Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Girls part 2

Good morning, blog followers! Today I continue a three part series on my opinion of how Christian young men should behave and act towards girls. It should be noted that I do not claim to be an expert in this area--I interact very seldom with girls outside of my family--but I just wanted to write down my thoughts to think through my beliefs. I am entering a new season in my life where I am around girls more often, so it is important to me to be able to know how to interact with my female friends in a God-honoring way.

As I mentioned in my first post, this series is geared towards young men, so my female audience will find little they can apply to their own lives in this post. However, as I talk a lot about courtship below, you might find it a little more informative. You have my full permission to read on if you want.

Young men, read away! This post if for you.

If you missed part one of this series, you can click this link: Girls part 1

Pursuing a relationship with a girl
You guessed right: this part of my post is almost a direct result of the homeschool events we have been to lately. It is my desire to marry a young woman someday who shares my love for the Lord Jesus Christ and wants to homeschool all (twenty of) the children God gives us. You can see how such a desire effectively narrows the possible candidates to about nil—but that all changed at the homeschool events we have been to recently. I have met quite a few like-minded girls my age in the past few months, and yes, they are very beautiful, inside and out.
My dad must have seen the wide-eyed wonder on my face after the first homeschool dance we went to, because he promptly found a time to explain what was to be expected before I even thought of pursuing one of these girls. This came as somewhat of a shock to me, for I must admit that I had quite a different view on how to go about winning a young lady’s heart until that conversation. It was my rather naïve opinion but a couple of months ago that if you liked a girl, you found little ways to let her know of it, and if she returned your feelings, you could happily ask her to spend more time with you. You could even take her places if you got a car and had a driver’s license! The girl’s father didn’t factor into the whole thing (except maybe setting what time you had to get his daughter home by) until you asked him if you could marry her one night . . . after both hearts were completely given away to each other. Sure, I had heard that my parent’s strongly disapproved of young people dating, but I shrugged it off. I was a mature young person, after all, practically a man. I was about as comparable to your average public-schooled teenager as a couch potato is to a body builder. Self-esteem (A.K.A. pride) is a blinding thing.
Then I learned my dad’s view on how I should go about pursuing a girl: courtship. Now that I have had time to reflect on this view, I agree with him a hundred percent. He told me that first off I must be ready, or well on my way to being ready, to provide for a family before I seek to win a girl’s heart. Yes, I am at least several years removed from that. Secondly, I am to talk to the father before I even begin to court the girl, and he is to approve or disapprove me before his daughter’s feelings get involved. If he approves of me, the girl will then be given the choice by her father to either begin courtship or tell me to get out of town. If she returns my feelings, then we will begin the process of courtship.
Courtship excludes most any physical contact, and a chaperone is needed (check out the new “technology” to that end). It is a time for both courters to receive marital counsel and prepare for a life together. Courtship is handled much more seriously and respectfully than dating; it is rare to “break-up”—though if it is learned that the two courters are completely incompatible, then of course the relationship would be ended.
Phew, and there you have it, my friends, a condensed rundown of both a long talk with my father and some study I have done on courtship.
As I mentioned before, I now believe courtship is the way to go. There are many reasons for this, but let me just mention the first few that come to mind:
1)      Young hearts are protected
This is the most obvious reason I can think of! Courtship keeps both persons from becoming emotionally attached before they are ready to seriously pursue a relationship, which effectively limits the chances of heartbreak. Dating, on the other hand, almost seems to be synonymic with heartbreak nowadays. Kids as young as fourteen are encouraged to date, and unless you are that few and far between that actually marries that girl you liked when you were five years old (I know of only one such person), boatloads of heartbreak ensue. I am not one of those few and far between. I admit that my naïve little mind has had “crushes” on a couple of girls, and those crushes have only resulted in mild heartaches. Please, guys, save yourselves the trouble; wait till you are ready to pursue a serious relationship before you develop any feelings for a girl.
2)      Fathers love it
Yes, before that punk even dares think of pursuing his daughter, the father can effectively run him out on a rail. A loving and protective father wants the best for his daughter, and courtship allows him to give her just that. Though of course there are no perfect prospective husbands out there for his daughter (I sure hope the father I ask knows that), the father can weed out that young man playing video games and living in his parent’s basement before romantic feelings get involved and things get messy.

On a side note, please don’t think courtship is anything like an arranged marriage, for it is nothing like that. A girl is never forced by her father to marry someone she has no interest in. She still has every right to choose who she marries, save only from those her father disapproves. This is not restricting at all, for any young man a Godly father disapproves should hold no attraction anyway to his daughter. Courtship protects, not limits . . . and that is a good tie-in for my next point.
3)      You are protected from doing anything you regret before marriage
A person who will remain anonymous once shared with me something about courtship that I had never thought of before. To loosely paraphrase the speaker: “Yeah, and I think chaperones are a good idea as well, because you do weird things when you are in love.”
I agree! I have seen first-hand what this crazy emotion does to two lovers (yep, I am talking about you, Lydia and Richie ;0) ). Having a chaperone present with the two blissful romantics tones things down quite a bit, and that “weird stuff” is mostly avoided till marriage. (note: I am not saying that the "weird stuff" is bad, just that it should be mostly limited to marriage) I can’t think of a better way to put it, but I will add the paragraph below just for good measure.
The most obvious thing courtship protects against is any kind of physical relationship before marriage, of course. Courters can do little more than hold hands, and a chaperone is right there in case they think of doing anything more. I know it might be hard at times, guys, but think of how fulfilling it will be when your first real physical contact with the young woman you marry is when you kiss her on your wedding day. I can’t wait.
4)      Prepared for marriage
As I try to decide how to write the following paragraphs to describe this last point, I can’t help but smile as I remember the “brutal” boot camp my father put my brother-in-law Richie through during the beginning stages of his courtship with Lydia. On one chilly morning every week my dad would meet with Richie in the tiny confines of our camper—little more than a walk-in freezer on those cold winter mornings. They would sit across from each other in our camper’s dinette, their bibles before them on the rickety folding table, and my dad would drill Richie on every possible biblical point conceivable. I am sure they could see their own breath in the cold most of the time. Richie was committed.
In time, my dad found Richie biblically ready to lead a family, but this was not the end of the training. Both Lydia and Richie were then handed over to the pastor of our church and his wife to receive marital counseling. After several months of this, it was determined that they were as ready for marriage as they would ever be, and Richie promptly proposed to my sister.
This is how marriage should come about. It is not something that can be handled the same way you would order a cheeseburger at a fast-food restaurant. Marriage is the most important relationship you will ever have with a human, and it is not something that should be entered into lightly. Courtship is anything but a “light” way to go about marriage. So, are you ready to meet in the cold, gentlemen, and expound on every biblical point you believe in?
Of course, I am not saying that other routes never prepare a couple for marriage. There are several newly-married couples in our church who dated but received many hours of council from the elders of our church. It is my belief, however, that though courtship is not the only way to go about building a strong marriage, it is the best way.
What if they’re “cool” with dating?
What if the family of the girl you pursue stares blankly at you when you ask who the chaperone for the night is going to be? Good question. Obviously, the family has full rights to set the rules for the way they allow you to pursue a relationship with their daughter, so you can’t just impose courtship on them. If you think dating won’t provide any challenges for you (hint: it probably will), by all means go ahead. But if you are interested in cultivating a serious relationship with said girl, I would suggest you sit down with the father of the family and just talk courtship over. Explain to him the benefits you see, and ask him if he would be willing to adapt to that model for you. If you handle this the right way (think humbleness and respect), the father will not see you as overbearing, but as a young man who wants to protect his daughter. That’ll win some serious brownie points, I must say.
If you yourself don’t see a problem with dating, I respect your opinion and wish you all the best! I do not think this is an issue anybody needs to be dogmatic on. But I would seriously urge you to read over this post once more and do your own study on courtship. You might just find it more fulfilling than dating, and it might save you some heartbreak, nonetheless.
Treating her as your sister until then
So you have this girl in your social realm you really  like. You yearn for her company, but strangely, every time you are around her, you feel like your stomach has suddenly decided to shrink. Either that or you feel like you just swallowed a mouthful of butterflies—take your pick. She makes you behave in ways you yourself don’t understand, and you are convinced she is the most beautiful thing ever to walk the Earth. You would approach the girl’s father in an instant, ignoring your sweaty hands and proclaiming your love for his daughter with a rapturous glow on your face. There is only one problem: you are not ready for courtship.
How are we to treat that girl as our sister until the day we are ready? I admit that it may be hard at times; I never said it was easy. But I can give you a word of advice that my father in turn shared with me. The advice is simply this, instead of lamenting over your age and complete dependence on your family’s income, use your feelings to fuel your drive to become a self-sufficient man as soon as possible. Work hard at whatever vocation you choose and pursue it zealously. Turn it not only into your “occupational pursuit”, but your quest to win that special girl’s heart when you are ready!
Part of why I think men aren’t “growing up” these days is because they do not have this drive. They can share romantic feelings—even intimacy—with a girl before they are ready to provide for her, so why do they need to put the hard work into maturing and being able to support a family? Gentlemen, God has provided a very efficient model for us to follow; use it!
In a recent survey at a homeschool conference, my dad said that he was preparing me to be ready to marry by the age of 21-23. I am his willing student, for I too want with all my heart to be ready by then. I am determined to eagerly pursue manhood, but one question remains: are you with me, friend?
Tune in for the conclusion of this series sometime soon!


  1. I feel kind of out of place being the only commenter on this post and a girl none the less.... however I wanted to note that I thought it was pretty neat for your father, Kyle to take the time to direct you in the right way! We are so blessed to have godly parents that will steer us in the right directions!

    I think it might have been the other article (yep, my covers been blown, I read the "young men" blog posts...) where you noted about Richie and Lydia. That was pretty funny! I can see some special "siblingness" coming out there. :)

    Hope to see your family soon!
    ~S. S.

  2. Excellent posts, Kyle! Your parents are doing a great training job with you and your brothers and sisters!
    Blessings in Christ,
    Mrs Strang

  3. Hi Shiloh and Mrs. Strang,

    Not sure if you will ever see this comment, but I just realized that I never responded to these comments due to the internet fast. Thank you both so much for your encouragement! Don't worry, Shiloh, I don't mind if you read the "young men's" posts. :0)