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Student: I want to marry someone I know really well. Gibbs: No. Are you in favor of students dating in elementary school? Gibbs: When you think of them, let me know. While I am waiting, let me give you some ways in which fourth graders and sophomores are not different. Neither fourth graders nor sophomores are physically fully grown, neither are legally responsible for their own actions, neither pay for their own food or clothes or rent, neither have careers, neither has a high school diploma, neither is legally old enough to marry, neither can vote, neither can buy wine, neither can be drafted for war, neither has credit, neither can rent an apartment… I could keep going.
Any other ways fourth graders and sophomores are different? Gibbs: Sometimes, but not always. A great many fourth graders are more obedient and respectful of authorities than sophomores, and I would say those are more important factors in determining readiness for marriage than mere self-awareness.
How long do you suppose they would have to date before they knew they were compatible as spouses? Gibbs: Fourth grade is only six years behind you. Twenty-three is seven years ahead of you. Gibbs: Right. At 16, a person might have a lot of potential, but you should marry someone based on what they have done, not what you hope they will someday do.
Gibbs: Yes. Marriage is a noble and high calling. Think of marriage as an honor which must be prepared for. Student: But going to the movies is just fun. It feels good to hang out with friends, and friends have to do something. Gibbs: Agreed, and the same is true of a girlfriend. It feels good to have a girlfriend and to be around your girlfriend. This is only right, though. A friendship should exist for the sake of enjoying another person. A friendship should exist for no other reason than itself, by which I mean the love of the other person.
When our friends have ulterior motives for friendship, we feel betrayed and used. You both know that people change a lot in the first few years after graduation. You are both curious about what the profound and sudden freedom, autonomy, and anonymity which comes with college will do to the other person. And you both know it would be dangerous to marry someone before seeing how they responded to all that.
Gibbs: In order to go to the same college together, you will have to begin preparing to go to the same college together at the beginning of senior year. Very few relationships survive that kind of strain. Student: So, if dating in high school is such a bad idea, I guess you have a pretty low opinion of people who do it. It tends to be the more responsible, more diligent students who date in high school. If I had to state a preference for student body issues, I would far rather sophomores who were dating than sophomores with smart phones or sophomores who play video games.
Gibbs: Do your own laundry. Get a lousy job bagging groceries as soon as you can. Do you need some chairs or tables moved around or something? Learn to cook something basic, hearty, and tasty, so you can give your mother the night off every now and again. Figure out which one of your teachers lives the best life and follow him around like a shadow, do everything he does, ask him what he thinks of birth control, taxes, NPR, something controversial.
Feel free to annoy this teacher with your interest in his life and opinions. Do pointless tasks with your dad— he probably drives to the city dump once a week or something like that. Go with him. Learn one book of the Bible really well, probably Ecclesiastes or Proverbs or St. When you watch movies, watch black and white movies. Learn a few old prayers by heart which you can say while you walk from one class to another. Gibbs: Only two or three of them.
The rest of them are things I do that keep me married, and so I assume they would be good in preparing for marriage, as well. Gibbs: I understand. I never broke up with any of mine, either, and I still kind of wear that as a merit badge. Gibbs: For the standard reasons. Sooner or later, one of the two people in the relationship realizes that marriage is not a possibility and then the whole thing begins to seem rather pointless.
At the beginning of the relationship, both people are still too thrilled by the honor of having their existence affirmed by a member of the opposite sex to think about how profoundly tenuous the whole thing is. Gibbs: I believe that. When I first began teaching, I was strongly opposed to every romantic relationship between students. Now, I am only mildly opposed to them.
Romantic relationships often bring out what is best in young men. A high school sophomore with a girlfriend takes better care of his appearance. He spends money on someone other than himself. He even prays more and re his Bible more. He has a sense of duty and obligation. Gibbs: Because all that is merely the silver lining, and the silver lining does not last as long as the misery and confusion which from a failed romance. Granted, a little misery is not the end of the world, and a young man learns a lot about the nature of the soul while tending to a broken heart.
However, I think that most high school romances are based on faulty conceptions of romance and are generally evidence of a dangerous lack of self-awareness. Student: But not every high school relationship is doomed to fail, right?
Look, I know how it sounds, but what if mine is one of the rare ones which le all the way to marriage? Some people who date in high school end up marrying. And some arranged marriages work out happily, as well. Would you like your parents to arrange a wife for you? Gibbs: Me neither. That would be terribly strange, though I am sure it works out well every blue moon. You see, wisdom is really not concerned with outside possibilities, outliers, and unusual cases. Wisdom is concerned with human nature.
Wisdom is concerned with what is normal, what is typical, and with what usually happens. Being wise means not making exceptions for yourself or treating yourself as a special case. Wisdom means regarding yourself as common, average, the kind of person for whom proverbs, maxims, warning labels, cautionary tales and generalities are applicable. To be frank, no young man who thinks he is exempt from what is common or typical ought to be dating. Gibbs: There are better and worse ways to go about nearly anything.
There are also more and less safe positions to be in when your car hits a brick wall. Student: Very funny. Gibbs: A fine question. While God awakens the heart and body to the desire for romantic love, wisdom demands we learn to control those feelings, not be controlled by them. Man is made of the earth, and the earth must be subdued. A great many desires are natural, but we may not indulge them whenever and however we want. The desire for love emerges many years before it can reasonably or legally be satisfied, and the patience and self-control learned in those intervening years is, perhaps, the greatest preparation for marriage you can undertake.
You might say that God inspires the desire for romantic love so early just so you can develop the necessary patience for marriage. Are you saying that everyone out there who married after dating in high school is secretly miserable? Gibbs: Absolutely not. Gibbs: It might be. It just might be… I only have conversations like this one with students a dozen times a year. Joshua Gibbs teaches online classes at GibbsClassical.
His wife is generous and his children are funny. The opinions and arguments of our contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute or its leadership. View the discussion thread. The mission of the CiRCE Institute is to support teachers and parents who want to cultivate wisdom and virtue in their students through the truths of Christian classical education.
Your gift enables this work. What Is Classical Education? Lewis Lectures Posters. Donate back. Search form Search. Donate Log in Cart 0. The Cedar Room. Joshua Gibbs. Jan 24, Student: What do you think about students dating in high school? Gibbs: Why date? Why not just get married? Gibbs: So why date? Student: What makes you say that? Student: Go on. Gibbs: Compatible for what? Student: Marriage. You already know that.
Student: Why? Student: Why not? Gibbs: How is dating in fourth grade different than dating in tenth grade? Student: Seriously? Gibbs: Good. Keep going. Student: I could think of other ways. Gibbs: For the sake of argument, imagine two fourth graders want to go on a date. Student: A long time. Gibbs: How long? Student: A really long time. Gibbs: Why? Gibbs: How old should you be before you get married?
Student: I mean, at least twenty-three or twenty-four. Gibbs: What kinds of things do you like to do with your girlfriend? Student: Talk, go to the movies, text, listen to music, hang out.What is the point of dating in high school
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4 Ways High School Relationships are a Win-Win for Teenagers