I served for a short time in the Young Women's program. I remember a lesson on dating. The teacher was telling the girls what they should and should not do on a date. I remember one of the girls describing a situation when she was out with a friends and they met up with a guy they knew from school. They all ended up going to a matinée movie. She spent much of the time talking to the guy. Her query, "Was that a date?"

The girl was understandably confused about whether or not she was on a "date" and this was disturbing to her because so much seemed to ride on the answer. If she was then she was not following the edict because she was not yet sixteen. In addition, if she was on a date then all sorts of rules and regulations had to be followed.

Her concerns deserve reflections. Dating has evolved. Formal dating is largely an historical relic that goes back to the days of courting and chaperons. Over my lifetime I've seen dating go from formal to informal and now back to formal. Much of the guidance young people receive in Church is geared toward what they should and should not do on a formal date. Unfortunately, unless they are in a formal date situation they may not think the advice is relevant. Not accompanying a boy into an empty home or apartment is good advice whether you are on a formal date or not.

Our advice to young people should be phrased in less specific terms and apply to all their conduct around the opposite sex, not just be specific to formal dating.

We would not want implementation of our advice to hinge on a definition of "date" would we?

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