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Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

I was reading this item by Al Mohler, about how pop music no longer talks about marriage. This got me thinking about relationships involving the opposite sex in general, and how they have changed, even within my short lifetime. As a teenager, even as a homeschooler, I knew that in the secular world, you were supposed to be in a dating relationship. However, by today’s standards, dating seems quaint and old fashioned. The culture seems to have gone more and more in the direction of directionless relationships. Even ten years ago (1997 was TEN years ago?), you were supposed to get into at least a dating relationship when you liked a girl – sex came as a benefit of at least a modicum of commitment, although obviously not the level of commitment that God calls for with regards to sex. Now, in just ten years, sex is much less tied to relationship. The phrase “friends with benefits” is a sort of code for “we really aren’t committed to anything more than friendship, but we’re having sex.”

The interesting thing is that now, there is really no socially accepted model to get to know the opposite sex – it is a social free for all now. The book title “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” is almost out of date now, replaced by “I stopped hooking up with every girl I met”.

This makes a decision for courtship a little bet less strange, I think. After all, even though involving her parents will be seen as weird, it is really no better or worse than what everyone else is doing, right?

I’d like to see in a few years how people ARE getting into marriages. How does dating figure into all of this? Is there a stage where people start getting more serious, and get more formal in a relationship? How does the world decide on who they will marry in this hook up culture? I really don’t know the answer to these questions, but they are interesting issues to follow in the days to come.

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I’ve been meaning to post this one of a long time, but I never got around to finishing it, and then life intervened. So, here we go:

Brando, I have to agree with your wisdom of years about courtship, but I must say I have the 1Up on you in terms of teaching. I was recently at The Quest, a Sovereign Grace Men’s conference about biblical masculinity. One of the breakouts I attended was by Bob Kauflin and was about–what do you know–courtship!

So since I’m clearly oh-so-qualified to talk on the subject, here are my two cents:

First off–I’m rather annoyed by the aversion to the words “boyfriend/girlfriend.” They’re not vulgur (heck, they’re not even “strong” language in my book). So why are people–especially those from Sovereign Grace–so afraid to use the term? I think sometimes there is almost a stigma at Sovereign Grace churches to say “hey, you should come up with new terms to describe old things.” I don’t see a problem with calling the process of getting to know somone who may become your spouse a boyfriend/girlfriend.

Also, I think many singles now view courtship as some sort of system that always ends in marriage and is always painless. This is definitely not the case. My sister entered a courtship, and it ended up with the two parting ways saying that no, marriage to that person was not what God had in mind for them. This blew my mind from the thinking that courtship is “pre-marriage” in the same sense that engagement is. The entire idea of courtship is to say “maybe God would have us marry. Let’s find out if that’s the case by learning more about each other and growing closer.” If at any time either person feels that it will not work, then the courtship can be broken, and there should be no surprise on the part of any observers if that happens.

Am I saying courtship can be painful? Yes! It involves making yourself vulnerable in the most tender way, in a place where your heart is the most soft and apt to be broken. That’s why flippant dating is so dangerous. It’s taking something meant to be such a close part of every living person and turns it into something to be joked about, something to be reckless with.

But does that mean that the process of courtship could end in failure? Of course! So it could be painful and end in failure. It involves the most vulnerable place in human beings. So why seek a spouse? It’s simple; to get something valuable, you must make yourself vulnerable. To get close friends, you have to open yourself up. I would never give up my close friends for the reason that I might get hurt because I am being open and making myself vulnerable. How much more so with marriage! The path of marriage is full of open vulnerability.

First I make myself totally vulnerable when I approach a girl’s dad and ask for permission to court. Then I ask her, again, making myself totally vulnerable and open to being hurt. Next I ask for her hand in marriage (which makes me totally open to being hurt and denied for the third time).

Finally–but this one lasts the longest–comes the vulnerability of marriage. This one could probably be considered the toughest (I haven’t been there, but I would guess so), because it is continual vulnerability. However, with each increasing vulnerability comes increased intimacy and joy from knowing someone else so closely. Just as a friend is so much sweeter than an aquaintance, so a married couple’s relationship is (I’m sure) so much more fulfilling than that of a friend.

Of course, sin comes in as well, and no marriage is without difficulty. That’s also part of the investment.

I feel totally like a fish out of water when commenting on marriage, so I think I’ll bow out right about now.

Chris

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We’ve been talking about purity in church recently (my church – my brother is in a different one, and I’m not sure what they are talking about right now). This has me thinking about relationships, and how Christian young people should go about them. I’m a bit further along with my thinking about this, being how I’ve experienced more of life than Chris, but both of us are facing decisions about how we are going to pursue marriage. Both of us have been brought up on Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, the whole nine yards. The interesting thing is that, while Harris’ books talk about eliminating purposeless dating, they really don’t have a system about how to approach relationships. Boy Meets Girl talks about pursuing marriage in a purposeful manner, but it doesn’t really say much about specifics on courtship – basically, it says that our parents should be involved if possible, and that marriage should be in view when we begin our relationships. We don’t see much in the way of defining courtship, and it has taken on this very serious state in my circles.

I wonder if we have sort have exulted this word “courtship”, so that when someone says it, you assume that the relationship is on the cusp of engagement. In fact, I’ve seen godly couples avoid the word courtship because of the way those around them would react to it. Also, I’ve seen the avoidance of the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”, again, to root out the casual nature of typical dating, and I’m not sure we have better words to describe the early stages of a relationship. Again, I’ve seen godly couples use those words in a godly way. What is important in a guy/girl relationship? What essentials should we shoot for?

I think that we should make sure that a relationship is God focused, first of all. A relationship will fail if we don’t focus on God first and foremost. Secondly, we need to have a purpose – open ended relationships that are pursued “because they feel good” are not helpful. Third, I agree with involvement by parents – after all, they’ve been there before. However, I wonder if we sort of ratchet up expectations on relationships before they have time to naturally blossom, and thus quench relationship with unrealistic expectations. My hope is that regardless, I will be able to pursue marriage in a God glorifying way – what’s important isn’t what people around me think, but what God thinks about a relationship.

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