Dating and Dancing – A Sikh Perspective
Gurbakhsh Singh U.S.A.
Canadian Sikh Study and Teaching Society Vancouver, Canada
1. A very important question, "Is dating and dancing prohibited for a Sikh?" Arose during a discussion among the youth in Vancouver on September 3, 1995. If the answer is ‘not prohibited’, the youth feel satisfied. If it is ‘the other way’, they disagree with it. Further, they want to know the religious injunction regarding it and also its logic so that they could examine it themselves.
Let us first understand "What is dating?" The dictionary meaning is to have an appointment especially with a person of opposite sex. It is understood that the two want to socially interact to know each other with the objective of choosing a life partner. Because ultimate aim of dating is marriage, sex is assumed to be a part of dating. Rather, sex is considered essential, of course wrongly, to seal their relationship. Actually dating and mating have become synonymous. Raping is often alleged during dating. We read about date rape cases very often.
2. Mating and raping have little difference and that too can be churned out by the lawyers only. One partner claims it to be a case of mating while the other partner contests the same act to be raping. In the famous Kennedy case, it was decided by the jury to be mating but in another famous case involving a boxing celebrity, the sex was judged ‘raping’. Mating and raping both are immoral and are prohibited among the unwedded partners by all religions. The distinction between the two is only legal. Hence dating, if intended as a starting point for mating or raping, is prohibited by the Sikh faith.
Dating, a sophisticated word of the western culture, represented a sincere pious friendship of the unmarried youth. However, today it means an agreement to mate without marriage. This word is used to cover an activity which otherwise is considered immoral and irreligious. Further, it has been defiled by the dishonesty of the partners.
3. The youth during the discussion presented another view. They observed, "We don’t do what the parents assume we do." However, when frank talks followed, they agreed, "Underlying objective of going on a date is necking and sex if possible. Without this it is no dating, it is social meeting that we do during our studies in the college and general gatherings."
The youth say, "We don’t do." However, a report by the former Education Secretary of the U.S.A., Mr. Bennet, shows that the present illegitimate (out of wedlock) birth rate will reach 80% before the end of the century. This really is an alarming situation. The children are producing children when in school. It is difficult to find a youth who has not experienced sex before graduation from the university, or even the school.
The Washington Post, dated October 9, 1995, quoting reports of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated, "States that eschew sex education or stress abstention appear to have fewer teen pregnancies than states that promote condom use." Wyoming with no sex education has lowest teen pregnancy, 53.7 per 1000 girls (15-19) in 1992 compared with Georgia, 106.9 per 1000 girls. Since 1993, abstinence is in focus there too. The undeniable fact is more freedom has brought more illegitimate births. The conclusion: Observing social/moral discipline is the only way for saving youth from ruining their lives.
The youth need to be cautioned that lust, anger, greed, and other emotions overpower an individual, and force one to do what one knows should not be done. It is good to always keep away from a situation where there is a likelihood of one being caught under their pressure. Therefore, dating which usually has an invisible or visible agenda for mating/raping is prohibited for a Sikh (It is prohibited by all faiths).
To justify dating, one may argue, "I am smart. I know the consequences. I won’t do what other silly youth do and get caught." But what the youth do not know is that "accidents" do happen to those who take risks. To explain this, the author asked the youth why every gas station displays the notice "Turn the engine off before dispensing gasoline." All replied in one voice, "The gas may spill and catch fire." Though they did not know of any gas station catching fire, but they agree that those instructions must stay.
Quoting this, they were told we have millions of examples when dating resulted in pregnancy ruining the life of the youth (and their parents too), but still many youth believe, "It will not happen to me." What one does not know that even big hearts break under stress, hence the advice: take no risk. Do not tread on that path at all.
One should, of course, have a friend, but not a girl friend or a boy friend. Once the association turns out to be boy friend/ girl friend, pre-marital sex is considered not wrong rather desirable to strengthen the relationship. In MOST cases, the relationship breaks. One (or even both) partners may commit suicide. A report says that break-up of the date was the reason for four out of five suicides committed by the youth.
Being friendly is important for a Sikh youth. He/she should have good relationship with all his/her peers, whether boys or girls; of course, not with those who drink, use drugs or do other wrong things. Some friends are close, others are less close, but one should never have the idea of misusing friendship into becoming a boy friend/girl friend relationship.
When you are adult and think of finding a spouse, be open and frank with your parents. Tell them if you want to choose a life partner. They will guide you and help you make mature decisions. Why ignore their sincere advice, which is offered free and with love for the better future of the youth.