--A Ralph Johnson


(The following article was originally printed in THE PILLAR, a paper for teens, edited by Joe Buckles in Portland, Oregon under the title, “Glimpses Into dating.”  It has been revised and updated with the hope that it will be helpful in having a fun time in your dating experiences and an eventual rich, rewarding and long-lasting marriage. See at the end for further information)


I.                   DREAMING OF THE HUNT


The lovely maiden meets the handsome prince.  The sun beams down. The clouds drift in fleecy patterns across the deep blue sky.  The grass becomes a carpet of velvet.  Flowers burst forth into a rainbow of dainty colors.  A soft warm breeze fills the air with delicate perfume.  The young man smiles and the maiden blushes at the quickening beat of her heart.  He takes her hand, and they walk along the garden path while the birds sing sweetly and the bees hum softly in harmony.  –Such is the beautiful story of young love as it was once pictured in poetry and song.


Today, all too often their hearts are turned aside from the garden of goodness to the path of pleasure.  The prince passionately kisses the princess.  She turns into a horrid bat and he becomes a loathsome toad.  The music stops.  Black clouds roll in to blot out the sun.  The garden withers into a hated patch of thorns and nettles where fearful beasts of prey lurk in the shadows.  Guilt and fear descend like a shroud, and the once beautiful dream becomes a nightmare.


Young people, the days of courtship are some of the most critical and deceptive you will ever face.  You stand at the crossroads of life.  One path leads upwards through the mountains into lovely valleys of happiness, satisfaction and peace of mind.  The other is a deceptively appearing wide easy road descending towards an apparent lush plain but ends in the dismal swamps of heartbreak and despair.  You pass along the road of life but once.  It is impossible to go back and “un-live” the steps you make.  If you make the wrong decisions, your youth will be gone, and you will have haunting, ugly memories and a troubled future. 


The outcome is not determined at the altar.  It is decided long before, in the attitudes with which you enter into dating.  If you want a successful marriage, you must make the right decisions NOW.  The course of your future is at stake.  YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO BE WRONG! How can this be avoided?  Where can one turn for guidance?




The first step in making good decisions is to honestly recognize your own limitations.  Unless you accept the fact that your experience may be inadequate to warn of dangers, you will not heed the sound advice of others.  You can, however, be warned by experiences you have never had.  The gains of civilization are based upon the ability of some to communicate their experiences to others.  It has been well said, “Learn from other people’s experiences—you will never live long enough to have them all yourself.”


Young people often say, “I don’t feel there is anything dangerous about what I am doing.”  My answer is, “Good, -- In order to feel the danger, you would already have suffered its pain.”  One cannot comprehend the power of such emotions until they have experienced them, or felt the consequences of a mistake until it has been made.  It is vital to one’s spiritual welfare to control sexual feelings by saving them until marriage.  It is idiotic to stick your head into a lion’s mouth just because you have never had the experience of being bitten!


1 Corinthians 10:12   12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.


The second step in sound decisions is to have a healthy respect for the warnings of potential dangers given by those who are spiritually competent.  Most people who get into trouble have brushed aside repeated cautions.  They embrace the seductive delusion that they can flirt with disaster without consequences.  Like the silly moth, fascinated by the candle, they go flitting back and forth, ever nearer until it is too late.  It may seem like an exciting game but the toll of suffering is fearful.  The great King Solomon said, “Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27)  It is not smart to play “chicken” with the Devil with your destiny at stake!


“There was a young lady from Niger,

Who smiled as she rode on a tiger,

They came back from the ride---

With the lady inside,

And the smile on the face of the tiger!”


The third step in making sound decisions is to be fully informed!  The fact that some young people seem to want to be ignorant is one of the most frustrating things with which I must deal.  They strongly dislike being disturbed by warnings of danger in their sinful pleasures.  Any probing sense of guilt is resented. Anyone who tells them the truth is a “meddler,” a “party pooper,” and “trying to keep us from having fun.” In shutting eyes and stopping ears they act like they think they can avoid the laws of gravity.




The danger of stirring up the forces within can be deceptive but once ignited those fires can quickly become overwhelming, burning fiercely out of control.


Do not deceive yourself into thinking those feelings will be restrained, once unleashed.  Passion dulls the conscience and the consequences are lost sight of in the excitement of the moment.  Your good name and peace of mind, both of yourself and your family may be destroyed and your very future destroyed.


People scoff at the “old fashioned” ideals of being a virgin at marriage but the consequences are real.  Like the Bible says in Proverbs concerning those who will not listen to wisdom,


But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:  26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; (Prov. 1:25)


There is the danger of an unprepared for child, who may be given up, never to be seen again, or perhaps its life snuffed out before being born with the haunting guilt for a decision that can never be taken back. God can forgive, but a person may have difficulty ever being able to forgive themself.  A pill can be taken to protect from pregnancy.  Medications may be take to heal some infections.  there is no But pill for guilt.  One can attempt to shut their eyes and pretend it isn’t there.  They can even get others to assure them that they are not to blame for their “mistake.  However, just like losing an arm in an accident, there may be terrible consequences that can never be entirely undone.


There is the danger of a hasty and ill-prepared-for marriage, already blighted by a mutual loss of self-respect and the sickening feeling of having been “trapped.”  Intimacies prior to marriage rob it of the wonder of its true intent and make the home a kind of troubled afterthought.  It is like going to one’s wedding reception and finding nothing but dirty dishes and leftovers.  The seeds thus sown tend to germinate distrust, contempt and disillusionment –a soiled after-thought to something that should be the beginning of a beautiful and wonderful life together.  The common rubble of broken homes and fractured relationships is testimony enough to the problem.


Most terrible of all is the resultant devastation upon children who often do not know who their father or mother is, and grow up in single parent homes—or under repeated different foster-parents.  They have little stability, with little or no role models to follow, sometimes not even identified with their true sexual identity.  Is it no wonder that kids today are so much involved in delinquency, crime, emotional disorders and sometimes even in murder?


Irresponsible dating behavior can result in your heart being hardened and ultimately your eternal hope denied.  The scriptures clearly warn that those who indulge in fornication will answer to God.  (1Cor. 10:1-13; 6:9-20; 7:2, 9; 1Thes 4:1-5; Eph. 5:1-6)


Early marriage multiplies the danger of sacrifice of education, loss of career, and forced resignation to a lower standard of living.  There is the haunting sense of guilt that tortures the soul and causes emotional stress, and even self-destruction. 


When you consider sex before marriage you had better consider the possibility of disease and even death.  Abstinence is a sure prevention if both parties follow the Christian rules.  Those who ignore this are sleeping with every person the other party has slept with.  God has already given us the solution for AIDS and other such diseases.  Those who ignore his counsel do so at peril of misery and death.


People do not like to face these facts, but as a minister, I cannot afford the luxury of such delusions.  I may be considered “narrow-minded,” “stuffy” or a “threat to freedom” but I know the devastation to which this path leads. 


It is like the classic taunt to the traffic cop, “Why don’t you go out and catch criminals instead of picking on us?”  THEY don’t have to rush to the scene of a flaming wreck to hear the agonized screams of victims of irresponsible behavior.  THEY don’t see the teen-age girl lying on the pavement with one side of her face gone, gasping her last breath.  THEY don’t have to restrain a hysterical mother from trying to reach a child pinned under an overturned automobile.


I have been there listening to the sobs of shame and grief over stricken and wretched lives.  It tears my soul as I hear young people weeping, “If only I had listened.”  It is my job to pick up the pieces of shattered lives and try to restore them to some useful form. 


My unfortunate observation is that in most cases of martial problems, the course of tragedy was written by attitudes and intimacies before marriage.  When I see the misery and desolation that results from “innocent” indulgences from ignoring the dangers, I don’t feel so “tolerant” or “broadminded.”


However, there are always those who think they can wink at God’s warnings.  Their laughter will be a hollow mockery ringing in their ears throughout eternity.


No one thumbs his nose at the laws of nature and the commandments of God with impunity.


 “Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.  He that sowed unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption…” (Galatians 6:7-8). 


You can’t get grapes from thistle seed.  Young people, it will do you no good to sow your wild oats and then hope for crop failure!




Don’t get “lost” and end up in trouble.  Dating must not be guided merely but what one “wants.”  It is far better to cautiously “want” in, than to act impulsively and to desperately want out.  Proverbs 28:26 puts it bluntly: “He that trusts in his own heart is a fool.”  It is well to remember the old adage, “Act in haste, --repent at leisure!”


You must search God’s word.  It can prepare you properly to make good decisions.


2Tim. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.


There is no greater source of guidance than the Holy Scriptures.  Remember the words of Psalms 119:11. “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”  Thus your moral character will become strong and your judgment sharpened. 


The book of Proverbs is especially good for young men.  Proverbs 31:10-31 provides the model woman for their search and the kind of woman girls should become to find the right kind of guy.


You need to have the right attitude towards this guide.  You need to desire to do God’s will.  He knows best.


John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know…


The wonderful thing about the Bible is that it has been tested for thousands of years and it still works.  However, reading alone is not enough. For it to work, it must be obeyed. 


Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.


Luke 6:47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:  48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.


If we want God’s help in understanding and carrying out His will, we must ask for his wisdom and guidance.


James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (cf. Heb. 5:14)


Proverbs 3: 5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.


Because it takes time to grow, and we find ourselves weak and lacking experience, God has also provided for us the collective counsel of others.


Proverbs 11:14 Where no wise guidance is, the people falleth; But in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.


Ecc. 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up 11… and a threefold cord is not easily broken.


Thus, God tells us to be obedient to those in charge over us.


Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  2 Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise), 3 that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.


Young people, if you are wise, you will make your parents partners in one of the most important decisions of your life.  Beware of dating anyone who produces strong concern in your parents, or who does not indicate respect for theirs.  Parents have had much more experience upon which to make a judgment and can provide invaluable help in making sound decisions, and they are concerned for your welfare.  Their experiences can be of the utmost value in making good decisions.  Of course, they are not infallible, but neither are you.  Listen closely. “A wise son heareth his father’s instructions…” (proverbs 13:1)


If you have made a practice of conducting yourself in a responsible manner, your parents will probably be very understanding and helpful.  On the other hand, if you have been reckless and irresponsible, they cannot be blamed for being reluctant to trust your judgment.  In any case, it is up to you to win their confidence through attention to their advice and respect for their feelings.  Try it and amaze your parents!  You may see the “generation gap” all but disappear when they find it isn’t the one between your ears!


Another source of guidance should be found in spiritual leaders of the church. The scripture says,


Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.


The qualifications of their office make them some of the most reliable sources of guidance available.  They are to be free from things that would dull their sense of danger.  They must possess leadership, good judgment and compassion.  They are to be close to God in prayer and well acquainted with the Scriptures.  They have years of personal observation, training, and experience in dealing with problems related to dating.  They love your soul and want only your best welfare.  Do not wait for criticism.  Invite their help and guidance from the very first.  It is rare to hear of anyone regretting having listened to good advice.  Proverbs 15:32 says, “He that refuses instruction despises his own soul: but he that hears reproof gets understanding.”


The fundamental rule in seeking guidance is to LISTEN TO EXPERIENCE AND SUCCESS.  Be certain that this includes SPIRITUAL SUCCESS.  Follow the advice and examples of those who are winners in the long haul.  The Bible says,


Matthew 15:14 …if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit.


V.                 ARE YOU PREPARED?


Dating, like driving, is not a carefree lark.  It carries with it some very sobering responsibilities.  Unless you are prepared to assume them you will be a menace both to yourself and others.  The following questions, if applied personally, will be a useful aid in helping to determine if you are prepared for dating.


A.     Do you fully understand and accept the purpose and responsibilities of dating? 


When God created man and woman, He placed within them the biological urge to come together and have children.  He declared that a man should leave his father and mother and be joined unto his wife; and the two should become “one flesh” (Matthew 19:5).  The young person who fails to respect this is often like the canoeist out for an afternoon of pleasure, unaware of the quickening pace of the current and the fatal pull of the falls just around the bend.  In dating, many young people are caught up by their emotions and swept towards a premature and ill-founded marriage which often hurts both them and others, or something worse.


B.     Do you really want to date? 


Parents, friends and society in general, often pressure young people into dating before they are ready.  Parents sometimes want to re-live their fantasies in their children’s lives. Dating to conform to the attitudes of those around us often results in injury to the kids and serious problems in the future.


Do not let the jokes or hints of others push you into something you are not ready for.  You will not die if you aren’t engaged by your 18th birthday.  It is much better to wait a while and have a happy, enduring marriage than to risk the future of your family-to-be with a hasty decision!  As Abby once advised in her column, “Early marriages are for the birds—and remember girls, ‘The early bird gets the WORM!’”


Wait until you are ready. Indeed, while it may be best for most to marry, there is nothing wrong with being single (1Cor. 7:7-9).


The worst thing of all is to view marriage as an escape or to express rebellion.  It may seem that ANYTHING is better than being at home, but if you marry the wrong person, believe me, you will be stuck with a home you won’t like!


C.     Are you mature enough to listen to sound advice and avoid situations where your feelings may take control?


It is my observation that those who do not use common sense and self-control to avoid dangerous situations in the first place, will not have the judgment or strength to cope with stirred up romantic feelings when under pressure.  The very fact that the person permits himself to be enticed to take chances betrays a fundamental weakness which totally deserts him under stress in more critical situations.  Furthermore, the person who flirts with danger weakens their will to resist.  It has been well said, “Familiarity breeds consent.”


VI.              WHAT IS DATING?


To avoid the pitfalls of dating, it is helpful to understand its purpose. This is the point when, in our society, the process of making a choice of a mate begins.  Dating is not just a carefree frolic.  It has a very important purpose—to make a decision about a life-long commitment between two people.  When it is regarded as only a game, somebody eventually will probably get hurt.


Remember, “Dating is for mating!”


Actually, there is no sharply defined line between being good friends and dating.  Young people may enjoy companionship at home, at school, at church, or elsewhere.  Formal dating begins when a girl and boy choose to see each other with a more romantic interest in view.


It is wise to be cautious about becoming to heavily involved until you are prepared for the responsibilities of marriage.  In particular, don’t date anyone you would not be willing to marry, and don’t date seriously until you are ready to marry. 




I am told that the difference between some girls and a rooster is that the rooster says, “Cuck-a-dod’ll doo,” while they think “ANY dood’ll doo”! 


A wise “fisher-person” is a bit choosy about his “catch” (Just say, “Sorry Charley…”) and the wise “fish” will be a little cautious about the kind of “bait” it bites on. 


Since the biological purpose of dating is the choice of a mate, it is unwise to date anyone you could not properly marry.  The Bible plainly tells us that the Christian is to marry “only in the Lord” (1Corinthians 7:39). 


Many times people date with the misguided notion that if they don’t intend to marry the person, dating is OK.  However, it is a jolting thing to wake up to the fact that you have “fallen in love” with someone you must not marry.  When things reach the “in love” stage, they usually begin rationalizing their way around what God has said and looking for someone who will tell them what they want to hear. 


“Love” shuts off the feelings of warning and clouds judgment.  You simply do not WANT to accept the idea that it could not happen.  Positive reasons are magnified and any shred of encouragement is clutched in hope.  Failures and weaknesses are minimized.  It is rationalized that the person is better and certainly no worse than others in the church.  You will insist that people do not understand the person, and may become defensive towards friends who try to warn, or you will find yourself trying to reason your way around what the Bible says.  


Some argue that their date is really not an “unbeliever” because they say they believe in God.  They forget that so does the devil (James 2:19).  A LIVING faith is one that obeys God (cf. Acts 5:32).  Have they been baptized into Christ? (Rom. 6:3. cf. 2Cor. 5:17; Rom. 8:1) Are they living for God?


Some try to get around this with the illusion that their mates will “change” and become a Christian after they marry.  That rarely happens.  Failure to stand by your convictions will itself place a stumbling block before the person.  Indeed, they may conclude that they can change you.  If you do not have enough conviction to stand by your faith, why should they respect it?  If you do not have the strength to be faithful before marriage, it is highly unlikely you will afterwards.  It is much easier to get things started off right than to straighten out problems after they have begun.


Some dispute the Biblical teaching on what is required to become a Christian.  Some simply attack the church as if it were seeking to deny them something good.  These young people shut their eyes to the fact that the intent of God’s commands is to spare them from things that weaken and hurt their spiritual lives.  As someone has wisely said, “if you marry a child of the devil, don’t be surprised if you have trouble with your Father-in-law!”


The solution to these problems is to not date non-Christians in the first place.  God has placed a barrier of protection at the point where these ties are being formed.  First Corinthians 15:33 says, “Be not deceived; evil companionships corrupt good morals.” If a believer does not form companionships with unbelievers he is never going to marry one!


2Cor. 6:14 Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord,…


The warnings of scripture not only guide us away from marriages with unbelievers, but they also isolate us from those who would assume the guise of piety without living the life.  God provides extensive lists of the kinds of things to avoid.


Timothy 3:2 lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away.


Some justify dating non-believers on the basis that they are just trying to bring them to be a Christian.  It is wonderful for young people to bring their friends to church and youth activities.  However, it is not good to put ones self in the position of being “bait.” Keep the romantic angle out.  It is unfair to lead someone on, and these things sometimes backfire and one or both parties get hurt. 


Beware of those who would pretend to be interested in the church to take advantage.  Some may even go through the formalities of conversion in order to be accepted.  Second Peter 2:22 illustrates that washing a sow doesn’t change its nature.   “Joining” the church does not make a person a Christian.


There are a number of ways to detect deception.  First, listen closely to the judgments of parents and church leaders.  They have the experience to see through impostures and how to check them out.


Wait for a few months before becoming romantically involved.  This gives time to see how serious they are without you as the incentive.  Fakes are usually impatient and if they think their act is accomplishing nothing they are quick to kick it.  However, if they continue to grow and remain patiently serving even when you are not around, that is a very good sign.  This is especially true if they take initiative in their growth and refuse to compromise what is right when the going is not easy.  Three areas of initiative are especially commendable: 1. Reading their Bible and asking questions; 2. Initiating and leading out in prayer; 3. Bringing friends to Christ.  The devil’s kids aren’t very spiritual and are rotten soul-winners.


Don’t put too high a premium on a pretty face.  Proverbs 11:22 says, “As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, So is a fair woman that is without discretion.” When you are evaluating the importance of the outward features, remember this: there is nothing quite so ugly as a pretty face twisted by a scowl.  Remember, a pretty package can have a bomb inside!


The most important features in a mate are spiritual qualities.   These are the real things that make for fulfillment and satisfaction over the long haul.  To have something priceless and lasting, look for the person with the “incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit” (1Peter 3:1-6).  Again, Solomon said, Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. (Prom. 31:30)


From the standpoint of common sense, it is wise to be cautious about wide personality, intellectual, social, racial or financial differences. Major differences tend to create stress upon a marriage.  Choosing more compatible relationships tends to establish long enduring relationships. Opposites may attract but they can create serious damage when they collide!


I am not advocating that dating be reduced to a systematic examination of one’s “papers” like a rancher checking on the pedigree of a piece of prime breeding stock.  However, there are long-range realities that can be very painful by ignoring realities.  True love wants those things to be shared as a part of the decision.  Love may be “blind” but a fire in the basement will not go out just because the lights are turned out upstairs


Do not be afraid to say no to a date.  Tradition of men may dictate that you must accept any date as it comes, but we are bound by higher principles.  Use the utmost kindness in declining the invitation, but the sooner the person recognizes that you do not wish to date, the easier it will be.  To prolong the situation only makes it more painful and feeds false hopes.  Declining should be done with kindness and consideration but no one should accept an undesirable date at the possible expense of having to turn down someone more desirable.




Getting a date is the most shaky part of the whole thing.  If you have read the Mayflower story of Priscilla and John Alden, you may have some appreciation of old Captain Miles Standish, who though a strong man fearing not to face death in battle, quavered at the possibility of a woman’s “NO.”  Instead of asking her himself, he sent John to ask for the lady’s hand in marriage.  When John asked her, “The maiden coyly smiled and said, Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?”  He was so shaken that he fled the scene in panic, but she finally got her man.  When facing the problem of getting a date, many a strong man has been turned into a stammering jellyfish, and dignified lades have become babbling giggly idiots!


I remember well hiding my feelings about the girl who was to become wife until finally galvanized to action by the intrusion of a rival.  Not knowing what to say to her, I sat down and wrote a letter asking if I could court her, and telling about the kind of MARRIAGE I had in mind if things worked out.  (Nothing like getting right to the point!) Fortunately, although somewhat bewildered, she suppressed any visible laughter and gave me a chance. (Never underestimate the power of a woman’s curiosity.)


I am reminded of the joke that went around when I went to Bible College.  The first year the girls were praying “Ah-men, Lord.”  The second year they were praying, “A Man Lord.”  The third year they were praying, “ANY MAN, Lord, --ANY MAN!”


My favorite joke has been to tell them I will put in a good word for them –“DESPERATE!”


Over the years, I have heard many girls and fellows asking, “Where can you find someone to marry?  My answer is, “Lift up your eyes and see that the fields are already white unto harvest.”  They are out there.  You have to recognize them and you may have to put some effort into the hunt.


Actually, good “catches” are not on the “Endangered Species List.”  They won’t become extinct if you don’t snare the first critter that comes along.   Beware of getting caught in a stampede to grab something at a fire sale because it is cheap –You can be sure it will be just that.


Compromising principles does not gain satisfaction.  I have often been saddened to see someone who, with a little patience and prudence, could have had a life-long banquet but ends up with a “crumb.”  Those who fall for short cuts only short-change themselves. 


Eligible prospects are really no more scarce than are good mates for them.  The problem is sorting through the looser list and getting the two together.  As I was explaining this to my college-age girls, one burst out, “Girls, maybe there’s still hope!”  Interestingly, every one of them is now happily married.


In considering someone, don’t ignore the person who may be less gifted.  Those who have everything—good looks, talent, money—often also have developed an expanded need for being praised and favored.  This tends toward selfish demands and dissatisfaction with their mates.  Those less favorably endowed may be more patient, kind and devoted.  I like what one of my young people once said.  She was telling of all the good things she wanted in a husband and concluded that he must be “perfect.”  Then, she hesitated and looked a bit thoughtful and said, “No, I want him to have just ONE fault—to keep him humble.” 


Many times, possibilities are passed over that could have been excellent.  For instance, I have known some beautiful marriages when a girl was a little older than the fellow.  Believe it or not, some fantastic marriages have been with two young people who grew up together in the same congregation!  How strange that people seem to be dazzled by the mystery and surprises of someone from some other place.  The fact is that many hidden rocks are often found down that road.  The grass may seem “greener” on the other side of the fence but remember that the fence is there for a purpose—and besides, you ain’t no cow!


So, where do we find these choices?  In spite of the fact that romance should not be a prime factor in conversions, it is a fact that from conversions come many of those who Christians marry.  Indeed, even I baptized the girl who became my wife.  However, my romantic interest only bloomed months later when she had shown serious dedication on her own.


When trying to convert someone of the opposite sex, particularly if there is an attraction, there are some basic precautions to be taken.  Include others in the study.  Avoid sitting close together.  Keep talks on a spiritual focus.  Bring them into contact with older more mature Christians, and encourage them to do the teaching. 


When I was in Bible College I had an experience that illustrates the problem.  I was invited by a girl to come to her house to teach her.  When I got there her mother was gone.  When she moved close and sat on a hassock as I talked I began to feel uncomfortable.  When she “accidentally” fell into my arms I was very disturbed.  I did not want to let her go but I realized that this was heading nowhere good.  I put an end to things and someone else took over the study. No real conversion was going to come from this.  It is pretty hard to get a vision of the “Promised Land” when eating at the “flesh-pots” of Egypt!


What if it appears there are no Christians to date?  In the first place, let it be clearly understood that the shortage of prospects is not a good reason to ignore what God says.  Only the foolish, like Esau, cast away their inheritance for a “mess of pottage.”  Afterwards he could not change things even though he wept bitter tears (Hebrews 12:16-17).  It is much better to walk by faith like Isaac who was provided one of the finest wives in the Bible (Genesis 24).  “Seek ye first the kingdom” (Matthew 6:33).  “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28)


There are different ways of getting dates.  A girl can throw herself at the guy like a piece of meat to a hungry wolf.  If so, she can expect to attract “wolves.”  On the other hand, she can present herself as an intelligent beautiful person with a view to a permanent commitment to responsibility. 


A basic rule is, “To catch the interest of the kind of person you want, be the kind of person, the kind of person you are looking for would want.”  If you don’t then don’t be surprised if the kind of person you do not want is the kind you attract.


A.     Dress, Act, and talk like a Christian.


If something that looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, it is likely to attract either ducks or duck hunters.  If you imitate the world in its unspiritual ways, you can expect to attract the worldly types.  Spiritual minded people will not be interested.  When girls bemoan how awful boys are and that they must constantly “fight off their advances,” you can be pretty sure that there is something wrong with the signals they are sending out. (“Where the carcass is, there shall the FLIES be gathered together!”)  If you want to catch the attention of a Christian you must BE a Christian.


Girls who’s emphasis is on the physical should not be surprised if men only view them as sex-objects, rather than appreciating them as a person.  The solution is to de-emphasize the outside and accentuate the beauty of the inner person (1Peter 3:3-4).


Even more sad is the fact that many who are less gifted, lazy or ignorant, have embraced the mistaken notion that by raising their hemlines six inches, they can blind the fellows to everything else!  Doing that only cheapens the girl, detracts from her genuine assets and attracts fellows who are thinking of themselves rather than the welfare of the girl.  Meaningful romance and long-range happiness will not be found by putting yourself on display like a pot roast in a butcher shop!


If you feel limited in natural features, draw attention to more lasting virtues that make anyone attractive.  That kind of beauty is more than skin deep.


Some girls smear on the paint like shoe-polish with a putty knife and green eyelash that makes them look like Draculua’s mother-in-law!  A smile and a kindly disposition will beat that kind of attraction long term, hands down.


1Tim 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 But (which becometh women professing godliness ) with good works.


There isn’t much competition in these areas.  Such behavior loudly proclaims the charms for all to hear and finds many ready to champion their cause.  Four-wheeled chariots come from afar in quest of such a princess. 


Active people with a quick warm smile are always noticed, and being busy gives them a legitimate reason to be where they are without appearing to be just hanging around.


Likewise, over the long haul, Christian qualities of a young man far outweigh the typical male swagger.

Tit. 2:6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.  7 In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,  8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.


B.     Be warm and friendly.


Don’t be an icicle.  Some are very pretty, but who wants a perma-frost marriage?  You must be seen as friendly and approachable.  Smile easily.  Speak kindly.  Put them at ease—they may be just as scared to speak as you.  Laugh with others and at yourself.  Be a bit of a tease.  The simple rule is to just be fun to be with. 


Beware of being “forward,” but a little encouragement can go a long way to get past the “Cowardly Lion” in some fellows.  They just need to know that you are not beyond reach. Just remember, a little pepper may add flavor to your egg, but use it sparingly. 


Especially, try to remember names. People like to have you remember them.


Do not monopolize the conversation, talk about yourself or follow them around like a starving hound waiting for them to drop a crumb of attention.  If you do, you will be left with the crumbs! Most people back away from the “eager puppy” who jumps all over them and tries licking them on the face.


Remember the old proverb (25:17) Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee. 


C.     Have a life centered on Christ.


Pray, learn, and teach.  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…” (Matt. 6:25) and it is pretty certain that you will have plenty of chances to attract someone with the same devotion.  Let you actions speak for you.


D.    Be honest, humble and considerate.


Matthew 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted.


Vanity and conceit are annoying.  Readily give credit to other.  Do not try to show up others, call attention to their mistakes, cutting them down with crude jokes.   Listen.  Notice and commend people for good things.  Speak well of people—especially when they are not present.  When you speak well of people, even when they do things that make you feel bad, you reassure those with you that you will speak of them well when they are absent.  Speaking evil will make them uncomfortable that you might also speak evil of them.


Proverbs 27:2 Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth; A stranger, and not thine own



It can be good to have someone acting as your advocate.  Sometimes these can be “insiders” like sisters or brothers or close friends.  Some of the best commendation may come through making a favorable impression on others around the person.


Show a genuine interest in others and their views rather than just trying to impress them with yours.                                                                                                                                              


E.     Be thoughtful and generous.


Luke 6: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.


Show kindness to those less fortunate than yourself, especially toward children and the handicapped.  Most people have some feelings of insecurity.  Kindness to others gives a sense of reassurance and admiration that simply cannot be provided by physical features.  It shows you are approachable, compassionate and understanding.  It gives reassurance that you will be gentle with the other person’s heart, and you would be a great partner in raising a family.


Remember the Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:


Be a friend to everyone.  If you are liked by everyone else, it will go a long way toward making you attractive in the eyes of the person you want.  Many friends is a great “reference” when you put in your “homemaker’s application.”


I especially remember one of the girls in my college class who endeared herself to everyone with little notes of thoughtfulness and appreciation.  Predictably, a very eligible “prince charming” heard about her and came all the way from Portland, Oregon to check her out.  We were all cheering when she announced her engagement, and have been gratified by their long successful marriage and family.


F.      Be clean and neat.


Take care of your clothing and dress simply but attractively. Comb your hair.  Bathe regularly. Use a good deodorant.  Brush your teeth—to keep the loathsome “dragon” from rearing its snorting head between your friendships.  Need I add, leave the “weed” alone?  It does not enhance anyone’s attractiveness to open their mouth and smell like a half-burned garbage dump!


Good grooming is important.  It should begin with a clean heart (Psalms 51:10).  It should result in the outside being clean also (Matthew 23:25-26).


Likewise the apostle Paul indicated the propriety of bestowing “honor” on those parts that we think to have less comeliness.  (1Cor. 12:23-24).


G.    Have a sweet disposition.


Avoid anger, disputing and jealousy.  Anger spoils beauty.  The more difficult the situation you face with dignity, the more attractively you will shine.


Painting over ugliness will not conceal a nasty disposition


Jeremiah 4:30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life. (cf. 2Kings 9:30).


The values of sweet disposition and good character will grow more endearing with time.  Beauty will fade.  The skin will wrinkle.  Muscles and frame will weaken and sag and what will be left is the real you.


Don’t be just a painted up Easter egg with a rotten center.  With that, the most you can hope for is to be added to somebody’s “collection.”


Don’t think that a lot of makeup smeared upon the face will cover up a nasty selfish disposition.  “Pretty is as pretty does.”  “True beauty rests in the eye of the beholder.”  A beautiful face with a vile disposition is a mockery.  A sweet happy disposition always makes a person look better.  Girls, the prettiest thing you can put on is a smile!


H.    Be courteous, well mannered and show good taste.


Good manners is the art of being sensitive to the feelings of others and making them comfortable.  It sometimes requires sacrifice of one’s own comfort.  That is one of the characteristics of Christians (Philippians 2:1-11; Rom. 13:7; 1Corinthians 9:19-23).  Ease the embarrassment of others.  Show appreciation for thoughtfulness and good in others.  


I.       Be Patient and look for this in your choice of a mate.


Impatience before marriage will mean impatience afterwards. 


Take the word of wise hunters.  Nothing will “spook” a “deer” like rushing around beating bushes trying to catch one! 


It may take a little time for your “heart-throb” to come to see you as the right choice.  I remember one girl who thought a certain fellow just wasn’t “her type.”  She kept looking at his patience and kindness and urging OTHER girls to date him.  I couldn’t help but chuckle when she finally sold herself on the fact that there really weren’t many around like him and decided to snap up the good deal for herself!


Sometimes the glitter of cheap “junk” lying around may make you wonder if you will be noticed.  It may take a little time to sort things out but the person with good sense and a proper appreciation of values looking for a permanent relationship will in time sort out the valuable from the superficial.


J.      Go to places where you will find the right kind of person.


Stay away from where the worldly sort hang out.  “Abby,” the columnist, was once asked by a couple of girls why the fellows they met at the dance hall always turned out to be “lemons.”  Her answer was right to the point:  “If you are looking for peaches, don’t go looking in a lemon grove!”


If you want a Christian you must go where they are.  They will be at the services of the church, at youth meetings, at church camps and at youth rallies.  Find them doing the kind of things that Christians do. 


You may even participate in creating activities that open up relationships with others.  One group of girls in a church that had no youth activities started a youth group by asking for help from the leadership of the church.  We have had special dating activities.  We even took a daylong trip to Canada on the ferry.  Mutually interesting activities can be created either within the church or between churches.  We have had inter-church skating parties, rented entirely by us.  I think it is a mistake for the church to ignore the dating of young people.  If we do not furnish supervised activities, they will go elsewhere with none.


What if no one seems eligible in the local congregation?  Then, expand your areas of contact.  Isaac found Rebekah in a far country (Genesis 24).  Ruth discovered Boaz in a foreign land.  Attend regional or national camps, retreats, rallies, singspirations or other gatherings.  Get involved.  Get around and if you feel too old to attend as a student, go as a teacher, counselor, nurse, or in the kitchen.  Other young men and women will be found working in these areas.  Likewise, there are retreats and activities where you may meet people.  You may even develop some project of your own where you can become acquainted.  One of the best keys to open such doors is service to the needs of others.


You may visit friends or relatives in other congregations.  You may establish a “pen-pal” relationship either through the computer or by “snail mail.”  Just be careful to check backgrounds carefully.


If you would be interested in the life of a church leader you may take classes toward that end and meet those participating in such training or go to college and get your “Mrs degree”  If not, then do not burden a preacher’s life by becoming involved.  He will have enough problems dealing with temperamental church members without having to put up with a dissatisfied wife.




There is no hard and fast rule about the frequency of dating.  As before, however, we may gain some reasonable conclusions from the purpose of dating and the safeguards God has provided.  Since the biological objective is to find a mate, then the question is, “How nearly are you prepared for marriage?”  It is unwise to begin serious dating very long before you can marry.  If both are Christians you will see plenty of one another informally and therefore, a special date occasionally should be plenty.  Even in the last year of school the principle of caution against becoming too deeply romantically involved, and the importance of maintaining other responsibilities towards home, church and school should indicate the wisdom of limiting dates to about once a week.


As mentioned before, they should seek the valuable guidance of parents and spiritual leaders.  The young person who is cautious will find that if restraint is maintained a healthy love will be made stronger.




A.     Make it an early practice to begin and end dates with prayer rather than a kiss.


This will set the tone for a deep and beautiful relationship and insulate from a lot of temptation.  Kissing is exciting but will increase temptation.  Don’t let things start heating up too soon.  Be “cool.”


B.     Include spiritual activity as part of dating.


Discuss Christian ideals, goals and where you want to go in life.  Read the Scriptures together.  Plan in some joint activities serving the Lord such as visiting older or sick people, running errands for shut-ins or singing at church.


C.     Stick with others.


Being with a group or another reliable couple provides protection from letting emotions get out of control.   Being with a couple that can’t keep their hands off of each other is worse than none at all.  Avoid idle time alone—even in your own homes!  Don’t wait for someone to impose supervision—invite it.


Sometimes young people try to lay a guilt trip on parents by crying, “You don’t trust me.”  Many parents pride themselves in how, “We believe in trusting our children.”  When I hear this, I see written across their foreheads in big letters, “SUCKER!”  These are the parents who come crying to say, “We thought we could trust them.”  Gullibility is the surest way to undermine trustworthiness in children.


My answer was, “No I don’t—I would not trust myself in dangerous situations—Why should I trust you?”  A lack of healthy respect for the procreative forces in every normal, red-blooded teenager is the poorest kind of risk.  People who deserve trust are those who do not take chances.  In so doing, they strengthen themselves in handling temptation.


D.     Plan activities in advance and stick to your plan.


Keep busy.  Keep active.  “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” –and idle hands are headed for trouble.  Aimless driving soon makes “parking” an inviting probability.


Let parents know where you will be and when you will be home.  If plans must be changed, make it an absolute rule to give them a call.  This will help to reassure them of your good judgment and your safety; and might be of the utmost importance in case of an emergency.  It is absolutely unchristian for young people to be inconsiderate of their parents’ concerns.


E.      Get to really know each other. 


Discuss the things you want out of life.  Talk about things you have in common.  Discover areas of difference.  Work to understand each other.


Dating is not just for “fun.”  You will soon find the game is for “keeps.”  Your whole future happiness rests upon the wisdom shown in making a choice of a mate.  Eyes must be open and an objective view of how your roles will play out in your future.


Remember that your date, like yourself, is on their very best behavior.  You must look closely to discover the kind of person this will be on some dreary afternoon, five years down the road, when things have gone wrong all day.


Observe how he or she behaves with others.  Does he have a lot of good, clean friends?  How does he get along with brothers and sisters?  What relationship does he have with his parents?  The young person who is always blaming others will probably be blaming you in the future.


What is his nature?  Is he respectful of others and the law?  Is he a success in school?  Does he carry through on responsibilities?  Is he generally ambitious and contented? –Or, is he selfish, quick-tempered, jealous, wallowing in self-pity and complaining of getting a “raw deal”?  Is he lazy, ill-mannered, sloppy, conceited or self-centered?  Don’t marry a kid you have to “raise” afterwards.


Don’t let him play on your sympathy and substitute alibis for success.  Every failure will supply a line of perfectly plausible excuses.  The fact is that the person with sound qualities will find ways of turning the difficulties of life into a pattern of successes.


X.                 PROPER AFFECTION


Ecc. 3:1, 5.  “ To everything there is a season…a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing


This is the point where the utmost good judgment must be maintained.  You won’t be hurt by being a little conservative.  The general rule is, IF IN DOUBT, DON’T!  Guard against anything that might spoil the beauty of your relationship.


Some forms of affection are appropriate but know this for certain: the more physical affection, the less satisfied you will be.  The thrill of fondling only increases the craving for increased intimacy.  Trying to satisfy these feelings by more caressing is as futile as trying to put out a fire with gasoline.  The common “pastime pleasure” of “necking” (kissing for fun) may begin innocently but draws the parties into urges that demand fulfillment.


Keep clearly in mind the ultimate objective of your dating—to have a lasting wonderful life together.  A kiss should be a sincere declaration of love and a pledge of unswerving devotion.  It should not be distorted into a frivolous pursuit of a cheap thrill as “payment” for a date.  Reserve your lips and embrace for just one person—the one who you will marry for life!


I said your lips should be reserved for the one you will marry—but even when you think you have found that one, beware of using this as a justification for throwing off restraint.  The most dangerous time may be during the weeks between your decision to marry and the time when you are pronounced “man and wife”!  Remember that God did not draw the line between privilege and impurity at engagement.  Any encouragement of sexual behavior prior to marriage is fornication—and fornication is sin.


Sometimes people rationalize that they are “going to get married anyway” so why wait?  The answer is that God warns against it.  He cares about your welfare.  He is trying to protect us, and He knows best.  Consider the following clipping:


Dear Abby:  I am writing this to try to keep some other girls from making the same mistake I made.  I started going with a boy in school.  We were very much in love and had such wonderful plans.  We were going to get married when we were through college.  We even decided how many children we wanted and what kind of furniture we were going to have.  Eventually he persuaded me to forget my moral standards because we were going to get married anyway and it would make the waiting easier.  He went away to college and I got a job when we graduated.  It has been three years now and when he came home for Christmas vacation he told me he wanted a girl with stronger “moral convictions.”  I don’t think I have to say any more.  Thank you.  Twenty-one and foolish.


Two people who are seriously attracted to each other for sound reasons don’t have to indulge in caressing to remain caring.  On the contrary, restraint actually tends to heighten the true character of love.  Wallowing in pleasure produces fear and guilt which spoils the true beauty of being in love and cheapens its purpose.  The look in the eye, nearness, a touch on the hand, the tone of voice—these not only say “I love you,” but “I respect you.”  “I have honorable feelings toward you.”  I will not do anything that would allow you to be hurt.”  “I possess the powers of self-control upon which you can always depend.”  “My love is not just a selfish physical desire.”




Be prepared against unforseen dangers.  Do not make changes in plans without calling home to keep your family informed.  Carry a little money and a cell-phone for emergencies.  If a fellow shows didrespect, rebuff him.  If he persists, get out and walk.  Call a taxi or your parents and then don’t make that mistake again.  (“You fool me once—that’s your fault, You fool me twice—that’s MY fault.”)  Plan for the best, but always be prepared to cope with the worst.


If you use good judgment, such incidents will be rare, but you should be aware of the possibilities.  Some guys will use anything possible to put on the pressure.  Don’t be taken in by these lines:


A.     The “Let’s Be Adults” approach.


He tries to make you feel like you are being childish about caution.  Only the girl who IS a little childish gets sucked into this one.  Tell him to “GROW UP!”


B.     The “Last Train Out” line.


--The guy plays on your fears that you will be left an old maid sitting at the station.  Tell him you will take the buss.


C.     The “New Fab” line.


He is going to “rescue” you from the “out-dated codes” of your great-grandmother.  Tell him that there is nothing more antiquated than two animals having sex, and that he should quit making a monkey out of himself.


D.     Some try the old “shoe Salesman” gimmick.


He argues that you need to know if you are “compatable.”  “Nobody buys a pair of shoes without trying them on to see if they fit.”  If you get conned by that one you will soon be “shopworn” and tossed aside to end up on the “bargain” counter.  Who wants something that has been pawed over and soiled.  Give him the BOOT!


E.      The “Lucky Girl” line.


He tries to keep you dangling, afraid you will lose him if you do not satisfy his whims.  Tell him the best bit of luck you ever had was finding out how little he respects you and how much he loves himself.  Let him try his luck at another gambling table.


F.      The “Financier” approach.


He lavishes all kinds of goodies upon you and then wants some “interest” on his investment.  Tell him your relationship has just gone BANKRUPT!


G.     The “Birds and Bees” come-on.


He keeps steering the conversation towards sex, hoping to turn you on.  Tell him if you wanted reliable information on the facts of life, you would have gone out with your MOTHER!


H.     The “Needy Orphan” approach.


He pictures himself as a “Poor lonely waif.” He needs someone to cuddle and love him, and you are so “understanding.”  Remember, you are not his mother and the more you pamper him the more dependent he will become.  Don’t reward either his tears or his tantrums.  Never become slave to a sick child.  Tell him to look up a local charity.


I.        The “Earnest Money” gimmick.


He demands that you surrender something “to prove your love.”  The surest way to lose everything is to start surrendering.  One of the most important ingredients in a lasting relationship is RESPECT!


Read 2Sam. 13:1-15 for a perfect example.  Ammon, the son of David forced Tamar into complying with his desires.  His reaction was typical.  Before the incident he was “sick with love,” but afterwards “he despised her so that his loathing was greater the desire he had felt in the beginning.”


When a fellow is looking for a “playmate,” they may say anything, but when he is looking for a wife, he wants somonee he can trust to stand by her principle.  If she won’t even compromise her morals for him, this is the greatest assurance that she will always be faithful.  Tell him you have no intention of laying anything on the line until he SIGNS THE CONTRACT!


The most important thing in responding to such advances is to not be drawn in.  Be casual.  Change the subject.  Don’t plead or try to rationalize them out of their fixations.  Let them howl and scold, but don’t get upset.  Remember the old broadcasting announcement.  “This a test.”  Many a man has found the tables turned when he thought he could indifferently walk away from a girl who stuck to her standards.  He may not realize it at the time, but when you pass that test, it may not be easy to ignore the gleam of such a jewel (you) from continuing to catch his eye.


The worst thing is to get upset.  If you do he knows he has control.  Be calm.  Be firm, and be decisive.  If he gets sick, don’t volunteer to be his nurse.  If he threatens suicide, tell him to call his family psychiatrist. 


The more sweet you can be, the more he will feel his failure (which, naturally he will try to cover up).  If you cater to his whims, he will only love himself more—not you.


However, this problem is not exclusive to girls.  Fellows also have to deal with girls who are only out for a little thrill.  They like to turn on the heat and watch you squirm.  “They use the old, “my hand is cold” routine.  (Tell her to put it in her pocket.)  They try tickling or punching you in the ribs or want to play “tag.”  They move in uncomfortably close when talking and lift their faces to beam invitingly into your eyes.  They instigate little games at parties, designed to get by your defenses.  They suggest the two of you stop by some scenic view at 10 o’clock in the evening to “watch the lights.”  At appropriate times they cry sweetly and play upon your sympathies.  They stub their little toes and fall, or get frightened into your arms.


KEEP YOUR HEADS FELLOWS.  It is all a part of the game.  Be the gentleman and play it straight.  You will drive ‘em mad!  When one girl asked me to show her how to “park,” I took her out in front of her house and had her practice parking WHILE I STOOD OUTSIDE AND GAVE DIRECTIONS.  It’s just like going to the carnival—don’t be a sucker for the little “cupie doll” the pitch-man offers for one “toss of the ball.”  




Long engagements tend to build up difficult pressures.  A long friendship permits you to know and understand each other better.  

Along this line, the formal institution of early romances (“going steady”), is for the birds. The purpose is to eliminate competition, but it is at the expense of the needed freedom and wide experiences in early youth. Young people need to have a wide circle of friends without restrictive ties.  It is much too early to put up the “taken” sign and it tends to become viewed as a sort of “Junior Marriage” in which young people gravitate toward increasing intimacies.


If one of them loses interest and wants out, they are made to feel selfish and fickle in hurting the other.  Others who might be a better match are considered intruders.  It is unfortunate that many people feel compelled to enter an undesirable marriage simply because they are so good-hearted that they don’t want to hurt the other by “breaking up.”  Some people actually exploit this to control others, even to the end of destroying any happiness they could have had in marriage.


The problems presented should be understood clearly from the outset. “Going steady” should not be used as a way of marking up a “catch.”  People’s feelings should not be exploited to play them along and then drop them.  The idea of making this a game of power or vanity is cruel and unfair.


Engagement, not  “Going steady,” is the time the “taken” signs should go up. Before that, either party can decide to try someone else when they please.  For that matter, even during engagement if you are having serious doubts, it is better to wait until those are settled or call it off, than to go through with something that will result in a broken home, shattered lives and torn hearts.


Sexual relations must not be participated in before marriage.  Due to the prevalence of sexual diseases, it is wise that couples get a blood test.  It is unfair to inflict upon a mate and innocent children the consequences of choices about which they have no knowledge.  Indeed, before any final decision about marriage even genetic factors that may result in pain should be shared.




No one likes the problems that come from slipping into intimacies, but sad experience has taught us that all too often it happens.  In view of this, I make no apology for considering that situation here.


What should one do if they have become involved.  They should RUN, not walk, to get help from parents and spiritual advisors.  THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU CAN HANDLE ALONE.  You are fooling with forces that are the most powerful in human experience.  These can become an obsessive addiction that will draw you back time and again while your soul is thrown into turmoil and fear and guilt haunt your every move.  Of the many sins in which people get involved, this one is specifically cited by the scriptures with the warning, “FLEE FORNICATION.”  I have never found any other way of treating the matter.  Every protection must be put up to keep from crossing that bridge again.


Young people, do be careful in your dating.  Listen to the advice we have shared.  Seek the best judgment possible from those qualified to help in making objective and sound decisions.  Ask God’s guidance and put Christ first in your lives.  if you do these things, you will never have reasons for regret.


Editor’s note: Bro. Johnson is well-qualified to write these articles for THE PILLAR.  He is only 39 years young and has been married since he was 21.  He has four children: two boys, two girls.  His first daughter, Barbara, is 15; his oldest son, Dave is 13.  Bro. Johnson has been the minister at the Riverton Church of Christ since 1954.  –Joe Buckles


This material grew out of an invitation to teach a class on Dating Problems at a youth rally at the Duke Street Church of Christ in Portland, Oregan, Dec. 2, 1967.  It is the collective efforts of many people in the years both before and since.  Upon completion of the basic material it was reviewed by several young people who contributed many helpful suggestions.  It was then examined by parents, teachers and spiritual advisors to our young people, with further revisions.  It was then polished by Joe Buckles and printed in a series of articles in THE PILLAR, between July 1968 and March 1970.  Dr. Robert Feeney, Physician and Surgeon in the Eugene Medical Center, who has taken a great interest in helping young people to achieve a more successful way of thinking and living, became acquainted with the articles and very kindly has encouraged getting it printed and made available. 


Since then many more hours have gone into further revision and additions.  Thus, the material is the product of the thinking and efforts of many; both of young people and of adults who are devoted to seeing them achieve successful and happy lives.  To all who shared in this effort, I express my gratitude.


It was not the aim of this work to lay down a long list of rigid arbitrary prohibitions.  Rules alone do not guarantee goodness.  However, once the heart is right they will listen and actively pursue the right solutions. 


My fondest desire is that young lives may discover the beauty of a love centered in Christ, unstained by the remorseful memories of sin. 


Ralph Johnson


Update, 2003: I am now 80 years old, still happily married to the same wonderful woman.  My four children are all grown and I have 7 grandkids and four great grandchildren.  I still minister in the same church, though it has moved and is now the Glen Acres Church of Christ in south-Seattle, Washington.  R.J.