Mormon Dating Question

January 8, 2009

Q. Why do you have to be 16 to date?

Great question. And you can be sure it’s one I asked myself many a time as a 15-year-old buck surrounded by a veritable plethora of charming young ladies.

This Mormon standard is spelled out in “For the Strength of Youth,” which is a booklet of principles and morals that the youth of the church are expected to live by. In the section on dating it says, “Do not date until you are at least 16 years old. Dating before then can lead to immorality, limit the number of other young people you meet, and deprive you of experiences that will help you choose an eternal partner.”
A powder kegA former prophet of the church, President Gordon B. Hinckley, also remarked on this topic when he said, “The Lord has made us attractive one to another for a great purpose. But this very attraction becomes as a powder keg unless it is kept under control. . . . It is for this reason that the Church counsels against early dating” (read the amazing talk in its entirety here).

So there you have it. It’s the age that the leaders of the Church have set undavidanddemonikader inspiration from God. Their reasons for doing this are given in the above two statements. I see the whole thing as similar to the age requirement to be baptized. You have to be at least 8-years-old to be baptized and, while there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly special about the age of 8, Heavenly Father knew that setting that age as the standard would be in our best interest.

Plus, how are you going to pick up a date anyway before you have your drivers license? Take it from me, two people on one bike is painful. But then again, it might be a nice sneaky way to get close (uncomfortably close) to that special someone… At any rate, just wait to date and, believe me, it’ll work out great.

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7 Responses to “Mormon Dating Question”

  1. Schwarz

    Re: Age 16,

    Numerous American evangelicals also recommend the age of 16. Outside of the US, dating age limits (where recommended by parents, local churches etc) tend to be age 18. The age limit appears to be more culturally determined than any particular divine mandate.

  2. dave

    Schwarz is probably right in that 16 is pretty standard for the U.S, and that there’s probably not something eternally special about 16. I think if we lived in a society where people were more mature at an earlier age, the dating rules would likely reflect that.

    It’s important also to recognize that something making sense culturally doesn’t mean it isn’t inspired. Could be the opposite; if 16 is about right for our society, then it makes sense that 16 would be the divine mandate. So we should still treat it as such.

  3. Gabe

    ok my girl friend is mormen. she and I are 14. and we have been dating for 15 weeks. is the anyway me and her can keep go out with her parents knowing (like ace in the hole) .. i am athist though i respeaced her religous beilfs.. i dont want her to get in troble. but we are in love.HELP

  4. mary

    what are mormons allowed to do with their girlfriends/boyfriends? is it just hanging out without touching each other? is there a difference between a mormon-mormon relationship and a non-mormom – mormon one?

  5. Curtis "Curtis" Wiederhold


    It is certainly allowable for girlfriends/boyfriends to show affection for each other. However, this affection must be kept under control. Here’s a statement from the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet:

    “Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.

    “In cultures where dating or courting is acceptable, always treat your date with respect, never as an object to be used for your lustful desires. Stay in areas of safety where you can easily control your physical feelings. Do not participate in talk or activities that arouse sexual feelings.”

    To answer your second question, these God-given rules apply regardless if the relationship is a mormon/mormon or a non-mormon/mormon one. If you want to know more about how it is for a non-mormon to date a mormon, read here.

  6. Curtis "Curtis" Wiederhold


    I’m not sure I entirely understand your question. Is it that you are trying to continue dating each other without her parents finding out?

  7. Johnston

    Cut it off. You are not in love, you are in “lust”. Love will come later when you are more mature. If it were love, you would respect her standards enough to allow her to live by them… you would not be sneaking around behind her parents back. Love comes with mutual respect and develops over a long period of time. Love is like you have for your mother. Love is not sexually motivated. Lust demands the satisfaction now, not later and is sexually motivated. Many young people date and get married for reasons of lust. A short time later as their marriage is tested, lust gives way to disgust and anger. There is nothing to hold the relationship together.
    Stay friends with her. If you are truly interested in her as a person and a friend, you will be able to wait until she is 16 and can date (not exclusively and in a group). If this idea angers you or upsets you, your relationship may be based more on lust than on love.
    Good Luck