Yesterday, I shared Bryana Johnson’s article on underage dating. From the responses I have received, it obviously resonated with you guys. She wrote, “My friends, it’s time for us to wake up and make the connections between the dating scene and the deterioration of the stable American family.” Let me start off by saying I agree with her and have actually lived it. So I decided now would be as good of a time as any to share how underage dating almost destroyed my marriage.
My parents unfortunately divorced when I was going into kindergarten. I really didn’t get the implications when it happened. However, things did start caving in on me about the time I entered 8th grade. All of my emotions, confusion, and hurt found an outlet. A new, devastating world was opened up to me – dating. I guess it can’t even be called dating. Dating requires money and transportation to actually go on a date. What did happen was I plunged myself into adult situations and emotions that I had no idea how to navigate. Much of what I did was behind my parent’s back or in complete defiance to any rules they tried to create, regrettably too late. I lost my way. I lost myself. Even after coming to Christ at 16 1/2, the consequences of my mistakes and sins haunted me. Years later I met my husband but underestimated the effect my past would have on him and our relationship.
Bryana wrote, “The culture of dating is a culture of hunger and unsatisfied eyes that are always looking around for affirmation via someone or something else.” How true that was for me. All of the affirmation I felt like I wasn’t getting from my parents I sought in someone else who could never fill the void in me. I didn’t start out thinking the relationship would become physical. In fact I remember not wanting to go down that road. But let me tell you, without intentional plans in place to prevent it – it will happen. I can’t impress upon parents of teens how important that is. Listen to me, Christian parents have a moral and biblical responsibility to place hedges around their children to protect them. Consider what God told Hosea, the husband of a promiscuous woman:
For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes. I will block her path with a wall to make her lose her way. When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch them. She will search for them but not find them. Hosea 2:6-7
If that’s what God told a husband to do for his adult wife, how much MORE does he expect from guardians of minor children. There is great danger to awakening these feelings in children before they are able to handle them. Solomon said, “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem… not to awaken love until the time is right.” (Song 2:7). When is the right time? When marriage is a viable option. Teenagers can’t be put into situations, like dating, that allow the lust in them to be ignited. There is no teenager, or adult, that can withstand that pressure.
Bryana went on to say, “Just what do we think such relationships are about between people too young to be interested in any of the other things (family, stability, home-making, etc. ) that come out of a romantic involvement with the opposite gender? Contrary to such half-baked assurances, it is all about sex for these young people.” This wasn’t necessarily true for me. I think there are a lot of girls, like myself, who seek relationships early on, not for physical fulfillment, but emotional. We swap our bodies to have our hearts filled. What we don’t know at 14 is the hole in our hearts only gets bigger.
I didn’t know that what I gave away belonged to my future husband. I didn’t know God created me for purity. I didn’t know the guilt would follow me. I didn’t know it would hurt my husband, who desperately loved me. I didn’t know anything…for a long time. For ten years into our marriage it was the secret in the little black box we kept locked in the corner. My past was a secret. We ignored the impact it had on our relationship. Until it grew to monstrous proportions. Finally, when the pressure was too great for us to sustain, the truth came out with all the emotions that we bottled up for so long. After a tedious journey, we were finally saved and able to give ourselves completely to each other. God gets the credit for giving us the time and resources to work it out, but we almost gave up on our covenant and each other because of the baggage we silently carried around in our marriage.
Since that time, we have counseled numerous couples who are in the same situation. All those years we felt like we were alone, only to realize that there are countless marriages being robbed of their intimacy by sins of the past. We have wept with women in bondage to their guilt and shame, men who hide their wounds in sex and pornography, and their spouses who are insecure and afraid.
It does matter if you disrespect God’s design for marriage. It does matter if you save yourself for marriage. It does matter if you throw yourself away. It does matter if you don’t live out God’s created purpose to glorify Him with your body.
If you are a teenager who has already crossed that line, it’s not too late to be rescued. If you are parenting a dating teen and haven’t set up hedges, it’s not too late to fix your mistake. If you are in a marriage that is broken because of the scars of a sexual past, seek the Lord for total reconciliation. I also suggest qualified, Christ-centered counseling to help sort it all out. Most of all I recommend Jesus.
He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 1 Pet.2:24