What does Courtship Mean in our Home?

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I strongly believe every parent needs to fully understand and research, What does Courtship Mean?

What does Courtship mean

 

My Story

I was a typical teenager growing up. I had great parents who wanted the best for me. They definitely were not overprotective, but I believe they did want they thought was best. I am grateful. They love me dearly.

I had several boyfriends in high school and most, if not all of them, were unhealthy. I had premarital sex and honestly didn’t think it was wrong. Heck, everyone else was doing it. 

I went to college and had the same experiences. I was in unhealthy relationships and was having sex. Now don’t get me wrong, I had standards and didn’t just jump in bed with anybody. Like I said, I was a typical teenager and young adult. I lived a sinful life. 

When I met my husband at 25, I had a college degree, a job, and was living on my own. The first time we had premarital sex, I got pregnant. Yes, we used birth control, but it failed us. Imagine that?

Telling my parents was an absolute nightmare, My mom was so ashamed and angry at me. Our relationship was estranged. My poor dad was trying to be the peacemaker, but still being married to my mom. Needless to say, he wasn’t very good at playing the peacemaker role. Bless his heart. 

My husband and I married and had 5 more children after our first son. We figured why use birth control when it doesn’t work anyhow. (I’m totally kidding).

So in a nutshell, yes, God does work all things for good, but I carried around a heavy burden for 16 years. I dreaded the day I was going to have to tell my son, that we were pregnant before we were married. We are a strong Christian family. How on earth would he understand? Would he think we didn’t want him? All these thoughts were always constantly stirring in my mind. He is 17 now and  knows the “secret” I was carrying. (another blog post entirety coming soon)

End of my Story

My husband and I knew there was a better way than the typical dating process than what we encountered as teens and young adults. 

Please don’t misunderstand me, God has dismissed and has forgiven me. I have no doubt, but I just don’t want my children to have to deal with Satan like I did due to poor choices.

It can be avoided.

Honestly, I just wasn’t aware of any other way than the typical dating scene. And I am certain I wouldn’t have gone that route anyhow since  I wasn’t a Christian.

When my oldest was very young, I came across the term, courting. I did research and read books on the subject.

After much prayer, we decided we would instill the idea of courting with our 6 children. We are aware that what they do when they leave our home is between them and God. It’s just our job as parents to plant seeds.

I require my teen-aged children to read the book, B4udate. It’s a very informative book that explains the different forms of dating and courtship. They read a chapter than we discuss it. I highly recommend the book to all Christian families.

Here’s Our Family’s Definition of Courtship 

And just for the record, the Bible doesn’t mention courting or dating.. Our convictions strictly are a result from how we should behave as Christians according to Scripture. We only know too well that hormones are racing and sex is a natural desire. Our goal is to help avoid or minimize the temptations as much as possible for our children. 

  • Courting means you only court one person at a time. It’s built on friendship and the current goal is to get to know one another on a deeper relationship.
  • Family and community are central in order to make the courtship work successfully. Both approval of parents are required.
  • Group activities are required and no individual dates are accepted.
  • Commitment precedes intimacy. Not vice versa. 

Often people say, I am over protective and my children will go crazy when they leave the house. Maybe they will, but guess what? I was given the freedom and I made very poor choices. So I am not buying the overprotective argument. In essence, I went crazy.

And still will claim, I still am. lol!

I understand and support that each family needs to discuss and make the right rules for their family. I’m not saying my way is the only right way. These are just our family guidelines that we have chosen for our family. 

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I would love to hear your thoughts about what does courtship mean to your family? Have you considered it for your children?

Comments

  1. The only thing I disagree with you is that the couple never date alone. It’s important for a couple to be alone at times, in a public place not a bedroom, so they can see how they connect without other people being involved. I hope my kids will someday want my approval, and for us to be involved in the process, but in the end, they have to make the decision and live with it.

    • I totally agree. I guess I was unclear. My son and his girlfriend sit on the front porch, watch a movie, and go to public places together.

  2. Jill – you practically wrote my story! We will be going the courtship route in our family as well. Thanks for the book suggestions; I will definitely check it out.

  3. This is something I have been talking to my husband about. I’ve also talked to my almost 14 yr old. It’s definitely something I will continue to research. My girls are not getting any younger

  4. The idea of courting only one person at a time and needing parental approval sounds like a bad idea to me. I’ve heard the opposite suggested: require that a teenager not go on a date with the same person twice in a row, (so if you want to go out with the person again, you see someone else in between,) so that the teenager keeps things casual and gets to know a number of people, rather than requiring a person make a formal situation before he or she has time to get to know the person. Requiring formal permission from both sets of parents makes it sound too formal, and I suspect would add slight pressure to the person to try to ‘make things work’ even in situations where it might be best they not work. After all, if they person has to ask permission, get the other person to ask permission, etc, etc, then the person feels like he or she has jumped through hoops and invested in the relationship… he or she might get a sense of failure if he or she decides the relationship doesn’t work… rather than having the opportunity to explore relationships with people easily and freely. It is not a bad thing to go through multiple casual relationships… all the talk about courtship makes it less casual.
    I can understand the desire to discourage pre-marital sex, but wouldn’t that be easier by encouraging children to keep casual relationships than by encouraging the commitment involved in dating? Isn’t a youngster more likely to convince him or herself that he or she is in love (and emotionally committed enough to potentially make an exception to the no-premaritial sex rule) if the person has a more formal, parental sanctioned relationship than if the teenager is encouraged to keep dating really casual/non-committal?

  5. this is an awesome article. I have two young children at home (6&3) and I do plan on teaching them about courtship. I also didn’t follow the correct way to court and I am a single mom now. But with the Lords grace and mercy my son and daughter will be taught the correct way to court. Thanks for this! I’ll be sharing this with friends!

  6. I have the opposite story, and want to just add my two cents… I watched my uncle make a lust filled decision to marry the wrong person when he was only 18 because she was pregnant. I was 12. I wrote a list of requirements I wanted in a husband after watching them and over the next year declared to my family that I would not be dating until I was out of high school, “because, Obviously, you can’t use your brain when your hormones are raging!”

    I held out pretty well, but was in a situation at one point where I felt safe, but really was not. I was ill-prepared to look out for the risks in my situation, because I had never had any experience with my parents as back-up. I was far, far away at college. I ended up a statistic. And because of the strong faith and morals I had… I felt I needed to be with this person, because I had not said “no!” strongly enough. I was given some insight, thankfully, directly from God, that this was not what He wanted for me, and got out before much time passed, but not without scars to my self.

    I urge you to give your child enough room to learn while you are near, that they have skills to prevent such things from happening to your child.

  7. I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with this idea… I think if you want your child to “stay out of trouble,” it will be MUCH easier if they go on dates with many people instead of just one person exclusively. I never “did anything” with random guys who I went on dates with but when I had been seeing someone for a while and had gotten to know them more than I would have if we just dated occasionally, it got really hard to be “good.” It’s good for kids to date around to see what qualities they do or don’t want in a future spouse. I understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t think teenagers will benefit from this at all. You should teach them right from wrong when they are young, then let them make their own decisions (with your guidance of course) as they go!

  8. I agree but I would add, not courting until at least 18 or 19. Friendship is a fantastic foundation to a relationship. There is no reason to court until marriage is in the near
    future.

  9. You are doing a great job!! We are very similar in our teaching, however we ask our kids not to go on two dates in row with one person, but rather at least every other date. Singling another teenager out and courting them leads to commitment too fast. These kids are young! They need to date lots of other youth while they are at home and it is “safe”. We can help and talk to them about what they are going through now and give them advice. We also highly encourage group dating. Groups of kids can have a lot of fun together, they should try to get to know lots of other youth, it gives them an idea of who they connect best with. I too dated toooo many guys in high school on a steady bases, and I wished I had not!! We are a very Christian based home too, and we believe that sex is something that should be saved for after marriage. I applaud you for speaking out about courting/dating. 🙂

  10. I almost made the big mistake of marrying the only steady boyfriend I ever had after high school. I didn’t really date until I met him while doing group activities (you could call them group dates but they were really more like a group of kids hanging out at someone’s parent’s or doing service projects.) Both of our parents approved. The boy proposed to me after I left for college because he didn’t want to lose me and well, we were supposed to get married because we graduated and that’s what people do even though we were growing apart as the Divine plan I did not know at the time. Thankfully my meddling mother who kept barging the boy’s mother about questions about what our future may be (I did not know this at the time) put a strain on the relationship and we stayed engaged two years longer than we should.

    It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that God told me I was ready for a special gift he was keeping for me and I met my husband. We are a perfect match, have a strong marriage, and have been together for 20 years. The strangest thing is that while we were in our teens we were traveling in the same circles doing service projects but never met until we were older and doing something else. We both agree we never would have been friends, let alone date, if we met when we were teens because of the way were back then. I am a better person my with husband in my life.

    I like the idea of group dates for teens. The idea of courtship to me means “with the intent to marry the first and only person that you court-date.” If I had followed that path I know I would be in an unhappy marriage or worse, divorced. I guess what I’m cautioning is teens dating it slow and casual is fine but courting exclusively with the pressure to marry might rush someone into an unhappy situation later in life. Just a thought from the other side.

  11. I think I courtship is good but a better situation would be the Jewish Betrothal. Betrothal is where a girl and a man make the commitment that they will marry. This takes a lot of prayer before beginning this relationship. A boy has to have a job and the plans for a home before becoming betrothed and when he has everything in place they then can marry. A betrothal is also more binding than a courtship. If a couple become betrothed they are technically considered married without the extras. My husband and I were betrothed on July 8th of one year and legally married according to the state we were living in on April 3rd the following year. We count our wedding from July 8th and we have been married 44 years.

  12. christina says:

    I had a few negative experiences with Mothers who believed in courtship. I was a Christian and the “rules” come off as legalistic, cultural, and cult like. Not to mention that no one knows about courtship. I think the premise is great: protect the purity of your teens. For me this translates into teaching teens to please God. This can be different for every household.

  13. I used to think we would follow a courtship model. My oldest sons were not interested in dating as teens so it never became an issue. Then my third son met a girl at youth group, and fell in love. He was 16, she was 15. They both love the Lord and they both love each other. They’ve been together for more than a year. They have strong boundaries. He is 17 and she is 16. They talk of marriage. It’s going to be a long journey, but God is clearly leading them down this path.

    I decided to read the courtship books again, and I find them lacking. I discern quite a bit of fear motivation. I was interested to discover that even Joshua Harris may not support his original teachings on courtship. I am currently reading Boundaries in Dating by Cloud and Townsend and I really see a lot of wisdom there.

    I believe both models could work, but I think it is really important to make sure motivations are right – that each family is following the Lord, rather than fear. It is also important not to over-correct.

    I dated in high school. Like your experience, it was not good. But it wasn’t dating that was at fault. My heart was the culprit.

    • Hi Yvonn,

      Thank you for your response. I agree with you. I believe each family needs to be following the Lord.

      My divorce was final last week, so I’m thrown into this mix now too.

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