During a lesson one of my young women asked me about dating outside our religion. She had a friend who seemed to consistently look for guys who were not LDS.
Though we are encouraged to befriend those outside of the LDS Church, youth are not encouraged to date outside of it. Why? The answer probably seems easy enough, especially for those who have had the lessons many times over.
Eventually we will marry the type of person we date.
Married couples of the same religion have an easier time when it comes to the big decisions: same goals, same beliefs, and same values. There’s no trying to haggle about what church in which to raise their kids.
Even in the days of Abraham the same concept held true. Though Abraham and his family lived among the Canaanites, he sent a trusted servant to locate his wife’s family in order to find a bride for his son Isaac. The relationship between Abraham’s family and the Canaanites would be similar to the LDS Church and another religion. Because the Lord directed the servant to Rebekah, she and Isaac were able to marry in the Lord’s way, much like our opportunity to marry in the temple.
One argument brought up by Jen’s friend was she might be able to bring those she dated into the church. In a way, she felt as though she was providing some missionary work.
What this young woman doesn’t realize is her excuse is selfish. If you really want someone to come into the church, you don’t do it through dating. Often enough the person will only attend in an effort to please the one they’re courting. There is no real desire to know about the gospel, and odds are once the relationship is over the person will go back to their own religion.
Dating someone in the hopes of bringing them into our church is also unrealistic. If you were dating someone who belonged to the Baptist or Catholic Church, would you so easily walk away from your own if they asked? Believing your date would do just that is disrespectful.
I think this is about as far as we got in class, but something still didn’t feel complete. I felt there had to be more to explain why we should do everything in our power to date those in our own church.
I believe it was later that night two answers came to me.
First, it acts as a protection. I admit those in our church are not perfect. Some young men and young women (a lot of adults as well) leave a lot to be desired. Yet there is a shield against those things we know to be wrong when dating.
We choose to not drink alcohol. We choose to not experiment with drugs. We choose to not smoke. We probably won’t kiss on the first date, or even second, and we don’t have to explain why. Of course there are those who will push their boundaries, who will see just how far they can go before you push back. Still you are much safer in dating someone with the same moral standards as yourself, and I’m sorry to say almost everyone else in the world no longer believes as we do.
The second answer I received is on a more eternal level. One day we will have to stand in front of the Lord and explain ourselves. We will have to tell him why we chose to go against the things we’ve been taught.
There will always be ‘what ifs.’ What if this young woman did find a great guy to date? What if she did bring him into the Church and they were able to marry in the temple? What if they were worthy to be exalted at the end of their lives? What if everything turned out great?
To this I ask, what if it didn’t? Are you willing to risk eternity on one guy or girl you may not like in a month? Are you willing to face your Savior when he asks, “Why didn’t you obey me?” Is there really a good enough reason?
Dating is fun. It’s supposed to be fun. We must not forget, however, that it is also a guide to finding our eternal companion, and you cannot be sealed to someone who is unable take you to the temple.