Years ago, I would never say this, but today, from experience, my perspective has undergone a paradigm shift. I think kids shouldn’t be discouraged from getting into relationships; more like family dates, picnics and the likes. From these kinds of outings, little boys can LEARN how to respect and treat little girls well, and vice versa (train up children in the way they should go), and they cannot do that if they aren’t friends with them, under adult supervision.

The problem is that we think the very idea of ‘relationships’ suggests promiscuity. So we lock our kids up and warn them seriously not to go close to the opposite sex, throwing in some wired threats for good measure. Imagine a mother telling her eight year old daughter that sitting too close to a boy in class can get her pregnant. Like seriously? Isn’t that such a lame thing to say to a child?

In my experience, I’ve come to realise that ignorance and secrecy engender promiscuity much more than relationships themselves. Have you not seen those kids raised by extremely strict parents, under close scrutiny, inside mansions with inscriptions of “Beware of Fierce Dogs” at the gates? Do they turn out perfect? Hardly!

We need to act FAST. Especially in this age of social media. Let’s not be too cautious, or too afraid to give guidance to our kids. If your little girl has a crush, she ought to be able to talk to you about it first, right, before anyone else. But if you shout at her and make her feel like a serpentine spirit, at that age, she’ll retreat into herself and take her crush issues elsewhere.

So while I recommend group dates for growing kids, I would never recommend exclusive dates at that age. Never! The idea is to get these kids to be comfortable with one another, and to love and respect members of the opposite sex, not to get them married at that age. And trust me, if we start working towards this direction, we would have less of these relationship issues.

Wait a minute. Let me ask a quick question. How many of us got any Sex Education as kids? Anyone? Let me see your hands. Don’t be shy!

Well, I never did!

I love my parents. But I didn’t get any opportunity to tell my mom how much I love her before she died. Not that I didn’t know that I loved her. I couldn’t bring myself to ever say it. It was too weird a thing to say. But my Dad is still very much alive, and I still don’t get to tell him how much I love him. Why? Like I said, it’s just too weird to actually say those words to him. He is a macho man…

We live in a culture where affection is considered a form of weakness. So I love my Dad, but I can’t tell him. I’m not used to saying it, and I’m sure he’s not used to hearing it said to him either. See the problem? If I can’t express my feelings, how can I even hope to be affectively mature?

Some of the younger generation may not be familiar with this “awkwardness” when it comes to expressing affection. They’re quite lucky.

It’s a problem of stereotypical upbringing. As far as I can remember, I’ve hugged my Dad only once in my entire life – when my mom died. In other words, that’s the closest physical expression of intimacy that we’ve ever had (I am not talking about the many times I know he must have carried me as an infant).

If this awkwardness can exist with ordinary matters of affection, how much more sex related matters?

Sex Education: Whose Responsibility?

I love my parents. But I didn’t get any opportunity to tell my mom how much I love her before she died. Sad!

Nice enough excuse!

But my Dad is still very much alive, and I still don’t get to tell him how much I love him. Why? It’s just too weird to actually say those words to him. He is a macho man…

Sounds familiar?

We live in a culture where affection is considered a form of weakness. So I love my Dad, but I can’t tell him. I’m not used to saying it, and I’m sure he’s not used to hearing it said to him either. It’s weird.

Some of the younger generation may not be familiar with this “awkwardness” when it comes to expressing affection. They’re quite lucky.

It’s a problem of stereotypical upbringing. As far as I can remember, I’ve hugged my Dad only once in my entire life – when my mom died. In other words, that’s the closest physical expression of intimacy that we’ve ever had (I am not talking about the many times I know he must have carried me as an infant).

If this awkwardness can exist with ordinary matters of affection, how much more sex related matters?

What’s Sex Education?

There are several definitions. But it’ll suffice to use the one from a source that we can mostly access – Wikipedia. It says “Sex education is the instruction of issues relating to human sexuality, including emotional relations and responsibilities, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence.”

Whose Responsibility?

Sex Education is the responsibility of the society – its smallest unit being the family; and more specifically, parents.

I’ve put it this way because I know that some may not have actual parents anymore, and some families are so dysfunctional they can’t teach anything positive to their children.

Parents and/or guardians must teach their children to be COMFORTABLE with talking about sex, affection, affectation, and the whole works. Parents and guardians have to at least introduce the basics. Then situations of formal learning can take it up from there.

In my secondary school days, it was such a sight to watch my biology teacher (a rather young lady) struggle to pronounce “Penis” during her classes on the male reproductive organ. Understandable, right? After all she’s female. But it was even harder for her to mention the word ‘vagina’. Ewwww (something about these words sha, even now I’m still uncomfortable writing and talking about them)!

But this wasn’t my Biology teacher’s fault, it was the fault of a society that attached so much shame to words that merely referred to those organs of ours that make us male and female. For me, my biology teacher’s embarrassment made her a bad teacher, at least on those topics, the fact our constant giggling during those classes distracted her even more.

In the same way, many of our parents today are bad teachers of sex Education. Mothers tell their daughters not to go near boys, their reason usually range from, ‘if you near boys ehn, you go get belle,’ to ‘if boy touch you at all, you don get belle be that…’ Today’s children are way smarter than that. Our parents have to wake up – FAST! It’s no loner enough excuse to say they weren’t given any Sex Education themselves.

What’s the connection between a boy’s touch and pregnancy, biko? The ‘touch’ must be defined, else when our daughters mistakenly touch a boy, and nothing happens, they’ll look for that special touch that makes pregnancy actually happen. Even if they’re not interested, their friends will keep encouraging them till they become interested.

If you’re trying to not get them pregnant, why not tell them not to let any boy or man raise their skirts? Why not tell them that it’s wrong for any man or boy to touch any part of their body they find unacceptable? Of course they’ll ask why. And you’ll tell them that they have a right to protect their bodies. You’ll tell them that some boys and men can trick them into sexual activity by playing indecent touching games. You’ll explain in your own words what sexual activity is and the consequences of engaging in it prematurely. Use whatever TRUE stories you can find that actually make sense, to drive home your points.

It’s normal to find girl teenagers today who know nothing about periods or menstrual pain. Yes they experience it but they don’t know what it is. There are boys who think wet dreams are sins, while masturbation isn’t. There are teenagers who’ll never discuss anything related to sex with their parents even on the pain of death. They just can’t trust their parents enough with such issues.

We must nonetheless thank women for making efforts to at least say something to their daughters about sex. What about men? How many men teach their sons to respect women? A young lady told me she goes everywhere with razor blades because boys always want to grope her bum, or touch her breasts even in the market place. She said the sad thing is that whenever it happens, there are usually people around who just stare with indifference or even laugh as though it were funny.

We would have more responsible boys if we took time to teach them how to properly treat women and care for them. Fathers must teach their sons that it is wrong to lure girls into sexual activity outside of marriage. They must tell them that it is very wicked to impregnate girls and refuse to take responsibility for the babies. They must teach these boys that women are not sex objects that are meant to satisfy their raging libidos. It is irresponsible to encourage our boys to develop the conquest mentality, where every girl they sleep with becomes a new feather added to their caps.

Furthermore, parents and guardians need to realise that their children will find it difficult, almost impossible to be free with them if they overreact anytime they make a mistake. A young lady told me how she was raped at six. Imagine that. Six! Till date she can still remember. She told me she told her mom about it and her mom lost her cool. She informed her entire family that her daughter had been raped without considering what psychological damage she did to her daughter by not discreetly handling the issue.

It is therefore important to have a great relationship with our children – so much so that they can tell us anything, including their most terrible mistakes. We must not try to be too strict like the ideal African parent. Mistakes give us opportunities to gently mould our children, encouraging them to get up and learn from their mistakes.

However, we cannot leave the business of Sex Education in the hands of parents alone. It has to continue in situations of formal learning. Matters of sexual molestation or abuse, should they occur, must be treated with the seriousness they deserve. This becomes more important for those children who have no parents or guardians at all. When schools take sex education more seriously, even those children with dysfunctional families will get the opportunity to learn something.

A parent once said to me, “Father, when is the right time to begin sex education for my children?” There’s no rule of thumb, no ready answer to that question. But if we have an understanding with our children, we’ll know when the time is right from the questions they ask. But if your children are the quiet type, feel free to ask them from time to time how they feel about the girl that’s always chatting with them, or the boy that always visits the house…

What’s wrong with our teens?

Many months ago, some teenagers somewhere in Africa were allegedly caught inside their classroom having a sexual orgy. They were between the ages of 13-15. It was after school hours.

Well, it was a big deal for most folks, cos for them, the sexual desire should be non existent in these teens. That’s preposterous!

Let’s subject this erroneous idea to the litmus test of our individual memories. When was the first time you were sexually attracted to someone; anyone? Oh please, just be frank already! Okay, how old were you when you started having sexual fantasies? Most of us read those romance novels as teenagers. See what I’m saying?

Now enough of the rigmarole . Let’s face the ultimate question. WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO BEGIN EXCLUSIVE CHRISTIAN DATING?

A young lady in her first Year in the University once asked me if it was okay to begin an exclusive relationship with a guy in her class. I asked her if it was okay to stand on the edge of a mountain top, when it was obvious you could lose your balance? She said it was risky. And I told her it was equally risky to start an exclusive relationship that early as well. You could fall off the mountain edge and end up with too many broken pieces of your heart.

What’s Dating?

According to Wikipedia, “Dating is a stage of romantic and/or sexual relationships in humans whereby two or more people meet socially, possibly as friends or with the aim of each assessing the other’s suitability as a partner in a more committed intimate relationship or marriage. It can be a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by the couple.”

Wiki goes on to define courtship as “the period in a couple’s relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage, or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind. During courtship, a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement or other such agreement.”

Crystalina Evert makes a distinction between dating and courtship.

For her, the concept of dating is about as old as the automobile. Nowadays we are so used to it that we might not be able to imagine any other approach to relationships. But back before the car, the reason why a man would invest time with a woman was to see if she was a potential marriage partner. The reason he expressed romantic interest was to woo her toward that lifelong commitment. This process usually took place within the context of family activities.

When the car was invented, this courting could be divorced from spending time with family because the couple could leave the family behind. Soon, the whole point of spending time together shifted from discernment of marriage to wooing for the sake of wooing. Many people would begin a relationship simply because they found the other to be cute and fun.

This put a new spin on the focus of relationships, and short-term relationships became commonplace. With this mentality, a person who dates successfully breaks up with everyone in his life except for one person (and this is supposed to be good preparation for a successful marriage). Of course, the majority of relationships do not end in marriage, but some become so intimate and intense that the couple might as well be married. If a breakup occurs, then they experience a sort of emotional divorce. It is not uncommon that by the time a person is married, he feels like he has already been through five divorces.

You may ask, “Well, what is the alternative? Am I supposed to shelter myself, put walls around my heart, and forget about having a social life?” Not at all. The alternative is to rethink the way we approach relationships. Whether we admit it or not, the world has molded our views of preparing for marriage. We need to seriously ask ourselves: “What is the godly approach to relationships?” What would God have us do?

Perhaps his ways are a 180-degree change from everything you’ve experienced. Perhaps you are burned out from the dating scene anyway, and could use a breath of fresh air.

Either way, I suggest a return to the principles of courtship. When I first heard of the resurgence of Christian courtship, I was skeptical. I remember thinking: “Oh, courtship. So if I want to spend time with a girl, I have to arrange for our families to go to a pumpkin patch together, followed by an exciting evening of board games, and then go home by seven…(WA Woo–real practical for a guy just out of secondary school, living in Edo State.”) I had heard a great deal about courtship, but when I began reading books on the subject I ended up liking the idea more than I hoped I would. There was a great deal of wisdom that I had never tapped into.

Many books propose different forms of biblical dating, but the fact is that no one ever dated in the Bible. In some passages the parents arranged the marriage, and in other places we read of men going to foreign countries to capture their wives. The idea of traveling overseas and capturing a wife may be appealing to some, but the Bible does provide guidelines that are more practical. Just because the concept of dating was unknown to those before the twentieth century, that doesn’t mean that Scripture cannot help us understand the mind of God on the matter.

In Psalm 78:8 we read of a generation that had no firm purpose and their hearts were not fixed steadfastly on God. If that is a good description of our relationships, they need some reworking. We should be intent on finding out if it is the Lord’s will for us to be with a certain person, and until we are ready to move in the direction of marriage, what is the point of committing to another?

Some may retort that this is all too serious, but should we be giving our hearts away to people who are in no position to make a real commitment? I am not proposing that you build an impenetrable wall around your heart, but that you guard it with prudence. We can wrestle over the terms “courtship” and “dating,” but the essential thing is to glorify God and act wisely. The time spent prior to marriage must be a school of love where two young people learn the art of forgetting self for the good of the other.

While there is nothing wrong with becoming friends and spending time with members of the opposite sex, committed relationships should be entered into for the sake of discerning marriage. When we do enter into relationships, we should allow wisdom to chaperone romance. This involves having the humility to become accountable to others. Find a member of the same sex that you look up to, and go to him or her for guidance in your relationships. As Proverbs says, “Without counsel plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov. 15:22).

There is also a great deal of wisdom in spending time together with the other person’s family. Not only does it honor the parents, it also helps you get to know the family that you may one day join. Finally–and this may be a real eye-opener: How this person treats his or her family will likely be how he or she treats you when the feelings taper off. For example, if you are a young woman dating a guy who is disrespectful toward his mother and sisters, but is a perfect gentleman around you, guess what you have to look forward to if you settle down with him.

If we spend every waking hour tucked away in private gazing into our sweetheart’s eyes, we will never find out who they are. The type of time a guy and girl spend together is essential if they wish to ground their relationship in reality. Spending time in service, with family, and even playing sports will help reveal who the person really is.

These are some of the principles of courtship: ask God’s blessing at the beginning of a relationship; enter it with direction, toward discerning marriage; involve the families; be accountable to others; pace yourselves as you spend time together; and always listen for the Lord’s guidance.

Deepen friendship, not sexual intimacy…

It’s quite cool to have a friend. A boyfriend, a girlfriend… That’s all good. But the emphasis should be on FRIEND not BOY or GIRL. So, rather than worry about how to get this one girl or this one guy out of the group, worry more about getting to know and enjoy companionship with this one guy or one girl (or more) within the group. Exclusion brings evil. “I have a cutie pie in my class and we go to the same church, sing in the same choir, stay in the same neighbourhood and all. So I get to see him and talk to him almost always. But I’m not satisfied with that. I want to go out with him to the bush behind the house, or pass the night in his room and so on.” I am asking for trouble. And I will find it in no time.

Don’t date! But if you must…

The general advice for teenagers is “DON’T DATE!” Truth is, you don’t want to be sexually active in a relationship. And that’s exactly where early dating could get you. You still have school and many other more important things to sort out. You’re not ready to be a mother or father yet. You’re not ready to make the marriage commitment either. You don’t even have the capacity to make such a commitment yet. So let it go and concentrate on self development and growth.

But if you’re stubborn, and you think you must date, then do so in public places and amidst friends. Do group dating. It’s so much more fun and so much safer. That way, you get to hang out with the guy or girl you like and still end up in one piece. A teenager in a relationship is like a ticking time bomb. Self control is still under construction. Hormones are developing and roaring hot. Libido is untamed and emotional maturity still far on the horizon. Why would you want to climb a mountain edge when you’re not sure of your balance? The last thing you want to do is get two teenagers alone in a secluded place for long periods at a time. Get the point?

Pay your own way!

Many people don’t want to hear this at all. But truth is, some teenagers are too greedy. They agree to go on a date with someone they’ve never met because it could lead to free food, free smartphones, free bags and stilettos, and blah blah blah. Listen to me. If you must date as a teenager, and you go as a group, pay for your own food and drinks. That way, you won’t feel obliged to say ‘yes’ when your date begins to demand some funny things.

Why must you accept an expensive phone or dress when you know you’re not ready for what might follow? So kindly reject free seemingly harmless gifts till you know what you’re dealing with. Don’t throw up your hands and rejoice that you’ve caught a mugu. You might end up being the mugu. And then it’ll be too late. So, pay your own way. If you don’t have enough money, stay at home.

Never, never stay the night!
Even group dating has to be supervised. You would be amazed what harm young people could do to themselves without some adult supervision. This is where drugs like cannabis, cigars, alcohol and others usually come in. Above all, sexual molestation and or rape could follow. So when going out on a date, make sure the location is not known to the group alone. Tell someone else. If possible, go with someone slightly older, if you’re not comfortable with having a full grown adult around. Finally, get done and go back home. Don’t stay over in some hotel, or in some rich guy’s apartment claiming to be flexing. You might end up completely flexed. Next day, you might not recognise the road to your father’s compound.


It’s okay to want to hang out with a pal. But for what? Sex? Don’t! Free gifts? Don’t! Adventure and fun? Don’t! To get to know them better? Yes! What’s okay to do is courtship. When you continue to hang out with friends in groups and develop healthy friendships and relationships with them, you’ll be clear headed enough to pursue other important things. Soon, you’ll be ready to climb the mountain edge and not worry about falling off.

© Oselumhense Anetor, 2019
Image Credit: Pixabay