I know nothing about courtship…

Most of the married couples I know are miserable. Some of them practically hate each other, most of the wives don’t understand submission, and most of the husbands don’t understand leadership. Some of the problems derive from the fact that the couple is unevenly matched, spiritually speaking. I just do not want my son to end up in one of these marriages. What can I do about it? As soon as he “falls in love” with some random girl, all of my advice will seem like nagging. If he marries a girl that his father and I have advised against, we could end up having relationship problems for years (not because I am nagging, because I wouldn’t, but because he remembers our disapproval). The only thing I can think of is to help him keep a level head on his shoulders while searching for an honorable helpmeet. So my answer, I think, is courtship. The only problem is, I know next to nothing about it. I’m assuming that it’s only dating people you would consider for marriage, people with a good reputation and characteristics you find desirable in a life-long mate. I also assume that each date is chaperoned.

How would I go about instilling principles of courtship in my son? I am also responsible for my niece three days a week, and would like to extend this idea to her and her parents as well. I don’t know anyone personally who courted and married as a result. (I don’t think my editor counts because I don’t really know him, and that’s not the kind of conversation I envision having with him.) I used to be acquainted with one family who tried to get their son to court, but it didn’t end well.

I think I have steps one and two worked out, but after that, I’m completely clueless.

Step 1: Stop watching things that portray dating as desirable. Most of these types of movies have many other morality issues as well, so I’m convinced this is the place to begin.

Step 2: Talk about the benefits of courtship, and how important it will be for him to find a good wife.

Anyone with good experiences out there? Any adults who courted or a parent of one? I need help!


29 responses to “I know nothing about courtship…

  1. I think our children need to go into the world and experience life. It is when we foster them with the tools to make wise choices then they will have the ability to find the love of their life.

    • I do very much want to equip him to make right choices in life. I’ve always looked at parenthood as raising adults-to-be instead of raising children. Of course, playtime is a big part of becoming who we are in life, so we always make plenty of room for that too!

  2. Yes, do curtail the dating movies, etc.
    Beyond that, I can make a few suggestions, and it would take a week of blogs to explain fully, but basically:
    1. Nix dating. Dating is not Biblical. The Bible tells of two types of relationships between unmarried people of opposite genders: betrothal, and whoring. Dating is the latter. Dating is about 60 years old, on a world timeline, and has proven itself a disaster.
    2. Nix “love at first sight”. It is really “hormones at first sight” that extra hearbeat we get when adrenaline flows, caused by seeing someone cute.
    3. Teach what love is. 1 Cor. 13. It is not something we “can’t help it, I just LOVE him or her”. It is a command. It is THE command that makes marriages last, too.
    4. Teach what marriage is: a picture of Christ and the Church.
    5. Nix the boyfriend/girlfriend game. Anyone not old enough to marry has no business looking around. As each of my four sons were getting “interested” in someone, without even meeting the someone, I would tell them, “She cannot possibly be the one for you.” They would look at me in shock and ask how I could know. I would say, “Because she is not old enough to marry. You need to be looking at girls who are around 18.” Ha. When you tell that to a 14-year-old, it puts the damper on lots of troubles.
    6. So, of course, teach them to look for a wife, NOT to look for a girlfriend. Teach them to pattern their looking after the Bible, too. Christ looks for those who are aiming at faithfulness to make up His Bride.
    7. Teach them to look first at the spiritual life of the people around them. Of course, only God can truly know the heart, but the Word also gives us little clues: you will know them by their fruits, by this shall all men know ye are my disciples, etc.
    8. Do not provide for deep relationships outside of those you know. Casual relationships are okay in small doses, starting at about age ten.
    9. Do not fall for the false security of: well so and so did that and they are happily married–in other words, do not confuse God’s mercy with wisdom in man. Often God rescues us in our messes and protects us from our own foolishness, but that does not me we acted wisely.
    10. Pray, now, for the child who may become your daughter-in-law, some day. As he ages, teach your son to do so, also.
    11. Also, as he ages, teach your son the dangers of soul ties, and how to break them and how to avoid HAVING to break them.
    12. Very carefully monitor the time he spends out of your sight. Think very seriously about not allowing youth group, especially if it is the type of youth group that confuses refuge with rescue. The two do not mix well, at all.

    There is a lot more, but maybe this will help?

    • Thank you so much, Kathy!
      This is just what I was looking for! My mother has been praying for our spouses since the day we were born, which means she was praying for some of them before they were born!

    • Amy, this is some of the BEST advice you will ever get! I whole heartedly agree with Katharine. Raising two teenage boys ourselves, I can tell you that conversations about their “future wives” and the “biblical way” in which she will be found has happened OFTEN thru the years. Dating is literally taking pieces of someone and “tasting” them to see if you like them with no commitment. Pieces that are meant for their future spouse. We are teaching them to save ALL their “pieces” for the one God chooses for them and not to take, or give away something meant for someone else. Friendships between teens is a delicate matter that needs parental help to stay pure. Teens only get into trouble when they have too much unsupervised time. Without parental wisdom and support they will give into their flesh like any immature person. I especially liked point #9 in her response. For all the couples that found the Lord’s mercy in unequally yoked relationships there are sooooo many more that did not.

      I also agree with her that youth group is not biblical, and would ad that neither is public or private school. We are to train our children in the way that they should go, not hand that responsibility off to someone else. We are accountable for them before God someday. There’s not a lot I can add to what she said… it was beautiful put and I’m saving it = )

      Sherri <

      • I agree. If something were to happen to Jesse, and I found myself single again, I would definitely go with courtship. I would never be alone with someone. (I already practice this rule with anyone who is not my husband, due to big mistakes in my past.) I have hated myself over and over for acting immorally in the past. God has forgiven me, but I have had trouble because I grew up knowing better. I know what my weaknesses are, and I stay as far away from them as possible.

      • Every aspect of life has to fall under God’s will, examined closely against His Word, if we want to succeed. The more time we spend comparing our lives with His blessed revelation of Himself, the better. Even our logical thinking improves.
        This is why children, no matter how old, do not GET why they should go for character instead of looks. They have not even lived long enough to be wise, let alone spent all that time in the Word.
        The facts are, every man (except my husband) I ever held hands with or flirted with or kissed (when we were teens) is now someone else’s husband. Get that: I was holding hands (etc.!) with someone else’s husband.
        For several decades, America has been teaching its children that sexual and social looseness is okay.
        And they have learned the lesson well.
        And the rest of the world, at first shocked and mortified and scandalized by our behavior, thanks to better world communications, is now copying our mistakes, and our practices are spreading like . . . .

      • Precisely why I thought that nixing the wrong kinds of movies would be the place to start. By allowing our kids to watch immoral behaviors on tv, we are brainwashing them into thinking that that kind of behavior is okay, and even desirable (thanks to all the fairy tale endings).

  3. You are welcome!
    We used to attend a church that separated boys and girls in Sunday School, after about 4th grade. Of course, it was a larger church, but oh, did it put a stop to so many problems!
    Also, let me share, that we almost lost our firstborn to youth group. I was so shocked at the teachings, but before we could pull him out, the damage had already be done. It took years to recitify and we still see scars on him from just a few weeks of exposure to youth group. Sighs.
    The complication, there, is that the child sees a minister as having authority over even the parents, and if the teachings are not equal, the parents’ teachings suffer rejection. It is only natural to expect this.

    • I have heard of some terribly liberal youth groups. Our family doesn’t believe that the minister has authority over the family. We try to honor him, of course, but we don’t obey him. Thankfully, we agree with almost everything he says, so this hasn’t been an issue. Right now, our church doesn’t even have a youth group. We almost always do things as a church instead of splitting up into groups. But there are lots of similar-believing families in the church, all ages. And for that I’m thankful.

      • But . . . it has to do with how the CHILD sees the minister–as having authority over the congregation, having more training in the Word, teaching more, seeming to know all the answers, being the go-to guy, etc. Any child is capable of living quietly in a home he does not totally agree with, and looking for someone else who seems to back his rebellion, if only just a tiny bit, for excuses. After the snowball gets rolling, it is hard to stop it.
        I am really glad yours is a family orientated church and there is little separation going on. But if it comes, be careful.

  4. My parents (father, predominantly) used to talk to me about courtship. This was back in my early teen years, before I was particularly interested in thinking about way-off-in-the-future husbands. Now that I’ve reached adulthood and thoughts of future’s-looking-closer-all-the-time husbands are getting more frequent, I’m thinking it’s time I got a refresher. I want to be ready when God sends me my prince!

    • Absolutely! Not only are you looking for a good candidate; you want to BE a good candidate! XD
      Let me know if you decide to go with courtship and what parameters you set for yourself. And whether the experiment succeeds, of course!

  5. I would like to say that I really think ths advice is sound– Nix “love at first sight”. That is something that I wish that my parents would have emphasized more. That and it takes work to make a relationship work–so think hard on that aspect of it.

    • Thanks, I will really try to make sure he understands. I will try to emphasize that as I talk about my past experiences. He already knows that I’ve been married once, and his daddy dated for years before he finally met me. Two of my siblings deal with spouses who were married before, and among me and my three siblings and our spouses, there have been a total of five children born out of wedlock. So yeah, no believers in love at first sight in our house. 🙂 The marriages that we are in now do take lots of hard work, with extra grace thrown in for dealing with exes, step-children, etc.

  6. I can tell you right now that I made every single mistake in the book on this one. Personally, anyway, not as a parent. The one thing I can tell you to do is inform your kid of what sex is, what it means to date, that relationships that feel good only won’t last because it takes work and commitment.

    9. Do not fall for the false security of: well so and so did that and they are happily married–in other words, do not confuse God’s mercy with wisdom in man. Often God rescues us in our messes and protects us from our own foolishness, but that does not me we acted wisely.

    Definitely agree with that one. Again, God, in His understanding, has forgiven me of my idiot actions, but really, if I had listened to what I learned in church instead of rejected it out of spite, I wouldn’t have gone through a lot of painful things. Hopefully your child won’t have to. But be mindful not to sound like the old “do as I say, not as I do” type of parent. For example, my mom had me out of wedlock, but she always told me sex outside of marriage was wrong and dangerous and left it at that. Because of that, it looked hypocritical and I disregarded her. Always try to be honest, even if it means divulging embarrassing aspects of your own past (mistakes and so on) because your child will, when he’s older anyway, want to know that. It’ll help to know you’re flawed, you know?

    Again, as for Biblical ways to help, I can’t say. I’m such a new Christian in that regard, still trying to figure out a lot.

    • “when he’s older anyway” — Yes! Wait until he is older to act on 9/10 of this. You are just getting a running head start, preparing, right now. Right?

      One thing most of the world gets wrong is saying that something is wrong “because of certain outcomes”. Most of the world thought unwed sex was wrong because of pregnancy. Then we found birth control and went crazy. Then we thought it was wrong because of STDs. Then we found high-power antibiotics and went crazy again. Then we thought it was wrong because of AIDs. We never learned:

      Wrong things are wrong because God said not to do them. Period.

      If we need reasons to obey besides that, then we are only doing what seems right in our own eyes and later, when our vision blurs, we forget and get confused and do wrong, anyway. And THAT is because the heart of man is desperately wicked. That is why we need a new heart. Oh, we become SO SMART when we obtain that new heart! We see things so clearly, that we never saw before! We understand!

      The goal is to trust God and let Him do the understanding. He gets it, even when we don’t. Yes, His world breaks down, the health He gave us breaks down, the families He instituted break down, the societies built on those families break down, when we do not operate according to His rules. We can learn by watching that breakdown, or we can learn by reading the love letter He wrote us and choosing the life He offers us.

      Knowing that can be the best preparation for any endeavor.

      • Kathy, this is very wise. I had never thought before about how or why the world would interpret something as being wrong. But you are correct. If God says something is wrong, it is. It is the act of disobedience to God, more than anything else that makes something a sin. Only He can see how far-reaching the effects of our sins will be.

      • Well, I almost communicated what was in my heart, but sort of muddied it. I meant:
        The world knows God SAID something is wrong, but they think science trumps God, so if we use our new-found scientific knowledge, then no one gets hurt and it no longer is sin. Wrong on several counts.
        1. Science was created by God and therefore cannot trump God. Ha. The very THOUGHT.
        2. We believe scientific ways to circumvent what we THINK is God’s reasoning–what we think was the original problem–automatically nullifies His will.
        3. We think our thoughts are higher than His, instead of what the Word says: His thoughts are higher than ours.
        4. We think He is at least thousands of years old, doesn’t understand all the modern scientific details, and couldn’t possibly have known them so long ago, and worse, we think we do understand all science. Amazing thought, disproven daily, that we stubbornly cling to.
        5. Often, we think the punishment is only “going to hell”. We don’t realize He was trying to protect us from living in a hell, right here on this earth, that was built into His creation by default. Going to the default setting always brings misery. We must choose. Daily. About every aspect of this life. That is why His Word says:
        Choose ye, this day . . .
        If any man come after Me. let him deny himself, take up his cross daily . . .
        I die daily . . .
        Behold, today is the appointed time . . .

      • Oh, and don’t worry about Ian. He won’t be choosing a wife for many, many years. I am just trying to create a different culture for him so that he will understand why we are extremely different from most of those around us. I may not be able to keep him from feeling abnormal in this world, but I want him to know why we’ve chosen the paths we have, and to feel good about those decisions.

      • I think I understood you. I just didn’t word my response very well. Except that I didn’t know you thought that they knew that God said it was wrong and that’s what makes it wrong. I thought you meant they were going by repercussions alone. I did read a verse the other day though, what was it? Oh, I found it: Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them. 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. So, yeah, you’re right again. They do know better. We all do.
        Yeah, I don’t get people who think that God couldn’t possibly have invented science. The point is, God can do anything He wants!

    • He knows more about sex than most kids his age. I look at it this way: it’s a natural, wonderful thing inside that bounds of marriage, and God created it. Satan will do his best to warp anything that God created, and he’s pretty good at it. We’ve developed this attitude that it should be some big secret, but anyone who’s grown up on a farm find out how it works years earlier than the average person. I have never been embarrassed explaining anything to him, but I’m always sure to add that it’s only okay when you’re married.

      As far as your second point goes, my husband and I truly benefit from God’s grace. I was married to someone else when Jesse and I started hanging out, and my divorce was a direct result of falling in love with someone who was not my husband. I do believe that God handpicked Jesse for me, and that my first husband would have divorced me eventually anyway (he hated me), but I should have waited for God’s timing. I still regret my behavior at that time in my life, wondering how much better our lives would be now if I had stayed in God’s perfect will.

      I’ve been honest with my son about our mistakes, and it has surprised him a couple of times, but at least I won’t be dropping it on him when he is sixteen. Kids handle things so much better than teenagers, perhaps because they don’t fully understand them yet.

  7. Hi Amy, I talked to my brother who is a Pastor also. He is very knowledgeable about the Bible and I look up to him although he is my youngest brother. 🙂 Anyway, I discussed with him your questions and a lot of what Katharine said we agree with. But, he also said that it wouldn’t hurt for your son to go out with girls (starting in High School) just so he can get an idea of what girls personalities are like because guys and girls are sooo different, but not a steady dating just one or two dates with different girls. Especially nothing serious. Because they are not yet ready to be thinking about marriage. But to wait at least until college to date with the intention of looking for a wife. If she is the right one God will give him a sense that , Hey, this is the one I think He wants me to marry. Just teach him that when in High School casual dating is just to get an idea of what girls are like and to get an idea of what kind of girl (personality, God-fearing, characteristics, etc.) that he would want in a wife. I hope I am making sense.

    • I have to disagree here. Young men can get to know young ladies by hanging out with their families and in supervised groups to get an idea of what young ladies are all about. The very nature of “trying out” someone through “dating” is tasting what may not be ours to taste. There are many ways for young people to meet their future spouses without “tasting” what’s not theirs to taste.

      Dating leads to pre-mature feelings invested in someone without the maturity to see further down the road then their immature flesh.

    • Vickie,
      Thank you so much for asking your brother about this topic. I truly appreciate your taking the time out of your life to do a little research for me!
      Kudos to you too, for being brave enough to post a slightly different viewpoint. I do that a lot on other people’s blogs, but a few days later, I always wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. It’s good for all of us to look at things from all perspectives and really weigh our interpretations of the what the Bible has to say. I think that sometimes we just believe something without ever calling it into question. That goes for uber-conservatives as well as non-conservatives, and everywhere in between. While not everyone would agree, I’m sure we all respect your opinion.
      My biggest fear is, if he dates casually, he will fall for someone before he is mature enough to make a fully-informed decision. I married the first person I ever dated (if you don’t count boys from church and church functions as “dates”), and the reason I did is because I thought that what I was feeling was love. It took several months, but eventually we started acting like we were married (to say it lightly), and then I felt stuck, like I had to marry him. Even after his true colors started showing. I just fear the same thing happening to Ian.

      • That’s why Ken said he never dated a girl more than twice so that wouldn’t happen. So just keep talking to Ian and making sure he understands that he should keep things light and not to seriously think about it until he is much older.

      • Wow, I bet that would be so hard! So if he really liked a girl, after dating her once or twice, would he hang out with her in a more social setting, just to be around her? Or did that never come up? How did he handle dating once he was ready to search for a wife and commit?

      • I don’t really know that but I know he was serious about the Bible and committed to it from a young age. He didn’t do any real dating until he was at Bob Jones and felt ready to start looking for a wife. I’ll have to ask him.

      • Interesting! We used to get some of our homeschool materials from BJU. I really liked their reading program. For a while, I even considered attending there. (I was in seventh grade at the time though.) At the time, it was a toss-up between BJU and PCC in Florida. Funny, I didn’t wind up going to either!

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