So I know we aren’t supposed to date until we are 16. But why?
I have often talked to non-members who are dubious, if not out-right skeptical, about young people in the church being able to remain virtuous prior to marriage. Many of them don’t think it is possible. However, we know that it is. Admittedly, it can be difficult. Heavenly Father created us with a powerful drive to procreate, and in order to keep that desire within the bounds the Lord has set, we have certain guidelines that have proven helpful.
Not dating until 16 years of age is one of those guidelines. Of course, everyone is different, but generally speaking 16 is an age where young people are not only interested in the opposite sex, but also mature enough to exercise self-discipline. Sixteen is only a few short years away from marriageable age. In addition to waiting until 16 to date, young people are also encouraged to stick with group dating until young men have returned from their missions, and young women are old enough to be married (and possibly the young woman will have served a mission as well). When one is considering potential mates, that is the right time to date alone.
I have known young people who disregarded this guidance and started exclusive dating at 14 (as many non-members do these days). Almost without fail those young people later end up in “shotgun marriages”. In other words, they get married, because the girl is pregnant. Delaying the sexual desires for so many years proved to be too much for them.
The power to procreate is a beautiful gift given to us from a loving Heavenly Father, but, like fire, can warm you or burn down your house. This power to procreate can be a blessing in your life, or something that brings you great sorrow and guilt. Treat it as the precious gift that it is. That starts with following the guidelines we have been given, one of them being waiting until 16 to date.