Ben Young & Sam Adams. The 10 Commandments of Dating (Student Edition). Thomas Nelson, 2004. (127 pages)
A very practical read, obviously, and one that I actually recommend. Now to the disclaimer.
I personally have hesitations with recommending books like this for a couple reasons (all of which are exhibited in this book). One, they’re often too pragmatic, which can draw too much focus and attention on the “dating” rather than the “commandments” and the “principles” of the dating (it’s the “that which you give attention, you give power” principle). That is a predisposition for any book of this genre. Sometimes I wish we would focus more on the driving truths of reality, and then apply them to practical situations, rather than address practical situations from which we grab at various truths of reality. Maybe it’s iterative, and I’m just complaining. Second, the Bible is often proof-texted after-the-fact. In other words, the principles are decided upon, and then Scriptures are sought out to substantiate the pre-determined principles. Third, and most honestly, I just like books that go deeper, and practical dating books are not in that category.
However, we started using this book for our high school curriculum, crafting and writing material around the basic framework and commandments, and I’ve been thankful for the resource. I believe it can be very helpful for those struggling in the world of dating. Here are the commandments, with very brief summary notes.
COMMANDMENT #1: Thou Shalt Get A Life. Those that don’t risk living the “un-life,” which can be characterized by desperation, dependency, and/or depression. Fundamental principle: dating is not (and should never become) your life. Love yourself the way God loves you.
COMMANDMENT #2: Thou Shalt Use Your Brain. While there’s value in romance, feelings, and emotions, there’s a counter-balance that must be employed, and that’s called “thinking.” They suggest a proper balance between head and heart, avoiding going too fast, involving others in your dating process, and evaluating along the way as helpful steps towards exercising your mind.
COMMANDMENT #3: Thou Shalt Be Equally Yoked. A principle from 2 Corinthians 6:14. While “opposites attract,” the authors point out that those “opposites” are often in the “minor” areas of the relationship. The areas that can be “compromised,” never in the “major” ones. Don’t fall into a myriad of dysfunctional relationship patterns that are marked by an imbalance of quality in character.
COMMANDMENT #4: Thou Shalt Take It Slow. Bottom line, relationships take time. “Take it slow, to get to know.”
COMMANDMENT #5: Thou Shalt Set Clear Boundaries. The balance of “responsibility” is a challenging one in any relationship. Not only ought we recognize and value our emotions and body as only “owned” by us, but how does one strive towards intimacy, which requires becoming responsible for someone else. And where is the balance? Boundaries, ultimately healthy and necessary, but delicate and difficult to discern.
COMMANDMENT #6: Thou Shalt Save Sex For Later. Because of the Christian flavor, this is an “open and shut” case for the authors; “God said so…now here’s why.” Their reasons? You experience wholeness, higher self-esteem, avoid dangerous or deadly diseases, and you ultimately value your body.
COMMANDMENT #7: Thou Shalt Not Fall For Sex Lies. Not only is not everyone doing it, and not only is it not possible to get pregnant, and not only will it bring us closer together, but they’ve got great responses to all of those lies. Celebrate purity, don’t be home alone, don’t date anyone who is a lot older, watch how you dress, and stay away from porn.
COMMANDMENT #8: Thou Shalt Not Ignore Warning Signs. Perhaps one of the most important chapters in the book. Any abuse, physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual, ought to result in an immediate break-up. There is no reasonable defense or explanation that can support any form of abuse–ever. Other warning signs are addictions, disrespectfulness, emotional baggage, denial, and irresponsible behavior.
COMMANDMENT #9: Thou Shalt Choose Wisely. Do not be fooled by externals, or blinded by sex. Look for great character, someone who is faithful, honest, committed, forgiving, and generous (giving). And be sure to check in with your friends, their other relationships (with friends and family), and give it lots of time. Reminds me of the quote, “the most unhappy people in the world are not single people wishing they were married, but married people wishing they were single.”
COMMANDMENT #10: Thou Shalt Take Action. So, if you’re going to implement these, any significant change in your life must be accompanied by action, literal, physical movement.