A Rebuttal to the Courtship Movement

courtship-movementI’ve listened to many, many hours of workshops about the courtship movement in homeschool Christian circles. The premise is that young people should not date. When they are ready to get married, they β€œcourt” a pre-approved person (that the parents have checked out thoroughly), and the young people are never alone together. They never kiss until their wedding day. The parents of the young people seem to be orchestrating the entire thing from beginning to end, to avoid any emotional pain on the part of the daughter or son.

At first I just soaked it all in, having no opinion. I highly value purity before marriage, so the topic appealed to me. But the more I listened, the more uneasy I became. I couldn’t put my finger on why I was disturbed. I talked to my husband about it, and he basically said that he trusted our kids, and that he didn’t want to micromanage who they were going to marry. My husband and I did not court. We dated. We kissed. We were alone together. I wouldn’t trade those days for the world. I was walking on air in anticipation of becoming his bride. Those pre-marriage kisses were absolutely fantastic. We both remained pure before marriage.

Scripture only gives two commands concerning future marriage: no fornication and not being unequally yoked. To add lots of rules to what God has written is sin, especially when you are putting those rules on other people. It causes people to feel like they have an anvil too hard to carry. That’s because God never intended compounding rules to weigh down His commands. Young people who can’t stand the suffocation of the situation end up breaking a real command of God, which has been lumped in with the artificial rules. This is a recipe for disaster.

A better thing to do as a parent is to have a deep, rich relationship with your kids, where you trust them. Realize that the Bible says to leave father and mother in this process. The person should pray about his or her spouse and feel peace from God that this is their soul mate. The man should lead the woman in the relationship; the parents should not be leading the man like a puppet. Otherwise the woman is submitting to the man’s parents, and this horrible, unbiblical interference in marriage is established as a habit.

People who court still break up and have emotional pain. That is not avoided unless you’ve not involved your heart.

No, people need to be accountable under God. Presumably if they’re Christians they care about purity. Other than that, they’re free. If they want to sit down and have a 3-hour conversation about God without having anyone else in the room, they should be able to do that.

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50 Responses to “A Rebuttal to the Courtship Movement”

  1. Gem says:

    And, arguably, “unequally yoked” may not have even meant marriage. It meant pretty much any partnership, including business partnerships. It’s hard to hook yourself up with someone who does not hold the same values you do, even in financial dealings. And don’t get me wrong…there’s plenty of church folk who don’t hold the same values as I do in business…

  2. Tatiana says:

    Hi Susan, I love this post. My husband and I are praying about how to handle the whole dating/courting thing when our children get to that age, they are very young though so we have some time. I too have read countless courtship stories. Some are some of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever heard and I just wanted that very badly for my children because that was not mine or my husband’s experience. We both grew up unguided, unprotected and dated, got hurt and did not remain pure until marriage. However, your post has given me a new perspective. We are raising our children to be God fearing individuals and we have an open, loving, honest relationship with them and we are trying to equip them for the Christian life, so why would we not trust them to make decisions we’d be proud of and that would please God? I pray for my children and their future spouses, if it is God’s will for them to marry. I know there will be certain rules as far as dating goes, but I want to give them some freedom to get to know their future spouse well and to make their own choices. what are your thoughts on unmarried couples spending time alone? Where and how much time is okay? I’m just wondering, because while I agree they should be able to have a private discussion, it can definitely be a set up for temptation and failure if they spend lots of time alone, do you not agree?

    • Susan says:

      Teach your children how to overcome temptation. If your children (as young adults) value obedience to God and purity, there ought to be freedom rather than restrictions. And if our children don’t have any character, then we need to work on their character. That has nothing to do with dating, but rather with self-control.

      If a person knows that she is tempted by a certain situation, she should avoid that situation. For example, there is a person in my life who loves gossip. So when I’m with that person, I’m likely to start sinning in that area. Therefore I am now spending less time with that person, and I’m on guard (vigilant against sin, having unmasked it).

      Micromanaging our adult children’s lives is not the answer to them being in a situation where they are tempted. We should teach them strategies for overcoming temptation.

  3. Danielle Hull says:

    Very good! Thank you! I think the point is that we’re supposed to be training and teaching our children to grow up! If we don’t trust them to be lead by the Lord and make such decisions, we aren’t very confident in the job we’ve done πŸ˜‰ Blessings!

  4. You know I’ve never been a huge fan of the courtship movement! Neither do I like the whole idea of unrestricted dating. I think dating in group settings and with supervision is appropriate for teens. I don’t think it’s just about trust but about guiding and taking care of them when they are still young. I’m still a few years away from that though–just my thoughts. πŸ˜‰

    • Susan says:

      I agree with you when it comes to kids. Yes, by all means have supervision when they’re kids. I was talking about full-grown adults being micromanaged by their parents.

  5. Very interesting post. Pondering.

  6. Susan Evans says:

    Dana Adams (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    Interesting observations Susan. I do not believe there is ‘one’ way of doing anything except for being saved by Christ alone. On the issue of courship though, I think what parents are doing and we are doing is; protecting our children from themselves. We are saved yet we are flesh and young people are not able to keep themselves from temptation as well as they could. I am talking about young teens in the home. As for trusting our children; Im not sure that is the issue. As adults we are wise (Lord willing) in avoiding compromising situations. Some families choose to have guards on their internet for example. Is that because they dont trust their spouse or teens? I think it is just in order to avoid a compromising situation. Young people are not always able to do that. I heartily agree with your admonition to have a deep rich relationship with your children. Looking them in the eye and continually shepherding their hearts. If parents do have rules and a good relationship with their children, then whatever route you choose for courtship will be done in a spirit of unity with the young person. It is just another area where we walk together with our children through a new adventure in their lives:)

    • Susan Evans says:

      I responded:

      Thank you for your gracious response. I probably should clarify that I’m talking about children of an age to get married. I completely agree about protecting young teenagers from dating. I think 14-year-olds, for example, should not be alone with members of the opposite sex, because their brains are not equal to their hormones. (In other words, hormones trump brains at that age.) I understand why so many homeschool families despise dating, and they are right if by that they mean not remaining pure until marriage. I’m just reacting against imposing additional rules not found in the Bible onto grown children.

  7. Susan Evans says:

    Evonne Mandella (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    I love the idea of how God courts us, to to speak, His bride. I find the idea so “romantic,” and have tried to share that vision with my children as they seek a future mate. Christ’s love is the model:)

  8. Susan Evans says:

    Dr. Jeffrey A Klick (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    Hi Susan,

    As a father and grandfather, pastor and yes, a guy that has taught courtship seminars, I agree with some of what you wrote. There is of course no explicit commands given in Scripture regarding the choice of a marriage partner. Many courtship teachers attempt to create programs based on Old Testament models and this is not the correct way to handle Scripture. If you are going to use the OT for an example, then my favorite one is to wait until some girls are outside dancing around then grab one and take her home like the sons of Benjamin did in Judges 21.

    Many of us older folks have gravitated to a courtship model because we messed up so much in the dating one. We flitted from relationship to relationship, stealing what we could from the other person with no intentions of anything beyond personal satisfaction. We wanted something better for our kids. My 3 children actually had 5 courtship type experiences and each one was different. Three ended in marriage and the two that didn’t still worked well. The goal was to see if marriage was correct for the young couple, and it was not simply just hanging out for no reason. The kids have many friends for that need and they didn’t need to pair off just yet.

    My job as the dad was not to suffocate my kids, or lead them like a puppet. My job was to offer protection, discernment, and advise as they asked for it. Both my daughters were not really all that interested in the young men they ended up marrying. I simply suggested that they give them a chance for they were really nice guys. “It’s your choice dear, you have to live with them,” I said. They were allowed time to be alone, get to know one another, and decide for themselves regarding physical contact.

    Not everyone that teaches or believes in the courtship model holds to the outer edges of it and it is probably not right to lump the whole movement together because some are more strict than others. Like anything else, choose the good, strain out the stuff you don’t want and walk on in love towards those you may disagree with…

    That’s my two cents anyway…

  9. Susan Evans says:

    Kimberly Wong (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    Excellent post! Thank you for writing this.

  10. Susan Evans says:

    Alexandra Swann (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    As someone who grew up in the homeschooled community and was young at the time that the courtship was getting started, I really agree with Susan on this. I have seen some terrible abuses in the name of courtship, including semi-arranged marriages. The courtship movement is based on the idea that God has a spouse for everybody and that He has that spouse for everyone when they are very young. Neither of those concepts is necessarily true. Parents who love their children naturally want to be involved in their decisions about whom to court and whom to marry, but those same parents can become very frustrated if their child does not find the “right” person right away.

    Christianity is about following the Lord’s leading. My personal belief is that parents need to stress to their children that fornication is always wrong. Beyond that, they need to develop a relationship with the Lord that will carry them through their lives and help them make the choices consistent with the life He has for them–married or single. If they learn to do that on their own, I believe that they have a better chance of finding a compatible spouse and continuing on in a successful walk with Christ.

    I think you have got this exactly right, Susan.

  11. Susan Evans says:

    I responded:

    Thank you, Alexandra.

    Dr. Jeffrey, I enjoyed reading your comment. You are the least extreme courtship supporter I’ve heard.

  12. Susan Evans says:

    Martha Mitchel (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    How funny! So far, 3 of my children have not dated (practice for divorce?), have only given their heart away once (to the person they married), we did not pick their mates, (2 of 3 mates were public schooled with both parents working outside the home), and we did not set the rules for their relationships. And, by their own choices, not ours, their first kiss was at the altar. Yet what they experienced was so wonderful and not at all the gruesomeness and horror you tend to bring across in your blog.

    I am thrilled that you have no regrets regarding your dating experiences. Or the intimacy you shared with your husband and others, I assume, since you are pro-dating. I would say, with all the people I’ve talked to throughout the years, you are definitely in the minority. A person giving their heart away, time after time, only to suffer the heartbreak that comes with the ending of a relationship, especially one with intimacy (and I’m not talking only of physical intimacy), can be devastating, and leave lifelong scars.

    I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts when your children are older, have been given carte blanche in their relationships with the opposite sex, and experience the pain that can come from that.

    • Susan Evans says:

      I replied:

      I did not share intimacy with anyone before marriage. But of course, we obviously have different definitions of intimacy. Mine is based on the Bible, which is defined as not fornicating.

      I’m glad that your kids had good experiences with courting. I know people who regret courting because they never had a chance to be alone with their spouse, and they had kids right away, so their relationship was always heavy with responsibility. They never had a chance to feel fluttery and happy with each other, as if being in love is a sin.

      • Susan Evans says:

        Martha Mitchell says:

        Couples have a lifetime to be fluttery and happy with each other – why does that have to stop because the Lord blessed them with children, or even because they couldn’t be alone for a few months before marriage? Or because they practice self-control during their pre-marital relationship? And if they aren’t ready for responsibility, then they have no business dating OR courting!

        And, unless I am mistaken, the Bible does not mention the word ‘intimacy’. I just did an online search and can’t find it in the Bible.

        Yes, some courtships don’t work out – and there are so many schools of thought regarding the definition of courtship – but I know loads of young people who are happily married after successful ‘courtships’, and also loads who have had their hearts broke time and time again because they ‘try on’ one potential spouse after another. So, to rally against courtship, and be pro-dating, because some ‘courtships’ don’t work out doesn’t make sense to me. Being in love is a sin????? I’d say pick some new friends if your courtship friends say that.

  13. Susan Evans says:

    Kimberly Wong (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    My husband and I dated. I married him at 19 and he is the only man I’ve given my heart to. Dating doesn’t necessarily equate improper intimacy or practice for divorce. If we obey God and a heart to follow him it’s a mute issue. My kids have been homeschooled their whole lives and my oldest to are 19 and 18 and we have 3 younger children as well. So far they have made wise choices and other people see a difference in them. The 19 year old just recently started dating her boyfriend and she does not take dating or relationships lightly just like her parents. My 18 year old has never dated. I am always thankful for the many fruits homeschooling has provided them. I have seen many homeschooled kids rebel and I have seen many have trouble making friends with other homeschooled children because some families are over critical and judgemental.

  14. Susan Evans says:

    Brett and Dana Adams (from the Homeschool Channel) say:

    Our only married child is our son and he married a gal who was public schooled all the way and her father is an avowed God hater. Yet she is the sweetest wife and such a godly young lady!

    I may be alone here but we also tend to have some different limits when it comes to sons and daughters. Our son had a lot more freedom in the way that he went to the ‘girls’ house and they spent time together. They ‘courted’ and they chose to be pure as well.

    My hubby and I are still fluttery and happy together:)

  15. Susan Evans says:

    Kimberly Wong (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    You are not alone. My husband and I will have been married for 24 years this summer, have 5 children and are still fluttery and happy too. I don’t know if it’s so much anti courtship as it is the pressure that courtship is the only acceptable way within many homeschool communities.

  16. Susan Evans says:

    Dr. Jeffrey A Klick (on the Homeschool Channel) says:

    It seems that any time we attempt to substitute a method for a relationship issue we are heading in the wrong direction. If a person has a living, dynamic relationship with Jesus then they will seek His will and walk in obedience to His teachings. When we try to legislate obedience through a system we are destined to fail. Courting or dating will work in direct proportion to the hearts of the folks involved. If the couple wants to walk in purity they will and if they don’t then it is a heart issue not a methodology issue. There are many other issues involved besides moral purity in the dating/courtship process and almost all of them are relational. The relationship to the parents, siblings and peers also have to come into consideration. How a couple walks through this process speaks well of their maturity level…or not. The bottom line to me is not the system used but the hearts involved.

    • Susan Evans says:

      Sheila Dutcher replied:

      I agree with both of your comments Dr. Klick. I am a product of the dating world. One relationship after another and heartbreak with every one. My husband is not a product of the dating world. He waited for me. I wish I could have given him the same gift. Dating is off the table in our house but we are also not in the ditch on the other side of the road.

  17. Susan Evans says:

    Anne C. (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    Good topic Susan! I think the courtship idea can be used as a “tool” to make better choices. When I was a young girl I learned all about dating through watching television programs like “happy-days” and “The Brady Bunch”…sadly, I had no tools or much mentoring either. As a teen I became a Christian and this helped some, however I had no real plan, nothing to work with…no vision or mission. I had the culture and television to teach me.

    I’m hoping to offer my children so much more than I had. The courtship model sounds better than the dating one does and avoiding time alone with the opposite sex just makes good sense. If David could easily fall, surly we will do the same…so it’s probably better to avoid situations where we are vulnerable. There are no guarantees with our precious children but at least we can offer them more than what we had. I’m afraid the three hour conversation about God with someone we are dating could sadly end with tears and repentance.

    We humans are but dust and easily fall. Thanks for your thoughts on this Susan….you always get the conversations flowing. πŸ™‚ Anne

  18. Susan Evans says:

    I. scharfenkamp (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    It is an excellent topic. We do not allow our daughter to date. Nor would she want to-she’s 15 almost 16. She’ssimply too young. I do think its important to watch kids, but much more important to cultivate their hearts. I fear that programs and books can replace relationships with parents and the Lord. I also want to give my daughter emotional room to make a connection which could make her sad, but I do not want her so wrapped up she loses herself. She wouldn’t care for that either, she wants to mature. I think the issue is balance. I don’t want the law -extra law to bring out sin, I want an exciting time of life, to remain exciting, but without preadult dating, except perhaps prom in a group.

  19. Susan Evans says:

    I replied:

    Dr. Jeffrey, I believe you’ve hit the core of the issue: “It seems that any time we attempt to substitute a method for a relationship issue we are heading in the wrong direction. If a person has a living, dynamic relationship with Jesus then they will seek His will and walk in obedience to His teachings. When we try to legislate obedience through a system we are destined to fail. Courting or dating will work in direct proportion to the hearts of the folks involved. If the couple wants to walk in purity they will and if they don’t then it is a heart issue not a methodology issue.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  20. Susan Evans says:

    Heather L (from the Homeschool Channel) says:

    I have to say the urge to make kids/teens independant is so strong in this culture it can obsure good sense. I have seen in christian families (church going, bible study/teaching families) that have allowed their children to date, suffering multiple boyfriend losses, heartbreak, crying, depression, a diminishing of their grades, etc. One has even had a pregnancy scare because ‘they went too far’.
    I agree that hiding behind a strict courtship method as if it would ward off hormonal poor behavior is wrong. So is not creating a structure and framework for your teen to venture forth and find their mate. If the Lord has one intended for them, remember Paul was single.
    Like I would not throw my teen into the deep end of a pool without lessons on swimming. I will not throw my teen into the deep end of the relationship pool without lessons. While I am not a strictly courtship person we stress don’t even think about it until you are capable of paying for a home, utilities, food, clothing, health insurance, etc. You must be an adult able to stand on your own two feet.
    We are raising our children and teens in such a way as to be respectful of God, their mate, and themselves. We believe that will be some form of courtship.

  21. Jeannie says:

    I don’t and won’t allow my kids to date (when they are 18, they are no longer kids). Kids have no business dating. They need to be focused on becoming skilled and equipped husbands and wives, and mothers and fathers. Spending time with a person of the opposite sex is not “dating.” Why can’t we all be friends? Then when you are ready for marriage, marry your best friend. There is no need to get tied up to one person before marriage – at any age, even 30 or 60. I decided against dating when I first heard of the concept (it’s a foreign one, for sure!) and decided that it was how *I* would do things if I had them to do over again – or if the possibility presented itself again. Dating just does not work.

    Rather than teaching kids to “avoid temptation”, teach them to love the Lord and trust His designs for our lives more than anything else. I don’t believe the “courtship movement” has it right at all. You’re right that parents should not be micromanaging their adult children’s lives. But neither can anyone claim to be following God’s pattern for marriage if they allow their /children/ to date.

  22. I think that, like so many other good ideas, that this has turned into one more way for Christian homeschooling families to skid off course. When I was a young homeschooled teen (with a crush on Josh Harris!) I thought that the idea of courtship was the most romantic thing that I had ever heard. My friends and I didn’t see it as control by our parents, but as a way to have their help and advice on the second most important decision of our lives. My life took a dramatically different course from this as I entered into the world and discovered that very few guys out there had ever heard of ‘courting.’

    As a homeschooling mom of three little ones, I believe that this should be not a set of rules for kids but a way of thinking that they may decide or not decide on for themselves – exactly the way it was presented to me.

    Unfortunately there are many in the conservative Christian homeschool movement who believe that homeschoolers should be better than everyone else because they have chosen the homeschool path. I believe it is that idea that leads to so much legalism and eventually despair.

    • Susan says:

      Yes, homeschoolers who believe they are superior to others are prone to create more legalistic rules that they don’t realize are sometimes against what the Holy Spirit would have them do. Spiritual pride causes many parents to place the courtship rules on their children. Some children will rebel who would not have rebelled otherwise.

  23. Donna says:

    Yes! I have been wanting to read some sort of rebuttal to the “courtship” conversation. I dated my husband, and although we were pure until our marriage, there are still things I would have done differently. Neither of us had Christian upbringing, and were kind of rambling around in the dark when it came to dating and marriage. But I think micromanaging our children’s lives to the point of such a restriction is unbiblical. Our job is to train our children, and then set them free. Thank you for sharing your opinion!

    • Susan says:

      “Our job is to train our children, and then set them free.” – I love it!

      • Proverbs 22:6! πŸ™‚

        • Susan says:

          Tonya, that verse perfectly encapsulates this idea, of training our children, and then allowing them to follow God in their lives on their own.

          • PrairieMom says:

            Yes, that’s because our children have their OWN, personal relationship with Christ. We (parents) are not their Holy Spirit. Yes, we will guide, protect, and help direct them as the bible says and the Lord leads, HOWEVER, we expect them to make choices based on God’s laws and principles for their life.
            Thanks for sharing this topic, Susan.
            My husband and I will celebrate 27 yrs. this June and we courted in the 1980’s. But only because it was the best choice for our situation. He is 8 yrs. older then me! lol I knew that He was the ONE for me from the moment I met him. God works amazing that way when you’ve been taught to seek HIM for everything and trust Him for your future.
            At 9 yrs. old I began praying for my future husband, never realizing that he was going to be introduced to me at church at the tender age of 13! Needless to say, as a young teen, a courtship was in order. My family basically adopted him and we worked on our friendship first, then we shared a year and half of pre-marital counseling before our engagement and marriage.

            Everyone’s story is different. Thank you for “listening” to ours. πŸ™‚

  24. love love love!
    I was just discussing this the other day…and the same thing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I was uneasy about the courtship ideal. But you nailed it, girlfriend! I completely agree. Thank you for your wisdom and awesome words. it’s all about having a deep and trusting relationship with your kids. not that my daughters are going to be let loose to date at 14 though!

    shared and pinned!

    • Susan says:

      Thank you. Trust in your grown children is based on knowing that you’ve focused on your children’s hearts rather than on their outward behavior so that as they mature, they want to please God. I pray for wisdom for my children every day!

  25. Kim Hawkins says:

    While I do not have children of my own, I am an aunt and feel it’s my responsibility to lead by example yet not my place to force my nieces and nephews into a pre-planned relationship. I can see why this has been one of your most popular posts. It’s very thought provoking.

  26. Lori says:

    Susan,

    I am so happy to have found this article, I have never agreed with this movement. Young people need to be trained so they can handle temptation in the dating stage. Temptation comes from all areas in our lives not just the dating years. Without the proper training, they are not going to know how to handle life’s choices and any problems that arise.

  27. Rod Story says:

    Please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! I would like to suggest that what your addressing is the practice of courtship and not the principle.

    In principle, marriage is the most important decision that your kids will make, one that will impact generations. As such, it is a wise mother and father who actively guide their children as they seek a godly mate. God’s Word has many examples of parents taking an active role in their childrens choice. Solomon particularly urges his sons to gain wisdom in finding a bride (Proverbs 5, 6, and 31) and his daughters to guard their hearts (SOS 8:4).

    By way of comparison, I suspect that you are choosing to home school your children because you care deeply for their souls, as you should (Deut 6). As an extension of this, I would urge that parents should continue to instruct, exhort, and protect sons as they become men and daughters as they are given away (Gen 2:24). This takes both private instruction as well as public boundaries, just as you would with every other area of your children’s lives, whether it be the friends they choose, the movies and books they enjoy, even the clothing they wear. How much more marriage?

    In priniciple, courtship is a parent purposefully instructing and guiding their child in finding a godly mate. As such, it could not be any more opposed to “dating” as we see in our culture, which is very experimental, and unguided, and separate from family. Dating is a process which encourages an individual to form serial attachments, which poorly prepares two individuals for life-long fidelity.

    In practice, courtship finds great variety in its forms, all the way from group dates with family and asking permission from dad to a very cloisered existance. Some approaches bear much fruit, and unfortunately some are manipulative and legalistic. I agree that error can be found, as it can with the ways parents choose to school, to discipline, among so many ways in which we apply biblical precepts. By God’s grace we are entrusted to raise these children!

    Finally, I disagree with your final statement, “people need to be autonomous under God.” While we are morally accountable and individually saved, we are also created to be deeply communial. We are made after the image of the Trinity. We are born into families that become knit to other families. No where is this more mysteriously true than in the marriage of man and wife, where two become one. A married couple also gains two sets of parents, and Lord-willing is blessed with a full quiver of kids. All of this occurs very publically before God and man. When the family loves and serves God, the community is blessed and God’s name is exhalted. When a marriage is unequally yoked, or self destructs through infidelity, the wounds can fester for generations. When we sin, we hurt others, not just ourselves.

  28. Anonymous Homeschooler says:

    This is a really interesting article. I am reading this from a lot of parents’ perspectives. I’d like to share a slightly different one.

    I am 20 years old, was homeschooled all my life, and fell in love early. My parents wanted me to follow the courtship model.

    They happened to be so suffocating about it, that I ended up eloping with my husband. Our church and college both kicked us out. We went through a lot of pain and suffering that could have been avoided if people had just backed off a little bit.

    We have now been married for over a year and a half, and are expecting our first child in October. We still feel like we followed God’s will for our lives, and we listened to what HE would have us do instead of what my parents wanted us to do.

    We still have issues with people (almost weekly) because they still believe what we did was wrong. It can be heartbreaking.

    • Susan says:

      Thank you for sharing your story. I know many stories of kids who ended up running away from Christian homes that had so many rules heaped upon their children that were not biblical but a matter of opinion. May God grant parents wisdom to love their kids and help them to seek God’s will for their lives.

  29. I’ve just discovered this whole…courting…thing…and it’s NOT what I thought it’d be. I’m against it. Hello prearranged marriage. How can you hold a deep private conversation with the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with if you’ve Aunt Bertha, Cousin Bob or your annoying brother there too?

    My kids are raised knowing all about sex. All the different kids of sex from oral to anal. What diseases come from sex or oral sex or kissing. Where babies come from (I’ve been a doula for 17 years so they KNOW that result well!) , how to prevent pregnancy and the risk that comes with breaking condoms or the pill. I’m very open with my children and have always been. They have known proper terminology from the get go and their bodies have ALWAYS been respected. May I change your diaper? You have poop on your testicles. I’m washing your labia. That is your clitoris/urethra/penis etc…. no made up words or shaming them. It’s a body part…

    Will my kids date when they’re young? Nope. When they’re older? Yes…like 16 (or 60 for the girls based on hubby’s hopes)…and to somewhere public..not someone’s empty home or bedroom I hope. But, a little smoochin’ is fine and dandy. Cause sometimes the person your heart loves….turns out that a flat/horrible kiss means you love them as a friend..not a partner. How horrible would it be to discover on your wedding night(!) your partner isn’t the ONE…but a great friend? Yikes!

    How’s that conversation go? “I like you a lot but I really can’t imagine putting my lips against yours much less my naked body?” Not good at all. And…while we’ve had them under surveillance 24/7 leading up to the marriage…what happens when they’re married and someone goes to work? Close environment, attractive people, temptation… is THIS where you want your child to cut their teeth on temptation? In the midst of a marriage? I say NOPE! Cut those teeth amongst the support and guidance of family and friends. Become aware of one’s struggles WHEN you’ve the chance to be checked on…not WATCHED.

    I believe courting should be like old fashioned dating…being around your dates family. Interacting, learning about and growing toward that long term relationship. Holding hands, huggin’ and kissin’…just not muggin’ down in the back seat of the car. I trust my kids to make the right decision. Hindsights 20/20 and yeah…kids can get in trouble but..we’re not back in the stone age when a raped virgin is shamed or a woman becomes a harlot. And, last I checked… a piece of paper didn’t mean a thing….what matters is what your heart says.

    On that note…I don’t care what my kids heart says…they’re not getting married until after they graduate….DH says their Masters program…I’ll settle for their Associates. πŸ˜‰ And, yes…I do see the hypocrisy.

    Great job on this post by the way!! I following you because of it.

    ~Honey

  30. I like this. We did courtship (ten years ago now), and although I have no regrets at not dating in high school, I really think as a full-fledged adult and licensed attorney I could have been trusted to determine whether my husband was a suitable match or not. Even though our parents ultimately gave their blessing, the lack of control and responsibility for our own relationship set up some unhealthy patterns of interaction (or rather non-interaction) that it took us many years to work through.

    And moving from a heavily-supervised courtship straight into parenthood really left no time for learning to enjoy our relationship or even work out practical life details except in the middle of crises. Fortunately we were and are crazy about each other, but we would not ask our kids to do the same. Wait until a reasonable age and think about their goals and principles, yes. Expect us to watch over them as adults, no.

  31. Jess says:

    I think you may have talked to the wrong person about courtship. My husband and I hope to strongly encourage a version of courtship with or children. That starts with helping our children understand that they don’t need to date or court (because the labels are just semantics anymore) anyone until they are ready to commit to a marriage relationship. The primary focus of a dating relationship should be the wellbeing of the person you pursue. If you view that person with respect, selflessness and love, broken hearts are not nearly as likely. Before my husband and I began dating, we were really good friends, and I honestly hoped to meet his children one day, whether we pursued a relationship or not. He was an awesome guy, and I genuinely wanted his happiness. I disagree that you should trust your children with making there own decisions about love and sex and marriage at any age less than 18. After that, you have to hope your training was enough to being them a fulfilled life. But, rest assured there are no hard and fast outcomes. I was given free reign to date whenever I wanted and waited for my husband without rules but I know many a rule filled home that produced rebellion. We just have to do our best and pray they come through.

  32. kelly says:

    I agree with parts of what you said. I think some who follow courtship tend to lean too far in the direction of arranged marriages which I do not agree with in any way. But I do have issue with two things you said.

    First, the Bible says it is good that a man not touch a woman. I would be disappointed if my teen or adult children decided to ignore this bit of wisdom from the Bible and put themselves in a situation of sexual stimulation. I disagree with the idea that kissing before marriage was such a wonderful thing based on that verse.

    Second, at no point does the Bible say we are to over come temptation. The Bible says to flee temptation. Huge difference. Chaperoned “dating’ goes a long way in helping people who are attracted to each other to keep their hands and lips off each other. There are ways that adults can date chaperoned that isn’t suffocating and oppressive. Many parents DO go too far but there can very well be a middle ground which supports holiness yet allows the couple emotional intimacy.

    With all that said, I’m not going to butt into my grown children’s lives unless they are still living under my roof. If so, you will respect my rules. If not, chaperoned dating will be their choice, not something I would impose upon them but I do hope they would be wise enough to choose it.

    • What about the interpretation that when Paul says, “Now concerning the things whereof you wrote me, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless . . . ” that it all makes more sense if you put ‘it is good for a man not to touch a woman’ in quotes, as in, that was something they had written to ask Paul about, and the part after “Nevertheless” is his answer. Puts a whole different spin on the passage, doesn’t it? And it makes sense. Remember quotation marks were only invented a few hundred years ago.

  33. Catherine says:

    Excellent article. I, too, was intrigued by the idea of courtship when it first came out, but began to question whether it was really God’s plan after I found out more. I dated, but I didn’t allow myself to get physically entangled, so breaking it off was fairly amicable. I’m afraid that I just don’t understand the “heart ache” that courtship is supposed to avoid that simply following God’s word also wouldn’t help you avoid. I had my first kiss at the alter, but it was my choice, not something that I would impose on anyone else, or even claim made me more pure than others. In fact, I saved that first kiss because I know that I lack self-control, not because I’m more virtuous. Once I start doing something that I like, it’s really hard for me to stop, and I just want more. Parents always seem to want me to advise their kids when they find out when my first kiss was, but my advise isn’t to do what I did. It’s always to figure out where the temptation is too great for you to resist, and then stop well before that. I think that you hit the nail on the head when you said, “To add lots of rules to what God has written is sin, especially when you are putting those rules on other people,” and “Young people who can’t stand the suffocation of the situation end up breaking a real command of God, which has been lumped in with the artificial rules.”

    • Susan says:

      I like your viewpoint. I think it’s beautiful that you have only kissed one person, but that you don’t hold other people to a standard that is not in Scripture. It’s always best to follow our conscience and to walk in purity.

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