When I was a kid, a big tradition for me and my grandfather was attending the Rodeo. It was special because it was something that just he and I did together and I have enjoyed continuing that tradition with my children. As soon as we got there you could smell the funnel cakes and I would start begging my grandfather to get me one. I couldn’t even think about the Rodeo until I had a funnel cake smothered in sugar and strawberries. When I take my kids now I forewarn them that we are not going to spend any money on food, but then the amazing yet distracting smell of funnel cakes makes a liar out of me, because I still can’t watch the Rodeo without a funnel cake.
Focusing on Jesus can be very difficult, especially with the distractions we have in our modern culture. I have been mentoring teenagers for many years and they have many distractions they face daily that pull them away from Jesus just like those funnel cakes. There are many that I could list here but the biggest that I have seen them deal with is unhealthy relationships, particularly dating somebody. I have known so many young people who were on fire for Christ and ready to change the world but then they began dating somebody and their fire began to fade. This did not necessarily mean that they were dating a horrible person or that the relationship involved sin, but it did change their focus and not in a good way. I can look back at my teenage years now and see that many of the mistakes I made as a teenager usually involved a girl. Every time I hurt my relationship with God, my friends or my parents it always went back to a dating relationship with a girl and how I allowed my feelings for her to cloud my judgement about everything.
Is it the same way for everybody? Are there exceptions? Obviously there are rare exceptions but here are some key reasons why I wish I would have had the wisdom and confidence to stay away from dating relationships when I was a teenager.
You Are Still Figuring You Out
At this point in your life you are still trying to figure out exactly who you are and what role you play in this journey called life. You are wrestling with issues such as your purpose, how you are wired, or why you exist on this planet in the first place. Also many of you face an extraordinary amount of insecurity and when you add a relationship to the mix it just often leads to an unhealthy place. This of course doesn’t even factor in the sexual temptations that come with dating relationships. At this stage of your life, you shouldn’t be having to deal with the amount of emotional stress that comes with dating relationships. Just focus on Jesus and allowing Him to develop you into the person He is calling you to be. During this season, consider just being free in Christ to work on you as He is preparing you for your future spouse.
There Is Less Chance of Falling Into Sexual Sin
Obviously, sexual sin is a temptation whether a person is in a relationship or not, however, when you choose to date somebody that temptation is amplified. Also not every dating relationship takes this step but the temptation is always there no matter what age a person is and the consequences are devastating to those who go in this direction. The question is why invite this temptation into your life at an age when you are still trying to figure out so many things. Sexual sin is always difficult but especially for a teenager, not only because of the level of maturity or the raging hormones, but with the peer pressure involved as well. Hear me that I am talking about sincere followers of Jesus who understand the importance of saving themselves for marriage. The emotional impact of dating somebody can affect our decision making no matter how committed to Jesus we are. Do not fall into the enemy’s trap of thinking that you are above falling into this sin. You begin by trying to justify what you know is wrong according to Scripture based on your immediate feelings such as: “Well I really love this person” or “Well we are both planning on getting married one day anyway”. Once sexual sin enters our lives, there is hurt, pain, guilt, and regret right behind it. The good news is that the grace of God can redeem anyone from sexual sin, but the consequences that would inevitably take place in your spiritual walk as well as future marriage could be avoided with wiser choices. I constantly meet young people who cannot move forward spiritually because of the feelings of guilt due to past choices involving sexual sin.
It’s Just Wise
Okay look guys, I get it! I have been where you are! I remember how special it was to just simply hold hands with someone for the first time. It felt great! To like somebody and know that they felt the same way in return was incredible and made me feel needed and wanted. Trust me, I understand why this is so hard. I also understand the peer pressure that many of you currently face. You are made to feel that if you are not in a dating relationship that there is something wrong with you. However, this is where godly wisdom comes in and we set aside our immediate feelings because we know that God desires greater things for us in the long run. So often wise choices are difficult in the immediate but are rewarding in the grand scheme of things. This kind of wisdom is being willing to avoid the immediate chocolate because we know that God has prepared a steak for us at a later time. However, we must understand how deceptive our feelings can be and submit them to Christ. Godly wisdom can only come by having a consistent intimate walk with Jesus
Let me be clear! Choosing to date while in middle school or high school is not a sin within itself. I am not saying that you are going to hell or that God is mad at you. I am just saying that it is not a wise choice if you desire to grow spiritually. If we are going to truly grow in our relationship with Jesus we are going to have to stop making choices based on what’s technically “not sin” and start seeking the Lord for wisdom. There is a huge difference between “not crossing the sin line” and actually taking our next steps in our spiritual growth and its time that we stop being ok with just “what’s ok” and start moving forward. It would technically not be a sin for me to be alone with another woman and my wife not be present, however, it would be very unwise to do so. I want to make wise choices that will set things in motion for my spiritual walk with Jesus to thrive and not unnecessarily place myself in situations that set me up to fail.
As believers we should have a desire for our relationship with Jesus to excel and not just settle for mediocrity and that means that all of us have to often make sacrifices. I truly believe that by making this simple yet difficult decision as a teenager you will not only see major growth in your walk with Christ, but will be better prepared for your future spouse.