A couple of years ago, I read a self-congratulatory article (I have since
discarded the URL) written
gushing over the fact that his daughter had gotten married in exactly the right
way. She stayed in his house under his protection for as long as she was single,
which I think was about 18 years or so. A boy she knew and liked became interested
her, and he expressed his interest to the father. The father and the boy had
many conversations, and eventually arranged a wedding. They told the girl what
they were doing, and she giggled with delight, but they didn’t tell her when
the wedding would be. On the day of the wedding, the father woke his daughter
and told her, "Get ready, honey. You’re getting married today." She literally
squealed with glee. After the ceremony, the father accompanied the newlyweds
to their new house. He walked with them to their bedroom. As they knelt down
at the foot of their bed to pray together, the father left, closing the door
behind him, quite pleased that he knew exactly the right way for a young girl
to marry and that he had made it happen for his daughter.
He didn’t say it outright, but I got the feeling that he would disapprove
of the young couple having sex until after the birth of their first child.
The ladies (a mother and her three grown daughters) at Girltalk discussed
the idea of courtship recently (when you have time, read all
of their courtship posts starting at the bottom) and drew
some fire in
the Crosswalk forums. Since forums are for people who don’t have blogs (
), I thought I’d finally weigh in on the issue.
One of the few things I learned in the college classroom was this: Most arguments
stem from a disagreement about
definitions. I once argued with a roommate for 90 minutes when he told me he
believed in predestination. I adamantly argued against it. I told him it was
bad theology. I wondered how he could function in life if he believed something
like that. (I’ve mellowed with age.) Eventually I realized that the idea he
called predestination was
an idea I called foreknowledge, which I had no problem with. We held
identical beliefs that we argued about for 90 minutes because were working
from different definitions.
Getting back to my original subject, I think for most people the word courtship tends
to conjure images of a controlling father handing his daughter over to a controlling
and imagining that she’s excited about it, like the smugly satisfied father
I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I don’t think that’s how the Girltalkers
define it. In their first
post on the subject, the mother of the family explains
that she and her husband educated their daughters early on about what to look
for in a man:
1. Genuine passion for God.
2. Authentic humility.
3. Love for the local church.
4. Biblical convictions about manhood and womanhood.
I think these are all essential traits for a Christian woman to seek in
a husband. The parents also told the girls to consider:
-Do you fully respect this man the way a wife is called to respect her husband?
-Can you eagerly submit to him as the church submits to Christ?
-Do you have faith to follow this man no matter where he may lead?
-Can you love this man with a tender, affectionate love?
Again, these are essential questions for a Christian woman to consider.
When I read the daughters’ love stories, I did not get the sense that they
had overbearing parents who imposed themselves on their nearly-grown children.
I got the idea that the girls loved and respected their parents and actively
sought their counsel. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I hope my
children will feel the same way about me. And if I have a daughter, I intend
to interrogate every single boy who wants to be near her and instill a fear
of God—if not me—in every one of them as well. If I have a son, I intend to
teach him how to treat a woman as if she were God’s own daughter. If I have
one of each, I’ll do both.
In retrospect, I think the evolution of my relationship with Mrs. Happy was
a kind of courtship. We certainly didn’t date in the modern sense. We got to
know each other gradually, under
love grew out of our friendship, quite unintentionally. All the while, I tried
dating other girls. It never worked for me. It always felt forced even
with girls I really
advice of my parents about different girls. They both persistently tried to
steer me toward the eventual Mrs. Happy no matter which girl I asked them about.
her, but it did give me a little more confidence in my decision. Dating worked
for friends of mine who married before I did and are still happy. The Girltalkers’
courtships obviously worked for them. As long as people are happily married,
maybe it doesn’t really matter how they got there.