Mormon youth are encouraged to not date until age 16. This is hard for some teenagers to accept because they may have an interest in someone of the opposite sex at an earlier age than 16, and they may want to pursue that. Though it may be hard to accept when a teenager, anyone who does wait until 16 to date can attest, looking back, that it was a good decision. Why?
The media is heavily influencing the world’s youth today and that influence is taking away childhood and the chance to develop at a normal rate. Children and even most teenagers are simply unable to cope with the degree of emotions and physical reactions that come with being in a steady relationship with a member of the opposite sex. This is natural and normal. It is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it something you should try to push. Most parents would say that 16 is still too young to be dealing with many of these issues. The Mormon Church, officially The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, agrees with this assessment, which is why they encourage the youth to not date at all until age 16, and then to date only in group settings. This gives the individual time to adjust to the change and to the idea of being romantically involved with someone in a setting which contains far less risk than the majority of the relationship time being spent one-on-one.
Many teens would argue that they are ready for and are capable of handling the responsibility of this type of relationship, but while a few may be, it is far safer to be cautious. Mormon doctrine teaches that you should wait until marriage to have sexual relations, which is a standard seen as old-fashioned by the world. There are many reasons outside of religion to wait for marriage, but in the Mormon Church the religious reasons are far more important than the logical ones. Putting yourself in a needlessly dangerous situation is just not a good idea. There will be plenty of time to date when you get older and are more aware of who you yourself are. Don’t rush your childhood and teenage years trying to grow up too fast, or you will have no idea who you are. It takes time and experience to separate what other people think and expect of you from what you want for yourself. If you begin dating too early, it can really skew your self-image and confuse you as to what you really want.
If a group of friends all agrees to wait until they are 16 to date, it can be a wonderful time to strengthen friendships and build your own identity. Help each other learn new things and broaden your views.
The Mormon Church also teaches that marriage is something which can last forever. If a couple is married in a Mormon temple, they can have a relationship which will last even after they both die. Dating is the tool we use to choose the person we will spend the rest of our lives with. That is another reason why Mormon youth are encouraged to wait until they are a bit older before they begin dating. This time allows them to develop, helps them learn the importance of waiting until marriage for sexual relations, and can help them learn things about other people before they actually begin to date. Learning what traits you want in a spouse you believe you will be with forever is important. Observing traits of different people of the opposite sex can help you decide what things are important to you in a spouse.