…is a hot button these days, and I’m not always sure why. Some Christians have been the victims of dictatorial, patriarchal homes, but most don’t even have a clue what the word actually means. As a society, I think we’ve swung back and forth so many times on relationship norms that most of us are dizzy. I think every generation “does it differently.”
Recently, my uncle, Richard Briggs, in an author Q and A query, asked me about my own ideas on courtship (I had a very successful and happy one!) and how it plays into my writing love stories.
Since we’re raising a new generation of children – my own included – and I’m seeing the pendulum swing again to “get rid of courtship altogether,” I’d like to say to look past the big, bad C word. What even IS “courtship”? Every single group I’ve ever been in defines it differently.
Let’s just talk relationships on the whole. My girls are young now but it is NEVER too early to start planning for and being aware of this. You are raising children not just to be obedient kiddos in your home, but to be godly adults out in the real world. Your home is just a stepping ground for all of life and, let’s face it, most of our kids are going to get married. So that relationship with their spouse will last the rest of their life, and be the most important relationship in their life.
So what are my views on courtship? Here’s my succinct personal definition:
Committing to love, serve, and honor God by being intentional in doing the best for others and looking at relationships through the lens of future marriage. Being future-mindful and Christ-centered in your relationships, not selfish in your physical affections and giving into lusts, and not causing anyone else to sin, including yourself. Eschewing the worldly, selfish ideas of playing around before finding a spouse.
Beyond that, my ideas are so simple, and yet so foundational. I think, when you muddy it up with more than this, you get into legalism. Let’s leave out all the common sense physical rules like what’s your curfew, if you’re chaperoned, if you kiss before your wedding day, etc. etc. That’s up to your home and your child. My husband and I haven’t set any of those in stone. We’ll see what we decide when the time comes and where the child’s heart and temptations are. And our “common sense rules” may be different from yours – and there should be no judgment from house to house on those types of safety rules. But honestly, that’s not what I’m thinking about or looking for when I’m training my children to be spouses.
I want only three things.
A. I want them to so love God that they’re committed to honesty, morality/godliness, and Him most of all.
(See the previous blog post in the link above.) It’s why I’m seriously, seriously addressing sneakiness and dishonesty and selfishness and other traits now. My child lies to me or selfishly hoards me or is disloyal to friends? He’s going to be those things to his spouse too. They don’t just disappear in marriage or adulthood.
B. I want to so strongly have my kids’ hearts – be such good friends with them and be so close to them that they trust me and communicate with me.
It takes two to tango on this one. I can only do my part, and pray that God leads them to value me as their mother and counselor and friend. ❤
C. I want them to so love others and think much less of themselves that they’re committed to protecting and doing what’s best for the opposite gender always.
At the heart of the “courtship model” that I know is protecting others because you value them so much as fellow human beings, and you love and care about their safety, their hearts, and their emotions. Leading the opposite gender on when you have no intention of marrying or committing to them – whether it’s through mass dating or just being too affectionate as friends – can injure them greatly.
At the heart of relationship values that I was taught was protecting and loving others as better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)
This starts in just sharing toys as toddlers and choosing to go last to getting your piece of candy. These foundational things prepare them for why they choose what they do with the opposite gender in the future.
RJ Conte is a Christian, realistic, issue-driven fiction authoress with six books on Amazon, including the novel, Heartsick, for young adults. In Heartsick, the main character, a homeschooled college student, who has devised a picture-perfect courtship model with her father, turns her back on it to get entangled with a guy who has a very mysterious and dark past. The novel has been likened to A Walk to Remember meets Hitchcock, and is recommended to any young Christian lady starting out on her own.