A Youth Pastor’s Dating Advice to Teenagers

Hey Teen,

I wanted to write you this letter to address a really important question. Dating, relationships, and church are a strange combination and it can be uncomfortable to ask about. Here are a few things I want you to know.

Romantic feelings are a good thing. You don’t need to feel guilty about them. But let’s be honest: our feelings aren’t always to be trusted. You might feel a certain way today, and another way tomorrow. If you make all your decisions with your feelings instead of your brain then you’re going to have a tough time with life. If you don’t have romantic feelings about someone then dating them isn’t a good idea (don’t say “yes” just because someone asked and you feel bad for them); but that doesn’t mean you should date someone just because you have feelings for them.

Being single is totally fine. There’s a lot of pressure to be in a relationship, but that’s a bad reason to get into one. I didn’t have a girlfriend until I was a senior in college, so I am very aware of the pressure you may be dealing with. I remember feeling like there must be something wrong with me. Some people date a lot (which I’m not a huge fan of), some people barely date until they find their future spouse, and some people never get married. Whenever you try to live someone else’s life it will end in heartache and disappointment. Don’t make relationship decisions because others are pressuring you one way or another.

If you love God with your whole heart, don’t you think he should have a say in who you date? Does this guy/girl bring you closer to Christ? Can you talk openly and honestly about your faith? If he/she makes you feel like a weirdo when you talk about church or youth group or Jesus or whatever… then ask yourself if this is really someone who you want to have a big influence on you? Yes, this will severely limit those who are “datable,” but trust me, it’s for the best. Sure, they might be cute! But think about what type of influence he/she will have on your relationship with God (and they will, don’t try telling yourself that they won’t). “Missionary dating” isn’t a good idea (dating a nonChristian in order to win them to Christ)… I’ve seen this a hundred times and can only think of two or three times I’ve ever seen it work out as hoped.

If you don’t know who you are alone, then don’t trying to find out who you are with someone else. It’ll only give you a false sense of identity. You need to know who God made YOU to be; don’t try to find yourself by being with someone else. Find yourself by hearing what God says about who you are in Christ. I’ve seen a lot of people (honestly, usually girls) go from relationship to relationship because they just don’t know how to be alone. Like yourself enough to be alone!

Finally, and I know this is really hard to believe but you need to trust me on this, your parents know more than you give them credit for. They know you. They really do want what’s best for you. If you feel the need to hide your relationships from your mom or dad, then that should be a warning flag that something isn’t quite right. If you don’t want your parents to meet him/her, then really ask why. The Bible talks pretty highly about the importance of honoring your parents. Remember, you’ll have them for life… how long with you have this guy/girl you’re interested in? (Yes, this also involves trusting their judgment on whether or not you’re ready to start dating. If you avoid and disobey them, then you’re only hurting yourself by showing them they can’t trust you yet.)

I’d love to talk to you about this stuff and have some open conversations about this, let me know if you’re up for it.

Pastor Mike

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