Wouldn't it make life as a parent of teenagers so much easier, if there was just this standard parental law that said there was to be no dating allowed until you're 18 or 21 or maybe 25? There would be no stressing over rules. No discussions would be needed about how long is too long to be on the phone with that special someone. There would be less damage to hearts and less emotional baggage. There would be more healthy marriages because there would be less regrets over past relationships.
While there is no law against dating, I think as Christian parents we must set high standards for our teens to not only protect them but also to set them up for successful marriages in the future. How many of us made stupid decisions in a teen relationship that we wish we could go back and redo? How much of our hearts did we just give away for a little bit of attention? How many of us are actually married to our high school sweetheart?
Too many teenagers are becoming emotionally attached to their boyfriends or girlfriends at very early ages. They are defining who they are based on who they're dating. And if that relationship doesnt work out, their world crashes and then they quickly find someone else to attach themselves to. Each time they are giving away pieces of their heart that they will never get back. By the time they are old enough for marriage, their heart is so damaged and beat up that they can't figure out how to unconditionally love someone else. I do not want that for my children. I want them to enter marriage with full healthy hearts that are overflowing with love for their spouse. I don't want their minds to be full of regrets. That's why we have chosen to institute the Carlson Family Dating Covenant.
This covenant has extremely high Biblical standards of what a God honoring relationship looks like. It discourages physical contact and it limits the amount of time spent together each week. It does not allow the couple to be alone together in cars, homes, or anywhere that there is no accountability. It encourages spending time together with family or groups of friends. It discourages emotional intimacy that God meant for marriage. It also encourages each person to make their relationship with God more important than any other relationship. Each aspect of this covenant is based on the authority of God's Word. A God-centered relationship requires each individual to surrender completely to God's plan. Is this an easy task? No! It requires daily or possibly hourly dying to selfish fleshly desires. Can it be done? Yes! But only by daily feeding on God's Word and gaining strength through Him.
Some may say "Those standards are way too high and no teenager can be expected to have a relationship like that. There's nothing wrong with holding hands or a goodnight kiss." And that is correct, there is nothing wrong with that but the danger comes in when that's no longer enough. Relationships are always progressing and growing more intimate. Kisses get longer and hand holding becomes arms wrapped around each other. That's the way God created us. He created us to respond to touch. When we awaken that desire for touch before marriage, then we are going against God's design for relationships. When we allow our teenagers and young adults to have such low standards then we shouldn't be surprised by the number of teens who succumb to temptation and have sex before marriage.
Many of the teens sitting in our churches have crossed that line. Some had parents who set high standards and the teens chose to ignore those and do their own thing. There are some whose parents set low standards because they didn't want to be the "bad parent" and they wanted their kids to just have fun. And there are some who started with high standards but became weary and exhausted with the constant battles and just gave up. Parents, we can't give up!! We can't let the world be our measuring stick. We can't be naive and think that just because our children are in the youth group, they are safe from the temptations of this world. We must seek God and His Word and use that as our standard to live by.
I'm curious to know if others out there have created a dating covenant? If your children are years away from dating, do you plan to use a covenant?
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.