Ok – so I am about to ask all my parents out there a very thought-provoking question that might stir up a heated debate…actually a few questions. These are not meant to step on anyone’s toes in particular – just our society as a whole, especially those of us who are Christian parents:
When did we start letting the world and this culture determine what we teach our girls about dating, romance, and marriage? At what point did we lose our focus on teaching our kids what Christ-like relationships with the opposite sex should look?
Whatever happened to teaching our kids courtship versus dating (i.e. baggage collection)?
Can you show me where in God’s Word does it give us permission to pawn our kids off on a continual basis to one boyfriend/girlfriend after another?
Do you know how hard it is to teach my girls the proper and Biblical basis for courtship in a culture that is going in a totally opposite direction and on a very fast rate?
Do we as parents not understand that many of the troubles we face in our own marriages are a direct result of all the baggage we collected during our dating years?
How can we expect our children to enjoy lives of purity, while teaching them that dating is ok, in the middle of a culture that shoves their sexuality down their throats?
When did we give up our God-given command to teach children in the way they should go?
If in the Bible, parents were given the responsibility of picking mates for their children – why do we think it should work any differently now?
Do we not understand that in societies where marriages are arranged – the percentages of marriages that are successful are greater than our culture and society where 1 out of 2 marriages end in a divorce?
Did we give up on teaching our kids to chase after God with all their hearts instead of a romantic relationship because it made our lives easier?
Is it because we’re too lazy to make the effort?
Have we convinced ourselves that it really doesn’t matter to God?
Courtship is defined as “a period during which a couple develop a romantic relationship, especially with a view to marriage.”
The western tradition of dating is very different from the values and traditions taught in the eastern world, where courtship reflects a more Biblical approach to God’s view on the subject. Dating is really non-existent in most eastern cultures, where children of the opposite sex are guarded closely and only allowed minimal contact with one another – much less any type of romantic behavior. Our western culture is teaching our kids that giving away your first kiss at 5 is ok….look at every sitcom and Disney movie and tell me this isn’t true?
The Bible says that love should not be aroused or awaken until its proper time (Song of Solomon 3:5). Regardless of what culture we would rather ascribe to – has God not commanded us to teach our children to honor marriage and to keep the wedding bed pure? If not, then please explain to me how our modern western tradition of dating exemplifies that?
I understand that we are not an eastern culture, and I am by no means saying we should directly mimic other cultures. But, I am saying that we should consider that our concepts of dating and going steady are worldly values; we are supposed to teach our children NOT to conform to the world. We should be teaching them how to have Godly relationships that foster purity and prepare them for a healthy marriage. Our views of dating need to be re-evaluated – and transformed by the principles taught in the Word of God. God’s plan for one man and one woman to enjoy a lifelong marriage to ONE another has never changed. And I can pour out examples from my own life and many many others to give example after example of how forsaking the Biblical views of courtship have destroyed marriages.
Now I know you might feel like you have taught your kids the differences between dating and courtship. Perhaps you feel like you have a good grip on this area in your homes – if so, then perhaps this wasn’t written for you. But I dare say that a majority of parents are NOT teaching the Biblical principles of courtship – I know this because I have spent over 10 years inside of the classroom – I see what our children are doing. I pay attention to their relationships. I listen to what they have to say as it relates to parental expectations in relationships. I can’t tell you how many girls I have met that claim to have strict parents, yet ended up having premarital sex when the parents were not paying enough attention – I have heard story after story about the girl that ended up pregnant because the parents turned their backs for just ten minutes.
Is it not our responsibility to guard our children’s purity just as closely as we guard their lives and safety?
Dating has caused so much destruction and chaos in the lives of children who should be focusing on who they are in Christ and what purpose He has for their lives. Dating has resulted in unwanted pregnancies, countless abortions, young kids being forced to engage in sexual relationships because they are unable to say no…friendships broken and lost because children have no regard for their friends’ feelings as they play merry-go-round with one another’s ex.
Face it – the popular culture has shaped our worldview, and many parents have adopted its traditions while they fool themselves into believing that strict rules and double dates are keeping their kids safe. We have failed to recognize that we live in a culture where double dating is widely viewed as an opportunity to have a “groupie,” where our kids know more about their sexuality than we do, where pornography is flowing freely through every technological channel, and our children idolize Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Beyonce – all the good girls gone bad that started off in Christian homes too!
What values can you find in dating from the characteristics below? What can these truly offer your children in the way of purity and abstinence?
– Two people are physically attracted to one another. They declare their crushes and label each other as “my boyfriend/my girlfriend” and become entwined in a “special relationship” where they get to hold hands and spend every free moment with one another or thinking about the other.
– Two people given no real boundaries, especially when they find any alone moments – away from their parents – like the locker room at school – the dark closet behind the stairs – under the bleachers – possibly even in the classroom while the teacher has stepped out and other students keep guard (yep, all of these are true stories folks) – and soon hand holding becomes an innocent kiss…then a French kiss…then fondling….all the natural patterns that happen once the first cord has been broken.
– The immature relationship suddenly ends because one of the two – or both – now have new crushes and new opportunities in front of them. One ends up devastated that the relationship has ended, and soul ties take the place of the person that left them because of the intimacy they shared.
Tell me what value can you find in any of those for your children?
Our children are barely old enough to handle driving a car and a cell phone – how can we expect them to be responsible in dating? How can we resolve that they will have to “live and learn; there’s only so much we can do?”
We need to teach our children the values of friendship and getting to know someone and that someone’s family. We need to teach our children that God has a plan for their lives – one man + one woman = for one lifetime. Our children don’t need to “sample” all the world has to offer in order to find a good mate. That is the world’s pattern – one which only adds additional baggage to their adult lives.
I am thankful to have two daughters who are almost 15 and 16 who have never given away their first hand-hold, much less their first kiss. Now, I will admit that one would change that if she could, but they would both agree that they are thankful we have taught them about courtship and how it is different than dating. I am certain they have much appreciation for the fact that they have successfully made it through the beginning years of high school without having their hearts broken time and again.
We are still the authorities in our homes, and yes – our kids might choose to rebel – but that doesn’t mean we should back off or give them a license to. The age old argument that they will only get wilder and more rebellious once they leave home is a poor excuse for permitting our kids to handle something as dangerous as a gun. It is not just our only responsibility to teach our kids the right way; it is our responsibility to create a loving atmosphere where they are restricted from doing otherwise.
I admonish you to consider what has been written. I urge you to get back to teaching your kids the Godly principles for marriage, and I dare you to teach your kids that being different is a good thing in a world that is teaching our kids that sin is ok – a world that will lead your children straight to destruction and hell if we don’t do otherwise.
Paul Washer is an excellent teacher and has plenty of resources on YouTube about Biblical courtship.
I would love to partner with other parents who share the same views and encourage each other as we promote Biblical relationships in the lives of our children.