If you have been following me in social media, you know that I published a book last month. The Talks is focused on equipping parents to take a realistic look at what our kids' generation is coming to see as normal about human sexuality and relationships. And then to help parents commit themselves to teaching their kids a better way. The book is a great resource for parents of teens, but even better for parents of younger kids.
I have had lots of conversations regarding issues related to kids and dating lately. A common "push-back" I get from parents is the insistence that young teenagers and their romantic relationships are generally sweet and innocent; and therefore no big deal. While I would debate how innocent (and productive) teen relationships are, I write in The Talks that something bigger is at stake.
A boy/girl romance will likely distract your teen from their relationship with God.
Let me explain. We tend to evaluate things in our life based upon the criteria of good versus bad. If something seems like a good thing, we embrace it. If something in our lives seems like a bad thing, we try to eliminate it. Unfortunately, that criterion is not sufficient.
1 Corinthians 10:31 contains a well-known command that gives us a better way to evaluate the stuff of our lives. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” We are reminded that everything in our lives should propel us towards and be done for God’s glory. It is the core issue of life. Thus, instead of looking at activities or relationships based on if they are good or bad, we should evaluate things based on whether or not they enable us to glorify God with our lives. (There are a lot of things in my life that aren't "bad" but they can easily become obstacles to walking with God.)
We should regularly ask our kids: “Does the relationship you are in enhance your relationship with God?" In twelve years of working as a student minister, I cannot recall a single 15- or 16-year-old whose walk with Christ was strengthened because of a romantic relationship. In contrast, I saw hundreds upon hundreds of teenagers become distracted from the things of God by their boyfriends/girlfriends. It is the quickest and easiest way for our kids to develop a divided heart, something warned against time and time again in Scripture.
Let’s make it even more personal.
Take a moment to look back on the romantic relationships YOU had during high school. If you were a Christian during those years, reflect on the effect your boyfriends or girlfriends had on your spiritual life. If you are honest, you will probably conclude that it was a hindrance to being able to focus deeply on the things of God. This is the case with just about every young and immature relationship that our kids are likely to enter. Yet our culture encourages our kids to pursue them with abandon.
Paul wrote about this very thing in his admonition for disciples to remain single. He said in 1 Corinthians 10:32-34 that “One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided.” His interests are divided. Those few words sum up just about every struggle that we will ever have as followers of Christ.
While Paul’s specific admonition is about staying single, the principle also applies to dating. Many young Christians have a desire to please God but they are too busy focusing on pleasing their boyfriends or girlfriends. Their interests are divided. Pulling them in one direction is a God they cannot see and in whom they are still learning to trust. Pulling them in another direction is a significant other who they talk to daily and to whose heart they are becoming powerfully connected. Most Christian teenagers won’t admit it, but God is going to lose the battle for their hearts.
Sadly, when young people are trying to figure out the part God will play in their lives, nobody tells them this. Their daily need for Him will often become lost in their pursuit of a relationship. Their tender emotions and their desire to be loved will cloud their judgment. It is our responsibility as parents to help them to see what is going on. It is in this window of time that our role is an absolute necessity, even when we see our teenagers begin to pull away from us. In fact, it is during this season that they need us more than ever.
Q. What are you doing to show your kids that their relationship with God must come before everything and anyone else?
*Check out my brand new book: The Talk(s): A Parent's Guide to Talking about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. It has been developed to assist parents as they help their kids navigate our hyper-sexualized culture. Whether your kids are 6 or 16, it provides practical help to help your kids to make wise choices in a messed-up world.
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