Now that I am single at this point in my life, and I am faced with dating again, I find it important to define my standards for dating. This came to my attention when a man I was dating asked me to come to his house to watch a movie…alone. The invitation made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure why but after thinking about it for a while I remembered these dating rules that I used to teach to the youth when I was an Early Morning Seminary Teacher for the church. Sure enough, rule #7, Never go into the house or apartment of the opposite sex alone. So I shared these rules with the man I was dating. It turns out that he had other things on his mind, because I never heard from him again, which is fine with me! I kind of feel like these rules will pull the weeds out of the dating field for me and help me to eliminate potential problems right at the beginning.
Now, you might feel like these dating rules do not apply to “older people.” I would like to direct you to rule number 17 – Never think you are the exception. So laugh at me all you want for committing to dating on this level, but the kind of man I want to attract won’t have a problem with them at all. After everything I have been through there is too much at stake to make stupid mistakes.
It turns out that many singles in the church struggle with remaining chaste. It’s sad but true and I am not interested in being one of those. So to any of my former students, I want you to know that I am dedicated to practicing what I preach and will abide by the same rules I taught all of them so many years ago…
Preface to the 17 Dating Rules
David of old, choice in the sight of God, allowed his eternal soul to fall into the depths of hell. Can we say that God has been with us as much as He was with David in his youth? Can we claim the faith in God that David showed? Yet, David fell! We can fall too, no matter how choice we are. To fail to understand that is to have fallen prey to one of Satan’s biggest lies.
Why did David Fall? He failed to obey his God. In doing this he physically placed himself in a position which could allow sin to strike. Had David turned away his head and not invited Bathsheba to his home, he likely would be exalted today.
I have looked into the tear-filled, sorrowful eyes of too many good latter-day saint youth involved in moral transgressions not to know how easy it is to fall. I have asked myself time and time again why some fall and others do not. Surely such a question would require a very complicated answer. Yet, after many hundreds of hours of interviews, it became obvious that those who had fallen into transgression, had simply made some common errors.
Time after time, physical surroundings, circumstances, and activities were all repeated, and all seemed to set the stage for sin to seize young lives. Bitterness, regret, sorrow, and a feeling of despair quickly replaced excitement and enthusiasm.
The message of the following rules is plain and simple: You CAN and must be the one to control your life in order to be free from sin.
Where you are, who you are with, where you are going, what you are doing, and what time you are doing it, are all controlled by you, and will help or hinder you.
Following many interviews, it became apparent, that the key to maintaining moral chastity was in preventive action. President Kimball put it this way:
“The secret of the good life is in protection and prevention. Those who yield to evil are usually those who have placed themselves in a vulnerable position.”
To help substantiate what I have written, I have used many quotes from President Kimball, but much of the counsel comes from hours of interviews with young people. To follow these rules will require humility and spiritual strength added to a desire to be valiant.
Prayer, scripture study, church attendance and giving service to others are all necessary prerequisites to having the strength to follow the counsel. These rules are strict, but, make no mistake, so is the Lord strict! The rewards of a chaste life are far greater than the sacrifices necessary to follow this counsel. There is hardly anything greater to assist you in obtaining the Celestial Kingdom than to be worthy to marry the right person a t the proper time in you life, in the Temple.
Seventeen Rules for Celestial Dating
1. No dating until age 16; no single dating until 18.
2. Missions for boys before serious dating.
3. Do not date nonmembers or unworthy members.
4. Do not participate in kissing-hugging sessions.
5. No French kissing.
6. Do not park.
7. Never, never go into a home or an apartment alone.
8. Never, never go into a bedroom.
9. No back rubs.
10. Do not lie down by each other or on top of each other.
11. Attend only wholesome activities.
12. No immodest dress.
13. Date in couples or groups most often.
14. No late hours.
15. Each partner should be responsible for his own actions.
16. Discuss dating rules with partners.
17. Do not think that you are the exception
Explanation of the Seventeen Rules for Celestial Dating:
1. NO DATING UNTIL AGE 16.
President Kimball tells us, “Any dating or pairing off in social contacts should be postponed until at least the age of 16 or older, and even then there should be much judgement used in selections and in the seriousness.” President Kimball goes on to counsel us that beginning the dating process too soon almost always brings young immature marriages or immorality and sin. He says that early dating is often done with parental approval, “yet it is near criminal to subject a tender child to the temptations of maturity.” Remember, NO STEADY DATING until after missions. It is an excellent idea to double or group date for most of your dating until at least the age of 18. (Quotes in order: Ensign, Feb. 1975, p. 4: Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 223)
2. MISSIONS BEFORE SERIOUS DATING.
President Kimball advises, “Every boy should have been saving money for his mission and be free from any and all entanglements so he will be worthy. When he is returned from his mission at 21, he should feel free to begin to get acquainted and to date.” He tells us further that, “. . . one can have all the blessings if he is in control and takes the experiences in proper turn, first some limited social get-acquainted contacts, then his mission, then his courting, then his temple marriage and his schooling and his family, then his life’s work,” A word to you young ladies of the church: You should always encourage a young man to fulfill his mission. NEVER be the cause of a young man deciding to stay home for any reason, for you will be held accountable! Missions for young men of the church supersede marriage in importance from ages 19 to 25 (mission age). (Quotes: Ensign, Feb. 1975, p. 4)
3. DO NOT DATE NON-MENBERS OR UNWORTHY MEMBERS. NO MISSIONARY WORK ONE-ON-ONE WITH MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX.
I do not believe that the Lord would expect the choice young people of His Church to find their eternal mates among nonmembers or inactive members! It does not make sense. He would not ask us to go against both His Counsel through the ages or against the counsel of his prophets. President Kimball tells us, : . . . clearly, right marriage begins with right dating . . . therefore, this warning comes with great emphasis. DO NOT take the chance of dating nonmembers, or members who are untrained and faithless.: Do not rationalize this by saying that you are doing missionary work. The Lord does not instruct us to do missionary work in romantic relationships. This kind of friendshipping should be done in groups. Missionary work must be done without hazard of emotional romantic involvement that leads to conditions which confuse the potential candidate as to his purpose in investigating or joining the Church, I am quite aware that we have faithful members of the Church who have joined as a result of exposure to the Church by their spouse. We are grateful for them; however, for every success story, there are numerous tragic stories of members and nonmembers alike being hurt by such, Have the faith to follow the prophet in this most important matter. (Quote: The Miracle of Forgiveness p. 241)
4. DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN “KISSING-HUGGING” SESSIONS.
This is called “making out” or “necking”. I am not talking about the serious sin of “petting”, but the lengthy make-out sessions that many feel are “okay” as long as you do not let it go too far. President Kimball teaches us, ” . . . among the most common sexual sins our young people commit are necking and petting. Not only do these improper relations often lead to fornication, pregnancy, and abortions—all ugly sins—but in and of themselves they are pernicious evils . . . “. Necking or making out, the kissing-hugging session, is wrong IN AND OF ITSELF, not just because it may lead to something worse, I am not saying that there isn’t a proper time in dating relationship to kiss. There is a proper time and place. President Kimball advises us, ” . . . kissing would be saved at least until these later hallowed courtship days when they could be free from sex and have a holy meaning.” In an address delivered to RETURNED MISSIONARIES (not high school-aged people, but those in the courting years), President Kimball said, ” . . . a kiss is an evidence of affection. A kiss is an evidence of love, not an evidence of lust—but it can be. Don’t ever let a kiss in your courtship spell lust. Necking and petting are lustful; they are not love . . . I don’t mind your kissing each other after you have had several dates; [remember who he is speaking to here–returned missionaries], but not the ‘Hollywood kiss,’ not the kiss of passion, but the kiss of affection, and there won’t be any trouble. Now remember these things.”(Quotes in order: The Miracle of Forgiveness p. 65, Ibid; p. 231; An address delivered by Elder Spencer Kimball Jan. 2, 1959.)
5. NO FRENCH KISSING.
This type of conduct is far too intimate and is extremely suggestive. A French kiss is the “Hollywood” kiss that President Kimball described above.
6. DO NOT PARK.
Especially in the high school years, parking in an automobile has been the down fall of many choice young people. The prophet, President Kimball, tells us that, “in interviewing repenting young folks, as well as some older ones, I am frequently told that the couple met their defeat in the dark, at late hours, in secluded areas …the car was most often the confessed seat of the difficulty, It became their brothel.” BEWARE. Often I have found that a couple originally parked to discuss a problem or work out an argument—not to make out—however, after the problem was resolved, they kissed to make-up and things developed from there. It does not matter the reason; DO NOT PARK. After a date, GO HOME! Once you get home, go into the house, ALONE! Just don’t ever place yourself where something could happen. Remember President Kimball’s statement, ” . . . those who yield to evil are usually those who have placed themselves in a vulnerable position.”
7. NEVER, NEVER GO INTO A HOME OR AN APARTMENT ALONE.
I estimate that 80% to 85% of the young people I interviewed, who were involved in a moral transgression of any sort, got involved in a home or an apartment. This is especially true of college age members who have their own apartments. If you would live just this one rule ALWAYS, you would significantly reduce your chances of ever falling. If you are in a home or apartment with others and they slowly all leave except for you and your partner, then ONE OF YOU should leave at that time also! DO NOT underestimate the power of Satan to use your natural drives, if you place yourself in a vulnerable position enough times YOU WILL FALL. Don’t give Satan a chance . . . that is all he needs!
8. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GO INTO A BEDROOM.
Bedrooms are not for entertaining friends of the opposite sex; not even to listen to records, watch TV, do homework or etc. Do not let a bedroom become a familiar place to be with members of the opposite sex.
9. NO BACK RUBS.
Becoming too familiar with each other physically offers liberties NOT entitled to single couples, and is wrong. Back rubs hove too often led to more intimate acts.
10. DO NOT LIE DOWN BY EACH OTHER OR ON TOP OF EACH OTHER.
I’m sorry to have to be so blunt, but lying down to watch TV, lying down in the park, on the beach or wherever, places you in a position that is not needed and is spiritually unhealthy. When you watch TV, SIT UP! When you go on a picnic. Sit up! When you have a good night kiss (at the proper time in a relationship) don’t recline to do it. ALSO, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER lie on top of each other. This is absolutely wrong. And, this advise applies to all young people – especially engaged couples.
11. ATTEND ONLY WHOLESOME ACTIVITIES.
“X”, “R”, and most “PG-13” and “PG” rated movies are NOT appropriate to see on dates or at any time. President Kimball advises us that, “… danger spots likely to have most appeal among the youth, and which should be shunned as one would shun a poisonous serpent, are undesirable movies and improper TV programs.” I have had many Church members (young and old) tell me that they just “overlook” the filth in a movie and not let it affect them adversely. That’s IMPOSSIBLE! You cannot go to a movie or to any entertainment which portrays sexual, violent or verbal pornographic material, as do most movies today, and not be affected and spiritually hurt. It affects you whether you like it or not! In fact, if you find that this kind of material does not offend you, then this is a sure sign that you have already been spiritually damaged in your life and don’t even know it. We should avoid drive-in movies for dates. President Kimball, in talking of drive-in movies, said the following:”There in the car, in dark privacy, with suggestive, voluptuous acting on the screen, was Satan’s near-perfect setting for sin. With outward appearances of decency and respectability, with an absence of holy immoral acts – acts which would at least be much less likely in the living room or in the formal theater on Main Street.” Further, if you find yourself at a party where alcoholic beverages are being served, where the lighting is poor, where couples are making out in the corners, where drugs are being used, or anything else not conducive to maintaining the spirit, LEAVE! When you are at dances be careful of your posture on slow dances (NO BEAR HUGGING AT ALL even though everyone else [Mormon’s included] are doing it), and be careful of your intimations on fast dances. Now, please never go to bars – even just to dance or listen to the music. If you frequent bars, you will fall into serious transgressions. I HAVE YET TO FIND AN EXCEPTION TO THAT STATEMENT. (Quotes in order: The Miracle of Forgiveness p. 229; Ibid, p. 225)
12. NO IMMODEST DRESS.
Dress that is modest and becoming a LDS young man or young lady is most important at all times and is most important when dating. Girls, immodest clothing includes two-piece swimming suits or ones with low necklines and french-cut sides, halter tops, short shorts, tight-fitting clothes, short skirts, low necklines, etc. Boys, keep your shirts on and buttoned up! (Even in the summer) President Kimball tells us that those who do not actively resist the evil influence of immodesty will “absorb and foster it.” He goes on to say, “I see some of our LDS mothers, wives, and daughters wearing dresses extreme and suggestive in style. Even some fathers encourage it. I wonder if our sisters realize the temptation they are flaunting before men when they leave their bodies partly uncovered or dress in tight-fitting, body-revealing, form-fitting sweaters … We cannot overemphasize immodesty as one of the pitfalls to be avoided if we would shun temptation and keep ourselves clean.” On occasions, I have found young ladies who wore things which were immodest and did not realize it. ALL looked well in the mirror as they stood there with shoulders back and standing up straight. What they did not realize is that they don’t stand straight all day – they sit, they stoop, they lean over, and their clothes become immodest. Make sure all of your clothing is modest for all occasions. One of the most disappointing times I had as a Bishop was when I took the ward members swimming and saw the immodest suits the girls wore. After that occasion, I had to announce for the girls to wear a T-shirt over their suits at future ward parties. How unfortunate that any LDS girl would own a swimming suit that she could not use for LDS functions. Girls, as hard as it may be, search until you can find a modest swimming suit or make your own! (Quote: The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 226.)
13. DATE IN COUPLES OR GROUPS MOST OFTEN.
Even after the age of 18, it is desirable to date in couples or groups. Dating in groups is not only safer, but you will find that it is much more enjoyable. You will also get to know things about your date that you could not find out any other way because with more people, there is naturally more conversation. As we get older, we tend to think that we are “above” group dating. This is a serious error. Do not make single dating the largest portion of your dating. Sometimes when we start to like someone quite a bit, we tend to single date almost exclusively . . . this is a dangerous mistake.
14. NO LATE HOURS. We should be in from our dates by 12:30 (college age) and 12:00 (high school age) or sooner. Most proper functions will end in time for you to go straight home and be in on time. Do not make it a habit to be out late or up late for that matter. Not all moral problems occur late at night, but many, many do! When we are tired and have become more relaxed with each other through the evening, it is very easy to let down our guard . . . that is all Satan needs. Resistance seems to be lower at night, so make it a habit to be in early from your dates. THIS DOES NOT MEAN that if you go to one of your homes you can stay up longer than this hour. You both should be at your respective homes at this time.
15. EACH PARTNER SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OWN ACTIONS. Dating is a two-way arrangement. You are each responsible for your own actions. Never allow another person to control your actions. Never say to yourself, “this young man or woman is so good that they could never do anything wrong. Whatever they would do would be okay.” Anyone can make errors. You must have firmly planted in your mind right from wrong, and do not let ANYONE talk you into anything that would not meet the Savior’s approval. Know exactly what you are going to do on a date before you go. To go on a date without a plan may sound harmless, or even exciting, but it can lead to trouble very easily.
16. DISCUSS DATING RULES WITH PARTNERS. As you date, especially with those you really like, discuss these rules and your standards so that you each understand what you expect from yourself and your relationship with each other. Set the stops now while your minds are clear and unhampered by emotions. It is virtually impossible to set them in the middle of a passion-filled night. If a dating partner is not willing to follow these rules or thinks they are too strict, DROP THEM FLAT! Never let your standards relax . . . even for what may seem to be the best young man or woman you have ever known! If you want the help of the Lord and his blessings, follow his counsel.
17. DO NOT THINK THAT YOU ARE THE EXCEPTION TO THESE RULES. Don’t say to yourself, “Boy do I know so-and-so who needs these rules.” The rules are for you! To think that it could never happen to you is a major error of gigantic proportions. IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. It can happen to you, to Bishops, to stake Presidents or anyone who places themselves in such a position. Rules are for everyone. I remember clearly a visiting general authority counseling the bishops in my stake to never interview a woman in the ward alone in the building, and to not give women or young ladies rides somewhere alone. Why are there rules for bishops? Because they too can fall! I believe that, and I followed that advice. On cold winter days, after interviewing a young lady in the Institute building, I would drive back to work and pass her on the road as she walked back to the dorm. RULES ARE FOR EVERYONE. Don’t ever think, “Oh, I would never do that so it is okay if I go into an apartment alone, or park, or whatever.” This is an open invitation to Satan to prove you wrong! And, he will! The biggest error of all is to think that you are an exception to one of these rules.
Now these are not all of the rules we might follow in dating. If you have good parents, they may have similar or other rules like these. They may limit the number of dates you have in a month, or require that you go out with a variety of partners rather than not just one. But, I have never talked to a young person yet who has committed a moral transgression of ANY kind who has not broken several of these rules.
Remember, breaking these rules interferes with Celestial Dating and falling in love. They DO NOT bind you down, but rather free you from the things that cause countless heartaches. . . things that have contributed to many a Celestial candidate falling to a lower kingdom.
By: President Steven H. and Anita Satterfield, Pocatello, Idaho