Many of the 7th graders I spoke to yesterday told me that their parents set 18 or after-high-school as the dating standard for them.
And I said, “Wow, your parents REALLY love you!”
And they’re really wise. Because studies show that those who start dating prior to age 16 are much more likely to become sexually active by the time they graduate from high school than those who start dating after age 16.
I shared that I didn’t set a minimum age for dating, I set a minimum maturity level. My daughter was allowed to date when she could hold another human being’s heart in her hands without wrecking it.
Then I showed them a clip from the retreat:
I met T when I was the speaker for middle school week at a Bible camp in the mountains of Virginia one summer. He was one of the campers. I returned to that camp for the next three summers as the speaker for high school week. T was there each year. So I got to know him pretty well over those four weeks in four years. And I really liked him. He was polite, soft spoken, a deep thinker, kind and helpful.
So when I invited a bunch of young people to a retreat center to pilot my study, I included T and his sister. T was in college in South Carolina at the time. He picked up his newly-high-school-graduated sister from their home in Tennessee and the two of them drove many, many hours north to the retreat. God bless him for that.
After the clip I asked the 7th grade boys to articulate what happened to T. They got it. Then I told the girls to be very careful with a boy’s heart. Don’t be the girl who crushes a boy.
It would be such a waste of a very kind heart if T never marries.
I showed the clip when I spoke to a gathering of teens and their parents at a church in Ohio a couple of years ago. At the break the pastor came up to me and said he totally identified with T. That was his story, too. And although he did marry, the experience led him into pornography. Which became an addiction. And a long battle.
So, parents of youngsters out there, when you teach your children to guard their hearts, don’t forget to teach them to guard the hearts of others, too.