The Dating Dilemma
by Andy Braner
Remember when dating was a hamburger and a movie?
What about the occasional trip to the mall, where boys and girls followed each other around with puppy dog eyes, ogling at one another? Remember doing that?
Remember homecoming games where girls wore letter jackets to show the world they were thinking about a relationship a bit more serious than just friends?
Well, to put it bluntly, those days are over.
I’ve been around teenagers most of my life. Starting as a small kid mentored in youth group at my local church to actually leading the group, I’ve experienced and viewed teenage life from many different angles. I’ve been doing youth ministry for more than fifteen years, and I’ve invested my life in knowing and learning what teenagers do, why they do those things, and how we as parents and leaders can help them grow up and make wise choices in a hostile world.
My wife and I run a camp for teens in Colorado. Each summer we see a thousand teenagers from all over the globe who are interested in knowing what they believe and why they believe it. We offer a real-life Colorado adventure for teens and give them the opportunity to ask tough questions about life. To date, we’ve seen almost ten thousand students at our summer camp. My “off season” is filled with speaking requests, spiritual emphasis weeks, and weekend retreats for churches, schools, and other organizations, speaking to teens, parents, and youth leaders.
This book is something I’ve thought about writing for a long time. I knew this book needed to be written, but the effects of what I’ve penned here have far-reaching consequences.
You see, up until now, I’ve been a “cool” teen-friendly guy. I’ve been able to hang with teenagers, talk about their innermost struggles, and walk with them through hard times. But I’m risking it all to let you know: WE MUST DO SOMETHING FAST!
I’m willing to risk my reputation as the cool guy so we can put our minds together and help teens walk through this dating stuff. And let’s be honest: If you’re like me, our dating history is far from perfect and holy, but as I’ve interviewed hundreds of teens concerning dating relationships in their world, I’ve learned that what’s going on in the hallways of today’s high schools would make the marginal eighties dater blush. Not only is there a plague of teenage sexuality, a rise in STDs among teens, and a lack of intimate relationships with high school students, but teens want help. In fact, the number one question asked of me by teenagers centers around relationships and how they interact with one another.
They’re searching for ways to answer questions like:
How do guys relate to girls?
How do girls relate to guys?
How far is too far in a physical relationship?
Is it okay to date?How do I date?
What do I do on a date?
And do you know where they’re finding answers?
The hip-hop community
Television sitcoms and reality shows
Now don’t get me wrong, but this is a little like the blind leading the blind.
We must be a society that helps our teens and students understand the importance of relating to each other in the real world—and no, not MTV’s
version—or we will continue watching the state of the union degrade to a cesspool of sexuality.