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That Whole Dating Thing

Filed in Friendships, Parenting by on December 11, 2013

That Whole Dating Thing

To date or not to date – that is the question swirling around the minds of many conservative Christians. When I was growing up, dating for us Christians meant going to Bridgemans for a hamburger and malt – and then maybe out to a movie.

You could date someone a couple of times and decide you didn’t like them much. If you did like them, you’d keep dating them until you decided you loved them or not. If you did love them – you got married. If you decided you didn’t love them, you broke up, cried a little, and moved on to the next prospect.

It wasn’t a perfect system, but I’ll bet most of us got married using it. In our culture today, dating means making arrangements (or not) to spend the night together. I don’t think that’s the M.O. for most Christians, but that’s pretty normal behavior now in the culture at large.

After graduating from a Christian college and dating four different guys somewhat seriously, I decided I had enough of that. I remember clearly the night I knelt by my bed and gave my “dating life” to God. I told Him I was no longer going to try to find a spouse, but that I would trust Him to bring the right man into my life at the right time.

That year I met my future husband. We were both on staff with a campus ministry organization, and we ended up developing a friendship over the course of the following year, spending a lot of time together in the student group. The next summer he told me he loved me and wanted to spend his life with me. I felt the same way, and we were married the following February. I was 25 and he was almost 30.

When we started having children, I was fearful that they would grow up and make wrong choices. I spent a lot of time researching how to best protect them from the world. The whole courtship thing was starting to gain momentum, and I thought it sounded similar to what we had done. If it worked for us, it would work for all of our kids, right?

I was a very black and white thinker. I still tend to lean that way, although I have grown in leaps and bounds in this area. I haven’t really read all that much about the different courtship models (I’ve heard there are several). I guess you could say we are now winging it as life unfolds over here, trusting God one step at a time – one life at a time. Depending on Him for wisdom and discernment as the need arises.

Why am I writing about this? Our oldest son (20) met a girl in his small group at church this past spring and got to know her over the course of about 6 months. They would stay after the group was over each week and talk. And talk. And talk. It became apparent that there was a mutual interest. When we talked about “the next step,” he felt somewhat paralyzed. What was the “right” thing to do? Being a highly analytical, logical type person – he wasn’t sure. This whole emotional thing was a surprising new experience for him.

Since he didn’t know her well enough yet to make a lifetime decision, and the only way to get to know her in order to make that decision was to spend time with her – I suggested that they spend some time together outside of small group. She has come over here a couple of times. My son talked to her father – and he has spent some time at her parent’s home, where she lives.

They’ve had coffee after work. They’ve met for lunch. They have a mutual group of friends that meet for a movie night each week – so they spend time together with others. But now everyone knows that they are purposefully pursuing a relationship with each other.

Why? For recreation? For kicks? No. They are curious about whether or not they are meant for each other. They don’t know. They may not be. But until they know for sure one way or the other, they need time together. I wouldn’t call this courting. I would call this dating – in the way that I grew up thinking of the term.

I’m not really sure why I’m writing about this. I guess to simply share that I don’t have all the answers, and I think what we see unfolding is kind of special and sweet. I’m nervous. I don’t want my son to get hurt. I don’t want the girl to get hurt. Whenever we risk exposing our hearts, we risk getting hurt. I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing anymore.

My own life has not been void of pain. And yet God has always been near to me. Always been faithful. Always led me to believe that risk is right. Risk, for the right things, is worth it. You can never ultimately lose when you belong to the Creator.

I don’t want to live in fear. I don’t want to make decisions out of fear. I don’t want to live my life trying to figure out what is the “right” way or the “best” way according to another family or another author. I believe God is so much bigger than our systems and our methods.

When we make rules and draw lines of our own and then expect everyone else to build their convictions around our personal rules and lines, we play the part of God. We rob God of the glory that He deserves for doing big things in and through all kinds of people in a million different circumstances.

And that’s what I’m musing about these days when it comes to that whole dating thing.

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About the Contributor

Natalie Klejwa is a Wemmick, loved by the Woodcarver, wife of 22 years to Joe, and mother to 9 Wemmicks ages 2-20. She is a business owner (Apple Valley Natural Soap), founder and administrator of the Visionary Womanhood blog, publisher and contributing author of Three Decades of Fertility, and a contributing author of The Heart of Simplicity: Foundations for Christian Homemaking and You Can Do It Too: 25 Homeschool Families Share Their Stories. You can hear her being interviewed on Kevin Swanson's Generations with Vision radio program. Follow Natalie on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google +. View all posts by Natalie →

Comments (21)

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  1. tina says:

    Thanks for writing this post, Natalie. I understand. So much more I attempted to write but failed to articulate my thought well. All I can say is I understand. I have been learning over the past few years is that there is so much more peace letting God build the house his way that trying to keep my self built house of cards from blowing over. Enjoy the freedom sweet lady!
    tina recently posted…How to Make a Tasty SupperMy Profile

  2. Julie says:

    Thank you for being transparent on this subject. I love the book Doug Wilson wrote on this subject ‘ Her Hand in Marriage ‘ . I’ve read it a few times . When much to my great fear the boys in my family found girls. We homeschool we lived in a Lake community with 70% retired folks. So , I thought we were safe from the dreaded dating scene. They are younger than 20, but have texting power and phones. At first I was paralyzed with fear. I would make rude comments . Thankfully my husband has a bit more logic in handling boys than I do. He was gracious and patient . Then one day I was listening to Dr. R.C.Sproul , he wasn’t talking about courting , but how he met Vesta his wife in the 6 th grade . He made a bet with his friend that he would marry her some day. It was a $10 bet , for a 6 th grader and about 60 yrs ago that is a lot of money. And funny he said years later he ran into that man and asked for his $10.Our own situation seems to be panning out with the same potential . My son gels so well with her family. She gels with us all this little people in our home love her. We moved 900 miles away this past summer. What a heart wrenching situation . They keep in contact each day. He wants a solid job to prepare to take care of her . IDK, it’s just different . It may be a unique situation. I pray for safety for them both. The verse that I pray is Isaiah 52:12″For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. ” He goes before us and behind and cleans up all our messes.

  3. BigDaddy says:

    “I wouldn’t call this courting. I would call this dating – in the way that I grew up thinking of the term.”

    To me, it’s all about communication. There are many definitions of the word Dating and many definitions of the word Courting. I think that the guy and girl (and possibly their families) will need to communicate with one another about their own definitions. I prefer to use the term Courting because I don’t like the baggage that is carried with the word Dating. My own definition of Courting is something like this: Courting: Previously referred to as Dating. A Christian form of Dating that is honorable, not purely recreational and intentionally considers the possibility of marriage.

  4. Ellie Rae says:

    We all want to protect our children from the hurts we endured, don’t we?
    Ellie Rae recently posted…DOWNLOAD, “MODELING MODESTY,” BY MARY MOHLERMy Profile

  5. Lily says:

    Yes! I believe that dating/courting is great! Great until it gets to physical. Of course, a quick hug or (mostly when engaged for this one though) a peck on the cheek is fine. But when there’s a more recreational aspect to it, or it gets any farther, then it’s only harming yourself.

    • Lily says:

      sorry- hit enter!

      I dated my husband with a certain boundaries(nothing more physical than hugging or holding hands). I still call this dating; I think of courting more like the Duggar family. I don’t think I would have been so open with the family member following you around on dates, and texting in a group, but physical boundries and family consent are two big things I believe in

  6. Lauren says:

    I really love and appreciate this post. We are still a long way off from thinking through this with our children, but it is something we are already considering for them. So I appreciate your honest perspective as you recall your own dating/courting history, and walk your son through this. I feel like so many accounts I read are so very cut and dry; this was actually probably the most helpful – practical – thing I’ve read to date (no pun intended).

  7. tereza crump says:

    I did the whole dating scene and even marriage and divorce. Long story….anyway, when I finally put the whole thing in God’s hands, He brought my husband from 5000 miles away from another country to meet me. We talked for 2 hours, then the Lord told us individually that we were meant for each other. Five weeks later he came back to get me, get my parents’ blessing and take me away. A week later we got married. That was almost 13 years ago! Four children later, I tend to think that I don’t want my kids dating… I know how horrible that can get pretty quickly. But I don’t want to limit God to my story or courtship (where parents arrange the whole deal). So I am pretty much leaving it in God’s hands and waiting to see where He leads us. I do tend to think though that unless both young lady and man are able to get married (have the finance, emotional, spiritual means) they shouldn’t even be “getting to know” each other, if you know what I mean.

    I appreciate you sharing your walk with us. It’s so refreshing to be able to count on Titus2 women to “show” us the way. I will be praying that God will make your paths straight and make it peaceful. That is the one thing that is always a true marker for me if I am suppose to pursue something: I always have the peace of God in my heart, no matter how crazy the situation. :)
    tereza crump recently posted…Learning Log of October 2013My Profile

    • Good points! In this case, our son, by the grace of God, is prepared in all those ways to get married – the only part missing is the right girl. I’ll keep you posted if anything life changing develops. :)

  8. Oh, Natalie! This is so exciting! :D And this is your first one? Oh, you have no idea what wonderful blessings await you, especially if it involved grandchildren. :)

    We have two married children and two heading in that direction. All four have been different. One thing they all have in common, however, is distance. Skype, texting, and phones has made it easier to connect. In fact, our two unmarried children may be connecting a little *too* much at times, even more so than if they were in closer proximity. But, this is how the Lord is working out their marriages.

    Yes, there is fear; but, whatsoever is not of faith is sin. If our children are adults, we must give them room to seek God’s will for themselves and to make their own decisions. Our job at that point is to be their counselors. If we have built a loving and trusting relationship with them through their childhood, they will be much more open to receive that counsel.

    We have friends, however, whose kids have abandoned their parents upon adulthood and refused their counsel because they honestly believed their father would never let them marry. He was so strict and had such a strangle hold on their decisions, even through their teen years, they simply could not trust him to help them in discerning a life’s mate. It has been heartbreaking to watch.

    I’ll have to write about our experiences sometime, perhaps when it’s all over with. By then I should have a little better understanding myself. lol. :)

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Natalie. Even if it doesn’t work out, it is a blessing just to see them flexing their wings.
    Marcia Wilwerding recently posted…9 Tips For Keeping Boys Safe In the Men’s RoomMy Profile

  9. Sarah D. says:

    As long as everything is left up to God, I think you’re heading in the right direction. =) I read (somewhere, can’t remember) that dating and courting are pretty much the same thing. What most people think of when they hear “courting” is actually closer to betrothal. My husband and I had an interesting pre-marriage relationship (not to mention short!), so I can’t vouch for any dating, courting, etc. style. All we did was both of us came to a point where we let God control the outcome. After a few failed “relationships” for us both, we met (online) with no preconceived ideas but to get to know one another with the outcome, hopefully, being marriage. As all of the “old married couples” told me, you’ll know when it’s right! Funny how those “old” people are usually right… ;-)

    • LOL! So true! I enjoy hearing about married couples who “met” on the Internet. It is an interesting world we live in – and God uses various means to show His grace to us. Sometimes even the Internet!

  10. Kim Murphy says:

    Have you ever read the book by Josh Harris called I Kissed Dating Goodbye? Really good book. Gave me such a different perspective, especially since I did not grow up as a believer and dated several different guys, which did lead to a physical relationship with each of them. Honestly, the way dating worked in the 90′s and even more so today, I don’t see how, without Christ, any of the relationships wouldn’t get physical. The couples spend so much time alone. And, they even go on trips with each other…just the 2 of them. Are we supposed to assume they get 2 hotel rooms? I’m sorry, but I just can’t believe it. I feel like the word “courting” just gives some more boundaries that the 2 young people need some help with. My oldest is a 16 year old boy, so we are getting into this season. We are trying to build him up in the Lord so that in the near future he will be in a position to have a wife and family. If the Lord brings a wife early in his life, great. If not, great. But, we are not going to let him start taking girls out by himself, at 16. Nothing but trouble waiting there, if you ask me. Wow…lots to think and pray about. I should get off this computer! Thanks for this post and lots of others…:)

    • Yes, one of the things we talked about when our now 17 and 20 yo boys were in their earlier teen years is that until they were ready to get married, there was no point in getting googly eyed over a girl. It’s kind of silly and juvenile. They have both guarded their hearts, by God’s grace. Our oldest recently commented that it was a bit of a transition going from “put girls out of your head” to – “I need to be purposeful in allowing God to open that door, if He chooses.” But he seems to have made that transition nicely, in my opinion. Heh heh. Now for the next 8 kids…(tremble, tremble.).

  11. Lisa says:

    Love this… Keep the thoughts coming.