Thursday, June 23, 2011

Courtship - Part 4

I think the question that has been posed to me the most is "Why would you want to do that?" When responding to some event in which our believing in courtship has become part of the conversation. And then there is always the laugh of disbelief and pitying looks I received with the usual comment "you may believe in courtship but they (meaning my children) don't! You will see.." . As if I am fooling myself and my kids will be the ones to tell me. Well first, I understand their disbelief. Courtship is perceived as an antiquated custom, from a time of when women were perceived as property of their father's and then sold in a bargain between two men or two families. I would be vehemently opposed to that notion of courtship. But what my family practices and believes in is quite different.

What courtship is to us is simple. It is the deliberate waiting until a child has reached a point in their life, and it is different for every person, where they are ready to marry, are able to support a wife, or the mental and spiritual maturity to have children and a family. They must be at a point in their life where marriage is feasible before starting to consider a relationship with the opposite sex. This is the start. But courtship continues from there. It is a process of looking for a potential wife or husband, not a "girlfriend or boyfriend". They are not looking to start dating around. Even before they consider a young man or woman, certain criteria and steps are followed. And then when a potential spouse is considered there are more steps before any "relationship" starts. But at all times both sides are starting with the premise of "I am considering marrying you". It is a known and talked about purpose. "I want to get to know you for the purpose of marriage". Not " hey, I like you so I want to go out to dinner with you and get to know you". There is not any open ended discussions. It is definite. Only when a son or daughter is ready for marriage will they consider someone for marriage. It may not work out, but you will know BEFORE there are any heart attachments. Discussions of importance are talked about before any relationship is entered into. Both parties are aware that this is a serious endeavor, it is not like the world where emotions are first and foremost and all the important details are not discussed until the honeymoon.
Some people think this is crazy, and backward. It is not. It is biblical. Look at Jacob and Rachel. Yes Jacob saw Rachel and fell in love with her, but he never approached her. He dealt with her father and knew her life and beliefs before he asked her father to marry her. He had no relationship with her until all the boring details were made. Like his parents before him, business came first then marriage. This is the basis of our view of courtship. The business of the relationship is settled, then the feelings are allowed to grow unhindered.

I think of all the problems in marriages, money issues, child rearing philosophies, unequally yoked and spiritually incompatible spouses. The Christian population has an equal chance of divorce as the secular society. Why is this? Because everyone thinks you have to date around, have a few relationships til you get it right, and get some "experience". They think its cute to have little kids 4 and 5  yr old kiss their friends kids and call it puppy love, encouraging elementary kids to have girlfriend and boyfriends. So by the time a kid hits high school they have had their hearts broken at least once and the most important thing in their life is to have a girlfriend/boyfriend. Their focus is not on school or heaven forbid, God, but on whether they have a date for the youth get together. They are distracted, and unfocused on their futures. Their main focus should be on their relationship with Christ, with their parents and siblings. They should be learning how to have a strong family life so that they can take that into their own families one day. They should be praying for their future spouse, not for a date Friday night.

  Now how we put this into practice is a series of steps that ideally you would start teaching when they are young but really you can pose this to teens and even young adults. Anyone really. It is ageless. I have already talked about how important it is to have your child's heart.  They must understand how much you love them first and that you are doing this for them. Not to them. Because they will catch alot of flack from the world and surprisingly, from the Christians too. That surprised me. But then courtship takes dedication and alot of parents don't want to invest that much into their kids life. They are just trying to get through raising them.  This makes me sad. 

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