This is the 3rd post relating to our Jr High Modgnik Retreat. The previous ones are here and here. On the Saturday evening session, we discussed one of the most prominent cultural battlegrounds for middle schoolers: dating and relationships. This was probably the most blatantly challenging topic for the kids in general, although my discussion with our lads didn’t reveal what other groups no doubt experienced. Here are some notes I took.
- Students didn’t create romance; God did.
- Most of you aren’t ready for marriage. As a result, our kids don’t need to resort to the standard way of announcing a deep and meaningful relationship which will last all of 3 weeks (on the long end) by facebook. David Grant called it making it “Facebook Official.” I will always comment with something clever when I see this announcement.
- Consider the fact that there is a better way to do Romantic Relationships
- Yes, but not Yet; don’t give heart away till marriage. Guard the heart.
- Song of Solomon-2:7; 3:5; 8:4 “don’t stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” In other words, wait to till you’re truly ready.
- Resisting Exclusive Relationship
- Beware of the “Our love/relationship with my boyfriend/girlfriend is better than all other relationships” thinking
- Don’t exclusively date
- Remember there is strength in numbers
- Dating or hanging out in groups limits physical temptation
- Friends can speak into relationships when you are around friends and not when you exclusively isolate yourself with your “lover.”
- Intimacy slows in groups, and the heart can be protected
- Your Heart belongs to Jesus and only He completes you
I thought this talk was a much need alternative to the standard model of “facebook” official dating our kids are so into these days. I really appreciated the fact that he presented the principles of the talk from the scriptures, common sense, and experience. In the end, he encouraged one main application: don’t exclusively date people now because physically and emotionally middle schoolers are just not ready.
So he resisted the pharisaical stance, “You can’t date now and if you do, you are clearly in sin.” The bible just doesn’t say that, and so David wisely didn’t approach it from that route. I appreciated that. Not only is it gospel centered, but such an approach encourages honest dialog instead of a fight where one person is forced to defend THE (albeit unclear) biblical position.
What he did was let the youth know that it is not wise to exclusive date now. While dating as a middle schooler is not sin per se, it does open the door to sins. For instance, exclusive dating run amuck will isolate you from other important same-sex relationships that you need. It obviously can eventually lead to sex before marriage, which is now just as common in professing Christians as it is in those who aren’t. Finally, since 99 out of 100 middle school relationships do not end in marriage (I confess I made that up, but I doubt I’m off by too much), and those that end may not end amicably, kids are having to deal with serious heartbreak before they’re ready.
In David’s opinion, and its one that I share, exclusive dating at the middle school age is not a great idea. You may disagree personally, but I would encourage you to at least consider some of his counsel. He’s been involved in youth ministry for many years, and has 5 kids, only one of which is still youth age. So it probably deserves some thought before reactively rejecting all he said.
One more talk to go, then I’ll be back to blogging my normal stuff, whatever “normal” is for me.