Courtship, Dating and Purity: 4 Moms Q & A

moms of many manageOnce a month the 4 Moms take some time to answer reader questions. This month, I’m continuing to work my way through the fabulous list questions that you all came up with on Facebook last month.

Michelle Givler asked, “Do you believe in courtship or dating and what does that look like to you and your husband, especially in regard to girls?

and Amy Bass Powell wondered, “How you have taught your pre-teens thru teenagers to be pure and holy?

Since these questions seem to go hand in hand, I thought I’d tackle them together.

The focus of this post will be from the perspective of parenting daughters.

Our oldest (a girl)  is 15, so we’re speaking mostly in the hypothetical as we’ve had almost no experience when it comes to courtship and dating.

Also, these are our ideals, our ‘prefect world’ scenario. We know we don’t live in a perfect world and we trust that as we navigate this unknown territory that God will grant us mercy and bless us with wisdom.

When it comes to purity, courtship and dating, this biblical principal is our goal and standard:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery”.  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:27-28

Jesus clearly tells us that the goal is not merely a physical purity, but also a purity of mind.  Our goal therefore is to be able to present our daughters to their husbands as young women who are pure both in mind and body.

Physical purity

Most married men and women, have a pretty good understanding of what is appropriate behavior between the sexes.

For example, most would deem it inappropriate for a married woman to walk around the mall hand in hand with a man who was not her husband. Most wives would not be happy with another woman resting her head on their husband’s shoulder, giving him a certain type of hug, a goodnight kiss, etc. Most married woman don’t appreciate it when other women speak and interact in a flirtatious manner with their husbands, even if there is no physical contact involved.

However, those who would apply this type of standard to singles are viewed as somehow extreme.

When considering standards for our children, we remember that we are raising young men and young women who will, Lord willing, one day be married. Our goal is for our children to save all those intimate actions and words for their 0ne-day spouse.

To this end, any action or attitude that we would view as unacceptable behavior for two people who are married to two other people, we view as unacceptable for our single children.

We do not expect our girls to flirt, hug, hold hands, kiss or do anything with a  male friend that they would not be comfortable doing with another man in front of their husband.

Emotional purity

As the Matthew 5 passage indicates, our goal is more than simple physical purity.

Just as it’s easier to refrain from the actual act of adultery than it is to keep from even thinking about the possibility, it is easier to remain physically pure than to remain emotionally pure.

It is because we are working toward a goal of emotional purity that we prefer for our children to ‘court’. Now this  means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In our experience, it most often simply means ‘date’ with parental supervision or permission.

This is not what we mean by ‘court’.

Our goal is that when Mark walks our daughters down the aisle, he will be giving them over to the only man that they have ever committed to emotionally.

Some ideas before courting:

  • We encourage our children to be friends with people of both genders.
  • From the beginning, we socialize as a family, building friendships and relationships with people of all ages and genders.
  • From the beginning we encourage deeper friendships and relationships with those who will encourage us and our children toward godliness and righteousness and we caution about the damage that poor relationships will cause. (Proverbs 13:20 and 27:17)
  • We discourage ‘particular’ friendship with anyone of the opposite gender.
  • We exhort our daughters to guard their hearts. This will  require careful discipline and diligence.
  • We remind our girls of the potential deceitfulness of the human heart and that we want what is best for them. We explain that there may come a time when it seems like we do not want their best, but we want them to trust us through that.
  • We protect our girls by providing supervision.
  • Unless both the boy and girl are ready for marriage emotionally, physically and financially, it’s not time to even think about courtship, dating, marriage or a ‘particular’ friendship.
  • Our girls (and boys) know that everything is forgivable and that we will love them no matter what.

Some courting ideas:

  • We hope and pray that both sets of parents will be involved in the process.
  • We hope that the young man would first approach Mark for permission to pursue a relationship with our daughter.
  • In order to enter into this relationship, we would have to believe that it is likely that this man would be a suitable husband for our daughter.
  • The girl has the final say-so. If she says, ‘no’ then the answer is ‘no’!
  • The ‘couple’ should know each other well before entering into this type of relationship because we believe that this is the point that the heart-guarding begins to be let down.

Courting between long time friends

In the easiest scenario, the boy and girl would have known each other for a long time before this point. The families would know each other well and the parents of the ‘couple’ (and the ‘couple’ themselves) would have a good indication as to whether or not this was a good match.

In that case, ‘courting’ would be a period of time for the ‘couple’ to form a particular friendship and the heart guarding to be somewhat let down as this relationship would be quickly heading toward marriage.

We would hope that the time between this relationship and marriage would be fairly short.

New friends

In the event that the boy and girl are newly acquainted, but both are ready for marriage, we would desire that there be a time period of getting to know each other with continued heart guarding on the part of the girl.

It would be our preference that our daughter not know the boy’s intentions at this point in the process (for heart purposes), but that both sets of parents be involved and approving.

Getting to know each other over a distance

This seems the most difficult scenario, but, of course, not impossible. We would once again encourage a time period of getting to know each other before any type of emotional commitment is made.

We realize that perhaps we are idealistic and we certainly don’t claim to know much of anything about this.

Some people would consider what happened between Mark and me to be courting. I would say that it was dating with parental involvement. So we’re really new to all of this and are praying that God will give us wisdom as we begin to navigate through this new territory.

 Amy also asked, “What resources other than the Bible (if any) you have used and at what age you have taught ‘the facts of life’?

You will want to read this post about Teaching Children about the Facts of Life.

How do you plan to handle (or have handled) these issues with your children?

Visit the other moms of many to find out what questions they’re answering today:
Smockity Frocks
Life in a Shoe
The Common Room

You can still get the 4 Moms Parenting ebook for $3!

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20 Responses to Courtship, Dating and Purity: 4 Moms Q & A
  1. Cari Wiebe
    March 22, 2012 | 8:50 am

    We have a son who is 17. We worked really hard at teaching him “purity”, how to be a gentlemen, that it is important not to take “dating” lightly, date the women you intend to marry ect. But what we didn’t teach (out of ignorance) was emotional purity. 2 years ago he met “the girl”. To make a long story short, she broke his heart. We spent the last 2 years trying to get our son back. He very quickly plunged into a world of pain and sin. Praise God, HE is winning the battle and everyday is getting better. But this is a warning, you can teach the do’s and do not’s of good behaviour, and physical purity. But if you don’t teach emotional purity it is for nothing.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you Cari, for the encouragement and reminder.

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  2. Gwen
    March 22, 2012 | 8:50 am

    We’re at this same stage of life w/ our oldest (son) being 14. Thanks for this good post – regardless of how a parent decides to approach the dating/courtship issue, it’s critical that we are aware of the dangers of both physical AND emotional involvement before marriage. Both have permanent consequences!

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  3. Karyn
    March 22, 2012 | 9:00 am

    So beautifully written- I agree wholeheartedly – we want the same for our children – high standards physically and emotional purity. Keeping our children’s hearts is what we are working on for now as they are all under 8 – the seeds are sown early. Thanks for writing this Kim :) Love, Karyn

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  4. Jama
    March 22, 2012 | 9:28 am

    Great post. I wanted to mention a couple of resources our family has found helpful as we begin to navigate this journey as well. (Our oldest will soon be 16.) http://www.queenhomeschool.com/index.html offers excellent resources on helping teach the facts of life from a Biblical persepective. I highly recommend their “Girl to Woman” and “Boy to Man” series as well as their booklet “Baby:God’s Gift to Couples” They also have a couple of booklets on courtship. Another excellent book my daughter and I both read last summer is Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally. It spends a lot of time focusing on emotional purity.

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  5. Lindsey
    March 22, 2012 | 4:04 pm

    “To this end, any action or attitude that we would view as unacceptable behavior for two people who are married to two other people, we view as unacceptable for our single children.”

    This is the BEST BEST BEST explanation of where to draw the “line” that I have even seen…and I’ve been looking for it for 14 years, because hubby and I really struggled with this. Thank you SOOOO much!

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  6. Jen L
    March 22, 2012 | 4:24 pm

    Well done. Thank you.

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  7. Tara Swick
    March 22, 2012 | 4:40 pm

    Kimberly, I am wanting to look at an older blog of yours that you wrote before I subscribed. Is there a way to go back and look at older posts?

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Tara.

    You may find old posts a number of ways:

    - You may use search bar (located top right) to search for key words in the post.
    - You may click on any of the topics at the top of the page to view past posts in each of those categories and sub-categories.
    - You may also find a complete list of categories about half way down the page (right where the one sidebar divides into two sidebars) and click on any of those categories to find all the posts that are in each of those categories.
    - You may find a chronological listing of all the posts that I’ve written by clicking on the archives list (located right beside the ‘category’ list).

    Hope that helps.

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  8. Steph
    March 22, 2012 | 5:58 pm

    Long Distance courtship is made so much easier by skype and email. My fiance and I met in France this past summer, and began corresponding last autumn. He is Swiss, and I am American…4000 miles and a 6-hr time difference!

    Having dated before, I think that is was easier to guard my heart in a long-distance relationship than it was in close proximity. In long-distance, I found that the boundaries were so clear; we cannot just meet spontaneously, most of our communication is planned out ahead of time. Emails and letters have to be thought through before sending. On skype, we have to make the most of our time to talk with each other (as it is limited; I work all day and when I am free, it is his evening.) Because of those constraints, our conversations have been goal-driven and purposeful. We both wanted to be sure in our few months of courtship that our goals were the same, and we were both dedicated to finding out if the other person was the one we would marry.

    We didn’t practice courtship as you describe it, as both of us have already left our parents’ homes (I’m in my mid-twenties and he is several years older than I.) But we got to know each other having confidence in our Heavenly matchmaker…who else could have arranged our meeting?

    I think that is the most important key in guarding your heart: Seek the Father’s will for your whole life. He will provide – abundantly!- in His perfect time. I see His guiding hand so clearly in my life these past years, preparing me to meet the man of my dreams!

    May I recommend a verse to you and your daughters as they enter those years of singleness and waiting? “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thanks for your input. I love hearing from those who have gone through the process.

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  9. Ac
    March 22, 2012 | 9:14 pm

    This was a great post. I am curious if your standards are the same for both your sons and your daughters. I realize the commenter asked especially about girls but wasn’t sure if you felt there was a difference in expectations.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Ac.

    My answer is, ‘kind of’.

    Our physical and emotional standards are the same with this difference: when our sons are old enough to marry, we hope that they will be the one to find a girl that they’d like to pursue.

    I suppose this means that their will be more emotional involvement for the young man at an earlier point than the girl. Until our son got permission from the father, we would still encourage him to guard his heart, but we would hope that there would be something that drew him to the girl he wished to pursue. :)

    Does that make some sense?

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  10. Candice
    March 23, 2012 | 9:42 am

    I keept thinking yesterday about what you said about ‘unacceptable’ behaviors for married people, and how we don’t think a thing about those same behaviors between singles. What a great point and guideline. Thanks for taking the time to share in this busy and morning-sick time of your life!

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  11. Lori A.
    March 23, 2012 | 7:01 pm

    Very well said, thank you for putting it all out there for the world to read.

    [Reply]

  12. Shannon
    March 23, 2012 | 8:23 pm

    Yes, thank you for sharing this! My husband and I where very lucky and blessed my God to have found each other, neither of our parents had set standards or expectations, other than we expect you to not make any babies before getting married. Oh, and I had to wait until I was 16 to go out alone with a boy. YIKES.
    I new from my friends what I didn’t want to do and fall for, my kids are much more sheltered so I needed a way to approach this with them! I have three strong willed girls, and I hope for each of them, a wonderful Christian man to share a lifetime with.

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  13. Jennifer
    April 13, 2012 | 10:32 pm

    Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot was a helpful resource for our older girls (now 18 & 19), as was a couple books by Dannah Gresh (The Bride Wore White, and Secret Keeper- The Delicate Power of Modesty). Also they read through Praying for Your Future Husband by Tricia Goyer.

    Our oldest went to a Bible school last fall and a young man was interested in getting to know her, but not in ways we approved of, nor was she comfortable with as per her own standards. She stood her ground, and was the brunt of gossip among much of the guys’ dorm. Thank God, though, for the young men He has raised up who stood THEIR ground in defending her choice. It allowed her to see that her standards are not so high no young man would ever accept them.

    These years are not easy. but I’m convinced they’d be a whole lot harder with teen drama and heartbreak to deal with on a regular basis.

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  14. jul
    April 13, 2012 | 10:41 pm

    hi,
    this isn’t really about this post, but i couldn’t find another way to just email you. i have a question for you that you may or may not have an answer for. or, perhaps you know somewhere else i can direct my question.

    i am wondering where are some good larger family friendly cities/states to live in. several times when wondering, i’ve thought of your blog, so i figured i’d just go ahead and post.

    my hubby works for the army corps of engineers, and we are currently looking to transfer somewhere where our family of 8, plus who knows how many in the future, can move to. obviously looking for lower cost of living; we’d love to be able to afford land and a modest house. we’d love to live in an area that still considers children a blessing, or at least is more welcoming of larger families.

    do you have any thoughts or ideas or anywhere i can forward my question? or, perhaps, would you blog about it and solicit reader responses at some point in the near future?

    and, thank you for writing in such a way to bless many other mothers in the titus 2 spirit. i cannot tell you how long i’ve been praying for the Lord to send Godly mentors our way. and, i find it a rather dismal commentary on our times, that it’s pretty rare to find in one’s own community. but barring that (as yet we don’t have much of a community that way) i’m so grateful to have folks like yourself who will live as transparently as possible online to bless as many as you can. whenever i’m gearing back up, or in need of commraderie, i check out your site and see what you’ve been up to:)

    thanks, and may you be richly blessed.

    oh – and i don’t know what area you’re in, but having just read your food purchasing entry, i thought i’d mention azurestandard.com which is a food coop that delivers. it may just be here in the pacific northwest, but i know they drive from oregon through to montana and other states. they have lots of bulk items as well.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Jul,

    This coming Thursday will be a Q & A post and I’d like to re-post your comment and reply then. I have some things to say, but I’m sure there are others around the country who could add their thoughts about different areas.

    You may also email me any time through this page. You may find it by hovering over the ‘about’ tab at the top of the page and then clicking on the ‘contact’ button in the drop-down. I need to make that easier to find.

    [Reply]

  15. Michele
    April 14, 2012 | 11:53 am

    This is a wonderful post! As a mom of two girls, one whom is 18, and two boys, this is a frequent subject in our home. There are so many scenarios to consider, but above all we want the Lord to be our focus. If we are intent on pleasing Him, I am convinced He will work out all the small details.

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