Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Courtship


Courtship is a popular topic today, at least in the circles that I have been in. Some Christian families have been trying to move away from having their children "date". Instead, encouraging a Biblical approach where the parents are more involved and the children protected.


In a recent MOMYS (Mothers of Many Young Children, a group for moms that have four or more children under the age of eight, to sign up go here) digest, the question of logistics on the young man's side of things came up. Tina, the ever faithful moderator, added in her testimony of her experience with her oldest son, I believe her third child. I am interested in this because I don't know anyone personally who has gone this route, and with children who will eventually be of this age, I need some good information!


With Tina's permission, here is her post:


[Do you have a process in mind for your son to follow, and is he aware of it? Have you thought and talked about the differences between dating, engagement, courtship and betrothal, and what that means in your definitions?


For us, the process is:Before the young lady is aware:

1. Serious prayer time
2. Serious time with Dad about it
3. Talk to her father/parents

At that point, if the son feels led by the Holy Spirit, has his father's blessing and her parents' permission - then she would be approached. Depending on the relationships, it might be by her father first so that her father has the job of telling the son "no, thank you" on her behalf if that is her wish, and protecting her.

4. The young lady agrees that the young man may try to win her heart.
The idea is to protect her heart. She would, ideally, be unaware of any relationship until the parents were in agreement that the match was viable and had given their blessing. The goal is to protect her.
In our family, after we got through #4, our son gathered the four parents. Chris told us that he thought there were four areas in which he needed to be prepared before they were married. He said he needed to be prepared TO PROTECT, TO PROVIDE, TO LEAD AND TO LOVE.
On the coffee table, he had several small jewelry boxes.He opened the first one. In it was a silver emblem (like you would use for a 'charm' bracelet). It was a rifle and a silver disc that had a scripture verse reference on it - John 15:13. (Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.)

He gave this to her father saying, "This represents 'TO PROTECT.' When you feel that I am ready to protect your daughter, please give this back to me as your symbol that you see me ready to take the step of marriage."
The second box he opened had another silver disc with a small hammer and the silver disc with the scripture reference
1 Timothy 5:8 (But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.) He gave this to his Dad saying, "This represents 'TO PROVIDE.' When you think I am ready to provide for a wife, then please give this back to me symbolizing that you think I am ready to take the step of marriage."
The third box had another scripture and praying hands.
Ephesians 5:23 (For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. ) Chris said, "I think TO LEAD means spiritual leadership. This belongs to God, and when I feel that He is telling me that I am ready to be a spiritual leader, the ownership of it will pass to me."
There was no fourth box, "TO LOVE." He didn't have it yet and wouldn't say much about it - just got this twinkle in his eye :)
Skip took his role of preparing Chris TO PROVIDE very seriously.
Step one was a real job. Not necessarily a career, but more than part-time work or occasional work from home. Chris, being Chris, made sure he learned all about benefits, insurance, etc. etc. and settled himself into his new role as a pharmacy tech.
Next was a place to live. It needed to be a place suitable for bringing a wife to. So rooming with several guys was not the situation we were looking for, although it was the most economical. (btw, we live in a college town and were amazed to find out that the going thing here is that the landlord puts the roommates together - regardless of their gender; each has a separate lease for a bedroom in an apartment. Times have sure changed.) He found this CUTE little house that was actually a large shed renovated into a one-room bungalow. Perfect.
Then it was show that you can stick this out. The timing was good; his intended was finishing an overseas missions obligation - another 6 months in Africa while they corresponded via the internet and he focused on preparing himself in those 4 areas. It wasn't easy.
Those transitions, leaving home, leaving mom and dad and stepping into independence, the undefinable changes in relationships - even though we were all in agreement and on the same path; it was a rocky path. The changes sometimes came in fits and starts and often very emotionally. It was a GOOD thing that it wasn't happening in rebellion, and even so, it was not a smooth glide.
It was a time of much searching and preparation. Chris & Skip talked often about how do you know when you've heard from God? How do you know when it is His will? How do you know you are following and doing the right thing? (Chris is a high C - there is a right way to do things!) Skip's answer was, 'you'll know.' It's not the same for everyone, but you'll know.
As he passed his twentieth birthday, Dad began to feel like it was almost time. He prepared a certificate of achievement - PROVISION 101. (101 - you don't know everything, but you've made a good start.)It was Friday night; Chris always has dinner with us on Friday night. It is a formal meal, and Skip takes the time to lay hands on each of us and say a blessing on us. That Friday Chris was late. We were waiting. I called him and he said, "I'm having a wonderful time with the Lord." Well, of course, we'd wait, right? So, we waited and he eventually showed up for dinner.
When Skip got around to bless Chris, he slid the certificate in front of him, on his plate under his face where his eyes were closed and his head was bowed. On the certificate was the jewelry box. Chris heard it and opened his eyes. He was overcome when he realized what it was, and stepped away from the table for a few minutes.
It was a happy meal, and then it was over and Chris was leaving. He came back in the house and took his Dad aside privately. He was late arriving tonight, he said, because he was having a great time with God. And on the way over in the car, he thought God had told him, "It's time." Time for what? He wasn't clear, didn't know for sure.
But he was so amazed, that once his Dad had given him the "TO PROVIDE" charm, Chris realized that God had also given him the "TO LEAD" charm. And the sequence of events - to hear from God and then the confirmation of receiving Dad's charm - to confirm that he really HAD heard from God...and then the excitement of earning/receiving TWO charms in one night! That was a happy time!!!
Only a few days later he was on a plane :) Once he had the 4 charms, then they could move to engagement. He had two. Her father had promised to give him the TO PROTECT charm when he had the others. Jerry wanted to be the last line of defense in front of his daughter.
After Thanksgiving dinner with her family and friends (about 30 people), Chris pulled out another jewelry box. This had a heart charm in it. The scripture disc reference is Eph :25 (Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her) He gave it to Stephani telling her, if you take this, it means you think I am ready TO LOVE you for the rest of my life. She took it :)
At that point, another fellow passed Chris the engagement ring that Chris had purchased (high C's take HOURS AND HOURS to choose rings!) and Chris got down on one knee in front her her family and friends and proposed. :)
We were in agreement with her parents that a short engagement period was advantageous in helping them keep physical temptations from becoming overwhelming. Three months later (one month of which we were out of the country), they were married.
Following Dave Ramsey's baby steps, they seem to be doing just fine financially even though they are not earning high dollar jobs. They are trusting the Lord to lead them in this journey.
That was a long way of saying this, when you say your son is not ready to be married. Are you all clear on what is needful for him to be ready? Surrendering to another's authority to decide when one is 'ready' is a huge thing; I think it really helped to have an idea of what 'ready' meant. Knowing clearly what the goals were probably made it more concrete for Chris to choose to stay under authority and continue to press on toward the goal and the prize, as he could see in himself those areas of maturity developing because it was clear what was being looked for.
One thing that blessed all of us, and continues to be a blessing, is that they did not kiss until they had been pronounced man and wife. That was very very special, and we have oodles of photographs of it :) It gives good weight to their testimony and they are able to be an encouragement to others, I think, by sharing it.http://chrisandsteph.wordpress.com/Tina]


Thanks Tina!
*a little disclaimer here - I just can't get the paragraphs to have spaces in between for some reason, this isn't how Tina sent it out, so I apologize to her.*

3 comments:

Tara said...

Ok, I'll go back and read this post later. First I have to say...

YOU HAVE A BLOG AND YOU DIDN'T TELL ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, you did just now, but not like back when you started it!

SO YAY! I am so happy you did this, now I can keep tabs on ya.

We miss it back there and Kev often talks about Randy and how much he learned from him and how much he enjoyed just sitting and listening to him.

Thanks for being our friends, even for the short time that it was.

Lanita said...

Jennifer,
Great post. I think I will share this with my Son. Do you think Tina would mind me putting this on my blog?

Lanita

Chris said...

And I'm happy to be married to an incredibly sweet, gorgeous, wonderful young lady; definitely worth the effort. :-)