Dating isn’t limited to middle school anymore. Younger and younger children talk about having a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” This lesson brings some biblical sanity to this question.
TARGET AGES: 10-14
OBJECTIVE: To understand that dating leads to marriage (a relationship that mirrors Christ’s love for us), so we should seek God’s guidance before starting a relationship.
MAIN IDEA: Dating is not a decision to be taken lightly. God’s word gives us criteria for dating and marriage, although singleness is also a calling. Our devotion and love for God should always come before our affection for others.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 19:4-6 & 11-12, 1 Corinthians 7:7-9 & 17, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Exodus 20:12
MATERIAL(S): Small wooden plaques, craft supplies
Introduction (5 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “God, give us the willingness to follow your will when it comes to dating, and help us to accept what the bible says about relationships. Amen.”
PREVIOUS LESSON REVIEW: Say, “Last week we discussed what the bible says about homosexuality. Who remembers how Jesus responded to the Samaritan woman at the well (in consideration of her sexual sin)? We need to remember to follow Jesus’ example by sharing the gospel and living as a “light” in the world of sinful darkness.” Remind students to base their beliefs about homosexuality on the truth of the bible and not on popular or cultural opinions.
Lesson (15 minutes)
- Explain to the class that there is one vital truth to keep in mind as we talk about dating: God should always be the first recipient of our love and affection. Read Deuteronomy 6:5. Ask, “So how should loving God affect our decision-making when it comes to relationships with others (purity, selfless decisions, seeking his will, etc)? Unfortunately, it’s easy to make the mistake of wanting someone else to fill the void in our hearts. Remember to always seek God when you are attracted to someone or desire to be in a relationship because he will help test your motives.” Share an example with the class of a time you wanted to be (or were) in a relationship and God protected you from sin and/or a potentially hazardous outcome.
- Say, “We should never seek a dating relationship with selfish motives.” Read Matthew 22:36-40. Emphasize that after we place God in the first place for our love, others come second. Comment, “When we are willing to live according to this passage – loving God first and others second (before ourselves) – then it changes the entire idea of ‘dating.’ Dating is not something we should do flippantly because our actions affect others and our Christian testimony.”
- Next, talk about how the bible says it’s okay to be single or to marry because God has a unique plan for each of our lives. Read Matthew 19:4-6 & 11-12 and 1 Corinthians 7:7-9 & 17. Say, “These verses are clear that whether we decide to get married or remain single, the Lord should be at the center of our decision. Both marriage and singleness require serious commitment to God.” Briefly discuss the Apostle Paul’s conviction as a single man (1 Corinthians 7:7).
- Tell students that the decision to date shouldn’t be taken lightly because many people in the bible found themselves in trouble by seeking a relationship in the wrong way (e.g. David and Bathsheba and Samson and Delilah). Say, “There’s one thing we should always keep in mind: Does the person I want to date have a relationship with Christ?” Read 2 Corinthians 6:14 and discuss what “unequally yoked” means.
- Go on to comment that students should always respect their parents’ concerns regarding dating decisions (Exodus 20:12) because parents have been assigned by God to help guide their children. Say, “One of the best ways to honor your parents with dating decisions is by listening to their advice, learning from their mistakes, and remaining honest with who you are seeing and where you plan to go.” Allow time for students to ask questions concerning biblical dating.
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: God calls some people to be single and others to be married, but we should always strive to love God first and others second. Also, we need to respect our parents’ thoughts concerning the appropriate time to date and who to date.
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, we accept your truth regarding dating. Please equip us to commit to your word and to quick repentance of relational sin. Amen.”
“Love God First” Craft – (20 minutes)
Purchase small wooden plaques for each student. Bring craft supplies such as glitter pens, stickers, paint pens, and glue. Say, “We are going to create reminders to love God first.” Allow time for students to come up with a saying (e.g. “Love God First”) or bible verse that reminds them of the first priority in our lives. Then encourage students to decorate their plaques and post them somewhere in their home.