This month we will have a Parent Summit at Trinity for students and their parents! It will be an incredible day for all of our families, but I want to take today's blog and the next in order to specifically give some food for thought concerning our bonus conference during the Parent Summit.
Bro. Brad, Bro.Jeff and I will be covering the subject of Courting and discussing what this looks like in our day. If you are like me, when you first hear of "courting" you think of Andy, Aunt Bea and Opie. But it is actually a Christian alternative to dating. Now let me make myself clear - this is not a gospel issue or even fellowship issue, but it is a conviction issue and it should certainly be something that we think about. There are so many issues in our lives that we allow the world to dictate to us the way things should look - that we never take step back and ask "is this the best way for my child to be a godly husband or wife?" After all, isn't that what we are preparing our children for? I mean, it is our job to show them what marriage is, and what it means.
If you are like I was, I had never even heard of the idea of courting and I knew of Joshua Harris's book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, but to be honest when it came out I simply dismissed it because of the title and because I have never really thought biblically about the idea of dating. I have taught the importance of purity to students for years, I have taught the importance of biblical manhood and womanhood to young people, but I never thought very much at all at the importance of guarding your heart until marriage. The idea that "young love" and "heart ache" is just part of growing up. But the question is...should I give my heart away in 5-7 relationships before I ever give my heart to my spouse? Even if two students are believers and they committed to purity and never to cross a line in their physical relationship (which is rare if they date any amount of time), how many emotional lines are crossed that our Lord only intends to be experienced in marriage? I want to show a little bit of my hand in the next blog for the Courting Session and bring up a few items for discussion that, regardless of what your convictions are, you need to think through these questions. But for the right now I want to bring up a few initial thoughts:
1) Does the way we date really prepare us for marriage? I dated, and the romantic feelings of new "love" was always fun, but when a "steady" relationship is formed, the tendency is to become consumed with this new interest in our life. I can count 5-7 long term relationships I had prior to meeting Michele, and the break ups that I initiated or received basically came when I found someone else I wanted to date, or because of some other selfish reason. Basically, I learned when things are too frustrating or fail to suit me, I can find someone else. Can I honestly say that having 5-7 "serious" relationships helped me be a better husband?
2) With regard to the way we "pick" who we date, does it promote a selfless, Christ-like love or is it usually selfish? I had a lot of friends in high school and to be honest, my friends had a lot of influence on who I dated. If they thought she was a pretty girl and it allowed me to gain approval it would work, however, if I tested the water and my friends laughed or said "Why would you ask her out?" I would have a change of heart. Basically, to steal an analogy from "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" I picked my girlfriend like I would pick a pair of jeans. How do they look? How do they make me look? Are they a popular pair? Do they make me comfortable? The central theme of dating becomes the concern for me. That is okay when we are dealing with jeans, but it is the opposite of Christ-like love when it comes to dating.
3) Why should I seek deep intimate commitment when I can not fulfill the role of commitment? I know when I dated I celebrated anniversary, I romanced, and with the exception of a physical relationship, we treated one another (and was treated) as a "couple." How can I play couple and act married when in truth, at 16 years old I can not make that type of commitment? When a student is in this type of relationship, it can isolate them from other vital relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ that can in fact, enable them to be a better husband or wife down the road.
Again this is not a fellowship issue: it is not a salvation issue. But most parents have never thought through the potential dangers of dating the same way the world dates. But in truth, when our marriages end up much like the world, I think we should step back and at least ask some real questions. I hope to you see at the Parent Summit.