1 Samuel 16:7
“For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
When we approach dating, it is important to set standards for the people we want to date… but sometimes we lack compassion and can be a little too quick to judge in sensitive situations.
Over and over again I have heard young women say that they will only date returned missionaries. And to be fair, I think it’s easy to understand why. Missions are awesome, and those who give up two years to serve the Lord are very admirable for that service. But I also think that refusing to date those who did not serve is not right. There are plenty of wonderful guys out there who for whatever reason, did not serve—and it is no one’s right to judge. The Lord looketh not on the nametag… He doesn’t define the worth of his children based on missionary service, so neither should we. The Lord looketh on our hearts. He doesn’t see us in terms of two years or 18 months—He sees us in terms of eternity.
Back in the fall of 2015, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland led an LDSFace2Face discussion for Young Single Adults. At one point, a question was submitted about women and choosing whether or not to serve missions, but his answer had a lot to do with men in the church as well. I loved his response:
“We lean on the young men to go [on missions] as much as we can. We are pretty straightforward about that […] but even there, if a young man doesn’t go, that does not preclude him from our association, admiration, his priesthood service, and his loyalty and love of the Lord, and future in the church.”
He continues: “We do not want anyone feeling inadequate, left out, undignified or tarnished because [they] did not serve a mission. And we are a little irritated with young men who say ‘well I’m not going to date you because you didn’t serve a mission.’ That seems to me almost unconscionable. What we are dealing with here is the worth and merit and wonder and beauty of human beings… and choices to be made, and agency that exists. We do not want that kind of climate over dating, marriages, or ‘who is really faithful in the church’ and who isn’t. We don’t know about the reasons our neighbor didn’t go, we don’t know all the backstory about circumstances that exist, or conditions at home, or financial anxieties, or health conditions that may have played a part in that kind of decision. It is not our place to pass a judgment or to in any way offend one of God’s little ones… and you are all God’s little ones.” –Jeffrey R. Holland, LDSFace2Face
Let me be clear about one thing: this isn’t just about people who don’t serve missions. This is about all of the people we date, and this quote can be related to a wide array of personal situations. A lot of times in dating, we tend to pass judgment too quickly and we miss out on the opportunity to date an amazing person, who is a child of God.
Something I’ve learned in dating is that it is more important to see people in terms of today and future, rather than seeing them only in terms of past–for this is the way that God sees us.
Remember what Robert D. Hales said?
“We don’t marry perfection, we marry potential.”
Yes, we need to have standards about those we choose to date. Yes, we need to keep those standards high. But we need to handle dating in a compassionate way, even when it doesn’t work out. Dating provides many opportunities to get to know others and form relationships (and not just romantic relationships). At the end of the day, dating is a learning and growing experience. We are not perfect, and neither are the people that we date. May we strive to have charity and look upon the hearts of the people we date. If you ever feel judged or inadequate or looked down upon in your relationship, that is a pretty good sign that it isn’t right. Don’t give up! God loves all of His children and knows the desires of our hearts. He has a plan for each of us and He will prepare the way for it to come to pass.