Unless you were born and raised in a religious, traditional family, it is most likely that by the age of 16, you were already deep into dating relationships, emotional and maybe also physical intimacy, pangs of broken heart and general lightheadedness about interacting with the opposite sex.
I was 15 when I started dating, and I think I should mention that most of my friends started seeing their first boyfriend even earlier. At an age when we would have been much better off building our personalities and learning from the experience and wisdom of elders, we were allowed – and even encouraged – to pursue relationships with boys who most likely would not become our lifetime partners.
It goes without saying that no one expected me to actually get married before the age of 25. And so, between 15 and 25, like most young people these days, I had to face the prospect of many long years of meaningless relationships, escaping from one temporary attachment to another, getting involved and breaking up when it became convenient, until my poor heart became hardened to both attachment and separation.
And this foolish, dangerous, not the least bit purposeful strategy was supposed, somehow, to prepare me for marriage, for commitment that would last the rest of my life! If you think about it, have you ever heard of anything more absurd? I know dating is normal in our culture, so normal, in fact, that those who try to get to know their future spouse in any other way are considered weird; but sadly, divorce is very common as well.
If you really think it over, you can't help but reach the conclusion that the two are links of the same chain. When a young person spends many precious years hopping from one relationship to another, the inevitable consequences of such practice are cheapening of the priceless connection between man and woman, unwillingness to commit, to compromise, to sacrifice, and in short, aversion and phobia from having a normal, steady married life. And this, in my opinion, is nothing short of a disaster.
Now, some may say, 'I dated, and I'm very happily married'; I can't say it's impossible, because nothing is impossible to our awesome God. I dated too, and do hope to be happily married, with my pains erased and my heart happily given over to Him. But I know that if God, indeed, blesses me with the gift of happy and peaceful married life, it will be despite, not thanks to, the dangerous practice of dating I have led for years and years. And I know that if I'm ever blessed with children, dating is not what I want for them. I want to spare them the unnecessary ache and despair, and guide them to purity of heart and truly happy marriage, in God's perfect timing.