Thursday, October 06, 2005

Dating/Courtship

Anonymous said... I would love to hear your thoughts on dating/courtship ( I am
saving my first kiss for my husband!) and on how women should dress.

I'm so glad someone asked me about these two topics, as they are both near and dear to my heart! I will answer the part about dating and courtship now and save feminine apparel to answer later this week, Lord willing. I'm not even sure where to begin on the topic of dating and courtship, as I have so much I could say :). I guess I will just share my own story.

Growing up I did at times dream of someday dating in high school and college, but I also recognized many problems with the modern dating system. I remember remarking to my sister when I was around 10 or 12 that it was a shame the practice of buggy rides a la Little House on the Prairie had fallen by the wayside :). I knew the modern dating system had some serious problems, but I did not really see a solution that looked feasible. As a homeschooler I occasionally heard of mysterious alternatives to dating, called "betrothal" or "courtship", but that was just for extremists ;). At the time my family did not know anyone personally who had ever taken that route.

When I was about 13 or 14, NBC Dateline did a special on courtship, following one couple's story through engagement, courtship, and marriage. It was neat for me to see an example of a committed relationship far different than modern dating. While I would not go as far as the featured couple, who did not even touch before marriage, I admired their purity and steadfastness, and especially their commitment to wait until their wedding for their first kiss.

I started reading up on courtship, starting with Josh Harris' now famous book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and around this time I made a commitment to God to save my first kiss until marriage. I knew that when I did ever enter into a romatic relationship, I wanted it to be with a purpose and direction. I did not see the point in spending my teenage years falling in and out of romantic relationships, subjecting myself to unneeded heartbreak and temptation, so I never entered the dating scene in highschool. I was not ready for marriage, so I saw no need to pursue a relationship at that time.

During high school most of my friends (fellow homeschoolers) also did not date, so I never felt that I was missing anything by choosing not to date. My homeschool circle of friends jokingly followed the "6-inch rule" (borrowed from BJU, where one of my friends planned to go to college) that required males and females to remain at least 6" apart. We would sing the "homeschool" version of Kum Ba Yah, swaying and swinging back and forth without touching - hands outstretched, but 6" away from our neighbors - all in good fun :).

Most of my friends were committed to saving their first kiss until marriage, but were not opposed to dating in college. I wanted to wait until I met a young man I was willing to marry before I entered into any kind of romantic relationship. Given that I attended a secular university, it is no shock that I never met a young man in college that I would consider marrying :). I met a few fine Christian young men, but none that I would be willing to marry. I am now 21, recently graduated from college, and have never dated or courted.

My parents never instructed me to practice or abstain from dating in general, but rather encouraged me to wait to consider a romantic relationship until I was old enough to seriously consider marriage. They taught me that dating or courtship is for the purpose of finding a marriage partner, not merely to fit in or satisfy romantic desires. As I believe my father is my spiritual head until I marry, I would want his blessing and permission before entering into any relationship.

The terms dating and courting can mean a lot of different things, so I would not say flat out that I am anti-dating. Rather, I am against the general form of dating prevalent in America today, where there is little or no parental guidance and a focus on physical attraction and immediate satisfaction. I happen to like the term courtship, as it is old-fashioned, and naturally communicates a commitment and purity to a relationship, although certainly not all courtships have story-book ends. The important distinction is the attitude and commitment that goes into a relationship, rather than the exact label given.

I do not have a set list of rules that I would follow in a hypothetical relationship, nor do my parents. I would want to limit physical contact and confine "alone time" to daylight activities in public. I am not opposed to male/female physical contact if done in an appropriate manner. I think innocent dancing such as the Virginia Reel or western square dancing are great ways to fellowship with believers.

Until recently I viewed marriage as a means to satisfy my romantic desires, and while that is a wonderful benefit of marriage, I have in recent years revised my reasons for wanting to marry. I now truly desire to marry primarily as a means to extend Christ's kingdom by raising Godly seed and serving the Lord alongside my husband. Given this as my goal, it seems illogical for me to even consider a romantic relationship until an eligible young man arrives on the scene. I am committed to saving myself for my future husband, however long I need wait. If I never marry then I will remain the bride of Christ :). My body belongs to my Heavenly bridegroom, kept in His care to someday give joyfully to my earthly husband - truly a wonderful wedding gift!

Faithfully, I am yours, from now until forever.
Faithfully, I will write, write you a love song with my life
'Cause this kind of love's worth waiting for
No matter how long it takes I am yours
Faithfully

- Eric and Leslie Ludy, Faithfully

Soli Deo Gloria

5 comments:

Adrian C. Keister said...

There are some things about courtship that do not appear to be in any book. I just thought I'd share one or two things I've learned from my past.

1. The young man, the young lady, and the lady's father must all agree 100% on what they believe courtship is. There are more definitions of courtship than there are people wanting to engage in it! Be very sure of this.

2. I have come to believe that it is much wiser to court only if you are ready to be married. There's no sense in starting the engine if you're not ready to go anywhere!

3. Two people courting must be almost brutally honest at times. In particular, it is extremely important that each person tell the truth, and not what they think the other person wants to hear. In the hurry and rush of trying very hard to please someone, this can sometimes be an issue.

4. Many people are wanting to save their first kiss until the wedding. I think very highly of that idea, and want to do it myself. However, we should not look down upon others who have not done so. The principle here is that the people involved should all agree on what will be allowed and what will not be.

5. Make sure everyone realizes that you're not courting/marrying Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. There is no such animal. Everyone is a sinner, and it is far better to go into marriage with your eyes open. Let there be room for grace, grace, and more grace! If you have been forgiven much, then forgive much.

In Christ.

Susan said...

Adrian,

New math - 1 or 2 equals 5! Just teasing ;). Your "one or two" points were very good to consider. I had briefly touched on some of them, or hinted at them, but you did a good job of expanding on them.

I especially found #3 and #5 to be important.

I teeter between a people pleaser and a stalwart legalist - whiplash, I know. It is very important to be honest with a perspective mate, rather than tell them what they want to hear. That spells trouble in the long run.

My dad reminds me often that there is no perfect man out there, since I like to joke that I'm going to marry a perfect guy and have perfect children, which I know is not possible! Every human is fallen and sinful, so if I marry I will marry a sinful fallen creature. It is good to be reminded of that on occasion, though.

Comment #4 brought to mind the courtship story of Bethany Patchin and Sam Torode. They met after Sam responded to an article Bethany wrote considering saving her first kiss until marriage.

YLCF has the links to the articles they each wrote and also their courtship story.

http://ylcf.org/courtship-stories/torode.htm

Becky Miller said...

This is great, Susan! I came across your site from Ashley's. (ashelydesign) I think I would like you a lot! I love LAF too.

Saving your first kiss till marriage is a great goal. Speaking from experience, you must have strong supervision and accountability to accomplish this! My husband and I have talked many times about how we can help our children avoid the physical mistakes we made in our courtship. We courted at college, away from both of our families, but with the blessing of both families. The focus of our relationship was on preparing for marriage, and generally, we are very pleased with how things went. But once you introduce any level of physical contact, it's hard to stop escalating it! Not being able to get to know each other at our parents' homes meant we were alone together a lot.

There is a lot to be said for a young man courting his lady at her father's house, and I think that is what we will recommend to our children.

Susan said...

Thanks for offering your perspective, Becky :). You really hit one reason why I think, under normal circumstances, a girl should stay under her father's roof until marriage.

Ms. Giselle said...

I truly appreciate your honesty on the subject of courtship and choosing to save your first kiss for your wedding day. That is very admirable and I respect you for that.