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Christian Living

Family

What About Kids and Dating?

Jim Burns - Contributing Writer

Love, dating and relating to the opposite sex are important factors in living out the "Purity Code". How kids relate to the opposite sex and how they eventually date will determine the success of their relationships and say a lot about their Christian commitment.

Parents and youth workers can play an important role in equipping kids to navigate the dating years. Here are some things we can do:

1.  Promote “Radical Respect” in Opposite Sex Relationships

Far too many Christian adolescents don’t have a clue that there is a better way to relate to the opposite sex than what the world shows us. The better way is what I call radical respect. This means that we are called to treat the opposite sex with a special kind of respect because Christ lives within them. This may just be one of the most important lessons related to living out the "Purity Code". As you are aware, there really is a major difference between the world’s philosophy about dating and the Christian approach.

The apostle Paul summed up the Christian attitude when he said:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:3-5

When we talk to kids about dating, we can help them set the biblical standard of considering another person’s interest above themselves, and that love means wanting the very best for that person.

I like to use the following illustration with kids when I talk about dating. You might find it helpful in your ministry situation too.

David and Donna are Christians. They like each other. David is not dating just Donna, a very cute girl with a beautiful smile and a terrific personality. David is dating Jesus, who lives within Donna. David too is a very special person. He is kind, good-looking, smart, and a great soccer player. But there is more. David has Jesus Christ living inside him by the power of the Holy Spirit. This means Donna is, in a spiritual sense, dating Jesus, who lives inside David.

This is the cornerstone of radical respect. Kids need to learn that they should treat their dates as if Jesus lives in him or her. When our students decide to follow the way of radical respect, it will help to keep their life free of problems in the many relationships they have with persons of the opposite sex.

2. Explain the Two Kinds of Dating

There are two kinds of dating—exclusive and inclusive. Exclusive dating refers to two people dating each other. It’s steady and serious. Inclusive dating refers to kids relating to many friends of the opposite sex. An inclusive date can be five girls and four guys who go to the mall together. It’s three guys and two girls who meet at someone’s home for pizza and a DVD. The point is that many kids misunderstand dating. They think it always has to be one-on-one. It doesn’t. Inclusive dating provides kids with a great opportunity to hone their opposite sex relationship skills while providing a safer environment for them to stay accountable and on track in keeping the "Purity Code".

Far too many students begin exclusive relationships too early. I believe that most people who began dating at an early age would say they regret it. When kids exclusively date at an early age, they set themselves up for easily breaking the "Purity Code".

Youth workers and parents can help create a culture with teenagers that embraces the inclusive dating concept. Our kids will be the better for it in the long run!

3. Provide Opportunities for Opposite Sex Socialization

Youth ministry meetings and events provide great opportunities for kids to work on their opposite sex relationships. If you are providing at least some time when kids can hang out and talk, that’s really all you need to do. The kids will take care of the rest. Still, typically, there will be some students who are shy or haven’t yet developed the social skills necessary to initiate a conversation with a person of the opposite sex. So, from time to time, consider including some structured time for kids of both sexes to talk in small groups or one-on-one.

Excerpted and adapted from The Purity Code by Jim Burns.

Printed by permission of HomeWord. For additional information on HomeWord, visit www.homeword.com.

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