Humans have been practicing dating on a large scale for around, 50 to 75 years. Before that, no one dated. Some snuck out, but that was sneaking out; it wasn’t dating.
The very idea of two unmarried people spending any time together, alone, was unthinkable to most people, once upon a time.
Why? At least for three reasons.
- Of course, the obvious reason most people think of is the unwed pregnancy, illegitimate child, and ensuing ruined lives. It may be hard for some to believe, but when parents and legislators guarded a young woman so closely back then, it was for her benefit as much as anything.
- Political reasons also factored in; not national politics like we think of these days, but human politics of the family, the estate, the wills, etc. Marriage strengthens families, and thereby, communities, cities, and countries. The foolishness displayed through the ins and outs of the dating mess weakens us all. People and families who desire to get somewhere choose marriage and its strengths, not foolishness.
- Religion forbade it. We cannot really blame Christianity because all religions have strict rules requiring single-mindedness about marriage and deterring the weakness inherent in youthful foolishness. Even someone who would boast of being the most irreligious, and who had a “special friend”, would call it cheating if that friend stepped out on him. That’s because the whole idea is universal.
And there was a time, not so long ago, when all people heeded this universal idea, whether they liked it or not. While there always have been a few out-of-wedlock babies, they were few, just enough to soften the blow of infertility for other people. And people hid the trouble as much as possible. And they were regretful.
Why is marriage universal?
A better question might be, why did God build this program into all people? It is because His Son is a Bridegroom, waiting for a pure bride.