Generation Cedar

I sparked this dating discussion with thoughts about waiting until marriage to kiss; the heart of the matter, though, has little to do with kissing, but rather taking a whole new look at the error of the cultural dating system, why it’s flawed and understanding the alternative.

Several commenters already hit on this important point–THE point of the discussion:

Dating doesn’t even have a place among people who aren’t ready for marriage.

I know, bizarre statement in our culture. “Dating” (a relatively new term in  America) was originally a way two people got to know each other in the context of families to see if there was potential for marriage. Parents observed the potential spouse, stopped some before they ever approached, and helped guide their children through the hazards/benefits they saw in the potential partner. The actual idea of recreational dating–dating at 14, 15, 16 years of age “just because”–as a mere hobby–is absurd if anyone will take the time to think it through.

Often I get the response, “Right…and I’m so sure you can convince your children of that.” Or, “if you *make* your kids do that they will rebel”.

Another grave misunderstanding about the whole thing. When children are raised with the idea that recreational dating is, well, dumb and worse–harmful, it’s not a forced idea; they embrace it for themselves, much like any other idea you are diligent to teach your children.

We aren’t talking about “arranged marriage” either.  We’re talking about parents being involved in one of the most important decisions in the life of their children, just like they’ve been involved (hopefully) in the other ones.  It would seem only logical, and yet we’ve been convinced it’s “meddling” (???)

And, although we want a  “how-to-manual” for the alternative, I don’t think it’s a formula…I think it’s a principle, that will look different in possibly every situation.

And that principle basically says you spend your youth developing your skills, your character, your interests and gifts–preparing for what the Lord has for you as an adult.  You do NOT spend it in intimate relationships with people who will one day be complete strangers to you.  That in no way prepares a person for marriage, and as we’ve discussed, can actually bring detriment.

When a young person is of the age he or she is considering marriage, prayerful consideration is the first important step.  Trusting that God will honor those who seek Him for a marital partner is key.

Then as families come into your family’s life, people get to know each other–in a real way, not just in a “dating facade”.  As interests are expressed, the parents and son or daughter can have objective discussions about compatibility and potential problems, without a blind, emotional screen.

I plead with Christian parents to really think about this thing.  Who should be dictating the method by which we escort our children into the most important institution on earth?

Believe God…trust HIM to guide this crucial process.  The alternative is trusting the culture’s method.  With its track record, who in their right mind would continue to gamble on it?

From the archives:

I posted about the courtship stories of two of our dear friends…if you haven’t read them, they’re quite inspiring!

A Story That Must Be Told:  Lucy and Cody

Happily Ever After:  Melissa and Justin

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45 Responses

  1. Have you stopped to consider that if you’d done (or shall we say NOT done) all this, your oldest daughter wouldn’t exist? 😉

  2. MOD,

    That kind of reasoning is absurd. Of course I’m so very thankful for her; that doesn’t justify sin (and she knows it)–ever. God’s grace turned the result of my sin into something beautiful and I’m humbled by that; but He doesn’t say “Go ahead, disobey Me, and I’ll make it all right”.

  3. I didn’t say that. LOL. I said, your mistake made your daughter.

    In other words, our experiences/mistakes make us who we are. Does that mean that we shouldn’t be careful of making them? Of course we should. I don’t like making mistakes. But I know that mine have added up to my life, and I like my life. It sounds like you like yours as well. Why not let your children breathe a little? 😉

  4. MOD,

    You truly don’t get it, and I’m sorry. Our children breathe plenty–they inhale the life of obedience to a God who loves them and has given them a plan to keep them from unnecessary heartache and pain. As a parent, my job is to show them that plan–day and night. God’s ways are not oppressive or restrictive–I only wish you could experience this freedom we speak of.

  5. This principle that is woven throughout Scripture is another way we(Christians) reflect Christ to the world. The Bride prepared and pure waiting for her Groom! Just like Christ who was misunderstood and crucified by those who should have seen who He was this too will be misunderstood by those who have not ears to hear and eyes to see. What a humbling joy it is to pray that we all daily see and understand the truth of God’s Word! Freedom in Christ is the only REAL freedom that exists. Thank you Kelly for being willing to talk of these important things even when misunderstood. Blessings, jen in al

  6. I’m still undecided on issues such as this, although my husband and I saved our first kiss for marriage, we did a lot of other things we regret. It certainly doesn’t make us righteous or holy just because we saved the first kiss, although some people somehow think that is admirable. They just don’t know what else happened.

    I come from a different culture, in a different country. Where I come from, the courtship model is seen as “a conservative Christian American cultural thing”. I know many people from home who have dated righteously and were completely pure when they got married. I honestly don’t see the courtship model as “the Biblical way” or anything, especially when rules such as the 6-inch rule or whatever are imposed.

    When my husband asked my dad if he was ok with us dating, my dad said sure, but he had one request: that we did NOT use the courtship model. I really see courtship as just chaperoned dating anyway, so not that much of a difference. My dad said that he brought me up to believe the right thing, and now that I was an adult I needed to be “tested” to see if I’d do the right thing. He didn’t want to be breathing over my shoulder (I didn’t live at home anyway) or have someone else doing it in his place. He said our relationship was none of anyone else’s business.

    My dad didn’t screen my husband. Why? He trusted me, as a grown adult, to make the right choice.

    I don’t agree with dating too young, we should only do it when we could be ready for marriage very soon, however I also don’t agree with chaperones, 6-inch rules, and the like. Teach your children what is right and then show them some trust now and again.

    I think a lot of the courtship mentality comes from parents who didn’t do the right thing, so they think that because they didn’t, there is no way their child will unless they have “help”.

    By the way, I have seen some “successful courtship” end in VERY bad ways.

    So anyhow, I’ve still got mixed feelings on this. But that’s ok. We’ll probably know more what we want to teach a bit later, our boys are still babies right now.

  7. Mrs. W.

    One thought about something your Dad said (not intended to dishonor him)…

    “My dad said that he brought me up to believe the right thing, and now that I was an adult I needed to be “tested” to see if I’d do the right thing.”

    My husband “believes the right thing”. But do you think either of us think it would be a good idea for him to head off to a hotel room with a prostitute to be “tested to see if he’d do the right thing”?

    Dating, as our culture knows it, is a temptation we wouldn’t place on ourselves after married.

    I’m suggesting we help our children with the same accountability we expect in ourselves and spouses.

  8. FYI…

    I made an addition to the bottom of the post including my two favorite courtship stories (from the archives) of some of our dear friends–very worth the read!

  9. Interesting discussion. One thing that I think is often left out is that God designed people to be ready for marraige at a far younger age than is socially acceptable in our society. Women were always married in their early teens and men in later teens or twenties, when they were able to provide for their family. We see from the modern dating trend that God designed “for-marraige only” hormones to come out at these times. Waiting until your twenties or thirties to be married is what is unnatural. I’m not sure what the practical solution is, though.

  10. I had a long and profound 🙂 comment all typed up, and it vanished when I clicked submit. Blasted!

    Trying again with a shorter version:

    I agree with the spirit of your post kelly, but I also agree with Mrs. W’s point. When my daughter is 22 and says she’s meeting her potential husband for lunch at say, Outback Steakhouse, I will trust her that she’s going there and not to a local motel. Does she need to be followed to ensure her purity? Further, if there is sin in her heart, so what if I pull out all the stops tp keep her body untouched? My ultimate desire for my children is eternal security, and I can’t make that decision for them.

    For the record, we do NOT believe in casual dating and will not allow it for our minor children so long as they are under our roof. As I said in response to your first post, I believe kissing is foreplay and kids shouldn’t be engaged in that behavior.

    Lastly, I didn’t think your example of your husband in a hotel with a harlot as a relevant example to the point Mrs. W raised. That is inviting temptation, yes. And why should any man, especially a married one be in a hotel room with any woman other than his wife? But that is an entirely separate issue from two, God-loving, single people spending time together in a non-threatening atmosphere (like the lunch I alluded to) without a chaperone present.

    I hope I make sense since I had to condense my thoughts. Hope the second time’s the charm!

  11. Terry,

    Thanks for your thoughts…just to clarify, I’ve not said anything blatantly (I don’t think) about “how” to handle courtship–I haven’t mentioned chaperoning and in fact said that each family would do things differently, and each circumstance would look different.

    I personally think there is a fine line between some of the details of courtship; I could envision my trusting my children to go out on a lunch date unchaperoned; but I think that repetitive dates by themselves–movies, etc. is setting themselves up for temptation, which is what I was alluding to in my example of the married man.

    There are just situations where it is unwise to “test ourselves” if the temptation can be avoided altogether.

    I also believe that the context of families together is the best way for people to get to REALLY know each other anyway, so I would think is wise to spend the bulk of time that way.

    Hope that makes sense.

  12. Terry,

    BTW, I meant to say I completely agree with the point that “if there is sin in her heart what good will it do to guard her body”…but along the same lines as I mentioned earlier, I still think we are often too trusting of our own sin natures–that one that dwells even in the child of God, which is why He tells us to “flee the very appearance of evil”.

    Discernment is definitely in order.

  13. Yes, yes, yes! I know I’ve been a bit of a devil’s advocate on the kissing issue (at least, where engaged couples are concerned), but this I agree with 100%, Kelly!

    Even though my husband and I did what we called “dating”, we really weren’t. We didn’t have a courtship like we would like for our children, because we were at university 3,000 mi from my family and 1,000 mi from his. But, we had accountability partners and mentors who acted in the capacity of our parents (who, incidentally, think courtships are freakish and wouldn’t have been much help, anyway). And, we went into it knowing that we were getting to know each other with the intent to be married. We actually broke up for awhile in our freshman year when we thought that, perhaps, we really weren’t meant to be spouses, and went back to being friends. Eventually, God showed us that He had different plans, and of course, we were very grateful 🙂

    Maybe it’s just our personalities, but neither of us would have ever been happy with “casual dating,” just for fun or to “try things out.” Even with parents who were TELLING us to live together before marriage, to make sure we really wanted it, we just shook our heads in disbelief. And, not just because of sexual issues. Why should we try each other out at 20 and expect it to tell us what life will be like another 20 years down the road? It’s just foolishness. Our relationship was built on Christ and on principles, not on emotions. It’s one the reasons I was able to weather my parents’ divorce (which happened simultaneously with my engagement/first year of marriage) without any misgivings. We CHOSE each other; we didn’t just fall in love–though, of course, we are that, too 🙂

    ~Bethany

  14. “Often I get the response, “Right…and I’m so sure you can convince your children of that.” Or, “if you *make* your kids do that they will rebel”.

    Another grave misunderstanding about the whole thing. When children are raised with the idea that recreational dating is, well, dumb and worse–harmful, it’s not a forced idea; they embrace it for themselves, much like any other idea you are diligent to teach your children.”

    So far, I haven’t had to “make” my children do (or not do) anything. They think that casual dating at their ages (13,16, and 18) is absurd. While I did try to plant the seeds early that we wouldn’t be dating in our family, I actuallly haven’t discussed this with them very much. They can see for themselves what modern culture has to offer, and they aren’t interested. They all plan to marry some day should God bring them spouses, but for now they have better things to do with their time (education, travel, volunteering) than getting entangled in romantic relationships. They each know they have things to do to prepare themselves before they would be ready for the commitment that even a boyfriend/girlfriend would require, let alone marriage. For the record, I’m a proponent of young marriage, should the two people in question be mature enough (And if the fellow has a job!), so this is not about having them not date until they’re 30. It’s just that kids can see for themselves that modern dating has some serious drawbacks. None of them is willing to risk their future marrige for the temporary ‘fun’ of dating. (Anyone remember dating? It wasn’t that much fun!)

  15. Emily wrote:
    “Women were always married in their early teens and men in later teens or twenties, when they were able to provide for their family”
    – I’ve heard this for years, but don’t see a support for this in the Bible. Maybe in a few occasions, but not a rule. Where are the ages mentioned? Where was Boaz’s first wife? Where was David’s? Couldn’t he have supported a wife on the income of the king’s favorite, most in-demand musician? Where were the apostles’ wives? Fishermen couldn’t support wives? They owned their own boats for crying out loud. Where is this coming from (I ask sincerely)? Besides, The point of being a Christian is conforming ourselves to Christ. So a woman might want to get married at 20, but if the men around her aren’t feeling so led to marriage then what’s she to do? She can’t conform them to Christ. So she has to wait. My point is not pro or anti kissing, just to say – if it’s wrong, age is no factor. If it’s not wrong, being grown isn’t a factor either.

    MOD – Yes, our mistakes make us. But sometimes only because we were so ill-informed or plain stupid/stubborn that we had to learn the hard way. That’s not really a good thing, one to strive for (that’s being a fool, I think). America is a nice place to live. Our mistakes have made us what it is. But that in no way is a support for chattel slavery of Africans, or concentration encampment of Japanese. I am very thankful for those friends of my who happen to be decended from slaves. I’m pretty sure each one of them likes living in and being citizens of the USA. I am not thankful that slavery was a part of our history. If something is wrong, it’s wrong (and harmful!) no matter what the eventual outcome is.

  16. The courtship stories are pretty and all, but I shudder to think of who I might have married if anyone, including my father, had chosen my husband for me. And I’ve seen some of the inside…these “beautiful courtships” turn into horrible marriages because the couple didn’t really love one another, the father loved the boy is more like it.

  17. Mrs. W.,

    I think you may still be confused about what “courtship” is, or at least more defensive than is necessary. With these ladies, and many others I know, their fathers did NOT “choose” their husbands. In fact, there were several men who came along interested before, and the daughters were not. End of story there.

    It’s not at all choosing, but simply guiding and helping. For example, if a young man were to be interested in our daughter, instead of his taking the liberty to just ask her out, he would ask my husband first. Let’s say that we KNEW this young man wasn’t a Christian, or had major conflicting interests than our daughter, or whatever. My husband serves as the “screen” before she even has to deal with it.

    However, if a man IS interested who we get to know and approve, if our daughter doesn’t like him, it’s a no-go.

    And there’s a lot in between like when a young woman simply depends on the wisdom of her father to help her think through the process, ow when a father can see huge potential problems and is able to point it out. Don’t think we’re talking arranged marriages here…that’s what gives the anti-dating model such a bad rap 😉

  18. Mrs. W.,

    I forgot to add…I KNOW there are bad examples of courtship, just like there are bad examples of homeshcooling. In my opinion, a few bad examples never rule out a *good* principle. If that were true, what would be the point in even raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? I know families who have done so and their children are lost. But still, we press on toward seeking God’s best for our children.

  19. I’m not sure if I am agreeing with the comment made about God designed people to marry young, and that being married in your 20’s and 30’s is “unnatural.” I didn’t get married until I was 36 years old (2 1/2 months short of my 37th birthday). Does that make me “unnatural?” If God is the one who decides when a couple is ready to get married, I hardly believe that age has much to do with it. Yes, I wanted to get married earlier, but that’s not what happened.

    It probably didn’t happen early because I didn’t believe in the typical recreational dating model (although my parents didn’t totally object to it). I thought it pointless just to go from one young man to the next to get your heart broken. I thought, “What’s the point of that?” I wanted someone real who took marriage seriously, who loved me for who I was, not just because I “looked cool.” And to think I was thinking along these lines before I knew a “courtship model” even existed . . .

    Another thing I have observed after reading some of the comments on this blog regarding courtship vs. dating is that some feel that a courtship marriage is somehow “better” and “more holy” than a marriage that was made by people who were “just dating.” Yes, I have read several several successful courtship stories (and I will continue to read them when I can) that have turned into beautiful marriages, and I don’t doubt that they are blessed. However, I have also read about beautiful stories about couples coming together that did not follow the “courtship model” who were also blessed. I truly believe that God brings godly couples together, and however it is done, it is truly beautiful.

    The reason I am saying this is because I am NOT going to be made to feel guilty or less holy because I didn’t have a courtship marriage, and neither should anyone else. No one is truly righteous or perfect, and just because a couple abstained 100% before marriage doesn’t make them more holy or better than a couple who did not.

    Courtship and dating are just words; they mean different things to different people. It’s not so much the words but about taking relationships seriously; rather one calls is a courtship or dating (not recreational dating, but dating for marriage purposes).

  20. “some feel that a courtship marriage is somehow “better” and “more holy” than a marriage that was made by people who were “just dating.” “…

    Sorry you got this feeling from comments–I can’t speak for anyone else, but the post was not intended to make people feel bad–I think most all of us reading probably followed a more typical mode of dating than what is being discussed here.

    I think we are just trying to make the same point you did–that it’s pointless to jump from one relationship to the next without any intention of marriage–at least that was my big point 😉

  21. Well, not to be all sacreligious but the first time I saw my future husband I thought: Wow, that guy is HOT!

    And that was long before I thought: wow, he has a great walk with God!

    My parents believed in courting, not dating. But they also trusted us. We became good friends and spent a lot of time in groups and at family gatherings.

    Eventually I blurted out that I thought he was TOTALLY AWESOME and that I liked him.

    And he responded by saying: I wanna ask your Dad if I can marry you.

    LOL! So it worked out. I trusted my parents and they trusted me and here we are 11 years later still happily married with 5 kids.

    All this to say, I agree with Kelly’s main points. But I also know that sometimes you can’t stop the heat, baby. You can guide and encourage and set boundaries, but man oh man, I’m glad my parents didn’t stand in the way. Or choose.

    However, my husband did say later on that they made him “run the gauntlet.”

    LOL. And btw, I still think he’s smokin’ HOT!

    LOL.

    😀

  22. Elizabeth,

    You crack me up! I get the point. And actually, that’s exactly how I decided on my husband–hotness. However I was not walking with the Lord at all. God’s grace is astounding.

  23. A family member who knew both me and the man who would eventually become my husband introduced us to each other. Almost 20 years and five children later guess what??? She was right!
    Of course, not everyone is blessed to be in a situation like that, but the point is, it does happen.
    Also, I’d like to point out that honesty and humility are so very important. I would like to think that if we are really honest and humble enough to admit where we could have trusted God more but didn’t, our children will be more receptive to the perspective we have to offer. I like the point that one of the posters made about her children being aware of what the world has to offer, but rejecting it. That also takes honesty.
    Kelly, I really wish that folks would consider the ENTIRE point that you’re making-that ideally, love, respect, marriage, etc. are conversations that go on from when children are very young until the time they are faced with these choices. It’s not like the child turns 12 and you suddenly say “Okay, you’re not going to even look at a guy/girl until we check them out. Period.”

  24. Kelly,

    I’m sorry if my comment offended you. I was probably a little “over the top” and I apologize. This hasn’t been a good week for me, and I’m sure my sour attitude came out in my last post.

    Yes, I did get your point regarding the pointless process of recreational dating.

    Mrs. Lady Sofia

  25. Great discussion. I missed the first post that seems to have started it all – I’ll have to go back to read it. I agree that courtship does not come in a neat, little package where one size fits all. There are, however, some basic ingredients that need to be present: parents who are involved in the lives of their children & young people raised with biblical convictions regarding BOTH physical AND emotional purity prior to marriage. Those two pieces of the puzzle are a must.

    All the ‘what-ifs’ come down to evaluating our trust in God’s ability to provide godly spouses for our children – without test driving several candidates ahead of time.

    Actually, it is my experience that the greatest pressure to conform to the world’s way of recreational dating comes from fellow christians!

  26. Kelly- I know you’re primarily writing this post to Christian parents, but what would you say to those who (like myself when I was still single) have parents who DISapprove of courtship and ENCOURAGE their children to recreationally date and even live together before marriage? I think my husband and I did a pretty good job with what we have, but we would never have had an opportunity at courtship; it just wasn’t in the hand God dealt us. Just curious about your thoughts.
    ~Bethany

  27. Kelly, if I can make a comment on Emily’s point about marriageable age:

    While I certainly appreciate Mrs. Lady Sophia’s point about there being no Biblical proof to indicate that marrying younger is more natural, and I also agree that God’s plan for each of us is unique and dynamic, the biological evidence is quite clear.

    This culture has basically created a sysstem whereby childhood lasts well into the twenties, which is incidentally the time when men are most virile and women are most fertile. It stands to reason that it would be most matural to marry during the time when the possibility of procreation is at its peak.

    I believe this issue is one the church needs to address rather than adapting the attitude of the surrounding culture because it is a major factor as it relates to temptation, immorality, and maintaining sexual purity. We need to raise our children in such a way that they are mature enough to handle marrigae at 20 instead of teaching them to wait until they are 30. I was 22 and my husband was 20 when we married. I often wonder if we would have made it had we been 30 and set in our own ways rather than young and open to becoming one flesh.

    Again, I agree with Mrs. Sophia’s point, I just also happen to believe that late marriage should be the exception among believers, and then it should be clearly according to God’s leading rather than the culture.

  28. Oh, I meant to say one more thing Kelly concerning our dialogue about ciourtship:

    I agree with you that getting to know one another is best achieved in the context of families interacting. Too many young people make this decision without enough parental input, and they also need to see their intended interacting with their own family as well.

    But, I also think that some private conversations before marriage are an absolute MUST. I know you didn’t say otherwise, but I’ve read some courtship models that leave almost no room for a couple to be alone at all before the wedding and I think I’d want my daughter to know that her intended is just as kind and considerate to her when her father and I are not watching as he is when we are.

  29. Terry,

    Well said–I agree too, regarding the age factor. It’s another one of those things I think we’ve just blindly accepted as normal, when all biological evidence points otherwise. And like you said, of course there are exceptions. But we shouldn’t be teaching “wait for marriage”, but raising our children to be mature and adapted if the Lord leads them and be open to earlier marrying.

  30. I have been trying to decide whether to weigh in on this conversation.

    I was home schooled and graduated from 14 years ago. This was when Courtship and Bill Gothard’s ideas were starting to grow in popularity within our home school group.

    Many of my peers “courted” and several of them have had very successful marriages. But many of them have not. I dated and I dated the same boy for all of high school. We dated with the intention of getting married one day. He asked my dad if we could date and we had a very sweet and pure relationship. We ended up not getting married but what I learned from my relationship with him was priceless. Our parents were involved with our relationship and because of that we felt accountable to them even when we were alone. They never told us not to kiss or hold hands. We were taught to honor ourselves and each other. I think that my parents did a great job of preparing me for my future relationships as a very young girl. Even when I dated in college it was always with then intention of finding a spouse. Because I didn’t hold onto a relationship that I didn’t think had a future I ended up with allot of friends. The 1st week I met my husband I took him to my parents house to meet the family. Not because they “made” me but because I truly wanted their input. At 22 they trusted me to make my own decisions but I didn’t want to without their approval.

    I really did date with marriage in mind my whole life but I also had a few kisses before I met my husband. So I said all of this to say that I commend you for preparing your children so early but I feel that when the focus is put on kissing sometimes the heart is ignored. If you instill in your sons and daughters the desire for a soul mate and show them how to make those decisions for themselves they will reward you with a mature outlook. It is about so much more than kissing.

  31. FOR LORI (WHOSE COMMENT DIDN’T POST)

    Terry, since you brought it up again, I think we should make a very clear distinctions between bilical law and natural law (for the sake of clarity for everyone, not specifically you). I addressed Emily’s specific assertion by quote about biblical rule (law), and Mrs. LS addressed the concept, which alluded to natural law.
    First off, I would like to say that I agree fully with your advise to raise children to be ready for marriage from a young age. I think it is wise, and it is detrimental to set up false expectiations to a child to say he/she has to jump through x socially approved hoops (higher edu for example) before marriage, just because.
    Emily is either 1) referring to a passage about marriage rule that I am aware about (in which case I asked for the reference), or
    2) Using some form of natural law and attributing it to the Bible, or
    3) Just repeating something she’s heard but never verified.
    If it’s 2, then she shouldn’t be attributing it to the Bible, to God’s mouth. Natural law is jsut that – natural, and like nature, is fallen. Please don’t take natural or biological reasoning and say “God said”. That’s extra-biblical, and is misrepresenting God himself. It sounds very strong, please keep in mind that I type this with no sense of indignation, only concern – and genuine curiousity if it reall is in the Bible.
    If we want to go with natural law – Emily said the girls “were always married in their early teens”, but according to nature a girl’s pelvic bones are not even solidified (therefore able to carry a baby to term in many cases) until mid to late teens. Again, just going by natural law and bioligical reasoning here. Also, from one generation to the next the age of onset of menses can change drastically. In my mom’s generation it was mid teens, which alone would negate Emily’s assertion.
    My point again is that natural law is naturally flawed. Not worthless, but flawed. And we must not take personal suspicions and say “God said”.

  32. Kyla Jean,

    “when the focus is put on kissing sometimes the heart is ignored.”

    Agreed, which is why I named the post “It’s not really about kissing” It is absolutely a heart matter…hands down.

    While I’m at it, I was thinking last night about how thankful I am that this issue is such an important one in my 15-year-old daughter’s heart. When I was 15, my thoughts toward dating and boys were atrocious–it consumed me.

    With quite little talking about it from us (just an understanding from the beginning that recreational dating is not OK), she has adopted a very strong desire for purity and waiting for romantic relationships until she’s ready for marriage. Unlike some may assume, we don’t “beat her over the head with it” or even say “this is what you’re going to do”. It’s totally something the Lord has planted in her heart. If we were to suddenly tell her we decided she needed to date before marriage, she’d fall over dead, I think.

    Kyla Jean,

    “when the focus is put on kissing sometimes the heart is ignored.”

    Agreed, which is why I named the post “It’s not really about kissing” 😉 It is absolutely a heart matter…hands down.

    While I’m at it, I was thinking last night about how thankful I am that this issue is such an important one is my 15-year-old daughter’s heart. When I was 15, my thoughts toward dating and boys was atrocious–it consumed me.

    With quite little talking about it from us (just an understanding from the beginning that recreational dating is not OK), she has adopted a very strong desire for purity and waiting for romantic relationships until she’s ready for marriage. Unlike some may assume, we don’t “beat her over the head with it” or even say “this is what you’re going to do”. It’s totally her. If we were to suddenly tell her we decided she needed to date before marriage, she’d fall over dead, I think.

  33. Your daughter sounds like a wise 15 year old!

    I was glad that you titled this post what you did. I had not commented on the other post because I don’t have the same convictions as kissing. But this was a post I could really relate to!

  34. Thank you Kelly, for posting my comment (btw, I meant “I am not aware about”), and thank you for addressing this topic. Whether someone comes out strictly against kissing outside of marriage or just against recreational kissing, it is a topic to few people even give any thought whatsoever to (IMO). So thanks!

  35. Lori,

    I had to go back and read my comment because if I had said what you implied I’d said, you’d be 100% right. However, nowhere did I say that natural law was to be held up as an indication of a Biblical law. I never said that. I simply stated the obvious: that we have been created biologically in a way that would indicate that we should marry earlier rather than later, especially if we plan to have families.

    As for the idea that natural law is no indication of Biblical truth I submit Paul’s words from Romans 1:

    “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…”

    Natural evidence does speak to us, according to Scripture.

    Still, I am NOT saying that everyone HAS to marry young, but I do believe it should probably be the norm.

  36. Oh, I hope this is my last comment, Kelly, but one more thing, Lori. I DO NOT think girls should be marrying in their early teens. I have four daughters in their early teens and the though of them marrying now makes me shudder! I was simply referring to the cultural trend, largely held up as natural law, that says people shouldn’t even consider marriage before their late 20’s or early 30’s. I think it does a disservice to our kids to teach them that maturity is unattainable (and marriage is unsustainable) at a young age. That is ultimately the message they are getting and it trains them to live unrestrained lives until they reach the “magic age of maturity”.

  37. Terry, thanks for the clarification. Since you specifically referenced Emily, I wanted to address her points as well. So I was pointing out her argument, not yours. I realize that I said “Please don’t take…” I meant that as imperative for all people, not you personally. That was really vague in the context, I apologize.

    You wrote: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…”

    Natural evidence does speak to us, according to Scripture.”

    It does, that is correct. It indicts us of idolotry (“that they should be without excuse” v.20). But it dosen’t reveal enough in and of itself as to the proper way to serve. Because our reason is fallen along with the rest of our person. It is not completely reliable in religious issues, except where supported by scripture. This is why God gave us the scripture.

    My point is that the two, biblical and natural law, are different. So it is one thing to say as a matter of opinion, “God designed” (Emily) and another to say essentially “this is how it was done in the Bible”. And even that in itself is not a mandate unless mandated explicitly. Like in the Bible people never drove cars anywhere, but it has no bearing on whether or not we should. Not that anyone here implied that, I’m just trying to be explicit about biblical happens-to-be and biblical mandate. And frankly, I’m still not convinced about the ages of the supposed “happens to be” of marriage in the Bible. I’d still honestly like some references. I’m really curious.

    Biblical law is revealed, inspired.
    Natural law is muddled through, and fallen.

    I too agree that young marriage “should probably be the norm,” and like you wouldn’t say it has to be that way.

  38. COMMENT FROM BETHANY…

    “Natural law is muddled through, and fallen.” For the sake of discussion, I am confused by this statement. To me, natural laws are those things which are, by definition, completely clear and unassailable–designed by God to keep our world turning the way that it does (for example, linking sex with procreation or the laws which govern our weather systems). Certainly, our understanding of these laws grows and fluxes as our knowledge of them grows and changes, and we don’t always do the “right” things with our knowledge of them. But, I don’t think the natural laws of God, in and of themselves, can be muddled or fallen. That would deny His power over these laws, wouldn’t it?”

  39. Bethany,

    Your question…

    “what would you say to those who (like myself when I was still single) have parents who DISapprove of courtship and ENCOURAGE their children to recreationally date and even live together before marriage?”

    My first thought is that it is REALLY rare that young people would have enough wisdom (as you apparently did) to recognize the silliness of recreational dating with parents who encourage it. If a person finds himself in this situation, at least a parent can’t “force” his child to date. I would just advise them to explain to their parents what their ideas about dating are (providing them with any convincing “back up” material”) and then just pursue the course. Obviously this changes the way it “looks” if parents aren’t on board, but at least an individual can make the decision not to date without the express permission of his parents.

  40. Natural Law – according to Wikipedia – “a theory that posits the existence of a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore has validity everywhere” Basically it’s a reliance on reason to decipher everything based on observation.

    So if we’re talking about physics or math, then I have no objection. But that’s not what we’re talking about here, but morality. And Aristotle would also have included morality in his definition.

    Think in the Declaration of Independence: Do you hold “truths to be self-evident” (natural law) or divinely revealed (divine, and in our case, biblical law) and if so, where?

    Let’s talk about sex. The issue becomes very clear. We could say that according to natural law, homosexuality is wrong, becuase it is against the self-evident uses of anatomy, and because it inhibits the propogation of the species. Well, we (christians) should say, “Who cares? God was clear in the Bible as to his intentions about sex.” Besides, according to natural law, monogomy is also foolish, and we’re seeing more and more people taking this line of thought. But again, we christians should be responding “who cares? God was explicit.” And the truth is, there are some abberant examples of homosexuality in nature, but that’s irrelevant. Nature is also fallen.

    We do have reason, and should use it. It is one of the ways in which our character reflects God’s image. Our reason was created perfect, if finite. However, when Adam and Eve rebelled in the garden every part of our being was tainted with sin and death. Our reason was not exempted. So while our reason still functions, it is very imperfect. And it absolutely must be submitted to God’s word.

    “the natural laws of God, in and of themselves, can (not) be muddled or fallen. That would deny His power over these laws, wouldn’t it?””

    So to answer your question, yes they can be fallen, and our understanding can be muddled. All nature fell(Romans 8). It does not deny God’s power over laws because since Christ conquered sin and death, God has been progressively expanding his kingdom. (this is another whole can of theoligical worms these days. Feel free to e-mail me about this)

    Hopefully this is some clarification. 🙂

  41. OK, I’m thinking you’ve brought up two forms of laws: natural law, and laws of science/physical laws. Natural law relies upon reason. Physical laws (say, gravity or thermodynamics) are laws whether or not we understand. You don’t have to understand gravity and the related rules and equations to know that if you jump off a building, you will probably die.

    Incedentally, my opinions of natural versus divine or biblical law are not necessarily those taught by the RC church a la Thomas Aquinas. Even Evangelical greats such as RC Sproul rely on natural law in debate (and it causes them great harm when stood next to atheist strong-arms like Richard Dawkins).

  42. Hi Kelly! Great post today (as always)…My hubby and I are embracing this biblical principle for our family as well. Our kiddos are young: 4, 2, and 1 but I was wondering if you have any good reading that goes along with this topic. Something encouraging with examples of personal courtships as well as the “how to” aspect of teaching it to our little ones. Maybe you mentioned it and I missed it…if so, I’m sorry! I have very limited time on the computer so I haven’t perused all the comments/ posts related to this topic 😉 Thank you!

    In Christ,
    Kris

  43. Kris,

    Yes, other stories and examples are crucial, I think, when we’re walking counter-culturally 😉
    I mentioned Josh Harris’ book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” as a pretty good overview and balanced look at what’s wrong with dating.

    There are lots of resources on-line and you can read courtship stories (besides the 2 I posted)here:

    http://ylcf.org/courtship-stories/

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