rebelling against low expectations

Is dating as a teen okay if I’m intentional?


ANONYMOUS WRITES: I’m going through a break-up of sorts. The reason is that we decided that what we were doing wasn’t correct, biblical dating. It was a decision we made together, but it is still painful and hard. We want to be friends, and hope that the Lord might lead us back into a relationship where we might be more ready for marriage.

My question for you really is, should high-school teens date (not recreational dating but intentional dating)? If so, should they be thinking about marriage?

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are submitted by real rebelutionaries who are looking for godly answers to tough questions and lively conversation with other young adults. You can join the conversation by commenting below. If you'd like to submit your own discussion question, email us at [email protected].


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  • Well, if you were dating exactly the way people in the Bible would have done it, you would have gotten married really early and your parents probably would have chosen your spouse for you. (Particularly if you’re a girl) People in the Bible didn’t date. That’s a more modern concept. I think you can get married early if you think you can spend your life with that person and you’re serious about it, and so I think you can date when you’re young too. But, it’s a good idea to finish college before getting married if you’re planning on going to college, or at the least, highschool. Under most circumstances, if you’re the guy, you should be able to support a wife before you ask her to marry you, and if you’re the guy, you shouldn’t jump in to a relationship that you’re not ready for. Dating for years and years might be a bit tedious… so if you’re going to wait several more years before getting married, maybe you shouldn’t date yet. If you’re not able to marry any time soon, then dating might not be the best idea.

  • I personally feel like I won’t be ready to get married, if I get married, until I’m out of college. Right now I’m a senior in high school. Besides that, I’m incredibly busy and I have seen too many friends go through messy break-ups, so that’s why I don’t date right now. I think it’s really an opinion question and all families have different rules, but I would say–like Olivia–wait until you are mature + financially stable to think about dating and then marriage!

  • So this is definitely something that has been on my mind for a while. I know a lot of people, family included, who do a special friendship or intentional dating. I’ve even been pressure into these kinds of relationships, so it’s made me think a lot.

    First, the odds of your relationship in high school actually going anywhere serious are slim. If you’re really committed and plan on being married right out of high school, then it’s another matter, but odds are you won’t. You will both go to college, probably find out that there are other fish in the sea and you’ll both walk away with broken hearts.

    Second, even if you never get very physically involved, friendships like these tend to create strong, emotional bonds. You will, probably unintentionally, give away large parts of you heart to your friend. This could be a regret for you when you actually do find the ‘one.’

    Third, I know it can sound cliche and boring, but waiting to date until you’re ready to get married is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, I am literally the only person in my crowd not in a relationship. Ok, yeah, it really sucks sometimes. But I realize that I have had enough hurt and messed up enough areas in my life. I want to be able to go into my marriage giving my future spouse all of me. Not having to admit to past relationships, or always having pieces of my heart given to different men.

    Ultimately, this is your choice. You should probably talk to both of your families and really ask yourselves and God if this is the right step for you. But hopefully, I was able to help, even just a little. ~L

  • I think for this you’ll get a lot of polarised answers, but I think it’s a very personal question. It’s sort of like how Paul talks about Alcohol in the New Testament. In 1st Timothy 3:8 he says “ dignified, not double-tongued or given to **much** wine..” and yet in the same book, chapter 5:23 he says “…use **a little** wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”

    They key, I feel, is threefold: Quantity, Reason, and Attitude, each of which I elaborate on.

    Quantity: Notice I’ve put the words “Much” and*”A Little”, in two * symbols. How much of something you take is very important, like how much are you dating? Too many dates don’t give enough personal space for a relationship to thrive, like too much wine makes your senses dull.

    Reason: Why are you doing it? Are you dating to find someone God thinks is a good match-for you, and with the intention of bringing Him glory? Or are you putting your identity in someone else, or the idea of dating. Notice Paul explicit gives Timothy the reason of his sickness to drink wine, whereas the Deacons he warns not to put their source of enjoyment in wine.

    Attitude: How do you treat what you are doing? Do you treat dating/courting/whatever you wish to call it as a God-given institute, or do you treat it as something you can get what you want out of. Likewise with wine, are you drinking it to help your stomach or body, or are you seeking your source of joy/fulfilment in it

    Only you can answer these questions, and make the appropriate changes. Ultimately, too, seek God’s will for you in it. Hope this has at least helped somewhat!

    — Jacob T. Murphy.

  • I think this is definitely something that you want to make a strong, personal decision on. If you decide not to date because “that’s how to be a good Christian” or because other people tell you to and not because you really feel convicted in that direction, you will be miserable and likely not stick to it.

    Personal story time: Freshman year of high school (I’m now a junior), I received an anonymous rose on Valentine’s Day (ooh, the drama…). For weeks afterward, I worked very hard to justify to myself and my parents that casual dating was okay as long as I stayed pure, etc. just in case this guy decided to reveal himself. Eventually, however, I realized that I was really grasping at straws.

    God convicted my heart that I was seeking to date for the wrong motivations: popularity, to feel good about myself, to not seem weird, etc. I made a decision that I would not date in high school, and so far I haven’t (also, I still don’t know who my secret admirer was). I don’t know what I’ll do in college yet, I’ll have to make that decision when I come to it; but my point is that a personal, intentional decision is important in this area. If you wait until someone asks you out, in the heat of the moment you won’t be able to seek God’s guidance and think it through.

    Just because I have chosen not to date doesn’t mean that will necessarily be your conviction, and I would highly suggest that you pray for guidance and spend time really seeking God’s will in this area. That said, here is my reasoning for my choice:

    1) I don’t think that it’s wise to be in a committed relationship until I am truly ready to seek out marriage. That is the purpose of a romantic relationship; a relationship that is “just for fun” has no point other than boosting my self-esteem and making me appear normal to the world. I do not want to appear normal to the world, but rather purposeful and set-apart in my romantic choices.

    2) If I am in a romantic relationship, I will be extremely susceptible to temptations to compromise my purity. I want to stay far away from that.

    3) When I have a crush on someone, I have to fight very hard to not let that take over my thoughts and actions completely, and that would only increase in a relationship. In a season of singleness, I am called to focus fully on God and grow more in my relationship with Him. Anything that hinders rather than helps me in this is sinful, and dating at the moment would only add one more source of stress to my life that would keep me from focusing on God.

    4) (This is the most selfish reason) I’ve watched several friends go through breakups or drama with boys. If I don’t do casual dating, I spare myself a lot of pain.

    5) Finally, there is a serious lack of Christian guys at my school, and I would never date an unbeliever, period.

    I hope that helped you think through some of the reasoning for people who choose not to date, and maybe helped clarify your own beliefs (whether you agree with me or not). Ultimately, no one can tell you what to do in this area; it has to be a personal decision.

    Hope I helped! (And sorry for this long response, it’s basically a blog post haha…)

    -Grace (

  • Okay, touchy subject. I really don’t know.

    But whatever you do, lean really hard on your church to keep you accountable and tell you if you’re wrong.

  • Oooh. This question. Fun, fun.

    I’ve thought about this. A lot. And tbh I haven’t come to any solid, black and white conclusions (I’m working on it!). I just want to share a few questions that have helped me when I’m sorting through my own thoughts.

    1. Why do I want to date?
    2. What does it mean to “be ready for marriage”?
    3. Will this relationship help me and the other party involved grow closer to God, or further away?

    Whenever I answer those questions honestly, it always leads me to the conclusion that a dating relationship would not be a good thing in my life right now.

    These are just some things that are helpful for me to think through. But I am literally the last person anyone would go to for relationship advice. I’ve never dated (I’m a senior in HS) and my first crush ended up hating my guts XD But seriously. Do some soul searching. Get in God’s Word. He promises wisdom to those who ask for it. 🙂

  • The idea of dating or courting or whatever you want to call it should really be to see if you are compatible for marriage and so if marriage is not a real possibility (you don’t have to be certain to begin with) then there are three things you need to stop and think about:
    1) if marriage isn’t something you think could legitimately happen then what exactly is it you want from this relationship and why can’t you just be friends? (bear in mind that guys find it harder to just be friends than girls. That’s just how it is)
    2) If marriage is not a possibility you are only going to get hurt. Fact.
    3) The longer you go out with someone the harder physical temptation becomes. Paul says fight every temptation except for one. Youthful lust. The command for that one is not fight but flee altogether. Just don’t put yourself or anyone else in that situation. No one is above it.
    Yes, it is painful to call a halt on a relationship and yes, it is normally very very difficult for one or both of you to go back to being just friends. But like a lot of you guys are saying, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of involving your parents in the decision one way or another and constantly seeking good godly counsel from the very beginning. Married couples are helpful in this respect.
    If you are constantly trying to find justification for your actions and getting all defensive, your motives are probably questionable.
    As an aside if you are two godly people who love the Lord and love each other and understand what marriage truly is (a challenging covenant between two sinners designed to display Christ’s love for the church rather than a romantic fairytale) then you’re probably ready to be thinking about settling down 🙂 everyone reaches that point at different times. Sorry. That was really long. Hope it helps.

  • My mother has always pointed out, “What is the point of dating someone in high school when you can’t even marry them? If the reason to be dating is to find a spouse, why do it in high school when nobody can get married?”

    I live in a world where dating is prevalent, even at my church, where we have a very large youth group. I have seen in my youth group unhealthy, superficial dating relationships that always end in drama and broken hearts. I have also seen people whom I honestly respect and admire have steady, pure relationships. It is always easy to tell which is which.

    That being said, I have chosen to not date in high school. Right now I am convinced that we are in a preparation time, where if we put all our focus on Christ and are living for him we are better preparing ourselves for our future spouse. My job right now is to put everything into becoming a godly young woman. The results of this are twofold: I am able to serve my King better, and am focusing totally on Him(not saying I am now, saying I want to be and am working to be), and if the Lord is my main focus, He will send me a man after His own heart someday if it is in His will.

    But dating now? Not only do I not have time for a boyfriend, there is something very beautiful for being able to enjoy having guy friends at church. Not people I am interested in(mostly), but people I can just chat and joke with without all of the flirting/jealousy/relationship complications. And just watching those guys be godly men both encourages me, sometimes challenges me, and gives me the ability to see what someday I want in a future spouse.

  • I think there is a general trend here that I think I might be going against… 😉

    First off, I am SO against recreational dating, for a number of reasons, at any stage of life. But that isn’t your question. Is it okay to intentionally date as a teen?

    I’m going to say, in some cases, yes.

    Why would I say yes, if you’re not in the marrying-window of time? Because I think that, if done right and with proper guidance, it can be a beautiful testimony of purity. Now, I do not advocate dating any longer than you need to, but I have always wanted to REALLY know who I was committing my life to.

    I know a couple who starting dating at fifteen and sixteen. They were high school sweethearts and got married after college. They adore each other, and they are strong Christians.

    Personally, I’m a high school senior and I’m dating. I started dating after nine months of being really good friends with a guy. We had many discussions as a family about it, and we decided that it was the right next step for us. My parents have both stayed in engaged. We’ve been dating for eight months as of today and it’s been great! At an inner city kids’ ministry that I work at on Friday nights, my little fifth graders are all astounded that I’ve dated for eight months and haven’t kissed. Whenever they bring it up, I bring them to the concept of purity and then I go into the gospel. It’s been a great opportunity.

    Now, happily ever after has not happened yet. I only say that it works because I know of other people who have done it. But for us, it is working so far. HOWEVER, YOU MUST BE CAREFUL. Dating in high school is not smart for most couples, nor would it be the first thing for me to recommend for the reasons that many people state below.

    I only argue that it is POSSIBLE, though not always the smart choice.

  • It is OK to date if:
    You are dating a fellow Christian
    You intend to marry them
    You are old enough to marry them
    You are BOTH following the above guidelines

  • I haven’t read all the comments, but in my opinion there is nothing inherently wrong with intentional dating in highschool.

    Yes, I do think any relationship should have the central theme of working towards marriage. Not that every relationship has to end in marriage, but if marriage isn’t the goal, what is the point of the relationship? In my opinion, the entire definition of “intentional dating” is that it’s geared toward marriage.

    If God leads you to someone you could imagine marrying at age 16 or 17 then I don’t see the problem. Two people generally date/court for a good amount of time before marrying anyway, so if you start at 16, by the time you know (assuming marriage is where it leads) that you’d like to marry the person, you’re likely old enough to marry.

    I do think much younger than 16 is too young. The parties are far too young for marriage and romance and they need more time to mature emotionally.

    However, not all 16 year olds are ready for a relationship either. A relationship shouldn’t be decided on by age but rather by maturity. If there are two 16 year olds mature enough for a relationship with intention then I can’t see the problem.

    I do think that when parties are younger parents should be heavily involved!! Even if two 16 year olds are incredibly mature, they’re still directly under the authority of their parents and need that oversight. They aren’t old enough to make all decisions for themselves. Many boundaries should be set by the parents in these cases and the relationship itself should be approved of by the parents. I think all relationships should involve parents, but there’s no question about it in my mind in the case of younger people; unless of course there aren’t parental figures to guide the relationship (in which case I’d encourage the parties to seek another advisor).

    A large argument against “highschool dating” is that the man isn’t ready to provide for the girl at that time. Well that’s likely true! But to get to know each other, the man doesn’t need to have a house and a full time job. For marriage he needs to be ready to provide, but I don’t see that as being a necessary factor in a relationship so long as he’s working towards that goal.

    Ultimately, if God is leading you not to date in highschool then don’t date in highschool. If you meet someone and feel like God is leading you to them, then I can’t say there’s anything morally wrong with it! I feel like it’s a matter of personal conviction and up to the individual. I don’t think it’s something that has a well-rounded “right or wrong” answer. Just seek the Lord in each circumstance. =)
    I know someone who married a girl at 16 because he knew God was calling him to. My parents started dating when my mom was 15 or 16 and are now happily married. I can’t condemn them for that as if it was sinful. It’s between them and the Lord. =)

    I hope this is helpful!
    P.S. this is coming from a girl who is 18 and while has had 2 instances where she and her dad have talked to guys about hte possibility, has never been in a relationship…I’m currently talking to someone and we’re praying about a relationship; but for reasons entirely unrelated to age or school status, we’re choosing to wait a bit before taking the step of asking my dad if we can date.

  • I think it is morally ok, but I don’t personally think highschool relationships are worth the time. People grow apart, are not ready to commit themselves to others and are unwise. For the most part I think it’s best to wait till your more mature to date, as datiting is for marriage in my opinion.

  • In my church our standards are to wait until you’re sixteen to date, and then to go on group dates and not to consistently date the same person. The reason for this is that when you’re a teenager, you’re really just trying to get to know a lot of people, and to figure out what you want in your future spouse. Dating is perfectly acceptable as long as you’re careful, because there is a difference in dating and courting. Dating is just getting to know people, and courting is looking for someone to marry.

    • This is a very interesting point, thank you for sharing. I also find it helpful that you involved these two different labels and defined them.

      • I’m glad I could help. I just saw that a lot of the other comments didn’t discuss my standards, so I added to it.

  • I’ve never been in a relationship, but I know that if I was alowd, I would just be tempting myself. I am already being temped and I’m not dating. So entering a relationship wouldn’t be very intentional for me, it would just be for fun. My Phd in mortality tells me that’s wrong.

  • hey, i struggle with your issue its been my struggle all my life not being able to date because i’m a teenager but recently I’ve been seeing someone but my parents don’t know. It honestly all depends on how your parents feel about relationships, mine for example they wont allow it till i’m an adult but it can become an issue when you find someone you really love. Its hard for me because i hate lying to my mum&dad but it also would make my life almost unlivable without her in my life so my choices are torn. Then you have parents that let you date as a teen which isn’t bad but allows to you develop understanding about being married and how to treat your future wife, i’m sorry if i kinda made this about me more than less this is a really sensitive subject for me but to answer your question intentionally dating as a teenager isn’t bad its just the temptation and who it is you have to worry about, and obviously your parents but i hope this helped and once again sorry for talking about me so much.

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