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By Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke to young single adults at a Church Educational System fireside telecast from Oakland, California. Following is an excerpt from that address.

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By Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke ti young single adults at a Church Educational System fireside telecast from Oakland, California. Following is an excerpt from that address. Tingey of the Seventy referred to maybf article in a recent issue of Time magazine. The average age at marriage has increased in the last few decades, and the of children born to LDS married couples has decreased. It is timely to share some concerns about some current practices in the relationships of young LDS singles in North America.

Knowledgeable observers report that dating has nearly disappeared from college campuses and among young adults generally. Hanging out consists of s of young men and young women ing together in some group activity.

It is very different from dating. For the benefit of some of you who are not middle-aged or older, I also may need to describe what dating is. Unlike hanging out, dating is not a team sport. Dating is pairing off to experience the kind of one-on-one association and temporary commitment that can lead to marriage in some rare and treasured cases. What has made dating an endangered species? I am not sure, but I can see some contributing factors: The cultural tides in our world run strongly against commitments in family relationships.

For example, divorce has been made legally easy, and childbearing has become unpopular. That plan relies on covenants or commitments kept. Whatever draws us away from commitments weakens our capacity to participate in the plan. Dating involves commitments, if only for a few hours.

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Hanging out requires no commitments, at least not for the men if the women provide the food and shelter. I saw this trend beginning chhat our younger children. For whatever reason, high school boys felt they had to do something elaborate or bizarre to ask for a date, especially for an event like a prom, and girls felt they had to do likewise to accept.

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In addition, a date had to be something of an expensive production. I remember seeing one couple having a dinner catered by friends on the median strip between lanes of traffic just south of the BYU football stadium. All of this made dating more difficult. And the more elaborate and expensive the date, the fewer the dates. As dates become fewer and more elaborate, this seems to create an expectation that a date implies seriousness or continuing commitment.

That expectation discourages dating even more. Gone is the clumsy and inexpensive phone call your parents and grandparents and I used to make. How about a movie? The old-fashioned date was a wonderful way to get acquainted with a member of the opposite sex. It encouraged conversation. It allowed you to see how you treat others and how you are treated in a one-on-one situation.

It gave opportunities to learn how to initiate and sustain a mature relationship. None of that happens in hanging out. There is another possible contributing factor to the demise of dating and the prominence of the culture of hanging out.

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For many years the Church has counseled young people not to date before age Perhaps some young adults, especially men, have carried that wise counsel to excess and determined not to date before 26 or maybe even Men, if you have returned from your mission and you are still maybd the boy-girl ouut you were counseled to follow when you were 15, it is time for you to grow up.

Gather your courage and look for someone to pair off with. Start with a variety of dates with a variety of young women, and when that phase yields a good prospect, proceed to courtship. That is what the Lord intends for His young adult sons and daughters. Mayb have the initiative, and you men should get on with it.

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I heard it from my year-old granddaughter. Young women, resist too much hanging out, and encourage dates that are simple, inexpensive, and frequent.

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An occasional group activity is OK, but when you see men who make hanging out their primary interaction with the opposite sex, I think you should lock the pantry and bolt the front door. And, young women, please make it easier for these shy males to ask for a simple, inexpensive date. Part of making it easier is to avoid implying that a date is something very serious.

If we are to persuade young men to ask for dates more frequently, we must establish a mutual expectation that to go on a date is not to imply a continuing commitment. Finally, young women, if you turn down a date, be kind.

Things to know beforehand

Otherwise you may crush a nervous and shy questioner and destroy him as a potential dater, and that could hurt some other sister. My single young friends, we counsel you to channel your associations with the opposite sex into dating patterns that have the potential to mature into marriage, not hanging-out patterns that only have the prospect to mature into team sports like touch football. Up to this point I have concentrated primarily on the responsibilities of single men. Now I have a few words for single women.

If you are just marking time waiting for a marriage prospect, stop waiting. You may never have the opportunity for a suitable marriage in this life, so stop waiting and start moving. Seek it out in service and learning. Make a life for yourself. And trust in the Lord. Now, single sisters, I have an expert witness to invite to the stand at this time. It is my wife, Kristen, who, as an adult, was single for about 35 years before we married.

I am asking her to come up and tell us what is in her heart. We saw the Christus and the video Special Witnesses of Christ, and they went into my heart. This is your time. Make it count by dedicating your time to your Heavenly Father. I love what President Boyd K. Packer says about the Atonement. The Atonement is not something that happens at the end of our lives.

It is something that happens every day of our lives. And so I say to our single sisters, make it count. It can be very painful to be single for such a long time, especially in a church of families.

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I know how it hsng. On my 50th birthday my brother-in-law was reading the newspaper. I would also say to you, be balanced. As a single woman, I had to go forward.

If this "brother" figure is rude to you, he's not really her friend

I got a doctorate and became so involved in my profession that I forgot about being a good person. I would say to everyone in this room, always remember that your first calling is as a mother or as a father. Develop those domestic talents, talents of love and talents of service. As a single, I had to go searching for service projects, and now I have one every night across the table.

Never Too Old to Find New Friends

In closing, I think about the painful times in our lives. They will happen whether you are single or whether you are married.

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You may have who is very ill or experience the death of someone close to you or have a period of life that is very lonely. You may lose or have a situation you have no control over, such as a lingering disease. I would ask you to consecrate that to Heavenly Father. Chwt Helaman we read that if we yield our hearts unto God, all our actions serve to sanctify us, and so any time becomes a blessed time.

You are my favorite group in the world. You are most dear to me because I know what it feels like to be in your shoes. I was in them for a very long time.

2. How interested are they in you?

It is His Church. And most of all, I know that char have a Heavenly Father who loves us, as He was my best friend when there was no one else to love yo. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Elder Dallin H. Oaks: Thank you, Kristen. Now, brothers and sisters, if you are troubled about something we have just said, please listen very carefully to what I will say now. Perhaps you are a young man feeling pressured by what I have said about the need to start a pattern of dating that can lead to marriage, or you are a young woman troubled by what we have said about needing to get on with your life.

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Why would I make this request? Afterward a man came up to me in tears saying that what I had said showed there was no hope for him. He explained that he had been a machine gunner during the Korean War. During a frontal assault, his machine gun mowed down scores of enemy infantry. Their bodies were piled so high in front of his gun that he and his men had to push them away in order to maintain their field of fire.

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