing, He rewarded us by blessing my sons with the perfect mates, without them having to go through a string of "imperfect" ones.
If you are a parent or a single person dealing with one side or another of this issue, let me encourage you today to give less attention to the world's ideas and standards for dating relationships, and more attention to the Lord's. He alone knows what's best for us, and if you jump ahead of His perfect plan and timing in this area, you could very well delay or miss out on His best for you, or your children. Today, ask the Lord to give you some new attitudes, so that you'll be able to see things His way from now on. And receive all the good things He has in store for you and yours!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I've followed the ways of the world, instead of Your ways. Grant that I may be "constantly renewed in the spirit of my mind--having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude," so that I may obey You in every area, and reap all the blessings You have for me and mine. (Ephesians 4:23 AMP) I pray that my relationships will be ALL that You want them to be, and ONLY what You want them to be!
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