For many people, faith and dating are very deeply intertwined. What their religion tells them about having a proper relationship before, during, and after marriage means a great deal to these people. For Mormons, who already have a great deal of public curiosity focused on their sexual and marital relationships because of urban legends of polygamy, what is and is not allowed for dating is very important. Nowhere is this more true than concerning the dating of their young people.
For one thing, the age of those allowed to date at all is usually around 16 years of age. Whether it’s boys or girls, parents encourage their children not to get too serious about any one particular partner. For girls the goal is to finish high school before getting too serious, and for boys the goal is for them to finish their mission, which is usually completed by 19 or 20. It’s only after those milestones are met that young people are encouraged to begin seriously looking for their future husband or wife and to get serious with their dating.
Marriage, and its prequel dating, are very important, spiritual issues to true Mormons. They believe that the relationship between a husband and a wife is something sacred, and that any sex that takes place after marriage is a beautiful and spiritual act. Before marriage however, sex is forbidden. So too are any acts that might lead young people to have pre-marital sex (kissing, necking, heavy petting, etc.). Dating is supposed to be wholesome and fun, but it’s also supposed to be focused on finding friendship and compatibility first, and leaving things like sex until after marriage is finalized.
For those who aren’t Mormons, and who don’t grow up with this sort of environment surrounding dating, it can all seem very repressive. However, a person should keep in mind that marriage isn’t just about a tax credit, raising children, and living together for a serious Mormon. Mormons view marriage as a necessity, and that all people who are able to be married should do so. This marriage, which is as good as a commandment from God, will also continue on into the next life with unbreakable ties between husband and wife.
When viewed from that sort of a spiritual perspective, it can be easy to see why dating and courtship can be such a serious issue for Mormons. When a person stops and really thinks about marriage as lasting not just a lifetime, but going on even after death, it puts a lot more significance on the dating that comes before hand. When taken a step further, and adding the fact that chastity is considered to be one of the highest ideals of the young, and vastly important for spiritual safety and security, the rules for Mormon dating seem perfectly reasonable.
Likewise though, people should keep in mind that these are just general beliefs. There may be those who consider themselves Mormon who see things differently, or who interpret the rules in other ways. The best thing that a person can do then, especially if they’re intending on dating a Mormon, is to talk with them and see what they have to say on the issue.