Reprinted with permission from Crosswalk.com's Home School Channel.

There is one societal problem, which is largely unrecognized, but I believe it is the most significant cause of divorce these days. This problem is early dating. The whole concept of dating as well as the environment and habits it creates, are habits of heart and mind which lead to marital dissatisfaction, infidelity, and ultimately divorce. The "wonderful world of dating" creates the atmosphere and expectations of boy-girl relationships far earlier than is appropriate.

The purpose of a romantic relationship between a man and a woman is to provide one of the key elements of a joyful marriage. It is simply absurd for boys and girls to be involved in romantic relationships years, sometimes more than a decade, before they will be ready to be married.

If a young person starts "falling in love" at 13 or 14 years old, emotional commitments are made and inevitably broken. Pieces of one's heart are given away. After a while, emotional entanglements lead to physical activities. So-called minor activities are first. The activities get more and more intimate as the months and years drag on. After one has been a part of the dating scene for three, four, or five years, the natural physical response to romantic lovesexual intercourseis tantamount to inevitable.

The Jocelyn Elders "condom lobby" argues that all kids are having sex, it's unavoidable, so let's just give them condoms. Most Christian conservatives argue that full sexual intimacy is not inevitable between unmarried teens. Conservatives assert that we should set high standards for physical purity (which is usually defined as no sexual intercourse before marriage) and we should expect our children to live up to this standard.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for this standard of purity (and a whole lot higher standard as well). But I think there is a certain element of truth in Jocelyn Elder's cynical and evil arguments. If we allow our children to be involved in a series of emotional relationships, if we permit a certain degree of physical relationships long before they are in the season of life where they are ready to be married, what can we expect but broken marriages when these children become adults? Early physical relationships are the underlying reason that society has gone in this direction.

It's this simple. If you want to have your kids involved in premarital sex, let them get involved in emotional romance well before they are ready to be married. Sex follows love. Premature, immature romantic love leads to premature, illicit sex. If you want to encourage your children (sons as well as daughters) to walk the aisle of their wedding as a virgin, then help them develop the commitment that they will await until the season of life when they are prepared for marriage, before they will even begin to investigate a romantic relationship.