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Miranda Writes: Relationships, Part 1




by Omar Miranda

What’s the deal with dating and relationships?

In my 20 years of dealing with teens, I have not seen one issue as destructive to the lives of teens as the issue of dating and relationships. There’s something about this drive to connect that we as humans have that is so powerful, but when you pair it with the hormone poisoning that happens to teenagers, it’s like mixing nitroglycerin and gunpowder (the combination for dynamite)!

This issue and the issues of sex, sexuality, and addictions (relationship, drugs, alcohol, food, cutting, eating disorders) have the potential to ruin a promising and budding young life or imprison somebody—either literally or figuratively!
In these next several articles I will be addressing the issue of dating and relationships and the natural issues that relate to this. I will be honest with you, and I won’t hold back, because I believe that this information could really save a lot of your lives—at a minimum, it could really make them a lot easier. 

Before we get started, let me be clear about my position on teens dating exclusively (one person seriously): Teens should not be dating exclusively until they get to college. I think it’s an incredibly bad and sometimes dangerous idea because a lot of the rapes, depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, and addiction issues stem from arguments—disagreements about relational problems in dating. Now, I don’t have a problem with large or small groups of people going out to events or outings. It’s important for people of the opposite sex to know how to interact appropriately and respectfully with one another, and the only way they’ll know how to do that is to . . . well . . . interact with one another, but never one-on-one; that’s a recipe for disaster! I say this for two reasons:

1. The research is clear. The latest research shows us that teens don’t have the internal brain structures necessary to be able to make good decisions, specifically related to healthy: problem-solving, decision-making, conflict management, and impulse control. The research goes on to tell us that a teen’s brain won’t be fully developed enough until their early- to mid-20s! And there’s a lot of conflict and problem-solving in romantic teenage dating relationships!

2. The whole purpose of exclusive one-on-one dating (typically called courtship) is to try people on for size to see if they are good fits for marriage. If marriage is not your goal—and it shouldn’t be when you’re in elementary, middle, or high school (at least not in this country)—all you’re doing is spinning your relational wheels and damaging your sensitive and unformed personality and character and damaging your relationship with your parents and most important, God!

In fact, by the time individuals are in college—the time when they are beginning to know enough about themselves, really mature as adults, and typically have the cognitive and reasoning skills formed to begin to look seriously  for a spouse—they unfortunately are already spiritually, emotionally, and/or sexually scarred, jaded, negative, or cynical because of a long string of failed relationships, difficult breakups, shattered hopes and dreams, and, yes, sometimes even sexual assaults and rapes.

I don’t understand why teenagers get so upset at the fact that other teens act like they have half a brain; no disrespect, but it’s because they literally do! Why would you want to get involved in dating so early? Give yourself time to grow up, and you’ll be glad you did. Take this time to focus on finding out about you, your goals and dreams, and your education. Remember, God can better use you if you educate your brain for Him! A guy named Joshua Harris wrote a book titled I Kissed Dating Goodbye. It has been a best seller and I think every preteen and teen—and their parents—should read it! Harris’s reasoning is very compelling, and the latest research confirms what he, and I, say.

Now, I know that my words will fall on deaf ears and the majority of you will go on and begin dating seriously really early—in fact, as early as third or fourth grade! So I’m hoping that as we discuss some important concepts, ideas, and guidelines, this will cause you to think; I mean really think and then discuss . . . and think some more and evaluate and change your behavior—if you need to—based upon the biblical and scientific information that is discussed.

In the next several articles I want to discuss several issues that are really important—stuff that you need to know before going into the dating scene. Now, I’m not going to discuss stuff that you already know just by looking at each other, so we’re not really going to get into talking about physical differences, but I will be discussing what happens in each sex’s brains and how it affects their emotional outlook. I’ll also be discussing such topics as the four most important parts of a relationship; general differences between guys and girls; attraction, attachment, and bonding; emotional consequences of sex; love versus lust; modesty; and character qualities to look for in a boyfriend/girlfriend.

I hope that our brief time together today has caused you to begin the process of thinking deeply and evaluating why you are dating someone and what you want out of relationships. Next week, we’ll discuss the reason  we, as humans, seek relational intimacy and emotional connections as hard as we do. In all of this, let us keep what God tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:31 central in our mind: “When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honor God” (CEV).*

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

 * Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.
 





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