“Should I date a boy who is skeptical toward the Church and try to influence him?” New Era, Jan. 1971, 8
Answer/President Paul H. Dunn
This question is one of the most frequently asked, and for a good reason. The answer is not a simple yes or no. To establish a hard and fast rule would only take away the free agency and choice of man. Someone has said that of the three greatest events in life—birth, marriage, and death—marriage is the only one over which we have any great degree of free agency. Our happiness in mortality and in eternity depends on the choice we make in marriage. While all dates do not necessarily lead to marriage, dating is, of course, instrumental in mate selection.
During my Church experience I have met many not of our faith from almost every walk of life, who, when matched with some of our youth, soar to a higher spiritual and moral plane. I honor and respect these young people for their beliefs and high standards.
While our Church teaches the highest moral and spiritual standards concerning dating and marriage, not all Latter-day Saint youth adhere to them. Often I have said that I would rather my daughters date a non-Latter-day Saint boy with Christlike qualities and high moral standards than a Latter-day Saint boy who has neither.
Such young men properly taught and touched by the Spirit are prime candidates for baptism and the priesthood. Caution should be exercised, however, so that gospel standards and principles will not be compromised. That is the danger!
So often, young ladies of the Church will say, “Once we are married, he will join the Church and then we will go to the temple.” Such hopes are seldom fulfilled. It is far better to remove all doubt before reaching such an important decision.
Several things should be taken into consideration before we date either members or nonmembers. Ask yourself these questions: “Am I sufficiently strong in my adherence to the principles of the gospel and in my personal testimony to share its message boldly and tactfully with my date? Am I looking ahead to my future in such a way that it will include an eternal partner? Is this choice leading me closer to the goal of eternal marriage and the joy and happiness of dwelling with my Father in heaven? And finally, have I evaluated my feelings honestly with myself, my parents, and the Lord?” Too often we leave out of our decisions the wisdom of wise, experienced parents and the inspiration of the Lord.
Love and dating, in the eternal sense, are built upon many things, friendship being the first. A true and lasting courtship must be built upon friendship. Many years ago, Cicero said, “Friendship can exist only where men harmonize in their views of things human and divine.” Eventual love must be built upon partnership. There must be a sharing of happiness, fears, joy, and sorrow. When dating one of your own faith, you are more apt to share common standards, ideals, and eventually, lives.
In the latter days, the prophets have counseled us to prepare for marriage in the temple—to follow the straight and narrow. I am sure that we all want a warm and loving home with a gracious and wonderful family. I think the real question is “Are we willing to make the proper personal preparation?”