Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Courtship, Betrothal, Dating...what's it gonna be?

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First off, if you know me even a little bit, you know I'm not a 'dating' sort. Nor am I one who believes in male and female 'friendships' persay. Just call it what it is...a spade is a spade no matter what the tag. Social friendships, acquaintances, etc. I just don't know about that. I've been there, done that. Talk about setting up my future for headaches and filling my heart and mind with trivial pursuits of folly! I have wasted many years of my life. I am beyond thankful for the man The Lord sent my direction to correct my foolishness and get my path set straight again. I cannot even imagine "what might have been" without falling on my knees and crying in despair for my possibilities....and deep, heart-felt, soul-wrenching thankfulness for what was given me! I've watched other teens as well, even "christian" teens. It's flirting, it's playing, it's mostly silliness and flat out foolishness on both sides.

Giving your heart, even a small part of it, to someone else isn't something done in foolishness or silliness. It is, or should be, a very serious matter. Not something that needs to be 'evaluated' every time you have occasion to be with the opposite sex.

I know, in "this day and age" and all those other arguments....women are free to choose for themselves who they will marry. Men aren't interested in whether or not 'the cow has been milked' (LOL...isn't that the old saying???? Please tell me that's the old saying, about why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free????) It's all just too old fashioned, this waiting on Mr Right to show up. How do you know which one Mr Right is if you aren't putting yourself out there as it were, to sample the waters?

If you are looking for something that isn't lasting, has no real depth to it and places you in an unequally yoked position, you start dating. You spend time flittering from one guy to the next, you get wrapped up emotionally in all the drama of your own life as well as his life. You stress and you worry about if he really likes you, will you maybe get married, will you simply live with one another for a while to 'try it all out.' In other words, you date and watch while you slowly wind apart.

If you are Christian -- and I mean truly Christian, not a fuzzy, warm, feel-good kind of Christian -- you have read your Bible and you know what God says your life should be like, what path it should follow, especially related to men and women and marriage, or perhaps a life of singleness. There are countless verses that speak to the pathway of marriage....2 Corinthians 6:14 talks specifically about not being unequally yoked with unbelievers. Sure, lots of us came to Christ after marriage and I understand that, but if you start out with one being saved and the other living a very unaved life, you are walking into problems and stresses that are not needed in your life. How do you know that one or the other will be Saved after marriage? Honestly, I believe if The Lord made a point of saying not to do it, you simply don't do it. He has a plan and no amount of your 'adjusting' is going to fit your plan into His plan. Save the headache and just don't give occasion to what you think is your heart's desire.

Numbers 30:3-8 says that a women/young lady is under the authority of her father until she marries. Every young lady must have authority in her life, someone specific or a group of, Godly me who have her best interest at heart. Be it a father, an uncle, church elders or pastor, someone must be watching over her purity and her future. Once out in the world, be it college or simply a job outside the home, a young lady will begin to give away bits of her heart almost daily. There is just no way to really guard those emotions out in the world at large. The word fool definite comes to mind for those thinking they can control those emotions out i the world.

Dating is temporary and the Bible is full of things that are temporary...and we are exhorted to avoid all of them. We are not to build up any so-called treasures here but hold ourselves ready for the eternal and lasting treasures of The Kingdom.

The following teachers have defined "courtship" or "betrothal" as follows:

Gothard: Courtship - "A father’s agreeing to work with a qualified young man to win his daughter for marriage."

Lindvall: Courtship - "A romantic relationship between a young man and woman in which both were of marriageable age, had the full blessing of their parents, and were seriously contemplating marriage."

Thompson: Courtship - A stage/period in Scriptural Romance prior to Betrothal. Courtship constitutes the process of investigating a person with marriage in mind: evaluating character, values, beliefs, practices, interests & life purpose to ensure a godly match. There is to be no physical contact and no developing of romance/emotional ties during this period. Parents first investigate, followed by more detailed investigation by the young people themselves, generally within family settings.

Harris: Courtship – "Dating with a purpose; friendship plus possibility; and romance chaperoned by wisdom." A relationship with a clearly defined direction. "A reformed version of dating under the supervision of parents between a man and a woman who are ready for marriage in the near future."

Myers: Courtship - consists of three main elements: 1) accountability to parents and other trusted adults; 2) building each other’s character rather than focusing on physical attraction; and 3) waiting to develop serious relationships until you are ready to get married.

Raunikar: Courtship – a relationship / process begun with full approval of both sets of parents (or an accountability couple if not possible) with the intent to consider marriage, and to become acquainted through family and group activities.

Barth: Courtship - "a process by which a mature young man or young lady of marriageable age, along with their parents, seek to discern their God-given life partner. It involves the parents or authorities on both sides and yet allows for feelings and discernment from both of the young people involved."

Lindvall: Betrothal – An irrevocable and publicly announced commitment to marriage, only terminated for infidelity, during which the cultivation of a romantic relationship is permitted. Betrothal is instigated by the young man and woman with the full approval of parents. No physical contact occurs until after the wedding.

Thompson: Betrothal - A stage/period in Scriptural Romance, following the stage of Courtship. It is a binding commitment to marry, approved & supervised by the fathers, attested by a bridal provision (bride price / dowry) and by witnesses and/or a document. It follows a careful investigation that occurs during the Courtship period.

Note the above similarities and differences. Concerning courtship: Parental authorization and guidance appears in all to varying degrees. A purpose of considering marriage is present or implied in all. A degree of readiness for marriage is stated or implied. Some stress investigation while others stress the cultivation of romance. Lindvall’s definition of betrothal defines a binding commitment to marry, without a period of courtship investigation or any romantic involvement preceding. In Thompson’s, betrothal is a stage that follows courtship.

Can we pick a good spouse for our children? No, we can't. I'm not God and I don't have all the inside scoop on His Plans for my own life, let alone the lives of my children. But still, it's rather obvious the direction He has already laid out for us as true, Bible-following Christians. If your children are raised with The Word as something more than just lettering on a page in a pretty book, they will know the direction they are to follow as well. If you live out the Bible and ALL it says, every day, every minute, then there won't be any problems with the world creeping in and taking over in these areas.

My problem here...I haven't raised my children to follow God's Word close enough. I have allowed too much interpretation to creep in, I have allowed friendships to form that have no place in The Light of His Word and teachings. That is what I deal with daily. It's past my being able to take care of with my oldest now as he is married. I would like to say he is unequally yoked, but truth of the matter is he unyoked himself from God a long time ago with his choice in friendships and emotional ties. He has loosed that yoke and it has fallen to the side. I know The Lord can redeem all of those poor choices in His Good Time, and one day, that yoke will be back in place.

My second oldest has friendships that she feels are leading in directions that I can clearly see they should not. She is still young enough that I have some control over that, but it's a fine line in some shifty sand when you start using 'control' that way. I'm not saying that The Lord can't or won't redeem this young person in her life, but right now, there is no path before him whatsoever that does not revolved around selfish pursuits and total dysfunction. I pray for him, of course, but praying for him and inviting him into our family are totally on opposite sides. This friendship will be nipped from the unfruitful vine it has grown on. Sounds harsh to some I imagine, but I truly feel this is something that I will be held in account for and knowing what I do, seeing what I've seen, it is going to stop. I have perfect peace with that decision I've made. Sorry if someone out there doesn't. Perhaps the grass looks greener from your side.

I have a friend out there (Hi Mary!!!) who once showed me a list of 'rules' as it were for dating. Talk about nipping things in the bud. It certainly did its job in keeping things straight. I don't recall all of it, but in the nutshell, any potential fellows (and I'm sure girls as well...) needed to be following God in their lives, their parents needed to be following God....and so on.

What more could you ask for right there? If you aren't following The Lord, you need to get yourself right long before you come calling at our door thinking you are going to spend time with my children. If your parents aren't following The Lord, same thing should apply. Not that The Lord can't work on a child before touching the parents -- I've seen that happen many times. Still, I don't know. The long-term teachings that have built your life up to then are a hard habit to loose yourself from. I know that from personal experience. But, yes, The Lord works miracles every day and some who are Saved, truly and honestly Saved, do throw away the old man and walk totally in the New Spirit, without ever turning back.

Another friend once shared these guildelines with us. This is my idea of courtship really. There isn't a "sampling" of life while walking toward marriage that way. There is purity of heart kept in trust on both sides. For a great object lesson on that very thing -- keeping your heart pure and in tact completely, visit Emotional Purity. I think we'll be doing this lesson this week in our teen class. I've watched things going on behind the scenes that should be at least talked about. I don't push my family or child views at church at all...it just isn't a proper fit there...but until The Lord moves us on, it is where I am finding good things and being fed, and I do what I can with what I feel strongly about.

1. To be kept wholly pure and honorable before God and your parents. The first kiss to be exchanged at the marriage altar.

2. To follow the direction of both father's in matters of spiritual leadership until such time as the headship of the intended bride becomes intended husband's responsibility.

3. Each to seek to know the heart of the other in all matters of spiritual importance.

4. Each agrees to only be together in the presence of either parents or siblings until wedded.

5. For intended husband to prepare a home for his future helpmeet and for her to prepare to care for the home and children.

6. For the intended husband to find employment to support intended wife and children so that she will be able to remain at home as the Bible instructs.

7. Study passages of Scripture as outlined by the fathers in marriage preparation. To commit to memory those Scripture verses fathers think important.

8. Books pertaining to marriage and family will be read and then discussed as a group with both sets of parents and each other.

9. Both to keep journals of feelings, both good and bad, about their feelings for each other so these can be addressed.

10. On an “as needed” basis fathers will discuss areas that need to be addressed.

Over at Mom of 9's Place, there are some wonderful pages regarding courtship, and dating, and even a great study on purity. We have all of these copied off into our Bible study notebooks and have gone over them at least twice with the older girls so far, and will work on them this summer with the children as a whole. We try to work through at least some of the touch points every year. I need to do much more than that. These principles really need to be engrained in their hearts and come almost natural to their spirit.

Have you really looked at your children to see how much outside influence they really have?

  • Does my teenager regard spiritual exercises (reading the Word, going to church) as dull and boring?
  • Does my teen talk more about movies and music than spiritual things? Where is his/her heart?
  • Does my teen disdain wholesome, simple fun as beneath him/her?
  • Does he/she feel that he/she can only be communicated with through certain forms? (E.g., “This is my music. This is what speaks to me.”)
  • Does my teen feel that popularity in a crowd that exalts pop culture is a must-have?
  • Does the music my teen listens to exhibit irreverence or a casual attitude toward Christianity (not to mention sex or violence)?
  • Does my teen disdain high culture in any way?
  • Does my teen constantly push the boundaries, trying to go deeper and deeper into pop culture?
  • Does pop culture significantly shape the way my teen dresses, acts, and talks?
  • Does my teenager find rough, coarse, or rebellious people attractive?
f the answer to more than one or two of these is “yes,” the teenager’s heart has been drawn into the world. A fast from cultural junk food, along with lots of family discussion that prayerfully and intelligently evaluates art forms, can help purify his heart.

Other sites with information regarding these same topics: (I have not reviewed every page on every site, but you're not a child...use prayer and judgment and pick out the chaff while digging for the wheat!)

The 14-Day Bible Challenge Study on Purity at PureWarrior.org

Dating, Courtship and Betrothal at Youth For Eternity

How our Children Marry over at Quiverfull Family

Bible Study on Purity
from a church in Springfield, MO.

The Overtaking Blessings of The Second Generation, a Charity Ministry sermon...they also have man other good solid teachings on courtship and purity of heart, mind and body.

Pumpkin Seed Press has some wonderful resources, including purity jewelry and rings.

A wonderful site/blog with many great resources is Pearls and Diamonds. Definitely worth a day of reading and bookmarking!

Young Ladies Christian Fellowship
site/blog. Not enough time in the day to keep up with the good reading there...including several links to other blogs sharing their courtship stories!
Some great stories I've read so far....Beware of Wolves, God's Truth and Red Flags, and In His Hands.

Maidens for Modesty has several great sharings as well.

We have several books here as well that we read through, and are 'required reading' for the children as they grow older. Most are found through Christian Light Education or Rod and Staff. I'll gather some of the titles and share later.

If you find more resources online, or have any great books to share, leave me a comment and let me know. We are always looking for more information and viewpoints!

1 comment:

mrshester said...

I grieve sometimes that this was not the practice of my parents, or even a real concern for myself after I became an adult woman. So much of my heart was wasted and I feel like my husband has been cheated of many things that should have been reserved only for him. It is my prayer that should our Father choose to bless us with little blessings, that they will not be raised in the foolishness I was.

Thank you for sharing your heart with us!!


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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