Session 4: “Bought at a Great Price”: Choices and Dating

Aim: To express to teens the Church’s belief that we do have a choice in regard to sex within the context of dating and that this choice will either help or hurt (hinder) a relationship.

Objectives: By the end of this session participants should be able to . . .
  • Explain that waiting to have sex is a possible and healthy option.
  • Defend the Church’s teaching that sexual contact creates an irreversible bond between people for good or for bad.
  • Compare the dating process to a fact-finding mission.
  • Define "premarital” sex as “premature” sex.
  • Name alternatives to sexual activity when they are in a dating situation.

Useful Texts

  • 1 Corinthian 6:15-16
  • Harlots of the Desert by Benedicta Ward available from SVS (800/204-BOOK)
  • Life of St. Mary of Egypt


  • Two signs saying "Wait" and "Don't Wait"
  • A one minute hour-glass (such as that found in some games) or timer
  • A small prize for the winning team at Pictionary
  • Copies of the "Wait/ Don't Wait Reaction sheet"


I. Opening Prayer

II. Check-In and Review

III. Activity #1: Pictionary

IV. Activity #2: The Great Wait/Don't Wait Debate

V. Activity #3: The Perfect Date

VI. Activity #4: Risky Business

VII. Activity #5 Top 10 Ways of Putting on the Brakes

VIII. Closing Prayer

I. Opening Prayer

II. Check-In: Every one should state their name and how they are doing/feeling in terms of what kind of date they would be-- ask for details of the event not personal qualities. For instance, “Today I feel like a regular old dinner and a movie date/ a sweep you off your feet, fairy tale date/ a date who shows up an hour late." What we experience on or look for in a date often reflects our own internal states.


  • What is the difference between love, lust, and infatuation? [Love cares about a person for who they are, lust cares only about how a person can fulfill a sensual need, infatuation is concerned not with the person but what they represent and symbolize.]
  • What are some of the elements of love, from a Christian perspective? [C.A.R.I.N.G.]

III. Activity #1: Pictionary

Time: 15 minutes

Purpose: This activity is based on the popular game "Pictionary", especially the TV show version. Each word in this activity has to do with dating and the variety of things a teenager might encounter on a date. Some of these things are serious. Some are not so serious. The purpose is to warm they up to talk about dating, and should be kept up at a quick pace.

Play begins when the participants have been divided in half to make 2 teams. The two groups represent two competing teams. The goal is for a team to go through their list of words before the other team. Each group has a different list of words.

One person from one team comes up to the board and attempts to draw out a picture depicting the word or phrase that they have been given. Their team attempts to guess the word or phrase. Once one of the team has guessed it, another member comes up and starts another. For each correct word/phrase, they get a certain amount of points. They may pass a word if it is too difficult. Words/phrases should begin easy and increase in difficulty. You might want to save the really hard ones for a bonus round/ tie breaker.

Easy (50 pts.): Body, Baby, Kiss, Holding Hands, Movie Theater, Dancing

Medium (100 pts.): Taco Bell, Blind date, Eye Contact, Prom Dress

Hard (200 pts.): Love, Marriage, Party, Drunk Driving, Anger, Boredom

Really Hard (500 pts.): Connection, Choice, Mistake, Vanity

Make up your own list of words and phrases for extended play. The winners should get a small prize, and runner-ups should get a consolation prize.

“Today we’re talking about dating. Why do you think each of these words was used in the game?” [They are all things that either appear during a date or can come as a result of dating.] Discuss briefly before moving on to the next exercise.

IV. Activity #2: The Great Wait Debate

Time: 20 minutes

Purpose: Teens are well aware of the pressures they have on them. If they are going to make the right decisions concerning sex, they will need to personally believe why they should or should not make the choices that they do. This debate providesthem a chance to work out, with your guidance, the reasons for making the right decision.

Divide the participants into two teams. Each side should have a sign saying either "Wait" or "Don't wait."

"Dating has become an established tradition in our culture. At other times and in other cultures, there was and is no such thing. Relationships were arranged from childhood, or instead of dating there was courtship. There is little advice for us from ancient times on ‘correct’ dating. During dates we are put into the position of having to make important choices about what we want to do and how far do we want to go emotionally and physically.

There is a tremendous amount of pressure on us to have sex while dating. Yet the Church teaches us to wait for sex. To wait or not to wait, that is the question-- probably one of the most important choices we will ever make."

"As you may have noticed, we have been divided into two teams. It is the job of each team to come up with a list of reasons to support its position. Once we have a pretty good idea of what reasons there are for either waiting or not waiting, we will have a debate. The Church knows there are no easy answers. But there are answers that will bring you closer to God and those that will not. Let the Great Wait Debate begin!"

Give each group about ten minutes to come up with as many reasons as they can for their side. Once they have quite a few, you might want to suggest to them that they anticipate the opposition a little and come up with responses. As moderator, you should not show any favoritism, even if you have to help stimulate the ideas of one or the other group. Let the debate be fair and, above all, honest. Have them record their ideas on a sheet with two headings, "WAIT" and "DON'T WAIT."

To moderate the debate, have each team elect a spokesperson or panel of spokespersons. Give each team a chance to present their position, and for the other team to respond. Keep it as formal or as open as you need. Continue as time permits.

"The choice to wait or don't wait comes up for most of us. There are compelling reasons for either side. The Church teaches us to wait, for many of the good reasons we heard today." (Give some examples) "The Church also teaches us to see that premarital sex is really premature sex. In our next session we will look more closely at marriage: the real setting for 'mature' sex."

"No one said it was going to be easy. We, are called, in a sense, to be athletes for Christ. We have to work hard to excel and win the race. The challenge is to run the race fairly and not to drop out or to take a short cut and cheat. Thankfully, we are not lone athletes, but members of a team-- the Church-- which supports us and trains us for our challenges."

V. Activity #3: The Perfect Date

Time: 10-15 minutes

Purpose: This is a brief directed discussion to get participants to do some introspection on what they really want from dating. This also gives them a chance to hear what they should know about dating from the Church's perspective.

  • "Dating is one of the 'arenas' in which we find ourselves. We should ask ourselves why we are dating. What do we hope to get out of a relationship? What do most of the people around us want? That is, why do you think people date in the first place?" [To meet people, to find a sex partner, out of boredom, to fit in socially, to be popular, to have fun]
  • "What does a relationship require to be healthy?" [Love, C.A.R.I.N.G.--see last session, time and patience should be mentioned also.]
  • "How important is it if a relationship ends and we ‘break up?’” [It’s not the end of the world; it means everything; you get over it.]
  • “What kind of things are people willing to do to stay in a relationship, even when it is failing? Why? Do they work?” [Have sex; almost have sex; do drugs/drink; they are afraid something is wrong with them; they think they can change the other person; virginity is worth giving up in their eyes.]

"Sex is an option. You have the power, the right, and most importantly, the responsibility to decide what you will do. Many people, unfortunately, feel that by taking sex out of dating, you take the purpose out of dating. So we also have somewhat of a responsibility to come up with guidelines for dating: a type of goal or vision. We have to rediscover the purpose of dating. "

"From a Christian perspective, we could think of dating as a fact-finding mission-- a chance to get to know someone and 'test the waters' of a potential relationship. Now, imagine that we were to bring one of those people from a distant time and culture to our world-- one where there is no dating. We might have to go as far as Mars, nowadays. Let's get into small groups of 3-5 and come up with a set of guidelines for dating. How would we explain the this behavior known as ‘dating’ to someone? Hopefully, it is more than a primitive "mating ritual!”

  • If we think of dating as a fact-finding mission, what are the kind of characteristics each of us would look for in our own perfect 'date'? [Polite, well-groomed, willing to spend money, funny, nice. Again, C.A.R.I.N.G. is a good place to start!]

Give each group several minutes to come up with a set of characteristics. Then have each group present three things that they would look for in a date.

  • "Now that we have a list of specifications for our 'perfect date', how does this compare to our list of the elements of love from the last session?
  • How does your list relate to your three most important things in life? (Ideally, they should all connect.)"

VI. Activity #4: Risky Business

Time: 30-45 minutes.

Purpose: One of the most important issues facing both young women and men at the dating age is the possibility of sexual assault by an acquaintance or “date-rape.” Young people need to be made aware of these dangers and the situations in which they occur. Sexual assault is an epidemic on college campuses in this country and teens need to be prepared well beforehand. For this activity, you will have to do a little research.

Contact a local Y.W.C.A. and see if they have a sexual assault counselor. Many college campuses have counselors of this sort. Some even have peer counseling, done by college students (“Peer educators” for college students and freshmen. Arrange to have a sexual assault counselor come and speak with your class. Go over with them yourself the study unit so that there will be little overlap. Also, most secular sex education, even of this sort, avoids the question of pre-marital sex between consenting partners, so make sure to use such a presentation in the context of this unit which teaches abstinence. A presentation on date-rape can be combined with the activity below: “Top 10 ways of putting on the brakes.”

VII. Top 10 Ways of Putting on the Brakes

"There are a lot of reasons why it is good to wait to have sex until you are married-- not the least of which is being able to have a relationship based on genuine friendship and personal integrity, not just physical attraction. Nevertheless, we often find ourselves in situations of temptation when out on a date or even with someone we love. It is in those moments of decision that our personal growth really occurs, and we become more mature.

"By now, each of us should have a better picture of what we want out of a date, and what we should and shouldn't do. As we conclude this session, let's have each person give one reason why they would wait to have sex until marriage and one thing they could do or say to put the brakes on when things are getting a too hot to handle when out on a date or with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Then we will come up with a Top 10 list of ways to "put on the brakes" for next time.”

[Examples:“This is getting a little too serious, let’s talk, play cards, go to the movies, take a walk, make spaghetti, etc. instead.”]

Record answers in your notes or on the board, or elect one person to keep track for you. After everyone has offered something, condense the list to the top 10. In smaller groups you may have to go around more than once. Type up the list, make copies and give them to the participants at the next session.

“One of the best ways of ‘putting on the brakes’ is by being clear with a boyfriend or girlfriend from the very first, and establishing some guidelines to the dating process. Saying ‘no’ is a lot easier and feels a lot better when you have said it well beforehand. That’s what it takes to make dating work for you. You don’t have to slam on the brakes when you are keeping your eye on the road ahead!”

VIII. Closing Prayer: It is a good time to introduce the Church’s prayers for single people at this point. You may want to have copies available for them to put in their journals, or distribute prayer books that have this or similar prayers. Example (singular form in ()):

O Blessed Lord, Who have set for us an example of ideal purity, strengthen us(me) , we(I) beseech Thee, when temptation besets u(me)s, and when strong passions seek to overwhelm us(me), that we(I) may remain constant in virtue and innocent in thought, word, and deed, doing such things only as are well-pleasing unto Thee; grant us(me) growth in wisdom and understanding, that we(I) may serve Thee in holiness all the days of our lives (my life): through the intercessions of Thine all-immaculate Mother and of all Thy Saints, (especially my patron Saint N.) Amen.