Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Underage dating undermines social conservativism

We should be talking about this a lot more:

The trouble with underage dating is that it presents an entirely faulty view of what interaction with the opposite gender should be about. Rather than placing emphasis on building one strong relationship with one person at a stage of life when a marital commitment is feasible, dating encourages young people to pour their energies into consistently seducing other young people at a time when neither of them are capable of making any long-term commitments. Their “relationships” are destined to fail from the get-go because they are founded on unhealthy perceptions of love and not backed by any real necessity to stick it out.

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But perhaps the most ludicrous and most willfully na├»ve assertion is that “relationships” between young teens are “not really about sex.” Just what do we think such relationships are about between people too young to be interested in any of the other things (family, stability, home-making, etc. ) that come out of a romantic involvement with the opposite gender? Contrary to such half-baked assurances, it is all about sex for these young people. Whenever they forget that, the pop-culture is quick to remind them of it. In the media, girls are unfailingly presented as having value to boys only in proportion to their physique and their manner of flaunting it. Boys are presented as bestial and incapable of responsibility. Overwhelming, this is the primary message being offered to our kids by the movies, magazines, music artists, and commercials directed at their age group. It is inexcusably irrational for us to suppose that their relationships with one another are untainted by the stereotypes that surround them.

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While social conservatives may proclaim the virtues of pre-marital abstinence and fidelity, their actions don’t line up with their words. They behave as though they expect our young people to embrace or at least abide by the values we preach to them, all the while continuing to direct them in lifestyle choices that foster the opposite principles and attitudes. And we wonder why 95% of Americans admitted to having premarital sex in 2006? Or why it was estimated in 2008 that 40% of all US marriages ended in divorce? Or why 4 in 10 children are born to unwed mothers today? My friends, it’s time for us to wake up and make the connections between the dating scene and the deterioration of the stable American family.

Here's the thing about chastity:

It's a collective effort.

Expecting a youngster to remain chaste on his own efforts is doomed to failure. That's not to say we shouldn't try, but it's an uphill battle at the very least.

A youngster needs the adults in his world to be his guide and his gatekeepers.

It's pretty hard for the typical adults to be the gatekeepers when they themselves are not being chaste. People don't like to be hypocrites.

One thing I find problematic is that the path to sociological adulthood (as opposed to chronological adulthood) takes much too long in this society. Most young adults aspire to go to college, and a lot of them shouldn't; many young adults live with their parents when they should be out on their own. Then another large number of people go on to higher studies when it's questionable whether those studies will ever contribute to the household economy.

So there are a lot of old adolescents.  It used to be that there were a lot of genuine twenty-year-old adults, but now they're hard to find.

If it takes that long to become an adult and get married, is it any wonder that people don't bother getting married at all?

And if they don't get married at all, why should adolescents be any different?

Of course sixteen- and seventeen- and eighteen-year-old people are going to want to date. But the problem is that their prospects for getting married any time soon are very slim. And that has to do with our expectations about adulthood.