Just so you will all know how dedicated I am, I must tell you that I had this post almost entirely done when our electricity flickered and I lost the WHOLE thing! So here I am, starting over…
Will has asked (and been given) permission to court our daughter Pamela.
After reading the comments on Bill’s post here and on his site, I felt the need to make some explanations on what this means.
First, let me give a very brief definition of Courtship: Courtship is young men and women seeking each other out, under their parents’ supervision, for the purpose of finding a spouse. Although dating may eventually lead to marriage, it is not intended to lead directly to marriage. While every courtship is different, these two criteria (parental leadership and intent for marriage) are the foundation of all true courtships.
Most courtships have 3 stages:
- The “getting to know each other” stage – during which the couple and hopefully their families are getting together, learning about each other, their beliefs and convictions, their likes and dislikes, and whether a further relationship is possible or even desirable. This is when qualifications (established beforehand) are checked. These qualifications are those qualities that WILL NOT be compromised. A few of these qualifications for our family are: the “candidate” must be a growing, maturing Believer; salvation by grace through faith, not works must be their conviction; they must believe that marriage is until death parts them. There are other qualifications, but I won’t go into those here. We have a set of questions we gave to Will as we were getting to know him, and he graciously worked on these in the middle of finals!
- The “Courtship” stage – we’ve established there are no disqualifying traits, and the young couple believe they would like to further their relationship. Again, the ultimate end of all these efforts is marriage. Yes, courtships can be broken, but hopefully we have worked through enough things to feel that this will not likely happen. During the courtship stage, the couple are now working through some of the non-disqualifying things that they may not have agreed upon. They are working on skills to prepare them for marriage. They have possibly been given assignments to help in these preparations. As an example, Barry gave Nathanael and Emily the assignment of working out a model budget using only HIS salary as income.
- The “Engagement” stage – during which time the couple is making wedding plans and final marriage plans, e.g. housing, etc.
In our definition of courtship, the young man pursues, the father (of the young lady) qualifies, and the young lady chooses. This is not a dictatorship; it is everyone involved working toward a common goal.
As I said before, every courtship is different. Some couples save their first kiss for the altar; some couples choose not to touch each other at all before the altar (as these couples had children soon after marriage, they have evidently figured everything out!); some couples are not as strict on themselves in this area. Some fathers have no problem with the couple being alone, while some choose the protection of numbers for the courting couple. One dad states it this way: “Before God, I am responsible to present a pure bride at the altar, and this is the only way I know to be sure I am!”
In the case of Pamela’s courtship, Will’s parents (here with Pamela and Will’s sister, Amanda) were not familiar with all our terms and definitions. But they had raised Will to never date a woman unless she was someone he would marry. As a youngster, Will developed a list of qualities he would want in his future wife. As he got to know Pamela during their time at school, he saw that she was all that and more (his words, not mine!). His parents have committed to follow all our desires for this courtship if it is in their power to do so. Yes, we do have rules, and Pamela has commitments and criteria of her own for this courtship. One of her commitments is to allow Bill to lead her until she is married. It is not always easy, and we are constantly talking things through, but if you know Pamela, you know how gracious she is. Another commitment she has made is to save her first kiss for the altar – I know she will be tested on this one because she already cares so deeply for Will. But this has been a commitment she has held for many years, and I know she will stick to it.
One of Bill’s (and mine) rules for our daughters’ relationships is no holding hands (or other intimate touching) allowed until they are courting. I’m not talking about a friendly hug hello or goodbye, I’m talking about the type of touching that guys take for granted and girls take for commitment! That was a hard line to draw because it is so difficult to explain to these young people. There were continual readjustments, but we made it here!
Don’t they look happy? We had the opportunity to spend time with Will’s family, and on their last night in Florida we ordered pizza and had food and fellowship in our room. Pamela and Will were taking advantage of the hand holding time, because Pensacola Christian College has a completely NO TOUCHING policy. Boys and girls are encouraged to develop relationships, but without any physical stuff at all. While this is considered very strict and archaic by some, we are all for it at this point. The school is a better chaperon than we are!
Will’s sister, Amanda has the greatest hair ever! She and Will are very close, and she and Pamela have become good friends as well (another confirmation for us that this relationship is from the Lord).
We are so blessed that Will has come into our lives. He loves the Lord, and loves our daughter. He is a Pastoral Ministries major and will graduate in May, 2009. He may or may not become a pastor, but knows the Lord has called him to some type of service for Him, and he loves to preach. He has recently begun looking into possible mission fields. He has also been helping his dad in his field – pipe organ repair and maintenance. He is developing skills in home repair and remodeling, as well.
Please pray with us as we work through our next 2 years. It will be a fun time, but also bittersweet as we prepare to let our precious daughter go.
May God bless your day!