Are Your Kids Old Enough To Date?

kids-to-young-to-dateThe other day, my two-year-old mentioned in passing that two of his friends “liked” each other. Now he probably did not know what he was saying, but his discussion reveals our kids are never too far away from thinking about dating and boyfriends and girlfriends. And when they do land on these topics and want our opinion, we should be ready with an answer.

Thankfully the Bible gives us direction on this subject. In Mark 10:6-8, we read:

But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.

From this passage, we can extra three important principles for determining when are children are ready to date.

1. Our children will be ready to date when they are attracted to members of the opposite sex. As parents devoted to the Scriptures, we can only encourage our children to date members of the opposite sex. This is God’s design for the universe. We do not get to decide. God does. He has already declared that boys should date girls and that girls should date boys. Any variation upon this plan is wrong and sinful. As Godly parents, we should only encourage our children to date if they are willing to follow God’s design for gender and marriage.

2. Our children are ready to date if they are ready to leave and cleave. If your son is too young to get a job and to provide for his future wife, he is too young to date. If your daughter is too young to leave your house and set up a new home with her boyfriend, she is too young to date. If you are taking your daughter to the movie theatre and picking up your son from the ice cream shop, your kids are too young to date. They cannot in any meaningfully hope to leave and cling to that cute guy in school or to the pretty girl down the street. They lack the social and economic skills needed to create their own family. However, the high school senior that has a job and pays for all of his bills may be ready for marriage.

3. Our children are not controlled by animal impulses. We should be encouraged to see that our young men are attracted to young ladies and that our young ladies are attracted to young men. We must realize that such urges and desires to be with members of the opposite sex are good and right. But, we must also realize that these desires can come early and be perverted by all kinds of sin. Because we live in a fallen world, our kids will experience hormonal surges and desires for intimacy that they cannot implement without breaking God’s commands. Many children and youth will desire to express their physical urges before they have the ability to leave and cleave. When this happens, we must remind our kids that God’s commands do not conflict. Sexuality and intimacy between a man and woman are always supposed to occur in marriage. And until they are ready for marriage, our children must wait to express these things. As Josh McDowel tells teenagers,

Yes your hormones are strong. Yes, it can be difficult to wait, but the bottom line is sex is a choice. You are not an animal. You are a human being with God-given ability to love, to think , to create, and to make moral choices.

Consequently, the best way to handle the urges for marriage is to trust Christ. We should not encourage our kids to date before they are ready for a one flesh union. Rather, we should point them to Christ and tell them to wait, trusting that God will meet their needs and empower them to overcome temptation until they are ready for their spouse.

As I Corinthians 10:13 says,

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God is always faithful.

Now, my two-year-old and his friends will not be dating anytime soon. Nor does he really want to. His greatest loves are basketball and Mickey Mouse. But at some point, he will want to talk about more than Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Your kids too will be interested in dating if they are not already. When the subject comes up, what will you tell them?

Guarding Your Heart Isn’t Just A Romance Thing

When we think of guarding our hearts, we think of relationships.  We think of the guy Heart blogwho spends more time talking about himself than his date, the girl who leaves her date in the food court to hangout with her friends, or the dude who has his mom apologize to his girlfriend. We tell our friends and children to, “guard their hearts.” “Run from these losers!”  And while there is some truth to this sentiment, guarding our hearts goes well beyond the boyfriend girlfriend paradigm. It’s a way of life.

What Guarding Your Heart Really Means

 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23 

What Solomon is taking about here is not your emotions. He is not talking about the happiness that comes from your first kiss, an over sized  teddy bear, or a ridiculously expensive dozen roses.  In Solomon’s day, people thought your stomach or your bowels (if you are a KJV only Bible kind of guy) where home to one’s emotions.  Instead of saying “He stole my heart,” the Hebrews would have said, “he stole my stomach.”

When Solomon mentions the heart, he is talking about your command and control center. Biblically speaking, the heart accumulates, stores, and process the information that determines your actions. Solomon is saying guard your heart; guard your thoughts; guard your will; guard your life. Solomon is foreshadowing the words of Jesus found in Luke 6:45:

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

The heart directs our life. What we put into our heart – what we think about, what we mediate on – determines how we act and speak. We buy our spouse roses because we think her beautiful, caring, and intelligent. We snap at our co-worker in anger because we think him incompetent, selfish, and annoying. Our kids complain because they think that the Disney Channel is better than obeying their parents.  Out of our hearts flow, “the springs of life.”

2 Ways To Guard Your Heart

So how do we guard our heart? How do we keep our heart pumping out fresh water?

First, we trust God. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean
not to your own understanding.” When get angry, when we get upset, and when we complain, we stop trusting God. We are upset that God is not on board with our program. And, we sin to let him know that we know better. The solution to all this confusion is to trust God. And the only way to develop a trust in God is to spend time with him. We have to study his word and pray. To guard our hearts, we must fill them with the word of God. The child who knows that God wants her to obey her parents can resist the temptation to shout at her mom. Because the daughter trusts God’s word, she goes and cleans up her room without complaining, knowing that obedience is better than sitting in front of the T.V. If we fill our hearts with the Bible, we can walk by the Spirit and avoid anger, envy, and so much more (Gal. 5:16).  As the hymn says, “Trust and obey, /For there’s no other way/To be happy in Jesus,/But to trust and obey.”

Second, we stop trusting our heart. Is there anything more counter cultural? Pretty much disney-world-978134_1920.jpgevery Disney Movie ever made tells us to “Trust our Hearts.” And every Hallmark heroine solves life’s grand dilemma’s by “following her heart.” According to our culture, true love, goodness, and wisdom is said to be found within. But, the Bible says the opposite.

To guard our hearts, we must stop listening to them. In Proverbs 3:5, we are told “not to lean on our own understanding.” Proverbs 28:19 amps up the command stating, “He that trust in his own heart is a fool.” Why is God so against us following our hearts? Is he a romantic killjoy? No. God is a loving merciful, savior who understand you and me better than you and I understand you and me. God knows we are all sinners. He knows that our hearts are “deceitfully above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). He knows that to listen to our hearts is to listen to a liar. We wouldn’t ask a Bernie Madoff to oversee our investments. Why would we trust our heart to guide us to true love? Similarly,  we would not ask Bonnie and Clyde to watch our kids while we went out on a date. Why would we trust our heart to tell us how to treat our kids when they disobey us? Our hearts are not the beautiful things that Valentine’s Day cards are made of. They are muddy pits of despair. Don’t listen to them.

Instead of listening to our hearts, we need to preach to them. We need to daily remind our hearts of God’s grace, wisdom, and mercy. Instead of trusting our feelings and emotions, we need to inform them. We need to compare them to scripture. We must make them match up to God’s words. To guard our hearts well, we must daily fill our hearts with the things of God.

Does God care about who we date and marry? Most definitely! But guarding our heart is not just a dating principle. It’s a way a life. It’s something we have to do every day. We have to guard our hearts!

How are you guarding your heart?