10 Practical Applications to Encourage Courtship

Choosing Courtship: Practical Application For Courtship | What Joy Is Mine
Sweet couple I photographed.

So, in this final piece in our Choosing Courtship series, we are going to look at practical ways we can encourage and teach courtship in our families.

1. Early Learning. What is courtship? It is the preparation for marriage. Early on teach your children what courtship is and what is expected of them concerning courtship. It’s important that you’re teaching them the specifics of how courtship works and why you have chosen to follow this path for your family. Its a good idea to keep the information age friendly, sharing only what they need to understand at a young age and adding on as they get older.

2. Strong Faith. Always encourage their growth in faith. Read the bible, pray and study with them. Give them books that encourage their faith and help grow them up in the Lord. Also, be sure of the faith of the intended. Pray for this diligently for both your child and the one God has chosen for them.

3. Purity and Modesty. Discuss what these mean in your family. Read books that help encourage their heart in what you are teaching them. Live this out as well.

4. Communication. Keep the lines of communication open and honest, ready to answer their questions to the best of your ability. This means speaking as well as being a good listener. You want this to be a definite in your relationship with your children so they will always come to you especially concerning a future spouse.

5. Prayer. Pray over your children in all aspects, of course, but pray for marriage and spouses specifically as well. And when they have come to you with a consideration, be sure to continue those prayers. Also, pray with them.

6. Reinforcement. This is important that you are reinforcing what you are teaching them. Its not a one time lesson but a life lesson to be taught consistently.

7. A List. Have your child make out a list of what they are looking for in a mate. Usually this can be done at a later age when they have some idea of what they are praying for. Discuss with them what they have written.

8. Trust God. You’ve taught your child about courtship. They have embraced it and are following through as taught. Now, you have to step back a little and trust God with it all. It’s not your place to arrange or determine who is right for your child. That is God’s design. Your role is to encourage, be watchful and ready to address any concerns they may have, be in prayer for the relationship, and speak up if you see some issues spiritually and with incompatibility. (This is more of a spiritual application but an application nonetheless.)

9. For boys: Leadership. They will be the headship of their home one day so teaching leadership is important. For example, one area they will need to display leadership is when they approach the father of the young woman they are interested in and ask to court her.

10. For girls: Obedience to their father. Daughters should be taught to remain under their father’s protection and headship until they are married. Then the husband takes on that role. Also, obedience to what their mother is teaching in preparation to being a godly woman, wife and mother.

This concludes our series on choosing courtship. I encourage prayer and the seeking of God’s Word so you know what this looks like for your family. Know this, some people will balk and look down at the courtship process yet we have seen it work and seen biblical growth from it as well. You can find the complete series HERE.






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Waiting For the Right One

Choosing Courtship: Waiting For the Right One | What Joy Is Mine
A sweet couple I photographed before their wedding.

Waiting is hard. It’s hard when we must wait for something we so desire. Sometimes that is how it must be concerning a future spouse. Our children must sit in the calling of singleness and wait. If they are truly of the mindset that there is a “one and only” chosen just for them, designed by God, then they will save themselves for that person. When they have decided on this fact, their
commitment is settled. They are going to wait for the right one.

Even for most young people who have agreed upon courtship under their parents direction, marriage is looked at as something that will happen as soon as they are old enough but this is not always the case. Some will be called to be single longer than they had thought they would be and being single is a challenge. This commitment to wait will require patience, trust in the Lord’s plan,
and practicing self control. All of which becomes more challenging as some friends might marry before they do. Let them remember that “the LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25) Encourage them to review God’s goodness, faithfulness and sovereignty, holding tight to these truths in their heart “destroying arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

However, there is a positive side to being single. Being a single person gives them more time to learn to trust the plan laid out for them by the Lord. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”  (Proverbs 3:5) It also allows them to grow spiritually in having more time to spend in the Word. “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) While in the waiting period, they can continue to work on skills they may need when they do get married. Lastly, they, hopefully, will learn contentment (Philippians 4:11-12) in this season of life, cherishing the thought of one day being married, honoring that in their behavior and attitude. If they cannot be content where they are concerning courtship and marriage, will they really be content when they are married and no longer single? God designed marriage to be looked upon as a sacred and honorable union between a man and a woman and not to be taken lightly.

(Now, a word about waiting that is not always easy to address: what if they are not called to be married? We parents don’t know the Lord’s plan concerning this. All we can do is prepare them for a life of being married and trust the Lord with His plan. Pray over your children concerning marriage and singleness keeping in mind that the Lord knows some do better in 
a couple form and some in staying single.)

James 1:5 reminds us to seek wisdom in all things including marriage and waiting for the one He has chosen for our children. We want to teach them as well to foster a habit of prayer to seek wisdom in this season of waiting for the right one. As we finish up this series on courtship next week, we will close with practical ideas that will be of encouragement.

You find the rest of the series HERE.

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What Age Is Appropriate For Courtship

Choosing Courtship: What Age Is Appropriate For Courtship | What Joy Is Mine

Sweet couple I photographed for their engagement pictures.

In our society today, the idea of girls and boys “dating” starts young. There are so many influences…TV, music, books…to encourage the idea of being in a relationship before they can even understand what it entails. And when I say young, I mean children as young as 10 years old are calling people they “like” their girlfriend or their boyfriend. Honestly, they have no real idea what that even means. They just do what they are exposed to in our world. At this age, they should be learning about heart issues that will be of value when they come of age to begin the courtship process.

In mid-school aged children, we see more of them holding hands and even kissing one another. They are acting out what they see on social outlets and calling it “love”. In high school, it often can go one step further where kids are embracing a more physical relationship with one another. Sometimes, this ends in parenthood before graduation and before marriage.

Courtship is designed for the mature minded person who is ready for a more serious relationship that will hopefully end in marriage. They must be emotionally and mentally ready to commit to another person for the long haul. As we have seen in teenagers, boyfriends and girlfriends come and go as at that age, long term is not the focus. Self gratification is. This is why it is important we are educating our children about courtship and what it is early on.

Determining the right time for your child to court is really going to be based on where they are in their walk with the Lord as well as the ability to understand what the process involves. Truly, only the parents will know if their child is ready to embark on courting someone who could be an intended spouse. Prayer is encouraged here. If a young man has approached the father to court his daughter, the father must examine closely the young man’s intentions as well as his heart and faith. He must also weigh the maturity of his daughter and if she is ready for courting. There really is no perfect age yet we must be sure our child is prepared in their heart, mind and soul.

The intention of courtship is marriage in the will of God and unto His glory. The appropriate age is the heart that is truly ready for that step.

Next time, we’ll look at waiting for the right one.




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Preparing For Marriage

Choosing Courtship: Preparing For Marriage | What Joy Is Mine

Preparation for marriage starts long before the courtship process even begins. We parents have the responsibility of preparing our sons and daughters for the marriage journey early on and especially throughout their high school years.

A few topics we should be covering with our children when they are under our direction and in the effort to prepare them for marriage will look something like the following:

Intimacy: I know this might be an awkward part of preparing our children for marriage but it is better they learn of how this works from you and not their peers or the world. There’s emotional and physical intimacy to address. I encourage prayer in this area so you follow God’s leading and timing in this area.

Resolving conflict – In our homes, conflict will happen. It’s how we teach our children to work that out that is very important. Conflict should always be addressed and resolved in the best manner possible to bring about forgiveness and resolution between those concerned. In marriage, these skills and heart attitudes will be needed as a couple grows and learns about one another.

Growing their faith – From birth, we should be encouraging the Christian walk and growing our children up in the Lord giving them a firm foundation of faith to stand on. We want them to bring this to their marriage. It will also encourage them to look for a spouse with the same foundation. In marriage, if both spouses are rooted in the same beliefs, they will work to maintain those as they grow their marriage.

Being a good listener – So important. Teaching our children to be still, make eye contact and really listen, not hear, but listen to who is speaking to them will pay off when they get married. In marriage, being a good listener always helps in resolving conflict as well as a better understanding of what is being spoken by each spouse.

Practicing patience – Patience is always a hard one. Yet it is so very needed in life in general. It is definitely something we must teach our children early on. We don’t always get what we want or in desiring something sometimes we have to wait. In marriage, even the small things you learn about each other require patience as you learn to love unconditionally the one you married.

Learning to forgive – Forgiveness removes bitterness and anger. In marriage, forgiveness will be a reward to the married couple in that they will learn to love through the ugly moments…like hurtful words spoken or selfish attitudes displayed. Forgiveness brings about healing and learning to forgive as well as asking for forgiveness will be important in a marriage.

Being thoroughly instructed on biblical marriage by studying verses and examples in the bible – As they begin to understand marriage in watching you and your love, they will begin to see a view of marriage. We need to take it a step further and share scripture about what God expects of the married couple. How does God speak about love, divorce, children, fidelity, etc. They
should also learn that God should be the head of their marriage in all things. (I must also point out the importance of a prayer life here as well. What a blessing to be able to pray with their spouse.)

Being able to manage money properly – This idea of being a good steward of your money will be a much needed thing when a couple must now in marriage join their finances together. Having a basic understanding of how to manage money will, hopefully, not make this an issue between them which can cause dissension.

Even some child rearing lessons are helpful - The married couple will learn to establish how they will parent once they start having children but its not a bad idea to give our children some idea of how to parent by being an example or sharing your thoughts with them like what is appropriate and what isn’t and how to handle those areas.

Other thoughts on marriage preparation – For girls, hope chests are a fun and productive idea. A good book to read is The Hope Chest: A Legacy of Love by Rebekah Wilson. For boys, lessons on how important it is to work on providing for a wife and possible family is needed. Some good books on that are Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men and Boyhood and Beyond both by Bob Schultz. Lastly, it is a real good idea is to make arrangements for the intended couple to get pre-marriage counseling or mentoring before the “I dos”. They are given questions to think on and this encourages discussion on things they may not have addressed. Usually your church will offer this or you may know a couple that you feel comfortable who can mentor the intended couple.

Most of all, be honest with your children about marriage and all it involves. Next week we will look at what age is appropriate for beginning the courtship process.

Some other great books are from Doorposts.**

                                              For girls                                    For boys

** I get no compensation for promoting these two books, I just stand behind their books. We’ve used both and found them very well written, informative and great encouragement to raising girls and boys to be godly women and men. 



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Protecting Purity

Choosing Courtship" Protecting Purity | What Joy Is Mine

(This post came out a little longer than I anticipated but stick with it. I believe it is worth it.)

Purity, in the sense we are using it today, is physical chastity. Remaining innocent until marriage. We have raised our children to understand what this means. Many times couples aren’t together long before they are sharing in physical activity with one another. We desire for our children to remain pure until they are married to the one God has for them. “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Teaching purity is a little challenging since the world goes against it. Yet we started young, pointing out immodest dress, improper conversations/jokes and how to protect their purity, pointing out scripture and answering their questions. So, let’s talk about modesty and how it plays a part in protecting our children’s purity. “As Christian women, we are commanded to adorn ourselves in respectable apparel, with modesty…with what is proper for women who profess godliness…” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). There is neither modesty nor respectability in skin-tight short skirts, pants that “ride low”, and shirts that drift high, revealing bare flesh in between. We must ask ourselves what is our true motive for wearing such things. 

To whom do we seek to appeal and why? Contrary to the world, we are not to “flaunt it” just because “we’ve got it.” Our standard is modesty—that which will reflect godliness.” (Tamika Burns) How we allow our young maidens to dress says much about them and their faith. We teach our daughter that her beauty should radiate from the inside out, from her heart. Outward beauty is perishable. (1 Peter 3:3,4)  In the same way, we remind our boys they are to also dress in gentlemanly attire and look away from inappropriately dressed girls.

Another aspect to this is what our children read, watched and listened to. There are many books on the market that sell impure ideas about relationships and how they should be. Romance novels with racy pics on the front of the book. You can find books like these even in the teen section of the book store!! Teenage shows as well as movies can also distort the view of protecting purity. We have seen commercials that are selling sex before marriage in their marketing attempts to sell a product and sometimes it has nothing to do with relationships. Lastly, the music today never talks about staying innocent but instead tends to lean more to encouraging romantic, physical feelings between unwed boys and girls. It is amazing how many kids…even the really young ones…talk about being boyfriend and girlfriend and act out what they see in the world on tv, in music and in books. “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18) We, as their parents, must be one step ahead and always educating.

Now, we do teach and encourage our children to be aware of temptations to follow the world view and not the Biblical one. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) They must be in the Word daily, in prayer daily and applying daily what they are learning. This will be instrumental once they are officially in a courtship relationship with the one they see as a possible spouse. After they have been taught, we pray they will follow through in protecting their own purity and the purity of the possible spouse. This means avoiding situations where they are alone by themselves; restrain from physical touching that could lead to intimate arousal; and to be mindful of their words spoken as not to entice or arouse physical temptations that cannot be satisfied.

It should be the priority of the courting couple to want to protect each other’s purity until they wed. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9) Restraining does not equate weakness or being less but instead promotes selflessness and respect for one another. In respecting one another, they will make better and bigger efforts to refrain from impure clothing, words, thoughts and tempting situations acknowledging their desire to do right by their intended and look after their well-being. In following the Word of God, they will, hopefully, apply that to their courtship relationship to honor one another and glorify God.

One last thought, “lack of restraint in courtship undermines fidelity in marriage.” (John Coblentz) And keep in mind that if for some reason the courtship does not proceed to marriage and physical relations have happened, the future spouses have been cheated. Physical relations definitely changes the whole courtship idea. Couples in a courtship setting should practice “hands off” until married; be specific in how they spend their time together in situations that do not allow alone time of any sort; guard their conversations to ones that build up and encourage spiritual growth in one another and seeks to figure out compatibility; and is always under the guidance and direction of their parents through the process. ” Pray for us [them], for we are sure that we [they] have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18, brackets mine)

Next time, we will cover preparing for marriage. 


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