Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Courtship: My viewpoint


Many people have questions about the courtship process.  Some don't even know what it is.  Others flat-out don't agree with it.  While others are curious, but still need to know a little about it.  But yet, there are those who don't really see the difference between the regular norm of 'dating' and 'this courtship stuff'.

Well, if I were to break down the whole process of courtship into five words, describing it, the list would go something like this.

  1. God-centered
  2. Parent-involved
  3. Pure
  4. Standard-set
  5.  Chaperoned
Each of those five subjects are specific things in a courtship process that must be viewed with the highest respect.  Now, for different people, the courtship process will work according to their own standards.  For some, there will be aboslutely no intimacy; while for others, hand-holding, hugging, and sometimes even kissing will be allowed.  For some, there may not *have* to be a chaperone; while for others, someone else (besides the man and woman who are courting) must be present.

I don't pretend to have the whole courtship process 'down-pat'.  I don't think anyone can, actually.  There's no *one* way to do it.  Like I said above, every family/couple is different.

Personally, my parents and I have talked quite extensively about this subject and for my, LORD-willing, future courtship, we will have many standards and agreements that must be observed during our time together/courtship. 

My parents and I are very close and we are able to communicate and talk openly with each other.  This is something that is *vital* in a courtship with the parents involved.  I know of a couple whose parents didn't care whether they dated or courted and this was a very hard, challenged area in the young couple's lives because they wanted to be held accountable by their parents.  Knowing how a young person's feelings and emotions can overtake them (especially while in the presence of the opposite sex), it is good to have set standards and feel obligated to keep them and held accountable by an older, much wiser person(s).

I want my courtship (as well as my, LORD-willing, wedding) to be fully God-centered.  Without God, my life would not exist, therefore I wouldn't BE courting, and thus...no wedding.  God is the source of my life, He is my Savior and Lover, and HE is Who I want to give all the credit to.  What else than to make Him the center of everything in my life - including my courtship? 

My parents and I have *already* set standards for my courtship -including the subject of intimacy.  Personally, I don't *want* to hold hands with my suitor because it is such a sweet physical touch that could be too much of a temptation to go further.  Hugs are acceptable; just so long as they aren't long, and too 'friendly'.  I have chosen not to kiss *any* man until my wedding day.

My parents and I believe/agree that the young man and I must be good friends before entering into a courtship process.  This is a *must* because we should already be able to communicate openly, so that we can talk freely and learn more about each other during our courtship.

Because I believe in courtship, doesn't mean that I look down on people who dated.  My own parents dated and are a happily married couple going-on 21 years! :)  I'm not saying that dating doesn't 'work'.  I'm not saying that courtship is the ONLY way to enter marriage.  I don't look down on people who have different views that I do.  

I AM saying that even though the word 'courtship' isn't used in the Bible, the standards in a courtship are Bible-rooted and, I believe, the safe way to enter into a deeper relationship than friendship.
I AM saying that people should really think about this viewpoint because, bottom line is, it *will* save you a lot of heartache and pain in life.

I have been SO encouraged by men and women who have shared their courtship stories with me, personally, or which I have found online.  Below are a few that I hope *you* will find encouraging and uplifting!


Also, here are some books that might help you understand the courtship process a bit better:

'I Kissed Dating Goodbye'
'Boy Meets Girl'
{both above by Joshua Harris}
'His Perfect Faithfulness', by Eric and Leslie Ludy
'Passion and Purity', by Elisabeth Elliot
'The Courtship of Sarah McLean', by Mr. and Mrs. Castleberry
'Journey of the Heart', by Jeannie Castleberry

Please feel free to ask my any questions!  I love any feedback that you care to comment. 

Blessings!

14 comments:

  1. Can I ask if courtship is the only Biblical way, then wouldn't dating be a sin? You say that you don't look down on those who date, yet you are implying that you are more Biblical then they are since you will practice courtship. That is pretty much looking down on them.
    I personally feel like courtship/dating is a personal conviction and neither method is more Biblical then the other. Dating can be just as God-centered and pure as courting.
    I am much older then you and married with several children and yes, I dated. I still had standards, kept pure, my parents were involved (though they did not feel like they needed to control their adult child and would have never told me that I could or could not date someone), I remained pure, and above all it was God-centered.

    I think the key is, is that parents should train their children to be strong in the faith, so as adults, even if they are tempted, they will not fall into the temptations. I don't really like the current trend that I am seeing where parents try and keep their children in a little bubble away from all temptation. I am worried that instead of creating strong Christians, it will instead create shallow ones that are under the false impression that they are strong because their faith and standards have never been tested.

    (Disclaimer: I'm not saying your parents are this way, it is just a recent trend I have noticed. And I see it all the time used to defend courtship. Trying to keep adult children in a little bubble away from temptation isn't a good reason to practice courtship. Instead of focusing on avoiding temptation, the focus should be on making sure children are raised with a strong faith. )

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  2. can you explain why courtship is "safer" than dating? do you mean emotionally? as in, if you're dating someone, they could dump you and that would hurt you and if you're involved in a courtship, it must end in marriage and marriages never end, so you'll never get hurt? because if that's the case, why even bother with the courtship, if it WILL end in marriage, then why don't you just get married and then do all the rest.

    Do you mean physically safer? like he won't rape you, or hit you or you won't become pregnant or get a sexually transmitted disease? I guess this might be a little more plausible than the previous statement, but i find it hard to believe that just because you're courting someone (as apposed to dating) they are somehow less likely to abuse you. Besides getting pregnant before marriage (because you'd wait to have sex until after you're married) any of the other things could technically happen. He could still rape you, or hit your, or give you an STD. He wouldn't be the godly man you thought he was, but these things could still happen.

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  3. Christena, that is an interesting question. I always just assumed it meant "safer" in the way that they would never be tempted. And if you mean it in that way, I strongly disagree with. It is easy for parents to claim that they raised children strong in the Lord with high standards when those standards have never been put to the test. Raquel, if the physical standards you have set for your courtship are truly yours and something you feel strongly that the Lord has led you to follow, then why do you need a chaperon to make sure you are never tempted?

    And what Christena says is true. If courtship is going to end in marriage with no option to break it off, then why bother, just go get married straight away. If there is an option to end it at any time if either party feels the need, then how is it different the dating? Most adults that I know date with the intention of getting married. Sure there are casual daters, but I have found that the majority only date people they are interested in having a long term relationship with.
    And, yes chaperoned courtship may protect from violence before the marriage, but I have read several stories of young women who courted only to find themselves married to violent, abusive men. One in particular, the young man was able to convince the whole church that he was such a "godly" man, that the elders had a hard time believing her when she brought up the abuse before them. It took him almost killing her for others to believe how awful he really was. Courtship can offer a false sense of safety if you mean it in that way.

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  4. Hi! I just wanted to tell you that I've awarded you!

    God bless,
    Kayla

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  5. Well, courtship articles seem to be making their way across the blogosphere! Nice job, Raquel--I enjoyed reading about courtship from your perspective.
    ANONYMOUS (do you have a name? It feels so much friendlier to address you by a name rather than "anonymous," but I guess I don't have a choice!), you bring up some interesting points. I like how respectfully you word your statements, and how you were careful not to overgeneralize, which can be so dangerous in this area!
    For me, personally, I would not say that "courtship is the Biblical way to enter into a deeper relationship." Rather, I would say something like, "courtship is the process God has led me to to achieve the Biblical standards of purity, Godliness, and obedience to my authorities." Often, this is a matter of semantics. Did you use dating to achieve a pure and Godly relationship that had the blessing of your authority? It sounds like you did--and it sounds as though God has blessed that commitment on your part.
    You say "dating can be just as God-centered and pure as courting." I agree; your method of "dating" was done in a God-centered and pure manner--and I know many other Christian couples who have achievved the same thing. Essentially, these "dating" couples and these "courting" couples are doing very similar things to achieve the exact same purposes--and calling the process two different things.
    Is a relationship that is founded on the spiritual, then developed in the emotional, and finally consummated in the physical Biblical? Is a relationship that honors one's parents Biblical (see Exodus 20)? Is a relationship that glorifies God Biblical? I think that you and I can agree that, yes, these things are non-optional for Christians today. While your process and mine might look slightly different, I believe you're largely arguing semantics here.
    So why do I choose to call this process courtship? I am set apart--in this world, but not of it. I am commanded to avoid any appearance of evil. Therefore, because so many in this world equate dating with one-night stands, fun, flirting, and rebellion, God has led me to the courtship process. Everytime someone asks if I date, I don't have to say "yes" and then proceed to attempt to change this person's preconceived ideas about dating. Instead, I have the opportunity to explain my desire to remain pure, to stay under my father's authority, and to glorify God with any relationship He might lead me to.
    Phew! Sorry that was a book! I would love to address the issue of parental involvement which you bring up, but time is always my bitter enemy. I just completed a 5-part series on courtship, which may answer your question, but Raquel, I know, is more than qualified to fill you in too.
    Blessings!

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  6. Thank you for taking the time to read this post and comment with your thoughts.

    Anonymous (answering your 1st comment): First of all, I would like to make it clear that I do *not* think that courtship is the ‘only’ way to enter a relationship (more serious than friendship). Like I clearly stated, dating does work for some people – it did for my parents :) - and I’m not legalistic about courtship. And I, in no way, am implying that I am ‘more Biblical’ than people who date. That’s ridiculous! I agree that courtship/dating is a personal conviction. I’m not writing this to change people’s views…I’m simply stating mine. That is GREAT that dating worked for you! I’m happy that you’re married and blessed with the fruit of the womb. I agree with you that parents should raise their children strong in the faith, but just because they’re strong in the faith doesn’t mean that they won’t be tempted. You will be tempted all your life! Actually, more so as being a believer than not. And the stronger you are rooted in the LORD, the more temptations you will receive. Think about it – Jesus Himself was tempted by the devil. How much godlier can you get than God Himself? I don’t think that parents should keep their children ‘in a bubble’. My parents, actually, let me have ‘freedom’ to a certain extent. Most of the time, to see how I will react to a certain worldly thing. They do protect me and keep me guarded, but not ‘in a bubble’. Courtship is certainly not used in our household as a means to keep me ‘in a bubble’ or protected from temptation. It’s a form of accountability. During such a sweet, emotional, vulnerable time as a courtship process, what better time to be held accountable?

    Christena: Yes, I believe courtship is safer because you have less of a chance (not to say that it never happens) of getting hurt emotionally or physically. Emotionally, your parents are there to guide you through different scenarios during your courtship and them, being the wiser, older, mature, married couple, who have already experienced this stage (emotions, temptations, etc. in life) know exactly what we are feeling. There is no ‘guarantee’ that you won’t get hurt, and I’m not saying that courtships don’t ever break up. Yes, the scenarios you mentioned can, technically, happen, but that’s taking it to the extreme. Like I said in my article, I believe that the young man and young woman should be very good friends before entering into a courtship process. The families of both persons should know each other well and be familiar with their reputation, their church affiliation, their extended family, etc. You should be able to be yourself around the families, not afraid to share your struggles, your weaknesses, your triumphs, your joys, things you enjoy doing, things you don’t like – all without having the intention of impressing the guy/girl. As opposed to dating, where, in general, the guy/girl are strangers to each other and the dating process is used as a time to learn about each other. In a courtship, the learning-about-each-other is the friendship time, where there is no feeling of needing to impress, where you don’t even know that that guy/girl and you will even begin courting someday.

    to be continued...

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  7. (continuation)

    Anonymous (answering your 2nd comment): About chaperoning…I want a chaperone because I am very aware of my weaknesses and I know that in such a beautiful time (I will be so excited to begin courting, I most likely, won’t even be thinking straight! :), I want my parents, or brother, or close friends to be with me so that I feel that I am held accountable for my actions. And I am not saying that a chaperone will ‘make sure you are never tempted’. That’s ridiculous! The chaperone has no control over temptations – over your feelings, over your heart. But they can keep the temptations from being carried out and leading to impurity/breaking the set standards.

    By the way, if you wouldn’t mind signing your name at the end of your comments, I would really appreciate that. It seems so much friendlier to be able to address you properly. :) Thanks!

    Blessings,
    ~Miss Raquel

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  8. I like the idea of courting but to say that there is no temptation with a chaperone is wrong. Some people might feel so much temptation that they meet in secret--and that leads to hasty decision making. I feel like I would have not picked the right man if I had courted. When you are dating, you always feel "in love" but later find out that it was just a passing fancy and that you both really do not want the same things in the future or are really not right personality wise. I think it's great you want to court, but please work on avoiding temptation regardless. I also believe that starting to date at an older age (preferably over 18 or 19) would solve a lot of dating problems. Before that age, people are not ready to be married, and they are not mature enough to be in a serious relationship. I am glad you waited until you were mature.

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  9. Hi Raquel!

    Thank you for this post on courtship. I love your "courtship in 5 words"! Brilliant! The only thing I would add would be "purposeful". That is one reason why I prefer courtship over dating (not ALL dating, but most). The purpose of courtship is to see if you and he are right for eachother for marriage. Most dating is more recreational and temporary.

    I commend you for seeking after God in this area of your life, and striving for purity in all things!

    Love you, sweet friend!

    Hope to see you soon!

    Love,
    Ellen

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  10. Raquel,
    I appreciate your stance. Courtship, to me, means a well supervised relationship between a male and a female designed to end in marriage. Often with set standards, talked about ahead of time and ways of sticking to these standards (such as chaperons).
    My husband and I called it dating 25 years ago when we started our relationship, only because we didn't know what else to call it. The term is less relevant than the purity of the heart. Although people will understand what you mean and the degree of care you are giving the relationship if the word "courtship" is used. Meaning: Is this trial and error? or Can I cancel at any time and try again. vs. I have embarked on this with much care, counsel, and prayer as if I only want to do this once with marriage as a goal.
    Someone mentioned a concern of some people protecting their children as if in a bubble. I venture to disagree. Regardless of the age, we have witnessed many couples, during courtship, that have used great care, kept high standards and and stayed in the view of others; simply because they feared God and themselves. Let me explain:
    When I collect flower seeds for the following year, I carefully package them and store them, realizing if they come in contact with water or heat they will begin a process I am saving until a more desirable season. God has so predisposed our nature, they will "ignite" under favorable circumstances.
    I would guard this as a precious gift. A man that can show self control and abide by much discretion before marriage is likely to show the same respect and self control after. There will be seasons and circumstances this character quality will be needed. How will he behave around other ladies in your absence?
    So, I'm not for the thought "if they're godly they will automatically do whats pure without help". No, if they fear God and have wisdom of how we are created they will "not give opportunity to the flesh." They so prize what's to come they are willing to put up with any inconveniences (like chaperons.) Good job, Raquel, for not being short sighted. It is a truthful saying, "whatever is enjoyed before marriage becomes less after marriage, and whatever is saved continues to be cherished for life.
    Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross... Heb 12:2
    Oh, young hearts, treasure what is rare. Divorce is common. A cherished marriage relationship is worth care and scrutiny. The narrow road is always less traveled. Live for the audience of One--God! No matter what you call it (dating or courtship) let every heart fear God remembering He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
    ~Melinda~

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  11. I agree with your post, Miss Raquel. I have never called my future relationship with my husband-to-be "courtship" but the way you have put it across, I want to go about it God's way like you. In fact, the book "Before You Meet Prince Charming" by Sarah Mally is very spot on in this way of doing things. I also love that book because it is not graphic, and the innuendos are not pointed but you can understand them.
    My family are very close, and my brothers are my best friends. I would like my family to become best friend with my husband-to-be's family before anything happens between us. I also think it would be even better if he became best friends with my father/brothers before he showed any interest, that way our families would love each other already!
    Anyway, I highly recommend the other posters read "Before You Meet Prince Charming". I rave about it, it's just the best book on the subject!
    As for being safe, if you have God's wisdom with you, and His discernment, you will choose your friends wisely and this will prevent any unnecessary bad things happening to you out of a relationship. Also, God is with us always, and should a situation out of our control arise, all we need do is call on our All Powerful God and He will deliver us from evil! =D
    Anyway, thankyou Miss Raquel! It was a wonderful post, and I loved the way you worded it.

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  12. Miss Raquel,

    You summed it up very well...and I totally agree with everything you said. :)

    My parents have also decided to do courtship instead of dating with our family after they heard Joshua Harris speak in person several years ago. I'm definitely in favor with the whole courtship process...and like you, I don't look down on anyone who has dated...

    For me, it can be hard to look down the road and realize how many years you'll have to wait before you'd even be ready for marriage (age wise), but I know that it'll all be worth it in the end! I like to look at these years at home as preparation time for hopefully being a wife and mother one day...but most importantly, learning to know your Savior more and developing godly character traits. :)

    I loved The Courtship of Sarah McLean, btw (I've read it twice). :)

    Your blog is and has been a blessing to me!

    Your Sister in Christ,
    Moriah

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  13. Raquel,
    May God bless you! Our family agrees with you. Our daughter now 14 started praying - on her own for her future husband when she was only 3 years old. I was quite surprised to hear her prayers at such a young age. She did hear a youth group speak on courting. I never thought at her age it would have caught her attention but it did and she has never strayed from that. I am so proud of her today as she continues praying for Mr. in the future. That God would prepare her heart for him and his for her. I know God will honor that in his time.
    My husband and I dated. I don't have a problem with anyone that does but - for me and my house, we choose to support our daughters in Godly Courtship!
    My 14 yr. old signs her emails & messages, Faithfully Waiting! the first time I saw it I thought she was waiting patiently for me to reply, until she told me no, she was faithfully waiting for the Lord to direct her path. It is good to know other young people are also Faithfully Waiting!

    Blessings,
    Sherry

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  14. I do not think that courtship and dating need to be any different from each other, and in my experience, people who call it "courting" feel much more righteous than those of us who "dated" and often make us feel like they are so much better than us. That, actually, is probably the main reason that I chose not to court. My sister and her [now] dh courted and it drove me crazy because they just made themselves seem better than my and my [now] dh.
    I dated 2 guys, and I married the second one. i do not regret at all the fact that I had those relationships. My parents controlled most of the relationship in both cases, and I didn't really have much choice in anything, because they didn't like my convictions. I didn't have any problem with hugging or holding hands, etc. I made some mistakes, but I learned from them. I plan on encouraging my children to stay close to God and close and open with me so that I can encourage them to stay on the right track in their relationships...emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
    I kissed only one guy, and it was before we were married. Do I regret it? No. I often feel that having that conviction [at the time] to only kiss the guy I was going to marry didn't even matter. I was purposeful though, and actually told my first boyfriend no when he asked to kiss me. [still makes me feel bad/wish I hadn't disappointed him, but we are good friends and it might be weird if we had done more than snuggling, holding hands, etc.] It didn't really matter a whole lot to my dh that I had my first kiss with him[dh], because he had other girls' first kisses before, too.
    Maybe that got off track? Sorry!
    I just think that it's all in your convictions, not in your terminology.

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