When I started the series on courtship I wasn't sure what kind of feed back I would get, if any at all. I've been pleasantly surprised and happy to hear of the conversations people have been having on the topic because honestly, I think it is vital that Christians recover the ground lost on this front. I had planned to be finished after last week's post but a friend read all three of the posts and brought up a couple of really great questions that I think warrant some discussion.
The first question is what does the young man do when the father of the girl in whom he is interested does not have as high of standards as the young man in terms of the courting process, the purity rules, etc.?
The idea of courtship for most of my generation (the forty something parents of the coming of age children) is a foreign one. Our parents came through the turbulent sixties and seventies during the so-called sexual revolution, and questioning and rebelling against authority was just all the rage. That doesn't mean everyone was amoral, but the culture did shift - along with the way dating and marriage were viewed. Gaining a father's permission was, and for the most part still is, a hat tip to a quaint old fashioned custom and really doesn't mean much more than that.  For a young man with a courtship model in mind to approach a father who doesn't share a general understanding of courtship probably isn't that far fetched. 


I haven't seen this directly addressed anywhere, but I believe the young man's approach will be the same even though he may need to guide the process more firmly than he necessarily would if everyone was on the same page. I think he would do well to acknowledge his interest in the man's daughter and ask if it would be possible for the two of them to meet on a regular basis so that, man to man, he may present his case as a worthy suitor. This is a respectful way to place the responsibility in the father's court, with the knowledge for it to progress any further requiring the father to give his consent. Any young man who has a desire to court a young lady must do so with open hands, realizing that while he may be attracted to her, his own emotional attachment must be kept in check so that at any time the father may tell him no. He must be willing to go in with humility, understanding that the father has the right to deny him if he sees fit to do so. 

It's entirely possible that the father may just shrug and say, "Sure, you can date her."  I think wisdom would dictate a frank conversation with the father, and possibly the daughter as well, with regard to the structure of the relationship. Just because the father may not be taking his responsibility as seriously as he should does not relieve the young man of his responsibility to behave honorably. He would have to be willing to set the boundaries in place that would protect both himself and the young lady. 

Interestingly enough, we have some friends who have experienced this very situation. The father loved his daughter and wasn't abdicating his authority in her life, but courtship was just a new idea to him. The story is that if her parents weren't home, Justin would sit on a bar stool outside the kitchen window and talk with Jessica while she made cookies or tinkered around in the kitchen. When their families were stationed in different states and he would go for a visit he would always stay in a hotel instead of their home, and he never allowed Jessica to take him back to the hotel. He was protecting and honoring her from the very beginning even though it was a new way of doing things for her family. 

A follow up question was, what can a young woman who has a higher standard than her father do to both honor her father and her conscience? I don't believe it would be dishonoring for a young lady to refrain from dating if she sees the value in preparing for marriage differently than her father sees it. She should offer him every opportunity to be as involved as he is willing to be. If her father has no definite opinion on the matter, then she must think very carefully about what she wants it to look like. She can be very clear in her standards and expectations with any potential suitors and only welcome the attention of the ones who are like minded. Again, as things progress she should be careful to include her father as much as he is willing to be involved, keeping communication open and honest between them. 

We're not all going to have perfect fairy tale love stories. We don't live in a perfect world. Life is messy, people are messy, relationships are messy. But somehow, when we seek to honor Christ in all we do, He is pleased to use our messiness to show His glory. 

Guarding Hearts Part One, Part Two, and Part Three



2 Comments

  1. Nice follow up, and fast too! I had a couple of additional thoughts that you might want to interact with, or maybe just nod and say, "mhmm" :-D.

    First, I think the young man who encounters a father who is ignorant or has lower standards can employ the aid of other, older and/or wiser men (his own father?) as he proceeds with courtship. These men would not, obviously, replace the headship of the girl's father, but would certainly provide some additional covering for the young man, who would certainly face the temptation to circumvent his own standards where the girl's father's were not in place.

    Second, and slightly on a different track, I think that when a young man approaches a young lady's father with courtship standards and is frank, persistent, and consistent in his engagement of the father along those lines, then he has a real opportunity to portray Christ to the father in such a way that upbuilds the father's own faith--even if the relationship with the young lady does not end in marriage.

    Doug Wilson and his father, Jim, made the point once that cultivating multi-generational faithfulness out of multi-generational sinfulness is significantly affected by the way in which sons act to honor their fathers in ways that fathers may not have been honorable themselves:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdU0nAr4r8I

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    1. Mhmm...just kidding :-) I definitely think it's important that in either situation, be it the young man or the young woman with a higher standard, that seeking godly counsel is a smart move. And your second point is excellent! God can use the process to do far more than just create a marriage union or not.

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