Home dating/courtship Why Christians Should be Appalled at the Dating System

Why Christians Should be Appalled at the Dating System

by Kelly Crawford

I promised in a recent post that I would write again about why I think Christians should be appalled at the system of dating.  It’s a difficult post.  There are many points and rabbit trails I’m tempted to follow.  Here, though, I’ll try to stick to the one, over-arching problem I see with our current dating system.

What’s it for?

It’s not just that the practice is faulty, though it is, or that other practices don’t have flaws, because they do, it’s our fundamental understanding that is wrong.

Dating came from a practice whose purpose was to find a marriage partner.  That’s the whole point.  How did we arrive, then, at encouraging our young people to date and then acting shocked if they talk of marrying before the age of 25?  We expect our 14 year old to become romantically involved with someone and fully expect that they will NOT get married.  We commit parental schizophrenia!

What’s really normal?

In this process we not only permit but encourage our children to commit adultery-like behavior that will follow them into marriage.  What I mean is that our daughter is somebody’s wife, even when she’s young.  Our son is someone’s husband. As Scripture clearly uses language in describing Christ and the church we get a picture of what is expected on the wedding day–a spotless bride.  That is, at the altar, for centuries, it was fully expected that the two getting married had never been romantically involved with anyone else.  This is normal.  What we have now is brand new, and certainly not normal; it’s just all we know in our short life spans.

Forget the fact that by embracing the dating system we submit our children to larger-than-life temptations, the likes of which we wouldn’t permit ourselves to endure, and waste enormous time and energy that should otherwise be spent preparing them for life and marriage.  They aren’t even supposed to be thinking in the direction of romance until they’re ready to get married.

If you are reading and haven’t given the concept of dating much thought, I challenge you to ask yourself a few questions:

1. What is the purpose for allowing my children to date?

2.  Is that purpose working to better prepare them to be a husband or wife?

3.  Can a mother and father present their daughter at the wedding altar and “give this woman” if they haven’t “kept” her throughout her preparations for becoming a wife?

4.  Does dating allow a person to come wholly to his or her spouse?

You may be interested in the other articles I’ve written on dating and courtship which are listed in the “categories” drop-down menu in the side bar.

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Alyssa A. May 7, 2010 - 1:00 am

My husband was a product of the dating system, partly because he was the product of the public school system (and by God’s grace he survived public school to become a Godly man). Though he did not sin physically, he feels that since he did casually date he gave away parts of his heart. He said to me many times, “I wish you had been the only one, it wasn’t worth the pain to date other girls in
the past.”

And I have to agree with him from my own experience… You give away your heart when you date, even if you don’t sin physically.
Your heart should be only for your intended!

Lauren May 7, 2010 - 3:50 am

I ‘came into my own’ faith as a teenager in a church almost entirely populated with older teens and adults, so we had REALLY good teaching on dating and relationships.

As a result- I married my first boyfriend when we were 20. Neither of us wanted to date until we were ready to marry and that’s what we did. We also have received two children from God in our first three years of marriage. I expect that my life looks different, weird, or even ‘irresponsible’ to the outside world- but it saddens me that many Christians see it that way too.

Jacinda May 7, 2010 - 5:49 am

My sister and I have received many comments-even from “friends” that our Dad brainwashed us into letting him pick our marriage partner. Nothing could be farther from the truth. By practicing the biblical courtship model in our family and having our Dad involved in our relationship from the very beginning and blessing us with his approval, I could marry with confidence at 18, fully aware that “we’re in it for the long haul.”

It’s been a year and a half and we have a sweet little daughter. I am so thankful my parents cared enough to teach me about physical purity and guarding your heart. I don’t know how a couple can do it on their own. I am definitely not strong enough for that!

What a blessing it is to be able to marry the first person you “fall in love” with and know that it’s not because you look good, feel good, or for what they can get out of it.

We found that the more open and honest we were with our parents about our relationship, even our struggles to keep to our commitment not to kiss until we were married, the more privileges they allowed us to have.

When a father is involved in your relationship like my Dad was in ours, it’s not because he’s trying to brainwash you into letting him pick your marriage partner. The choice is still yours. He just wants to make sure that you don’t get hurt, that your heart (as well as your body) is saved for your husband, and that you marry in the Lord.

Liz May 7, 2010 - 6:45 am

Lauren, I married at 20, and now 14 years later, I still get occasional remarks that I married too young. From relatives and friends who are Christians. People seem to think you are uneducated or somehow backward when you marry young.

There have been struggles, for sure, but I don’t think being young was the cause. Every marriage will have it’s good times and bad.

Sarah May 7, 2010 - 7:52 am

#4: Dating does NOT allow the persons involved to come wholly to their spouse, in my experience. I came broken and scarred to my husband and he the same, but a little less so. I had dated 25+ men by the time I got married at 24. Had a sexual relationship with probably 75% of them and was encouraged by my ignorant “Christian” mother to “play the field” and not get married too young. Boy what a mistake. I will never put that on my child and encourage them to keep pure for the spouse God has already chosen for them. I would have preferred to marry young than go through the heartbreak and spiritual and emotional damage I did to myself.

Kim M May 7, 2010 - 9:01 am

I love what you said about spending that time preparing for marriage. Most people feel that the teenage years are meant for goofing off, so they miss out on the best training years of life.

Dinah May 7, 2010 - 11:05 am

I couldn’t agree more. I’m also married to my first and only boyfriend, after a good courtship.
After going through the experience, there is one thing that I really feel strongly about.P arents should be really proactive in teaching their children about how to behave in a relationship, and what is expected, *when they are young.* I don’t think that age 18 is when to start training your daughters about courtship.
This way, parents aren’t the jailers, keeping their daughters from going out with the wrong men, but rather are there to advise and to encourage, as the daughter makes choices (yes, by herself) that she knows are right.

Kelly L May 7, 2010 - 11:33 am

Such well made points! I agree completely. “The Princess and the Kiss” is an awesome book to give a picture to the girls while they are young and old along this vein. My daughter not only loves it, but sees the bad characteristic the princes in the book exemplified in the lives of real people or characters in other mediums. Not that te book is the only teacher, but it is a nice illustration that seems to stick with the kids since it is audio and visual and tactile all at once…

Kristina May 7, 2010 - 11:40 am

My oldest three children are a product of the public school system and they would each atest to the tremendous pressure to be involved in an intimate relationship with the opposite sex(although currently there are also openly same-sex relationships in the school). In our “ignorance” as Christian parents and putting confidence in the counsel of weak Christians, my husband and I allowed our daughters to date. They both believe the dating system is NOT God honoring and prefer a courtship. The Lord has revealed much truth to us through our errors and what we have learned will be a blessing to us all, especially our younger children.

At 20 years of age, my oldest daughter was given in marriage to a wonderful Christian man. However, there were many negative comments about her marrying too young. I tried to remind those nay-sayers that if other young couples waited for marriage to consumate their relationships, 20 years olds would not seem so young to get married. It would be the norm!

sarah May 7, 2010 - 11:52 am

Amen! I wish I had known these things when I was young. I was just thinking yesterday how silly I was about guys as a teenager and early young adult. I’m trying to plant the seeds of a desire for God’s choice in a mate in my little ones now. Hopefully they will be spared the heartbreak that I experienced. By the way, I still remember the link you had a few years ago to the song that a sweet little boy recorded for his future wife. Is that still around?

Word Warrior May 7, 2010 - 12:56 pm


So encouraging to see God move in your family!

Amanda May 7, 2010 - 1:01 pm

At my grandmother’s funeral dinner, one of my great-aunt’s asked my daughter if she was dating anyone. I looked at her with such an appalled look and said, “no, we don’t do that.” My aunt said, “well, she’s 15 isn’t she?”

My daughter later told me that she’s had a number of people ask her that. It had never entered my mind!! We live such a different life. Yes, I was dating at that age and want to protect my children from this very destructive lifestyle.

Word Warrior May 7, 2010 - 1:04 pm


An excellent point you made…I may have to do an entire post on it.

“if other young couples waited for marriage to consummate their relationships, 20 years olds would not seem so young to get married.”

We don’t think about that, but, marrying younger was much more normal when it was expected that you remained a virgin until marriage. God designed it such that people would naturally desire marriage, largely prompted by their physical urgings. Since the dating system allows young people to “awaken love” before time, marriage means something different altogether and is not so nearly desired.

Becky May 7, 2010 - 2:12 pm

I married at 21, right out of college. My husband was the only man I’d ever “dated” or kissed, but he’d been married once before when he was overseas in the military. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t make me feel self-conscious sometimes, thinking that maybe he compares me to his first wife. It hurts.

Mary May 7, 2010 - 2:15 pm

You had a great point about putting young people in situations of temptations that we would not put ourselves in. It really stuck a cord ! I never thought of it that way !!

As married people(25 years, one husband)
we would never permit the temptation of “innocent” interaction with the opposite sex because the potential sin it could lead to.

So why would anyone allow their children/young adults to face that powerful temptation ?It seems like parents are setting them up for failure without realizing the damage it causes.

My husband works for an organization where opposite sex going to lunch is “normal” for married and unmarried. Most of the people have been divorced and many have found second spouses at work.One divorced his first wife and went on to find three more different “wives” through work.It is very sad.

Linda May 7, 2010 - 3:33 pm

I guess I’ll have to be the lonely dissenter here! I dated several wonderful young men in high school and college, and feel that getting to know them prepared me to make a better decision about who and when God wanted me to marry. My husband and I became friends in later life with some of these men and their spouses. I don’t feel that I’m missing pieces of my heart that were given to these men– love is not given to us in limited supply. I must say, however, that I was raised to evaluate my relationships very carefully, and never to enter into any relationship in which my boyfriend and I did not treat each other with dignity and respect. We were not promiscuous, though we were affectionate. Perhaps that’s the key?

Word Warrior May 7, 2010 - 4:17 pm


My belief is that experience is one thing and a determination of what is right or wrong based on PRINCIPAL is another. As Christians, we are to choose right principles, even if the outcome isn’t what we had hoped.

Certainly experience is important and I would submit blaringly so in this discussion as your “good” one is outnumbered exponentially by the tragic ones.

By experience alone, I would say you were spared the common heartache in spite of your dating involvement, and parents would do well to see that experience teaches us that 9 times out of 10 dating has destructive results.

Again, though, if every experience was a good one I would maintain that the principal of dating is inherently wrong.

Kaye May 7, 2010 - 6:08 pm

Another one who isn’t damaged by past dating-nor is my husband….nor anyone I know for that matter. Oh and ‘relationships’ does not = sex or even sin of any sort.

Kelly, I am guessing you do not know what a biased sample is?

Jacinda May 7, 2010 - 7:32 pm


It’s only by the grace of God that any of our marriages can work out-wether we came to that union through the dating system or through the biblical model of courtship.

Yet, God also tells us that we “reap what we sow,” and that the father is the Protector of his family (daughters included). A daughter is always (ought to be anyway) under his protection until he passes that headship over to her husband on their wedding day.

Whether your 16 or 26, he is still called to protect you, and as girls we are to be submissive to the limits/involvement he places on a budding relationship. It wasn’t always easy to heed his advice and many times I actually wished that we could “make our own decisions.”

Thankfully God knew ahead of time how blind we were to the temptation that encircled us wherever we were as a twitter-pated, naive, unmarried couple.

Parents know that if you’re going to play with fire, you’re bound to get burned. By setting guidelines, they were pulling our hands away instead of letting us find out the hard way. For which I am extremely grateful.

MamaHen May 7, 2010 - 8:41 pm

Amen Sister! 🙂

I did the typical dating scenarios in high school and some of college (until I met my hubby) and I think about all the time I wasted dating. I did have fun at times, but I could have had all that same fun with friends. I went through about 5 mini-divorces with my so-called boyfriends and all that time did nothing to prepare me for my husband.

Word Warrior May 7, 2010 - 9:37 pm


Though I studied it in college, common sense would tell me that a “biased sample” is when a sample of people are considered instead of a whole, causing “bias” in your conclusions.

Though I don’t see how it pertains to this subject. The effects of dating are seen widely and openly across the board. Christians, non-Christians, local, in the media, personal experience, observations of friends, family and acquaintances. There are few “good” experiences (and that is a relative term that I could argue) sprinkled here and there amid the majority (proven by statistics) of sexually-active and if not emotionally attached young couples. Dating robs young people of valuable time and energy, AT BEST, and pre-mature involvement at worst, physical or not. (I didn’t even mention “sex” in the post…there are many adulterated behaviors that aren’t physical.)

My impulse is to say that one’s definition of what is harmful or not has a big bearing in this discussion. If you “don’t know anyone” who was damaged by a dating experience, I assure you, we define “damage” differently. That, or many people don’t connect the damage to the dating source.

I remember a friend pouring out her “wisdom” to me while we debated this very subject. She belabored her point about “dating prepared me to be a better wife” ad nauseum. Six months later she was divorced from her husband of 17 years. Oh, and she looked up her ex-boyfriend right after.

Yes, just an experience, but my point is, just because we *think* our dating experience was good, doesn’t necessarily make it so.

I default back to my earlier comment that good or bad experiences matter little; principal is the question for Christians, and I maintain that biblically and traditionally we have a wealth of reasons to steer us away from the modern dating system.

Kaye May 7, 2010 - 10:34 pm

Jacinda and Kelly, my parents were not Christian and had no desire to try to control me after I became an adult. I am thankful for that. What do I need ‘protection’ from? Thinking for myself seems to be the general fear. I have many fundie friends who are literally terrified that their kids will *horrors* think and they can’t have that! Funny how I grew up in a non christian home, went to a public school, dated, went to college, and lived by myself yet I am still very strong in my faith. It survived harsh judgment and severe thought, it went through fire- yet here I am!

Such a shame you do not believe genuine faith can withstand questions and evaluation. I don’t believe faith is real unless it is put to the test. Otherwise it is blind ‘obedience’ and that is NOT what God calls for! We must have a logical faith. Paul calls it an apologeia, and that includes having the spiritual maturity to acknowledge that we do not have all the answers.

When my daughter grows up she, too, will be allowed to venture out into the world and fly. I have no fears because I am fully confident that she is being raised with a real and deep love for God. She is a unique individual who God dearly loves and has laid intense passions on her heart. I want her to see God’s obvious calling in her life come to fruition.

You have this idea that love is limited and that we give parts of ourselves away…we don’t. If that was true how could you love your 5th child as much as you love your first? Our love does not come in a limited supply!

I never walked away from a relationship ‘damaged’ – your definition of- A bit sad, yes, but that isn’t damaged. I learned a bit more about myself and what I wanted out of a husband and life in general out of each relationship. Each of the guys I dated pointed me to God in their own way and each played a hand in who I am today and bringing me to my wonderful husband.

If you want to use the ‘they dated then divorced’ line I can point to many people who ‘courted’ and are now divorced. I can tell you that women’s shelters are full of women from fundementally religious marriages- more than those in mainstream belief systems. I know this because I have worked women’s shelters in four states for many, many years.

Finally because this isn’t my first circus,
I have a deep and abiding faith in God and God alone. If you think you have to do XY and Z to be ‘christian’ then you have so missed the point of the grace God gives. My heart breaks for those caught up in the ‘rules’ that they have to go to man made extremes. It isn’t the life that God desires for us. We were not delivered from the laws of sin and death to be chained to the tyranny of religion. Christ has set me free, indeed. I pray that you and others come to a full understanding of the deep and wide and eternal love of God. One who allows hope and freedom not fear and rules.

Grace, simple grace. Jesus plus nothing. Everything else is a lie from Satan.

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Word Warrior May 7, 2010 - 11:38 pm


Your sympathy is distasteful and unwarranted. You are apparently reacting to some deeper “issue with fundies” and not the matter at hand.

You said: “Such a shame you do not believe genuine faith can withstand questions and evaluation.”

This statement is unfounded. No where in the post or in commenting have we suggested that faith cannot withstand questions.

You said:

“When my daughter grows up she, too, will be allowed to venture out into the world and fly.”

So will mine! We’re talking about dating in this post at ages of 13, 14 and such. That’s not “grown up”, or at least we don’t treat it like that (we are not expecting them to marry at that age). We’re talking about preparing them for the very flying we expect. It is not a biblical standard though, that we are supposed to shove them into temptations. If you read the Bible, really, you will see that. We are ALL supposed to be fleeing from the appearance of evil, shunning what is evil, cleaving to what is good. That’s not a “fundie” thing. It’s a Christian thing.

You said:

“If you think you have to do XY and Z to be ‘christian’ then you have so missed the point of the grace God gives.”

We aren’t setting rules here at all (please cite the rule I’ve laid down here that so offends). I addressed a CLEAR problem that even many non-Christians are willing to admit. Recreational dating isn’t productive for anyone. That’s not a rule. THat’s common sense all by itself, even without biblical principles.

What breaks my heart is those who are blinded by a false grace that seems to paint Jesus as someone who doesn’t care about the way we live or choices we make. Such grace crucifies Him all over again.

Careful with “everything else is a lie”. Jesus is our redemption. Our redemption is complete so we are free to obey. (If you love Me you will obey…) Obey what?

He gives us principles for living. If He did not, He would be a cruel God.

He is much more loving a parent than we are, and yet we give guidelines and standards and principles by which our children are kept safe. Our God does the same for us. To believe otherwise is a lie from Satan.

Kelly L May 8, 2010 - 8:45 am

Beyond every argument laid out here is the argument for holiness and purity. Is there a line for holiness (ie. you can make out and pet, but not have intercourse) is there a benchmark for purity? God said “Be ye holy as I am holy.” He doesn’t give us commands without giving us the capability to obey them. One of the biggest lies Christians believe is that we have to sin. “I’m just a sinner saved by grace” makes my gut sick. NO! We are the righteousness of Christ, saved from the power of the enemy, redeemed from the curse, forgiven. We do not have to sin! We can go days without it. Since we are not Christ Jesus, we will slip into sin occasionally. But the stench of it requires we jump right out! We need to strive to be holy under the power of Holy Spirit within us. So that means I don’t walk into a store, take a pack of gum and walk out declaring “well, Christians are not perfect.” It means I don’t watch or listen to things God has already told me not to do. It means I listen for His voice every minute so I do not lean on my own understanding. It means I do not set others up to sin: If someone who is weaker in their faith or an alcoholic comes over, we do not have wine for dinner, I don’t dress immodestly flaunting my goods, I don’t develop friendships with single guys and hang out, I don’t send my kid into a situation that will tempt the daylights out of her. Just like she doesn’t watch Law and Order because of it’s adult nature, she will not enter into dating before she is ready to marry. It is called being a good steward of what God has blessed us with. We do it with money, how much more valuable the purity of our children???? Romans 7, 8, 9 deals implicitly with living a holy life and not sinning and how we are capable of it.
It has nothing to do with if I trust her. I do trust her, she is growing up to be an awesome child of God, obedient to the point of going to strangers to tell them what the Lord has told her to say to them. Standing up to teammates about bad behavior. She is strong in her faith and relationship with God. I trust her to the limits of her age, and actually a little beyond. But I will not throw her into temptation to be unholy and tell her good luck before her heart is ready to deal with such things.
PS..I will be at my daughter’s softball tournament all weekend (yes, over Mother’s Day) so I will probably not be able to respond…not ignoring anyone.

Linda May 8, 2010 - 2:03 pm

This is an interesting and important discussion. I don’t think any of us would agree that allowing 13 or 14 year-olds to date would be in their best interest. But I think it’s very important to not only allow, but provide opportunities for teens of the opposite sex to interact with one another, discuss things with one another, and have good social experience of one another before either dating or courtship even takes place. If they don’t have good, wholesome interaction with one another, they will lack the basic understanding necessary to form a good marital relationship later. As to how this comes about– Kelly, you seem to want to stand on principle regardless of outcome! I believe God loves us and wants us to be happy in our marriages. Surely that must be key to forming any sort of principle on the subject. The point I’m trying to make here is that we are wrong to believe that handling dating/courting in any one specific way can automatically guarantee that we are in accordance with God’s will. The Bible does NOT set rules for how young people are to seek marriage partners– it sets out a principal for how we are to treat each other in any and all circumstances, namely, that we are to love each other as God has loved us. I believe that most children who have been raised to love God and seek God’s will are ready by their late teens and twenties to know how to behave with others, even in a romantic relationship. And God should be able to act freely among these young people without the encumbrances of constant parental pressure and direction. Ultimately what I’m saying here is that we need to let go at a certain point and “Let God.”

Avaya May 8, 2010 - 4:17 pm

Kelly, do you not come “wholly” to your spouse? Does he not come wholly to you? If I am right, you dated before marriage. It left you scarred. But, from what I can see from your blog, you still love your husband wholly and he loves you a whole lot too and the two of you totally love your family.

It seems to me that sometimes us humans take things to extremes. Dating does not have to mean 12 year olds getting sexually involved or treating people as disposable commodities…but does one have to go in the extreme opposite direction? There are very real dangers in marrying somebody one hardly knows-even somebody one’s parents have investigated thoroughly.

As always, I mean no disrespect to you or your position.

R. F. May 8, 2010 - 6:34 pm

Perhaps strong feelings on both side of the fence has more to do with definitions than it does with principle. One persons idea of a date could be more along the lines of what someone else sees as courting. And vice versa.

I believe the over arching idea of this post was that dating or courting or whatever you call it is in preparation for marriage. Someone who is not old enough to be seeking a marriage partner has no reason to “dating” anyone. It does not help anything, or anyone. A person can learn about the opposite sex and what they desire in a partner without test driving everyone. (I’m not just talking about sex). Teach you children what to look for in a mate at home. When they are old and mature enough, set some guidlines on “dating” “courting” or whatever.

Judy May 8, 2010 - 8:09 pm

Thank you for this wonderful post.
Oh, how I wish I could stand on a street corner and hand it out to every parent that passes by.
Thank you, also, for the charitable way you responded to “Kaye” above.
I would add that “damage” from teen dating, many times means that our young ones have fallen under the temptation of the grave sin of fornication…and anyone who thinks that Jesus isn’t worried about that needs to go back and read Scripture again. Also, He did say, “Blessed are they who believe WITHOUT SEEING”…”without seeing”…this is like being “blind” is it not? We obey the Lord because HE IS LORD…not because we have logically decided that we agree with His commands.
Thank you again and I hope you will publish more writing on this VERY important and worthwhile topic. I shared your article with my 14 year old daughter and all that way through she kept interjecting, “Wow! Great point! or That is SO true!”
I believe that your philosophy on dating applies for ALL single people, not just teens.
May God bless you for enlightening others.

Lori May 8, 2010 - 9:00 pm

“If they don’t have good, wholesome interaction with one another, they will lack the basic understanding necessary to form a good marital relationship later.”

“There are very real dangers in marrying somebody one hardly knows”

Y’all, this is about not buying into contemporary dating culture. Not buying into mail-order-marriage. You’re presenting false dichotomies.

and it’s possible to get a very good idea of how a marriage should work just by watching and interacting with wholesomely married couples. Not that anyone has said that spending time with opposite sex is to be avoided, no one has. But I’m just saying even ladies w/out good singles groups around can still have great marriages.

Jennifer May 9, 2010 - 1:26 am

Great thoughts Avaya, and RF. Although I don’t believe people can plan love, it does make sense for only marriage-aged people to date. When I was 13, I thought that was the appropriate age to date; not anymore! I recall, as an adult, when my sister’s 12-year-old friend called certain outings in the company of boys dating, and my sister would watch as I purple-facedly exclaimed, “That is NOT dating! They’re little kids!” I don’t believe dating is always inherently harmful; it’s a way of training for bigger relationships, if not testing one to see if it will prove deeper. Once people are adults, they naturally date to see where it will go, a modern sort of courting, though marriage is not necessarily part of the immediate equation so there’s less pressure. The fact is most adults will do this unless they’re very tightly protected, which for most is unlikely and, at SOME point in adulthood, becomes inappropriate like a cocoon that must eventually be shed.

Kelly, I trust your judgement so I’m asking this out of pure curiousity: you said your daughter will be looking for a husband at one point. Unlike dating, the tightly traditional form of courtship rules that courting must only be done when marriage is the ultimate hoped-for eventuality. For some in this model, it seems in some strange way, especially for the girls, that they hope to “plan” for love to occur. Is that the idea you guys and Bria have?

Stephanie.Nicole May 9, 2010 - 6:39 pm

I think many people have a problem understanding that the dating game is not the only way to become familiar with the opposite sex. The “good things” they cite about dating are things like “I found out what I wanted in a husband,” etc, but one can discover these things without becoming romantically involved. Parents should consciously make the effort to involve their family with other like-minded Christians so that the young people can get to know each other in a wholesome, supervised environment.
And you are completely right in that “dating” has only existed for less than a century, yet somehow, they still managed to “fall in love” and have holy, lifelong marriages without “dating around.”

My parents allowed me to date, and while it is true that I learned some things about myself and about what I wanted my future husband to be like, I truly came away emotionally and spiritually scarred. We were both homeschooling Christians. It was not the intention of either party to get sexually involved and to break each others’ hearts, yet that’s exactly what happened. My experience was repeated throughout my home-school group by those who were allowed to date. The system is broken beyond repair: instead of trying to squeeze Biblical Christianity into the dating game, we need to instead shape our ideas of romance around the Bible.

P.S. I’m sure most of you know of these books, but “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and it’s sequel “Boy Meets Girl” (both by Joshua Harris) are both excellent resources on this topic and put all arguments to rest.

Jennifer May 9, 2010 - 7:16 pm

Not for me. I think the Harris’s have some very unrealistic ideas of what goes on in the real world.

Word Warrior May 9, 2010 - 7:59 pm


LOL! You should come hang out with us. I thought the Harris book (though great) had quite liberal advice. You can actually live in “the real world” and not live like the world. I don’t think the Harris’ are the least bit naive about the real world.

Jennifer May 9, 2010 - 11:29 pm

I certainly wouldn’t mind hanging out with you guys sometime 🙂

“You can actually live in “the real world” and not live like the world”

I know, and I plan to. Perhaps not naive of the world, but Joshua seemed to think hearts work, or perhaps relationships form or can form in simpler ways than they often do. I’m sure Joshua in general has some great points and didn’t intend to sound as though I see the whole family in the same light; I love the work of the twins, Alex and Brett and can’t wait to read their whole books.

Btw, happy Mother’s Day 🙂

Lizbeth May 9, 2010 - 11:59 pm

And you are completely right in that “dating” has only existed for less than a century, yet somehow, they still managed to “fall in love” and have holy, lifelong marriages without “dating around.”

Actually the idea of romantic love is the one that hasn’t been around awhile. Marriage began to ensure property and lineage. So while marriages might have lasted, it was almost certainly not because of what we would call love or romantic connection today.

I met young men in group situations before I got married. I see nothing wrong with a pizza and coke in a group setting. I also see nothing wrong with courtship, but I don’t know of any evidence that it is a “better” way.

Finally, if one of your impulses is to save your children from hurt, well I don’t know. It seems that pain, whether a believer or not, is part of the human experience. We grow because of that pain. Your children should be given the tools to handle the pain they might experience in life, not cotton bunting to protect them from it. That’s my opinion, of course

Jennifer May 10, 2010 - 12:05 am

Interesting thoughts, Lizabeth. I tend to agree. Actually, though, romance and being in love has been around since the beginning of time. Look at the poetry of old, from Victorian times to Shakespeare to ancient poets and Solomon. Falling in love happened and was deeper than mere romance, very serious and often very inconvenient. Marriage for profit is a cold union indeed, and lasting in legality is NOT proof of fruitfulness, happiness, emotional health or anything other than more convenience.

Rebekah May 10, 2010 - 12:20 am

Our oldest son is starting to get to the age where girls are starting to notice him. He still sees them as fun friends/buddies to hang out with. We’ve discussed God’s plan for his children with our sons. We have told them they could be friends with girls and spend time with them in group settings. We have told them eventually they will meet their future wives, become friends, and have a precious relationship grow from that point.
We have taught them not to kiss a girl until they marry her. We asked them how they would feel if a boy who was not their cousin’s husband kissed her. They both became quite upset and said, “He’d better not.” We told them to show the same respect for everyone else’s sisters and cousins. We don’t believe you should start down a road you can’t finish.
My mother-in-law shared a special Puerto Rican wedding tradition which I was able to include in our reception 13 years ago. In my mother-in-law’s culture you give your veil to your mother on your wedding day as a thank you for teaching you to remain pure. My parents both cried when I presented my mom with a damask hat box with my chapel length veil in it. It is a treasured keepsake in our family. I pray that my future daughter-in-laws will carry on the tradition in the fullest sense.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have more Christian young ladies could incorporate this type of tradition in their wedding day by being the pure brides God means us all to be?

LAF/Beautiful Womanhood » The Dating Game May 10, 2010 - 7:40 am

[…] However, given the resurgence of the requests in Thursday’s post, and given the bravery ofmy friend Mrs. Kelly, I’ve been inspired to swallow my trepidation and step into the ring, so to speak. I’m […]

BrianG May 10, 2010 - 2:26 pm

Kelly L. wrote: “We do not have to sin! We can go days without it. Since we are not Christ Jesus, we will slip into sin occasionally. ”

Kelly, I’m afraid you have an incomplete understanding of the total depravity of your fallen nature. Although we have been regenerated and are redeemed we remain, as Martin Luther said, “simultaneously justified and sinners.” Perfectionism, while I nice sounding concept, is simply not biblically supported. Perfectionism itself becomes a yoke that will obscure grace. Chapter 7 of Romans outlines Paul’s struggle with on-going sin. We can barely go 1 minute without sinning, because the second we think we have done so we have just committed the sin of pride.

Jennifer May 10, 2010 - 2:59 pm

Brian, Kelly’s well-aware of our sinful natures, but we’re not helpless. There are many sins we can avoid and Christ expects this, with His help.

wordwarrior May 10, 2010 - 4:08 pm


(Just to keep things clear, the “Kelly” Brian was responding too was “Kelly L.” and I changed it in the comment.

To address the question you asked a few days ago…

Honestly, I’m not *exactly* sure what you were asking. I think people get bogged down in the “rules” when for us, it’s more of a principle. It’s safe to say we are hoping and/or “planning” for our children to marry, because we believe that marriage is most often “a good thing” except in the rare case of the calling to singleness. I also believe love is far more a choice than a feeling, so it’s far more important to us that our children’s spouses are spiritually solid and have strong compatibilities. Again, not sure what you’re asking 😉

Our ideas of the alternative to the dating system is two-fold: one involves simply postponing the time when one pursues a relationship (dating is not a recreation for people non interested in marriage) and two, it’s just more of a process by which families get to know families before a deeper relationship is pursued. That’s a VERY small nutshell.

Jennifer May 10, 2010 - 4:50 pm

Showing love is a choice, but I think you and most would agree that there’s a unique love meant to exist between spouses that can’t just form between two people courting because one wishes it to. It’s designed by God to be rare and can’t always be predicted. Basically, what I’ve seen some women seem to do is believe that if they find a good Christian man who’d make a good husband, they can choose to fall in love with him and it’ll happen, because they made it so. That kind of love doesn’t work that way, though. I was basically asking if you guys and Bria expected something similar to occur, to a lesser degree. I find that question to be unnecessary now, though. Thanks for your thoughts!

adminnv May 10, 2010 - 5:33 pm


I started responding to your comment but I think it should probably be a post 😉 Will work on it.

Jennifer May 10, 2010 - 6:18 pm

Interesting! You don’t believe people can just choose to fall in love, do you?

Jennifer May 10, 2010 - 6:21 pm

For the record: I do think married couples who joined because of that rare and sacred love can choose to recreate it if it weakens and fades later on. I just don’t think they can create it to begin with; God designs certain people to mesh and we don’t always know who our mate will be.

R. F. May 12, 2010 - 10:53 am


I think what you are describing as love, is that initial attraction between two people. Which is why so many people “fall out of love” and get divorce. What they thought was love was not really it. Love is a choice, not a feeling. Like you said, when couples lose that feeling they can recreate it, usually by choosing to love.

Just my thoughts,

Word Warrior May 12, 2010 - 11:10 am


Meant to reply earlier and R.F. reminded me, with whom I agree…

Jennifer, based on your thoughts about love:

“there’s a unique love meant to exist between spouses that can’t just form between two people courting because one wishes it to.”

This is an idea we all have ingrained within us thanks to the constant brainwashing of Western thought, but places marriages in a very vicarious position, and thus we see the results happening to marriages everywhere.

If it “can’t be helped” which must be the conclusion of your statement if it can’t be purposely sought, then people are left to the mercy of “the uncontrollable love” that could overtake them at any time, even after marriage, by someone else. It creates thoughts like, “I don’t *feel* that specialness with my spouse anymore, but I do feel it with this man over here….I must have married the wrong person.”

That “specialness” that you’re talking about can (and does) develop when a. a person allows his or her feelings to be “released” and b. when two people are committed to each other, spend lots of time with each other and are both working toward a common goal. (We see this happen “accidentally” all the time in the work place.)

I would suggest that it can happen to almost any two people with even one of these factors in place. I’ve seen it happen, I’ve experienced it(before I was married) and it would explain why most arranged marriages end up with a couple who attest to deep love and satisfaction. (Just saying, not advocating them.)

Jennifer May 12, 2010 - 1:01 pm

Rachel, thanks for reminding Kelly. If love wasn’t a feeling, which is a cold and sterile idea many terrified Christians are spreading because they’re afraid of divorce, life and marriage would be much simpler and there’d be little to no pain in love; after all, a person could just choose to abolish it, couldn’t they?

“This is an idea we all have ingrained within us thanks to the constant brainwashing of Western thought, but places marriages in a very vicarious position, and thus we see the results happening to marriages everywhere”

That’s exactly the fear I’m talking about. Kelly, I agree with your first statement (the “a” example) and thank you so much for your explanation, but neither of you understand my idea of love. It is NOT simply an attraction; it’s a deep meshing of two hearts that God created to be together. You think I could form an attraction to any man I work by, or choose to live as a wife with any man? Not in the least. It is uncontrollable in the sense that it’s something God created for just two hearts, and this is also what makes it RARE, which is what makes it special and not something that can just happen by physical closeness. If two people find that love, it’s not something that can just vanish either; if it fades in marriage, it can be brought to life again, by CHOICE, yes, of the spouses. That’s the choice aspect and is vital.

“Like you said, when couples lose that feeling they can recreate it, usually by choosing to love.”

Precisely. But if those two people were never created for each other in the beginning, they can’t force love that wasn’t made for them. Arranged marriages are an abomination to me of God’s design. The idea that love is ONLY choice and never a feeling is just as much brainwashing ignorance as the pop-idea “love is a random butterfly” crud. The former is a recent formulated idea among Christians determined to stamp out divorce, and is especially popular among the “Daddy controls the union” crowd, like the Vision Forum and Botkins. When earthly father plays Heavenly Father and chooses which man he likes best, it’s not only terribly convenient but vital to believe that obedient Daughter can fall in love with whatever man best fits the resume. How neat and tidy.

I’ve had deep, very deep infatuations for several men over the years, and they were painful. They weren’t chosen, but based on my own individual nature’s selective attraction. Not once, however, did I ever mistake them for love. I’ve only been in love once; the devotion was chosen, the feeling was not. I had every crush afterwards to compare to that and none came close; I knew better. No matter how deep my affection for a man, I could sense my heart wasn’t connected to his. I’ve seen and known the difference. It’d be very easy for some to dismiss the writings of poets and authors over the millenia about the pain and inconvenience of love as just heart-butterflies, I suppose, but not as Western culture. Love as a feeling has been proven, various times. And yes, it needs work, it needs the choice to persevere and cultivate. But only among the God-chosen unions will it be able to bear true fruit.

If this isn’t sufficient explanation, please visit this link


to read my review of “The Love Dare”, where I explain in long detail all my convictions. It’s the third review down. I would give you an active link, but for right now I’m giving up on learning how to do that.

Jennifer May 12, 2010 - 1:02 pm

Oh, it was activated automatically. Awesome! Ok then.

Word Warrior May 12, 2010 - 1:54 pm


You said:

“Arranged marriages are an abomination to me of God’s design….and is especially popular among the “Daddy controls the union” crowd, like the Vision Forum and Botkins. When earthly father plays Heavenly Father and chooses which man he likes best, it’s not only terribly convenient but vital to believe that obedient Daughter can fall in love with whatever man best fits the resume.”

Two important things: number one, as I have before, I’m compelled to stop you in your tracks when you talk about things of which you know not. (I’m tempted to even delete the comment.) Gossip, slander, rumors. That is what you have just participated in. How do I know? Because in addition to reading the same resources you have (and I’m sure more of them since you rather avoid “this crowd”) I have talked directly to the people you mention, witnessed many weddings and have even been a part of the process on occasion. Many of these are my dearest friends. In NOT ONE instance was “Daddy controlling the union” and telling the daughter who she would marry. They would laugh at such an assertion. (Nor has Doug or anyone in VF ever said such.) I could tell you specifics of parent-teams (who merely assist their marriageable child) giving the daughter the “go-ahead” and the daughter choosing to not marry because she didn’t sense the very attraction in discussion now. It wasn’t viewed as rebellion either.

What we believe is that a mother and father is involved in the process, just as parents have always been until very recently. A parent not involved in the process of a most important decision is a fool.

You may not assert untruths and imply either by exaggeration or misinformation things that are not true. These types of comments are PRECISELY why a man of God and many other believers sincerely seeking His face are being torn to pieces on the Internet (I am one of them, so if I seem a little raw about it, well, I am 😉 So if you wish to address the way these (and we) handle marriage, do so accurately or not at all.

Secondly, though we don’t practice arranged marriage it’s quite extreme to call it “an abomination” as this was precisely the method God prescribed for His people. You may dislike it, but don’t misinterpret that it is “against” anything God had in mind.

the cottage child May 12, 2010 - 3:05 pm

Hi Lizbeth – I’m borrowing part of your comment not to be critical, rather to express a thought I used to be in complete agreement with, until I read it in black and white – you wrote “It seems that pain, whether a believer or not, is part of the human experience. We grow because of that pain. Your children should be given the tools to handle the pain they might experience in life, not cotton bunting to protect them from it.”

It’s interesting that we take this approach with our children when it comes to emotional pain – physical damage we go to great lengths to keep our children from – it would be counterintuitive (and illegal and disgusting) to let a toddler who can’t swim “experience” falling into a swimming pool and sinking to the bottom just for the sake of personal growth, nor send our first graders to play in traffic so they might benefit from a little reality – yet when teenagers become pregnant, or a young person commits suicide upon finding out what he or she thought was love wasn’t, we tsk and nod our heads, “such a shame, she was such a sweet Christian girl, nice family”…these are extreme examples, but the principle holds – of COURSE I’m going to wrap as much as possible in cotton bunting – I know I can’t spare them from everything, but why would I allow them to be exposed intentionally to things that will hurt them? The contemporary dating model is also an extreme example, and as equally unnecessary to the proper formation of a healthy young person as is playing in traffic.

I think the main tool I am called to instill in my child – besides a love for the Lord and His Word – is wisdom. There are a handful of circumstances in which a child must gain that wisdom by his own blundering (yes, when you play with the back door, you’re likely going to pinch your fingers in it), but when the stakes are so high and consequences life-long, by sending our children into the dating world with a wink and a prayer, we’ve not supervised them properly and have abdicated our responsibility. It’s not a matter of trust or faith, it’s a matter of honoring our responsibilities as parents. I do think we’re supposed to wrap as much as possible in cotton bunting. Preventing harm, protection from unnecessary hurt – is part of our job.

Word Warrior May 12, 2010 - 3:15 pm

cottage child,

Standing ovation. You should write this blog.

By the way, a clever friend told me that when trying to assess truth, taking it to extremes is a qualified test. If truth is truth, it’s always truth, even in extremes.

Jennifer May 12, 2010 - 3:39 pm

I’m not sure if that’s what Lizbeth meant, CC, but outstanding comment.

Word Warrior May 12, 2010 - 3:42 pm


Another thought on arranged marriage (which simply fascinates me because I actually think it comes closer to what God intended than our dating system does)…

Genesis 24
Adam and Eve had an arranged marriage 😉

There are many in Scripture and not only that, but arranged marriages have been the norm throughout history in most cultures. We naturally bristle–I did to and still do to some degree, but here’s an example of how we get one thing in our minds and refuse to consider how right or wrong our thinking is. Arranged marriages not for me? Maybe. But an abomination to “God’s design”? Careful.

By the way, much of the courtship process (which gets blamed for an “arranged marriage flavor” is heavily built on the presupposition that the marriage is divinely lead and God uses the parents to help guide the children in that leading, as Scripture makes clear about the parenting relationship. God wills it, parents oversee and guide, and children can rest in that guidance ultimately coming from the Lord.

Jennifer May 12, 2010 - 3:58 pm

Kelly, the thing about Adam and Eve is that God created them for each other. As I said, He’s the divine arranger.

“By the way, much of the courtship process (which gets blamed for an “arranged marriage flavor” is heavily built on the presupposition that the marriage is divinely lead and God uses the parents to help guide the children in that leading, as Scripture makes clear about the parenting relationship. God wills it, parents oversee and guide, and children can rest in that guidance ultimately coming from the Lord”

That’s awesome. The overlying fault I’ve seen, though, with patriarchy (no, not your type) is that the father or even BOTH parents assume too much of God’s job and mistakenly if sincerely believe it’s all ordained by Him. I don’t believe all courtship’s like that, but some are.

Thanks for your patience with me 🙂 I’m sorry I offended you and was not referring to you at all in the comment that offended. If you don’t wish to publish my second-to-last comment that’s fine, but please know that I know of what I speak. I don’t claim to know about every patriarchal family, but I’ve seen the doctrine and the practice as well as the claims of many. Believe me when I say that I swim deeply in waters before I declare them muddied or clear; this is why I like your own blog, because I’ve tested the waters for lengthened time now.

Ken May 21, 2010 - 9:23 am

Your basic point is true but many people in the courtship subculture go too far with it.

The problem with dating is not that you might “give part of your heart away” to someone you might not marry. The problem with dating is that you are acting like a married couple with someone you aren’t married to. It’s called fornication.

Your future spouse, if there is one, does not have any claim on you before you get betrothed, nor do you have any claim on them. If that were the case then someone who marries, their spouse dies, and then they remarry is guilty of being untrue to the second spouse. That idea is ridiculous and un-biblical.

The problem with dating, as you point out, is that it creates a bad habit of fornicating and then breaking up.

But in a world of uncertainty it is unreasonable for anyone to expect they will be able to reach the state of matrimony without ever committing their heart to someone who did not requite their desire. We all get our hearts broken, and it is to a certain extent part of the path.

Stick to the good arguments, and please dispense with the bad ones.

Jennifer May 21, 2010 - 10:33 am

Excellent balanced points, Ken.

Bindy May 24, 2010 - 10:30 pm

“This is an idea we all have ingrained within us thanks to the constant brainwashing of Western thought.”

Western thought? What is better? Eastern thought? Muslim, Hindu, Buddist thought? Hopefully you do not hold the absolute control a Muslim father has over his daughters as an ideal, or esteem the Hindu traditions of marriage. These marriages may “hold together” for life, but they are certainly not the Christian ideal. We have to have an ideal higher than just staying together. I have known many arranged marriages because of work overseas, and I have learned not to confuse a long marriage with a happy or holy marriage.

Jennifer May 24, 2010 - 10:44 pm

Standing ovation, Bindy.

Word Warrior May 25, 2010 - 7:28 am


Western thought isn’t meant to be diametrically opposed here to “Eastern thought”. It’s ridiculous to assume I am esteeming the practices of pagan religions.

Western thought contains many humanistic influences of the Greeks, particularly as it pertains to the ideas of love and marriage.

By “brainwashing of Western thought”, I’m referring to an erosion of the idea that love is a commitment, replaced with the idea that love is a feeling.

Jennifer, you should see beyond Bindy’s jump to this absurd conclusion.

Jennifer May 25, 2010 - 10:52 am

I was referring to Bindy’s comments about how lasting marriage is not necessarily holy or true marriage.

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Alexander June 16, 2012 - 3:20 pm

I’m 41 years old now. I am single. I have been single since I was 34, when I was thrown away by my ex-girlfriend for another man. I met her when I was a kid, at 15. We’d meet off and on, since I was 17. We had some night stands now and then over the years, generally once a year or so, because we’d forget to exchange full names and phone numbers and addresses so we can visit each other. By 1997 I was tired of being alone, and when we met I settled for her. I lived with her, off and on, at times living between two homes… for 7 years. (sighs). Sufficie to say is that nothing ever made me happy. Not until I read up on Jesus and the truth, in many good websites that I discerned as being very honest and truthful… So I understood where I went wrong and where my family went wrong.

I lived singlehood beacuse I have no desire to “date” anyone, all I wanted was to be SURE, and find a biblical woman. I never found one. I do not know where she is, where is the safe place is. All I want to know is, how do I find her and court her and marry her and be a family, a true family, not a psuedo-family that I had with my ex and her kids.

Either I’ll be single for the rest of my life, or, if Jesus brings me to the right woman, then I’ll found happiness, with a good biblical woman who have a good heart, and loves Jesus, walks with Him, is honest and trustworthy, all the good qualities, what God calls, gems!

I knew “dating” didn’t make sense. Instinctively, it just doesn’t work, somehow. My ex, she pays me attention, flatters my ego, manipulates me into doing what she wanted, and I difn’t feel right, but I felt trapped, beholden to her, “helping” her with whatever endless problems she could conjure up to keep me “busy”… (sighs).

No one ever told me what the rules are, how how to “date” someone and still be sure she’s not some crazy from hell or something. Like my ex, she was crazy, too. Hopped up on booze, drugs and whatever paranoid imaginings she was in… I have never endured such hells before or after her since. I refused to go through such things ever again.

I rather be single than endure another hell-woman from hell. I cannot bear it.

I love peace and quiet, studying, reading, etc. Life with my ex was so different, no two days is the same. I never want that ever again.

I’m deaf, and I rather be single than endure the hells of my ex. She was also deaf, but… she was also an addict, as well as bipolar, and whatever else that I don’t know about.

One thing I can say for sure, she came back two years after she left me for the bloke she dumped me for, and asks me to help her get away from him, which I gave advice (get help from her sister to get a place, move her stuff out fast when he’s not there, etc), and then she asks me to go back to her, which I refused. Three more times she came, and asks me to go back to her. I refused. She regretted all the hells she gave me, put me through, etc. And our babies she aborted when I was 28. She made a mistake. She knew I was a better man, but that’s small consolation for me. My trust was broken. I could not trust her nor another woman, it’s so difficult. She was five years older than me. When I was 15, she was about a foot taller than me. By the time I was 28, I was a foot taller than her.

After her, I could not bear to trust a woman, even though inside my heart I was empty, needing a love, only a Godly love that would satisfy me. For me, to love and be devoted to a woman who is good, all the things that my ex was not, was so important to me.

Now, I am resigned to my single life. When I look at women, all I see are, clones of my ex, boozed up, drugged up with doctors’ prescriptions and her green marijuana stinky stuff. I will not endure another woman like her ever again.

I am happy with my King James Bible and my studies, work, etc… and I do hopes, prays, to Jesus, that he will guides me to the right woman who is not like my ex at all, in any way.

All I want is to be a couple, a REAL couple, not a “partner” like my ex says that I am to her, a “handbyman” to help her with her problems, etc. etc. (sighs). I want to make life a joy, with the true woman by my side, creating life together. That’s all I want.

Dating sucks.

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