Friends, family, enemies, everyone. This is a paper my cousin wrote. He is brilliant and also one of my favorite people in all the world. Enjoy.
The Defective Provo Dating Game
Walking around BYU campus and going to social activities in Provo, I see something interesting to me. It is almost as if we have separated our religious lives and social lives to the point of living two moral codes that have become almost entirely distinct. I think, really, that Provo is an amazing place. There are many things that make it incredible, but despite it all, Provo dating has worsened and it needs to change.
Here we go... sometimes as human beings we act in a certain way because it is commonly accepted, or because “everyone else is doing it.” It’s a familiar idea, and actually anciently it had major advantages and played a huge role in our survival as a species. Learning to fit in protected us and helped us stick together. Unfortunately, however, this same desire to be a part of a group can cause us to adopt certain behaviors and stereotypes that we otherwise wouldn’t. I think that this is happening too much in the Provo dating culture.
There seems to be a huge lessening of morality in our social lives. An example would be people who are taking or blessing the sacrament on Sunday after being up till one o’clock in the apartments of the opposite gender “making out.”
Weaknesses are real, and we should recognize them. We should be understanding and loving of everyone who makes mistakes, (ourselves included) but I think it’s a real problem when something like this happens and we all pretend like it isn't wrong. It seems that just because there isn’t a clear rule about something than it's “allowed” and alright. To me that's a terrible misconception.
Instead of talking about the obvious infraction of the honor code, let's focus on the “blurry line” of passionate kissing. On lds.org it says, “The phrase “passionate kissing” in For the Strength of Youth (, 36) has to do with the kind of kissing that goes well beyond a peck on the cheek or briefly touching lips. It’s more intense and lasts longer than a brief kiss, and it’s often a step along the path to more serious kinds of physical intimacy, which is why you are warned against it before you’re married.” However you put it, what we recognize as “making out” is passionate kissing. It is exactly what is being referenced here.
Individual opinions will vary, but speaking plainly, “making out” almost always stimulates sexual arousal. For those who believe they are the exception, I have this question: why even risk it? The site goes on to say, "For the kind of dating and relationships you should be experiencing before marriage, it’s wise to hold back with your kisses, especially kisses on the lips." That seems straightforward enough for me.
But even if it’s not, you can’t really call that love. Not at all. Love is respect, and self-sacrifice, not dancing the line between acceptability and sin. It is true that the activities that cause sexual arousal are different for each person. It is more challenging for some to control thoughts than others, but true love is always erring on the safe side. No one can say that breaking an honor code rule, or going against the guidelines of the prophets is “alright for some people,” just because of our genetic variation. The young adults of Provo are spectacular, and I really think that we are above pretending like making-out is totally acceptable.
Psychologytoday.com says that "the more 'intimate' open-mouth, tongue -included type of kissing[...]can also lead to arousal and sex. Passionate make-outs are often necessary (and effective) precursors to further physical intimacy." I agree with that. Passionate kissing is very sexual in nature. It has a time and a place, of course, but that time and place is not before marriage. I think that there are ways that we can rise above this.
Something else, which has become another needless burden to daters everywhere, is the mortal fear that we all seem to share of “awkwardness.” It seems that nothing were so terrible, and no experience as painful as something awkward. We talk about it, we run from it, but still it seems to dominate everything. There perhaps is a time and place for awkwardness, such as in jokes and entertainment, but I think we've allowed it to grow into an outrageous challenge to our social lives.
For example. Why do we have to avoid old girlfriends or boyfriends at all costs so that no one feels awkward? Doesn’t that just feel wrong? I know it can be really uncomfortable, but I think It’s an invented rule of society that we could choose not to follow. In other cultures the word “awkward” doesn’t even exist, and this actually leads to less of these situations. Why do we talk about it so much, and avoid it so much, and do nothing to get rid of it? Or defeat it? Running away from something is not a victory. It may take courage and social aptitude, but we can face an awkward situation and maturely overcome it, sometimes just by taking a step back and laughing at it. I am convinced that with the right amount of love and eternal perspective, no situation could make us feel awkward. It’s not easy, and there situations where it's hard to not feel uncomfortable, but I think we can do something to get through it and not let it control us so much.
The worst part though, is that this leads to more harmful things that are going on. Elder Holland gave a speech awhile back to BYU. He spoke of his wife, and said that "To impair or impede her in any way for my gain or vanity or emotional mastery over her should disqualify me on the spot to be her husband." Emotional mastery over someone would be a perfect way of describing the feeling that some seek as they exploit and manipulate members of the opposite gender. There is no place for deception in dating. Any action to "make someone jealous" or as a retaliation of a "really bad break-up" would fall into this category. Forgiving someone, but never wanting to see them again, is not real forgiveness. Aren’t we all shooting for The Celestial Kingdom anyway? Wouldn’t it be best to work out our differences here? Weakness is allowing someone’s actions to stop us from loving them. True strength is real forgiveness and love. Elder Holland goes on to say that, "No serious courtship or engagement or marriage is worth the name if we do not fully invest all that we have in it." I argue that as brilliant members of a brilliant university, if we were putting our all into our dating relationships, it would not be in the defective, difficult state that it is now. We are all capable of much, much more.
A word to the sisters: I think that you are all amazing, but remember that the duty of having a celestial dating atmosphere is the responsibility of both genders. When inappropriate things happen, both are at fault. I see a lot of girls that, because of a low self-image, they make their relationship almost an object of worship. They feel that if they are not in a relationship, they aren’t worth anything. Remember this: true worth comes through remembering that Christ loves you. A relationship is not the answer to all your problems, and if it becomes that for you, it will never be healthy.
And guys, know that any activity on any level aimed toward inappropriate pleasure or self-interest is always and absolutely a trademark of an enemy of womanhood. Respect and love are transformers of mankind. Through self-control and real reverence toward your sisters, you will become something greater. The earth is in need of heroes. There's a real shortage of them. This world is incredible because it is a place where ordinary people can become incredible.
What would a place look like that ran completely on love? How would it be to have a dating atmosphere that is honest, open, and where everyone had the same goals? For this to happen, all of us have to change. Not just the “Provo All-Stars,” but everyone.
Once I overheard someone asking someone else about a joke. The person said, “No, I can’t tell it, it’s not super appropriate.”
The other asked, “Well, is it funny?”
Wait, just because something is funny, means it doesn’t matter if it is appropriate? I think that is a really sad and really dangerous idea.
I would like to end with one more Holland quote, "You separate dating from discipleship at your peril. Or, to phrase that more positively, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, is the only lamp by which you can successfully see the path of love and happiness for you and for your sweetheart."
I add my words to his. We all have so much brilliant potential here. I’ve really seen it, and as far as I'm concerned, the only way we can untangle the dating scene in Provo is to tie it to our discipleship, and it needs to be for real.