Biblical Method of Pursuing a Spouse

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nwink

Puritan Board Sophomore
Why do you think the Scripture is silent on describing a method of how a spouse is to be pursued (from the time of meeting the person to marrying them)? Meaning, how a relationship is to be developed. Is the Scripture silent because all people and times are different, and a variety of methods (betrothal, courtship, etc) are acceptable within the general principles of chastity in the Word? Just curious for your thoughts as I, a young father, consider these matters.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I think it is true that many different courses can be pursued in keeping with chastity and other virtues; but also that all methods provide occasion for sin -- not just with regard to purity, but with regard to control issues and pride, etc., for various parties. Sometimes the way I hear courtship presented is as disturbing with regard to the unbridled passions of the fathers as dating can be with regard to those of young people.

Yet, I think most courtship advocates will not acknowledge that it isn't the biblical method? And (I think) that tends to what can be a rather devastating lack of wisdom in recruiting young people whose parents, when they are heavily involved, can only constitute significant problems because of their spiritual state. I think perhaps the silence of Scripture about exact methods is an aspect of wisdom in these and many other situations.
 

Mathetes

Puritan Board Freshman
I think it's in the arena of Christian liberty.
Yes, this. If something isn't made a priority in the Bible, then it's usually wise to treat it as an area of liberty. And I don't mean how nuclear weapons and eugenics aren't mentioned in the Bible so therefore we can think what we want about them. But matters like what to wear at your baptism or what kind of decor to have at communion aren't given a big emphasis in Scripture and should be taken as a point of liberty.
 

BibleCyst

Puritan Board Freshman
Dating/courtship is definitely in the realm of Christian liberty, as long as what IS cut and dry in the Bible is kept in mind. There is no such thing as a perfect person. I think there are men, women, boys, and girls who are searching for "God's perfect match" for them. I only have my personal dating history to back this up, but I suspect women are particularly susceptible to this train of thought. Society teaches that there is a prince out there waiting for every women, that he will sweep them off their feet, and that they will live happily ever after. I do understand that marriage involves finding partners that are fit for each other, but EVERYBODY is sinful. My last relationship, which I ended up breaking off, involved somebody who would constantly send me mixed messages, and tell me that she wasn't sure if "I was God's perfect match for her." We have to come to our dating relationships with an understanding that no matter how fit we are for each other, we are both sinners in need of a Savior. I believe that, right there, is the key. Or, maybe I'm just super cynical. lol
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
Christian liberty, but I think one of the most important things is honesty. Both people have to be on the same page. There was this girl I think I truly loved, but she and I really had a different view of dating/courtship to the point where I think I couldn't respect her as a person (in the sense of potential wife, I respect her as a Christian sister). I'm dating a girl currently with whom I have much more in common and is just super amazing, but in the back in my mind I can't help but thinking ''what if...''
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
There is much about the modern idea of the dating scene that seems to put those involved at a disadvantage if their goal is to have a Christian marriage. Temptations abound.

When my wife and I met, we had already decided that we were not going to date to date. Instead, we dated to marry. The dating part was mainly for the purpose of getting to know one another enough to see whether or not we were marrying in the Lord. At one point, we decided it would be best if we did not spend very much time alone in our private spaces. Public spaces and time with mutual friends became the priority.

Sure, we had a fondness toward one another, but we made a decision to love each other and it has paid off very well. In other words, our commitment to each other in our marriage is not based upon our fleeting feelings. Rather, our commitment to each other is based upon the covenant we made before God. We think that basing our marriage on our feelings rather than our covenant before God would make our marriage subject to our changing feelings. While feelings drew us together, the basis of our marriage had to be a choice that binds—a covenant. When we were a year into our relationship, we took a giant leap and decided to get married. We have never looked back.

Today's concept of marriage is so individualistic. People pursue their spouses with the idea that the person has to be just right in order for compatibility to happen. With such an idea governing to search process, it would seem difficult to discover the real glue that holds a marriage together—the marriage covenant. So much emphasis is placed upon feelings.

We believe there is a place for courting because it fences the process against our fallen nature. Its wise to do so. Many things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial. There are biblical guidelines that should govern the process, but the bible only seems to address most of the issues peripherally. Like many biblically grey areas concerning our freedoms and limitations within the Christian life, we should look for things the bible says about the marriage process indirectly; keeping in mind what encourages and discourages our sanctification.

Even though the bible dies not say, "You shall court," perhaps it is still a very biblical thing to do.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Pursue marriage with prayer and wise counsel from Scripture and from the church. That seems to be all that I can find Scripture saying on the subject.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
I absolutely hated the whole process no matter how you slice it. God willing I never will go through it again. Another echo for Christian Liberty. Knock off the bookends of a heavy handed legalistic "courtship" and the reckless slap-happy dating culture "Christian" or otherwise. They are both toxic. The answer is in the middle. It is not easy. I found my wife on "Sovereign Grace Singles Online" in '06 and married her in '09. The internet is not for everyone but it is nothing to be ashamed of either. Don't waste time on women who are not interested in you and the other way around. It is dishonest and a waist of time, money and emotional reserves. Oh, for most of us the process isn't easy. Sorry.
 
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THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
Ephesians 5:25-29 for the men.

Proverbs 31:10-31, titus 2:4-5, 1peter 3:1-6 for the women.

Go find them, and yes, they are rare.
 

JoannaV

Puritan Board Sophomore
As a young mother who has only theoretical knowledge so far, I'd say that the method will depend on the child. Know your children well enough that you know how to guide them! Different people have different temptations and so need help establishing boundaries in different areas. Some will find it useful to have help in discussing certain things, and others will find it useful to have help in discussing other things. If your child reaches adulthood with a right understanding of himself and God then he will have the best preparation for whatever method is used!
 

ThyWord IsTruth

Puritan Board Freshman
There is much about the modern idea of the dating scene that seems to put those involved at a disadvantage if their goal is to have a Christian marriage. Temptations abound.

When my wife and I met, we had already decided that we were not going to date to date. Instead, we dated to marry. The dating part was mainly for the purpose of getting to know one another enough to see whether or not we were marrying in the Lord. At one point, we decided it would be best if we did not spend very much time alone in our private spaces. Public spaces and time with mutual friends became the priority.

Sure, we had a fondness toward one another, but we made a decision to love each other and it has paid off very well. In other words, our commitment to each other in our marriage is not based upon our fleeting feelings. Rather, our commitment to each other is based upon the covenant we made before God. We think that basing our marriage on our feelings rather than our covenant before God would make our marriage subject to our changing feelings. While feelings drew us together, the basis of our marriage had to be a choice that binds—a covenant. When we were a year into our relationship, we took a giant leap and decided to get married. We have never looked back.

Today's concept of marriage is so individualistic. People pursue their spouses with the idea that the person has to be just right in order for compatibility to happen. With such an idea governing to search process, it would seem difficult to discover the real glue that holds a marriage together—the marriage covenant. So much emphasis is placed upon feelings.

We believe there is a place for courting because it fences the process against our fallen nature. Its wise to do so. Many things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial. There are biblical guidelines that should govern the process, but the bible only seems to address most of the issues peripherally. Like many biblically grey areas concerning our freedoms and limitations within the Christian life, we should look for things the bible says about the marriage process indirectly; keeping in mind what encourages and discourages our sanctification.

Even though the bible dies not say, "You shall court," perhaps it is still a very biblical thing to do.
Excellent advice brother!!

I would also recommend Paul Washer on the subject of courtship. He has some messages on sermonaudio.com regarding this.
 

convicted1

Puritan Board Freshman
Humph.........and all this wasted time carrying around a wooden club.......:D

If one is seeking for a spouse, I'd suggest taking it to Him in prayer.
 

Mathetes

Puritan Board Freshman
We believe there is a place for courting because it fences the process against our fallen nature.
Against our fallen nature, yes, but not against the father's fallen nature. For many things that's not a reasonable objection against paternal headship, but I think we should be careful about putting too much unaccountable power in one person's hands. Please give this a look:

Why Courtship Fails: A Male Perspective

The comments are enlightening as well.

Now I post this not to sway people from courtship forever or to say that all courtship is bad. I simply think that it's good for people to be aware of the other side of the story.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
We believe there is a place for courting because it fences the process against our fallen nature.
Against our fallen nature, yes, but not against the father's fallen nature. For many things that's not a reasonable objection against paternal headship, but I think we should be careful about putting too much unaccountable power in one person's hands.
Let us remember that it was God who put the power of giving daughters in marriage in their fathers' hands, not us:

1 Cor. 7:36-38, "But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of [her] age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.
Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.
So then he that giveth [her] in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth [her] not in marriage doeth better."

Every form of earthly authority can be abused. The authority of husbands, parents, civil magistrates, and church officers can be sinfully abused and misused. We ought to be careful not to use abuse to overthrow proper use. The basic principles which the courtship movement has brought to light -- including the importance of parental authority -- are sound and solid, even if many people waste time with overly detailed systems and models and call the details of them "biblical" when really they are "prudential." It is the basic principles that are biblical, not necessarily the details of each individual relationship.

Furthermore, the article that you linked is dealing specifically with Gothardism, and that is a horse of a different color.
Trying to get modern man to swallow the pill of a father's authority over his "virgin" is like, well, you know... difficult. After all, we modern people have a right to our decisions and individuality.

On the note of father's authority, however, a father should try to make the burden of his authority as easy as possible to bear; just like the authority of a husband over his wife. I certainly would not want my wife to always feel the need to submit to me begrudgingly. Leadership and winning the hearts of subjects is going to go a long way in this. One of the marks of a good leader is winsomeness. A father should be winsome toward his daughter and wife; even careful because of his own fallen nature.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
We believe there is a place for courting because it fences the process against our fallen nature.
Against our fallen nature, yes, but not against the father's fallen nature. For many things that's not a reasonable objection against paternal headship, but I think we should be careful about putting too much unaccountable power in one person's hands. Please give this a look:

Why Courtship Fails: A Male Perspective

The comments are enlightening as well.

Now I post this not to sway people from courtship forever or to say that all courtship is bad. I simply think that it's good for people to be aware of the other side of the story.
A couple category errors and false dichotomies aside, the article was a decent refreshment since so many of these "discernment" blogs are written by women with only worse case scenarios. I am probably to the "left" of Doug Phillips in my views of the ideal domestic life but I certainly wouldn't put him in the same sentence with Gothard. That's decidedly unfair.

"Our first event went very well. We spent a day perusing a museum and getting to know each other. I was very impressed with her thoughtful insight and her cheerfulness despite her circumstances. She had the ability to run a household that wasn’t even her own, yet was not blindly accepting of everything she was told by her parents."

Why is this a surprise and why this bad? Do only apathetic Emo-hipster types have differences with their parents and have thoughtful insights? Heaven forbid that she is cheerful. Some of this reeks of the old feminist tripe, "independence or self-hate but you can't have both. "

The following paragraph is insightful but it would have been more powerful if he would have mentioned the theological difference.

"A week later, I got a phone call from her dad. He was apologetic but firm. He told me that I was a true gentleman several times and congratulated me on my career. But there was one theological difference that he could not overcome, regardless of how his daughter felt on it. When I heard what is was, I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. "


Maybe the kid was an old earther or not an exclusive psalmody guy. Maybe he was supralapsarian and the father was infralapasarian. Who knows but if you are going to make a point about the fathers pettiness you need to illustrate it. Especially if "despite" the behavior of the father she was "cheerful" and competent to run a household. Perish the thought!
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
A quick note on the word "courtship" and the concept(s) surrounding the term:

Courtship can be a matter of basic principles (which is what I think the term should be used for) or it can be a matter of a "system" that does not fit every situation and can even be harmful. It frustrates me a bit when folks notice the abuses of the "system" kind of courtship (i.e., "Our twelve-step courtship program is how the Bible says marriage should be pursued"), and then they throw out the core principles: father's authority, sharp physical boundaries, getting to know each other around family if possible, the relationship being geared toward possible marriage, not a casual relationship among a series of casual romantic relationships. One thing that is consistent is that they never provide a better alternative. The reader is left thinking that modern dating practices are preferable. This kind of thinking is not helpful. Explain what is wrong with the abuses and making the Bible prescribe more details than it does, but then defend the core principles.
Amen.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
A quick note on the word "courtship" and the concept(s) surrounding the term:

Courtship can be a matter of basic principles (which is what I think the term should be used for) or it can be a matter of a "system" that does not fit every situation and can even be harmful. It frustrates me a bit when folks notice the abuses of the "system" kind of courtship (i.e., "Our twelve-step courtship program is how the Bible says marriage should be pursued"), and then they throw out the core principles: father's authority, sharp physical boundaries, getting to know each other around family if possible, the relationship being geared toward possible marriage, not a casual relationship among a series of casual romantic relationships. One thing that is consistent is that they never provide a better alternative. The reader is left thinking that modern dating practices are preferable. This kind of thinking is not helpful. Explain what is wrong with the abuses and making the Bible prescribe more details than it does, but then defend but the core principles.
I agree but that is cost of extreme behavior. A pendulum swing and discernment/watch blogs that offer only criticism and no solutions.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
Using cologne, and bathing at least once a month will likely help.

What about cologne without bathing? I think I did that in Jr High a couple of times. Didn't help with my meager popularity.
 

Mindaboo

Puritan Board Graduate
"A week later, I got a phone call from her dad. He was apologetic but firm. He told me that I was a true gentleman several times and congratulated me on my career. But there was one theological difference that he could not overcome, regardless of how his daughter felt on it. When I heard what is was, I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. "

Maybe the kid was an old earther or not an exclusive psalmody guy. Maybe he was supralapsarian and the father was infralapasarian. Who knows but if you are going to make a point about the fathers pettiness you need to illustrate it. Especially if "despite" the behavior of the father she was "cheerful" and competent to run a household. Perish the thought!
My thought on this is that the young man should get to know the dad and his theology before showing any interest in this young woman. Brad and I were both aware of the areas we wouldn't agree with Austin on before he entered courtship with Taylor. That came from us having a relationship with him prior to the courtship. Austin didn't begin his friendship with me to get one of my girls. We became friends through similar life experiences, and eventually he befriended my children. He got to know our family before he considered Taylor as a possibility. I personally like the idea of friendships being built prior to jumping into a relationship.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
"A week later, I got a phone call from her dad. He was apologetic but firm. He told me that I was a true gentleman several times and congratulated me on my career. But there was one theological difference that he could not overcome, regardless of how his daughter felt on it. When I heard what is was, I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. "

Maybe the kid was an old earther or not an exclusive psalmody guy. Maybe he was supralapsarian and the father was infralapasarian. Who knows but if you are going to make a point about the fathers pettiness you need to illustrate it. Especially if "despite" the behavior of the father she was "cheerful" and competent to run a household. Perish the thought!
My thought on this is that the young man should get to know the dad and his theology before showing any interest in this young woman. Brad and I were both aware of the areas we wouldn't agree with Austin on before he entered courtship with Taylor. That came from us having a relationship with him prior to the courtship. Austin didn't begin his friendship with me to get one of my girls. We became friends through similar life experiences, and eventually he befriended my children. He got to know our family before he considered Taylor as a possibility. I personally like the idea of friendships being built prior to jumping into a relationship.
What a beautiful and good course of events. God bless for it turning out well. I can hope and pray my wife and I have the opportunity to have that kind of relationship with a potential son-in-law. However, for the Christian diaspora so to speak, such an arrangement is impossible. My father and late father-in-law were not believers. We had to cobble things together the best we could in principle and honor our parents. We had the prayers and guidance of friends in our respective churches. Many of our friends, family, bridesmaids and groomsmen were unbelievers. I was also in my mid 30s and she in her late 20s separated by 900 miles. We moved my fiance to town and she lived with an elderly widow from my church until the wedding. It would have been utterly impossible to crow bar our situation into a courtship model.
 

sevenzedek

Puritan Board Junior
Using cologne, and bathing at least once a month will likely help.

What about cologne without bathing? I think I did that in Jr High a couple of times. Didn't help with my meager popularity.
I used a biblical method for finding my wife. She worked at a Christian book store when I was shopping for a bible. I wore cologne too. She told me later that she would decide to put away the store's books in the section where I was browsing so that she could smell my cologne. Then she told me that she would fold the store's T-shirts so I could see her. She wanted me to know that she was a woman who could take care of me. She gets embarrassed every time I tell the story, but she doesn't mind that I tell it. Evidently, it worked! She folds my clothes to this day. She is a stay-at-home wife/mother. I couldn't ask for a better wife.

My embarrassing part of the story is when I asked her if she would like to go out for coffee sometime in order to get to know one another when I handed her my number. Then, I was so frozen with fear I told her, "The ball is in your court." I still can't believe I said that. Our story always makes people laugh.
 

JoannaV

Puritan Board Sophomore
The following paragraph is insightful but it would have been more powerful if he would have mentioned the theological difference.

"A week later, I got a phone call from her dad. He was apologetic but firm. He told me that I was a true gentleman several times and congratulated me on my career. But there was one theological difference that he could not overcome, regardless of how his daughter felt on it. When I heard what is was, I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. "


Maybe the kid was an old earther or not an exclusive psalmody guy. Maybe he was supralapsarian and the father was infralapasarian. Who knows but if you are going to make a point about the fathers pettiness you need to illustrate it. Especially if "despite" the behavior of the father she was "cheerful" and competent to run a household. Perish the thought!
If you read through the comments it is revealed that the disagreement involved Romans 14:5 and was about whether Sunday was the one true holy day or preferential.
 

Mindaboo

Puritan Board Graduate
What a beautiful and good course of events. God bless for it turning out well. I can hope and pray my wife and I have the opportunity to have that kind of relationship with a potential son-in-law. However, for the Christian diaspora so to speak, such an arrangement is impossible. My father and late father-in-law were not believers. We had to cobble things together the best we could in principle and honor our parents. We had the prayers and guidance of friends in our respective churches. Many of our friends, family, bridesmaids and groomsmen were unbelievers. I was also in my mid 30s and she in her late 20s separated by 900 miles. We moved my fiance to town and she lived with an elderly widow from my church until the wedding. It would have been utterly impossible to crow bar our situation into a courtship model.
Every situation is certainly different. I think that a believing couple with unbelieving parents should be calling upon the Elders to help guide them. Taylor is here in VA, and Austin lives in Texas. This has not been an easy courtship for them.
 
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