Continued from last week

There are other basic—and much more important—reasons for dating.

Times Have Changed

Recognize how society has developed over the past century. Both the “dating scene” and dating practices have changed dramatically! A brief look at recent history shows that times and morals have undergone a drastic change.

Few customs have changed more than dress. There was once a time, in the mid-1800s, when women dressed modestly. They wore floor-length dresses, with long sleeves and high necks. Men wore shirts and ties, and such dress among men and women carried over to the workplace, and even to sporting activities.

Society followed the “old morality” concerning dating, marriage and sex. If a young man wanted to date a young woman, he would first ask her father for permission, and at some point ask if he could “court” her. Of course, the prevalent attitude then was that “sex is shameful,” making fornication and its tragic results much less frequent. Despite the pervasive inhibition ingrained by the widespread misconception (known as “Victorian prudery”) that all sex is inherently evil, ironically, at that time, happier, committed marriages were much more common than today. This is because people generally had much more character than those of the modern age. And this was true even though most people then also did not know how to select the right mate.

As the century turned, a new picture slowly emerged. The tradition of requiring a chaperone to accompany young couples vanished. Even yet, young people still understood clearly-defined limits. At this point in history, a couple might have shared a short kiss, but only after their interest was serious or they had become engaged. This is in sharp contrast to the widespread idea of “no limits” followed by couples today, where “fooling around”—“making out,” “necking” or “heavy petting”—and sexual relations are the norm, long before couples are inclined to consider, let alone entertain, the thought of lifelong commitment.

Society continued changing even more rapidly as the century developed. Many new books, magazines and other publications discussing and describing sex became available, and people began to throw off the restraints of prudery. By the 1950s, a “new morality” had arrived, and with it came the jump from the ditch of prudery to the opposite ditch of permissiveness.

Dating is now a practice that almost immediately involves sexual intimacy. Many today disdain—or, again, have not even heard of—the concept of courting. Teenage morality has dropped to its lowest point in history—with no apparent end in sight to the worsening trend.

Of course, society today flaunts sex in everything. The effects are so far-reaching that a return to modesty would almost instantly collapse the economy. Advertising would change overnight, as would the clothing industry. Thousands of Internet companies would declare bankruptcy, as would advertising agencies, now completely unequipped to offer a different way. The music industry would fold as we know it, and the change in movies and television would make the whole entertainment industry almost unrecognizable. Many could not make the shift fast enough.

To learn more about the right purposes of sex, read our vital book SEX – Its Unknown Dimension. That book is a companion to this one, and is necessary to understand the God-ordained purposes for sex.

What Is a Date?

The dictionary definition of what constitutes a date was briefly discussed in the introduction. At this point, it is worth repeating. Recall that the most commonly understood definition of a date is “an appointment for a specified time; especially a social engagement between two persons of opposite sex” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).

In the simplest terms, a “date” is merely a set time agreed upon by two people to engage in an activity—any activity. Another way of stating this is that it is merely social contact with a person or persons of the opposite sex, either one-on-one or in a group.

This leads to the next question, that of when dating may begin.

When Should Dating Begin?

During the teenage years, dating should only be within groups and with specific parental knowledge and permission. As one grows older, and closer to the age suitable for marriage, one-on-one dates may begin. The process begins with group dating and leads to one-on-one when the time is right, which, in turn, leads to the more intensive step of courtship if the couple is seriously interested. This, of course, then progresses to engagement and marriage, if continued.