However, although courtship patterns change and vary across cultures, there is quite a conservative pattern for dating and courtship among Latter-day Saints in Western nations.
It is expected that LDS youth will not begin dating until the age of sixteen.
As plainly stated by prominent leaders of the Church, "It is natural to date.
For most young people in the United States outside the Church, dating begins at an early age (about age thirteen during the 1980s); it has no set pattern of progression, and is often informal and unsupervised.
These contemporary dating patterns form a social context that influences somewhat the majority of LDS youth.
Because of the belief that people should be married and the doctrine that they can maintain marital ties throughout eternity, Latter-day Saints take dating and courtship more seriously than those for whom marriage has less religious significance.
Not only do these improper relations often lead to fornication, pregnancy, and abortions-all ugly sins-but in and of themselves they are pernicious evils, and it is often difficult for youth to distinguish where one ends and another begins" (Kimball, 1969, p. Although Latter-day Saints consider sexual relationships outside of marriage to be sinful, sexual relations within marriage are not only right and proper but are considered sacred and beautiful (see Sexuality).
Like most of their non-Mormon peers in dating cultures, LDS youth date to have fun as they participate in social activities with other boys and girls.
Two doctrinally based principles guide the dating and courtship of LDS youth: first, because of the religious significance of marriage, virtually everyone who can is expected to marry; second, because of the spiritual and social importance of chastity, sexual relations must wait until after marriage.
Latter-day Saints place an unusually strong emphasis on marriage, believing that marriage is ordained of God (D&C ) and is a prerequisite for obtaining the highest heavenly state after mortality (D&C 131:1-4; see Exaltation).
Serious, steady dating and marriage-oriented courtship are expected to be delayed longer, perhaps until after a mission for males and after completing high school for females.
A chaste courtship is expected to lead to a temple marriage, in which a couple make binding commitments to each other for all time and eternity.