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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mormon Dating Question

Q. Why do you have to be 16 to date?

Great question. And you can be sure it's one I asked myself many a time as a 15-year-old buck surrounded by a veritable plethora of charming young ladies.

This Mormon standard is spelled out in "For the Strength of Youth," which is a booklet of principles and morals that the youth of the church are expected to live by. In the section on dating it says, "Do not date until you are at least 16 years old. Dating before then can lead to immorality, limit the number of other young people you meet, and deprive you of experiences that will help you choose an eternal partner."

A former prophet of the church, President Gordon B. Hinckley, also remarked on this topic when he said, "The Lord has made us attractive one to another for a great purpose. But this very attraction becomes as a powder keg unless it is kept under control. . . . It is for this reason that the Church counsels against early dating" (read the amazing talk in its entirety here).

So there you have it. It's the age that the leaders of the Church have set under inspiration from God. Their reasons for doing this are given in the above two statements. I see the whole thing as similar to the age requirement to be baptized. You have to be at least 8-years-old to be baptized and, while there doesn't seem to be anything particularly special about the age of 8, Heavenly Father knew that setting that age as the standard would be in our best interest.

Plus, how are you going to pick up a date anyway before you have your drivers license? Take it from me, two people on one bike is painful. But then again, it might be a nice sneaky way to get close (uncomfortably close) to that special someone... At any rate, just wait to date and, believe me, it'll work out great.


2 comments:

Schwarz said...

Re: Age 16,

Numerous American evangelicals also recommend the age of 16. Outside of the US, dating age limits (where recommended by parents, local churches etc) tend to be age 18. The age limit appears to be more culturally determined than any particular divine mandate.

dave said...

Schwarz is probably right in that 16 is pretty standard for the U.S, and that there's probably not something eternally special about 16. I think if we lived in a society where people were more mature at an earlier age, the dating rules would likely reflect that.

It's important also to recognize that something making sense culturally doesn't mean it isn't inspired. Could be the opposite; if 16 is about right for our society, then it makes sense that 16 would be the divine mandate. So we should still treat it as such.