Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Love and marriage

An old and dear friend called this weekend, ecstatic. It seems her daughter Chelsea has met the man of her dreams and the young couple has recently become engaged.

Chelsea is a mere 20 years old.

Now normally, if I heard that someone barely out of her teens was engaged to be married, I would advise extreme caution and suggest they put on the brakes for, oh, six or seven years. By their late twenties, most women usually have the maturity to recognize the characteristics in a man which meet their criteria for a happy marriage. But at 20? Not a chance.

But Chelsea isn’t like most of the young women to whom I would give this counsel. Chelsea has been homeschooled her whole life. She was raised with strong biblical beliefs, and part of those beliefs includes embracing her future role as a wife and mother. By avoiding the peer pressure of public schools, those beliefs have not been watered down or skewed in any way.

And what about Ben, her fiancĂ©? He is 24 years old, a homeschool and college graduate, and gainfully employed. His religious beliefs are similar to Chelsea’s.

As I see it, when young people approach the serious subject of a life-long commitment from a similar foundation of rock-solid morals, their chances of a happy and successful married life increase exponentially.

But far too few young people do that, or even know how. In today’s culture, hooking up is the norm. Chastity is not. Serial marriages are the norm. Half-century marriages are not.

Some of the reasons I have no concerns about Chelsea and Ben’s future happiness are as follows:

• She and Ben, needless to say, are virgins. They have no sordid history of partners where physical intimacy was achieved before learning the other person’s last name. There is no trail of broken hearts – theirs or others – stretching behind them.  Nor are they blinded to each others' faults by lust.

• Both Chelsea and Ben have their priorities in the right place. Whether or not you agree with their choices (for Ben to support Chelsea as a stay-at-home mom), the important thing is they agree. Chelsea’s interest in being the keeper of the home means their home will become the sanctuary it is meant to be.

• To that end, Ben did not seek out the prospects of marriage, even though he was in love with Chelsea, until he was certain he could provide for her physical needs. He is a talented musician with sixty students and a long waiting list. He knows he can support a wife and children.

• They have a mutual and rock-solid faith which cements them together.

• Ben had enough respect for Chelsea to seek out the blessings of her parents. He spent time with her family to get to know everyone and assure them his intentions were honorable. Yeah sure, those words might come straight out of Jane Austen, but can you deny they will contribute to the happiness and security of the young couple?

In other words, folks, Ben courted Chelsea.  I would say courtship is a far better and more mature way to approach marriage than dating.

Courtship is a concept that has fallen by the wayside over the past century, but it’s beginning to make a comeback because young people are rejecting the feel-good permissiveness that has ruined entire generations. The societal repercussions of dating are obvious.

But courtship is a whole different ball of wax. Besides the obvious deferral of physical gratification, courtship implies a respectful intent to join lives within the boundaries of God-sanctioned matrimony. Rather than the frenzied, haphazard dating that so often results in heartbreak and ruin, courtship brings forth joy, esteem, values, and common sense. Young people get to know their intended’s families, knowing full well they must receive the blessings of the others’ parents before proceeding. To earn that blessing, of course, the young man or woman must be a worthy recipient.

In my friend’s case, Ben spent a great deal of time in discussion with Chelsea’s parents, earnestly describing his situation: moral, financial, spiritual, etc. He outlined his expectations of what he would contribute to a marriage. He earned first the respect, then the love, then the blessing of Chelsea’s parents. This ensures Chelsea and Ben will not start out their married life with baggage from unhappy and uncooperative family members. It’s not just the starry-eyed physical attraction that is bringing Chelsea and Ben together; it’s the practical reality of how they want their married life to unfold.

Some people may squawk that this kind of courtship is old-fashioned and repressive. Old-fashioned, of course. Repressive? Hardly. For purposes of clarity, Chelsea will walk down the aisle on her wedding day, wearing white and deserving it. How many other young women her age aren’t walking down the aisle at all, but instead are rolling in the sack with a succession of virtual strangers and calling it liberated? Who do you think has the better prospects for long-term happiness, stability, and peace?

This is all well and good, but what about a young person who is interested in courting but can’t find anyone worthy?

Young men who want to court are often appalled by the quality of women available, women who have spent their formative years learning to bare their bodies in suggestive ways and indulge in behavior guaranteed to lead to heartbreak and misery. These women often consider their careers to be paramount, they believe men are expendable, and they believe children should be put in daycare at the earliest opportunity to be “socialized.”

Young women who want to court are often appalled by the quality of men available, men who only want to (cough) sow their wild oats without reaping what they’re sowing. They have no intention of stopping their adolescent proclivities and less interest in taking on mature responsibilities as husbands, fathers, and providers for their family.

So what are pure young people to do? It is unquestionably a dilemma. But I know one thing: if a young man were to approach my husband and me with the intention of courting (rather than dating) one of our daughters, I would be thrilled.

That’s why it’s such a lovely blessing when two of these lucky souls meet and marry. I wish Chelsea and her fiancĂ© Ben the greatest possible happiness in life.


  1. Interesting that you've brought this subject up. I have been thinking about relationships and marriage a lot lately. I divorced two years ago. It crushed me even though it was my choice to leave. I was one of the young people that "hooked up" and then dated. I wasn't grounded in faith then either. From my own experience, I can say that I agree with your perspective 100%! Had I "courted" my ex, I would have discovered that we weren't meant to be married, just good friends.

    Thank you for everything you do! I visit this blog daily, and it always does my heart good!

    Bless you and your family!


  2. This could not have been a more welcome or timely post, Patrice.

    I've just come from reading a story in the L.A. Times (linked from Drudge for anyone interested)about how a federal bankruptcy judge has declared the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional.

    Yes, you read right. A bankruptcy judge. Oh, but there's more.

    As we know, Attorney General Holder has refused to defend it, and he's asked the courts to subject the DOMA to a more rigorous Constitutional analysis than had been applied in the past,(BTW... Is that kosher? historians among us here, what say ye?)

    So the House of Representatives has said it will defend the Act, and was granted a two week extension to respond to the bankruptcy matter above declaring the act unconstitutional. But the House never filed its response.

    So where were the House conservatives?
    Who's minding the store?

    Hence, this delightful and touching story of Ben and Chelsea was just what I needed and right on time!

    THIS is the real deal in America.

    God bless this young couple as they step forth and begin their life together.

    Thank you again, Patrice.

    A. McSp

  3. Hmmmm, maybe some of us similarly-minded parents should get an online registry going......we have 6 young men and 3 young ladies who we hope will eventually get married, and we don't "do" dating either.....
    Lol. :-D

  4. Great post! More people need to hear about courtship. I know that I am raising my daughters and son the same way. You should see the *far away looks* I get when I try to explain courtship.

    Here is a blog that shows how one couple went about their courtship.

    It's an awesome blog!

    Have a blessed day in THE LORD!

    Matthew 6:33

  5. It is very encouraging to young people starting there lives off on the right foot. Life is hard enough under "normal" circumstances. I can't imagine bringing the baggage of heartbreak and mistrust to a sacred relationship that is intended for life. My wife and I got married at what many would consider to be too young of an age. I was barely 21and she was 24. We will be celebrating our 11th. Anniversary the end of this month. I attribute the success of our relationship to our upbringing as we both had Godly parents who invested time in our physical and spiritual lives, by home schooling us and by instilling in us a solid biblical foundation on which build our lives.
    I pray that God will bless this young couple as God has blessed us.

    our lives. We were also home schooled

  6. Amen! It's SO nice to see you post about this!

    I too am committed to wait for my husband till marriage, and don't intend to date.

    Congrats to Chelsea and Ben!


  7. They sound absolutely precious. Praise God for this relationship.
    I agree with your thoughts 100%!!


  8. Great post! As a father of three boys, I hope to bring them up differently than the rest of the world would expect.
    There's a great youtube video by a fellow Lutheran pastor that says this same thing - it's really worth a watch!

  9. My beloved husband and I are about to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We met, courted, and married in 8 months. :)

    May God bless the union of this already blessed couple!

  10. Glad to see this! I'd already begun talking with my kids (son 11 and daughter 8) about this.


  11. What a beautiful post! I wish my kids (18yr dd, 16 yr ds, and 11yr ds) could find their mate through courtship. People in our area look at you like you're crazy if you mention it. Where are the young men who respect and cherish women and aren't afraid to be men? Where are the young ladies who don't dress like "hootchy mamas" and who want to be wives and mothers?

  12. Great post. Both my husband and I had dated before, but when we met each other, we both had the sense that it was supposed to be something more permanent than that. We met May 25, 2006 and were engaged that September. I still had a year of school to finish, so we got married June 2, 2007. Yes, it was fast, and yes, we were young (I was 21, he was 24), but I can honestly was that the decision to marry him was the one decision in my life where I know with absolute certainty that I made the right choice. When you're ready, you're ready, and we were.

    Congrats to Chelsea and Ben. I wish them every imaginable happiness. Also, congrats to your friend for raising such a wise daughter.

  13. Thank you for posting this, my daughter who is 18 is "courting" a young man right now. She chose this way. Which her dad and I are very proud of her decision. We also homeschooled, so a lot of our family thinks we are out there anyways. So now the family thinks that she isn't allowed to go on a dated, they think that we are the ones saying this. But she wants to do what God wants her to do, it is very important to her to make him happy and not the world. I am going to make sure that she reads this, just so that it gives her somemore encouragment that she is doing the right thing. She does have a few friends that believe in courtship but most not, and she doesn't care, she knows what is right for her.
    Congratulations to Chelsea and Ben, may God bless.
    Thanks again,
    Kim in OK

  14. I am homeschooled and have wonderful parents who are training me up in the Lord daily. My mom and I love hearing about stuff like this and talking about it together with high hopes and prayers for my future.

    I'm so encouraged to hear about this couple! I don't run across them too often. I plan on courting one day when the Lord introduces me to the special young man He's planned for me, and I am eager for the day when we vow to live our lives together with Christ as the center.

    May God lavish Ben and Chelsea with his blessings for many, many years to come!!

  15. Courtship is great for the small percentage of the population that's in a position to do it. More power to them.

    However, I'm pretty darned sure, considering my own situation back in my single days, that if I had "kissed dating goodbye", as so many urged me to do, I would never have gotten married.

    Certainly, purposeless dating -- or dating with sinful purpose -- is wrong. But the strictures of the courtship movement represent an overcorrection IMHO, one that can have the effect of preventing people from getting married.

    Excerpting from a prior post of mine on this topic...

    "Courtship philosophy presumes (without realizing that it presumes), that you grew up in church and that you and your family have a lifetime’s worth of social connections there. What is a young-adult convert supposed to do, coming from an unchurched family and therefore lacking this social infrastructure?.... non-believing parents are no help in courtship; there’s nobody else at church who knows them well enough...."

    Love the blog... found it recently. This is the ONLY topic we disagree on.

  16. Just because a woman is not a virgin does not mean she sleeps with strangers, it is in fact very rare for this do happen. Why don't you try berating men for sexually harassing strangers, which is much more common. I'd much rather have sexual freedom (and I'm a virgin anyway) than "deserve" to wear white on my wedding day.

    1. With attitude like that I have no problem believing that you are still a virgin.

    2. That's a great reply, thankfully I don't need the sexual desire of men to validate my self esteem, although if I wanted to lose my virginity I assure you that I could have.