We all want better for our children. I hear so many parents say they want to raise their children to be better than themselves. One issue of great importance that many parents want their children to have a better experience with is how they met and married their spouse. The multiple heartaches that came before getting married, and in some cases the sad event of losing their virginity before marriage, is grievous to many Christian parents today and they do not want the same grief and guilt for their children. I’m thankful that this wake up call has come to many within the Christian community. For my family, it came years ago when I was a young child.
Biblical courtship, also known as Christian courtship, is a term used to denote a particular response to secular dating culture within various American Christiancommunities, c. 1985 to present. Motivated by concern for the need of Christian values in contrast to secular dating practices, conservative Christians identified what they saw as key Biblical principles for courtship and romance, and began to disseminate them in the 1980s.
The movement gained widespread exposure following the best-selling response to I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a popular contemporary treatment of Christian courtship by homeschool student Joshua Harris. Keynote speaker and author Dr. S.M. Davis has developed a unique stand on this philosophy, and his materials have been popular with the homeschool culture since the early 1990s. Proponents of the courtship movement say that it is identified by Biblical principles, rather than particular methods or behavioral practices. These principles have been summarized in Leave Dating Behind: a Road Map to Marriage by Christina Rogers within the acronym CARE
- Commitment to marriage
- Rejection of the secular dating philosophy
- Establishing physical boundaries
A more detailed list of courting ideals include:
- The guardianship responsibility of fathers over single daughters.
- The responsibility of parents to prepare their children for marriage in all respects, and for youths to be prepared in terms of talents, education, vocation and finances prior to seeking a courtship relationship.
- The mentoring role of parents or other suitable “accountability couples” in a given courtship.
- Supervision of courtships to mitigate temptations or abuse, whether of a sexual, emotional or financial nature.
- Emphasis of the importance of marriage as an opportunity for Christian service rather than a selfish endeavor.
- Emphasis of the importance of singleness before marriage as a time for greater Christian service in the community, rather than a time to be employed in selfish pursuits.
- Emphasis of the importance of counsel and evaluation by family and friends as a relationship progresses.
- Emphasis of the importance of honesty and getting to know one another as real people in “normal life” during courtship (as contrasted with the dating habit of meeting during special events and entertainment while on one’s best behavior.)
- The maintenance of sexual purity.
Each courtship is unique insofar as the methods used to honor these principles will be unique in every given situation.Let me start at the beginning, where I share what life was like back in the early 90′s when courtship was becoming more prevalent
in the homeschool community. When I was 11 we attended a Jonathan Lindvall seminar on courtship/betrothal. There were many good things to learn from that seminar, but I left feeling like there was no way my courtship would ever take place in the manner which he described. Besides not believing in betrothal, (where basically the parents pick out the bride for the bridegroom), I had one other little problem. My father did not attend that seminar, and furthermore, showed no interest in ever being deeply involved in the process of ensuring that his children would be equally yoked in their selection of a spouse . To many within the conservative Christian community, an uninvolved Father is supposed to be the Achilles heel of the whole courtship process, effectively reducing it sanctified dating. I would beg to differ, and I believe my courtship story bears this out.