Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Courtship Anyone?

Many years ago my wife Alice and I decided that our children weren't going to do the "dating thing." We'd seen far too much heartache come from dating and wanted to save our kids from this. At the time it was an easy decision; our children were very young.

Fast forward to the present. Our older daughter is now nineteen. I still don't know where the years went. Regardless, she likes a young man and he likes her. He is one of the few non-troll twenty-year-old males in the Savannah area. If he had shown any troll-like tendencies, he'd already be long gone. Amazingly, I actually like him.

They began as friends. After it became clear to all involved that this was more than friendship, Alice and I sat them down to discuss parameters going forward. Basically, we told them that they weren't going to date by modern standards. This was no surprise to our daughter, but it may have shocked the young man a little. Instead of dating, they would be courting. It was that way or no way.

The key to courting is that it has the possibility of marriage as an end goal. It's not just for amusement. It has long-term implications, not simply present time fun. I wondered if the word "marriage" would scare him off. It didn't. Good for him.

For clarification, two people who are courting will not necessarily get married. It might not work out for various reasons. However, that possibility is in place, is discussed, and is a goal. On the other hand, dating is temporal.

Like most things in life, courting can take various forms. I've seen some courtships that seemed too restrictive to me. I've looked at others and wondered how it was any different from dating. I hope Alice and I have hit an appropriate middle point.

Five solid reasons for courting come to mind. Some of these could apply to dating as well, but courting makes it much more feasible:

1. Courting lets everyone get to know everyone. One of the main places our daughter sees her boyfriend (we agreed that "boyfriend" was an acceptable term) is in our living room. We get to see him, too. We don't hover (at least not all the time). Instead of going out on dates alone, they see each other in houses (ours or his family's) where people can spend time talking.

2. Courting takes things slowly. In our society the tendency is for young people to get attached very quickly. Courtship, on the other hand, allows things to progress more slowly and naturally. This is good because if things don't work out (marriage), then the parties involved won't get as hurt.

3. Courting allows for expectations to be made clear. This one can apply easily to dating as well. The parents and the young people can discuss what is involved and what is not. There will be no confusion.

4. Courting gives opportunity for discipleship. Since much of the activity takes place in the home, there is time for discipleship to take place. This can take many different forms, but the end goal is that both young people grow closer to Christ. Actually, the goal is that everyone involved (including parents, siblings, etc.) grows closer to Christ.

5. Courting reduces temptation. Since the young people are together only when others are around, it automatically reduces temptation. When young people go out on dates alone, all sorts of things can happen. We want our children to avoid these types of situations. It will lead to less heartache going forward into marriage.

The word courtship tends to scare some people away. It brings up images of ultra-strict fundamentalist families who lock their daughters away until age twenty-five. I want nothing to do with that. Frankly, I'm not even hung up on using the word courtship. Alice and I choose to use it because it differentiates from today's dating practices.

It is God's decision whether or not he wants our children to get married. He obviously knows what is best for them. Alice and I want to help them reach adulthood with no regrets when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex. We also want to help them get to know and possibly marry other Christian young people.

So far, by the grace of God, things are going well in our family's first courtship. I praise God for that.


Randi Jo :) said...

Thank you for this. I will be contacting you for more information in about 12 years :)

I am overwhelmed right now at even the thought of my children "liking" somebody. AH!

Eric said...

Randi Jo,

It is kind of scary and exciting at the same time!