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"Young men and women, not yet ready for marriage, should be friends with many others, but they should not engage in courting . Friendship, not courtship, should be the relationship of teenagers . Any dating or pairing off in social contacts should be postponed until at least the age of 16 or older, and even then there should be much judgment used in the selections and in the seriousness" (Kimball, 1975, p. As a consequence of this teaching, the age of sixteen has become the acceptable age when dating can begin. Nineteen is an especially pivotal age in the social and religious life of late adolescent LDS youth. Two doctrinally based principles guide the dating and courtship of LDS youth: first, because of the religious significance of marriage, virtually everyone who can is expected to marry; second, because of the spiritual and social importance of chastity, sexual relations must wait until after marriage.Latter-day Saints place an unusually strong emphasis on marriage, believing that marriage is ordained of God (D&C ) and is a prerequisite for obtaining the highest heavenly state after mortality (D&C 131:1-4; see Exaltation).Here, young people participate, usually once a week, in gender-segregated activities designed with an adult adviser for their particular age group.
It is expected that LDS youth will not begin dating until the age of sixteen.
For most young people in the United States outside the Church, dating begins at an early age (about age thirteen during the 1980s); it has no set pattern of progression, and is often informal and unsupervised.
These contemporary dating patterns form a social context that influences somewhat the majority of LDS youth.
The change of this one pattern of social activities of our youth would immediately eliminate a majority of the sins of our young folks" (Kimball, 1986, pp. Steady dating is further discouraged until youth are ready for courtship.
In the past, LDS youth were basically counseled not to begin dating, especially steady dating, until they were "old enough and mature enough" to consider marriage.