My oldest turns 14 at the end of June. We have discussed sex with him on several occasions, including “dating”. In fact, we flat out tell our kids that dating is not allowed in our family. Now before you chastise me, hear me out.
We don’t mind if he has friends that are girls, but girlfriends are not allowed. For one, because we think he’s too young and for two, we believe more in the premise of courting than dating. There are several reasons for this – one, because I did date and two, we see the world we live in.
But even more than that, we believe courting is the best way to help our children grow to be the godly men and women that become husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. This world is full of evil and hatred toward God’s people, so we want to try our best to help them navigate those treacherous waters.
If you’re not familiar with the idea of courting, here are a few things to know. Courting is similar to dating, but with the sole intention of marriage. That looks different for different families. But one thing is common among them all – sexual purity until marriage.
Years ago we adopted several “rule” changes in our family that some people thought were crazy, and even a little radical. And I’m sure we will get some backlash for advocating courting over dating, but we have several non-negotiable, Biblical reasons for our beliefs.
When kids start dating, they are young and immature. No matter how much we have trained them up to that point, they are simply not capable of making wise decisions when it comes to their hormones. Let’s face it, even adults don’t have that ability all the time. One of our main rules is they must remain in groups at all times. Our children, and even my husband and I, are not allowed to be alone with the opposite sex at any time.
This may sound extreme, but in this age where the #metoo accusations fly around like government paperwork, it is important to be overly cautious at all times. With the rise of the #metoo generation is is vital that we raise children who are godly and above reproach. As a victim myself, I know the effects that sexual impurity can have on your life and even marriage. I do not want that for my children.
As a Bible believing family, we our children that sexual immorality is a sin. We also teach them that sin is evil and abhorrible to God, to whom we answer. I Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (ESV). It goes on to say that God desires for each of us to “know how to control his own body in holiness and honor”. That holiness refers to taking a wife for himself. Meaning, God wants us to remain pure until the day we enter a covenant marriage relationship.
Sexual immorality is the deepest intimacy that comes between two people and God has reserved that for a man and a wife. Anyone who comes between that (idolater) or chooses to do so outside of marriage is deceived (Eph. 5:3-6, ESV). Paul states that sexual immorality is improper behavior for God’s people (Eph 5:3-6, NIV). But we also realize our children are ignorant of the “big bad world” and the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, only trickier. He is relentless when trying to take over the vulnerable hearts of God’s children. So we have to be diligent to teach them and help them keep their purity.
Guard Their Hearts
Although we can’t make them stay pure, because they do have their own minds and free will, we can do our best to help guard their hearts. And while I know we can’t keep them from heartache, because caring and loving someone comes with pain, we can still give them the tools.
When you engage in sex, it is not just your physical body, it is with your entire being. Your heart, whether in love or not, is involved. You give away a piece of yourself to each person you become physically intimate with, which is just another reason to stay sexually pure until marriage.
By not allowing them to become physically close to anyone of the opposite sex, we are teaching them to harness those physical actions related to their emotions. This also helps them save that deep intimacy for the one they will marry and keeps them from damaging their hearts in the process. God holds marriage as a place of honor, and commands that the “marriage bed be undefiled,” because He will “judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4, ESV).
What We Do Instead
These beliefs may sound great in theory, but how do they play out in real life? There is so much pressure from teens and even well-meaning family, to date and “find a mate.” So how do we live out the courting lifestyle with our children? Here are the rules for our family.
Note: These are personal to our family. You and your family need to pray over what God would have you do.
As I mentioned before, we do not allow “dating”, “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” terminology in our house. In the tween and teen years, they have a hard enough time navigating friendships of the same sex, without adding in feelings they don’t know yet how to process. So we do not allow those words in our home. We encourage them to have friends of the opposite sex, but there is to be nothing more than a friendship.
Keep an Open Line of Communication
We realize that feelings will undoubtedly arise as they develop these friendships, so we encourage them to keep an open line of communication. We have access to all their phones and they do not have the ability to text or message anyone we do not approve on their accounts, but sometimes they just need to talk through their feelings.
Since they are so young, we don’t want them to think their feelings are wrong, but they may be misplaced. So we want them to feel comfortable coming to us to talk about a girl or boy they may “like”. We want them to be open and honest about their feelings at all times, so that when they do have more intimate feelings, they feel comfortable coming to us.
Be Honest About Sex
Now this is probably the most difficult part for Christian parents. If you grew up in the era I did, sex was likely a taboo subject in your home. It wasn’t talked about in a positive or negative way, it was simply ignored. My husband and I do not want to do that with our own children.
I do not want them to grow up thinking that sex is bad. It isn’t. Sex is good, but only when enjoyed in the will of God inside a covenant marriage. If you’re having a difficult time knowing where to start, I highly recommend the following books from my good friends, Luke and Trisha Gilkerson.
Changes: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of PubertyThe Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical SexualityRelationships: 11 Lessons to Give Kids a Greater Understanding of Biblical Sexuality
No matter what we do, we cannot guarantee our children will remain sexually pure and holy. Only they can do that through Christ Jesus. But we can give them the tools and put measures in place to help them.