The boys aren't always gentlemen around here and the ladies...well.....sometimes they aren't so lady-like either. But, we are working on it.
But, before we start talking about the book that I recently got to review, available through Grace and Truth books, called Of Knights and Fair Maidens, I have to back up a bit and delve into a potentially sensitive subject. My actual review of that book will be Part II of Knights and Fair Maidens.
Should it be the same among Christians as it is among non-believers?
This subject is one that has been heavy on my mind lately, probably because my oldest is in high school now....and quite handsome....if I do say so myself!
It really seemed like everytime I turned around last summer and early fall, there was a speaker talking about dating, books would be recommended on dating, someone would reference a book on dating when I was reading about a totally different subject.
In my Sunday School class, we are studying the book, Discerning the Voice of God, by Priscilla Shirer. To summarize the book....a lot, it talks about how to recognize when God is trying to talk to you....there is a portion of the book where the author states, if God is getting thematic with you, then you probably better listen.
There was definitely a theme going on.
Really, it was almost laughable. I could be reading a homeschool planning book, an old planning book that was handed down to me from someone who hasn't homeschooled in 4 or 5 years....and the author would mention a particular book....just out of the blue.
Someone on the radio would talk about this particular book.
I would be reading a blog....for a recipe.....and this book would be mentioned.
It went on and on.
Now, people, listen to me.....they all mentioned the same book.
Yes, I finally gave in and called up the book on-line and ordered it.
It was called, Kiss Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris.
So, what does it mean to Kiss Dating Goodbye? To very briefly summarize, it is to give up dating and by doing so, being able to discover that God has something even better--a life of sincere love, true purity, and purposeful singleness.....until you are ready for marriage.
It is a weird concept in todays society. Why not go out and have fun with as many people as you can. No one is hurt, right? Well, speaking from experience....someone is always hurt.
In using myself as an example, I remember being obsessed with wanting a boyfriend....wanting to be partnered up....wanting someone to walk me to the bus...and kiss me.....wanting to be asked to the dances....wanting to be asked out....yet terrified that someone might actually do it.
I mean, it overtook my mind. School work? Huh? What did it matter? I wanted to be wearing the right outfit with my hair just right....my bangs just big enough to catch someone's attention, my eyeliner just thick enough.
Honestly, I did okay in school, grade wise....but I didn't really apply myself. I wonder how I could have done if my thoughts were on the future instead of the present and the cute boy sitting behind me.
The obsession with wanting to be paired up went on into adulthood and is how I ended up in my first marriage. He liked me. He really liked me. It didn't really matter that I didn't really like him that much. He wanted me. He proposed within 6 weeks. Everyone around me told me to watch out for him. I rushed through. I was old....I mean, I was 24....all of my friends were already married and starting families. I'm sure this will work out fine. He will change after we get married.
I will save you all the gory details. But, I should have listened to my family and the voice in my head (even as I was walking down the aisle) that this was not the one for me.
So many times throughout my teen and young adult years, I changed myself for whatever guy happened to be around. If he didn't like all the attention I got when I sang....well, okay....I won't sing then.
If he thought I went to church too often....well, okay....I guess I don't need to be that involved.
If he wanted me to drink like his buddys girlfriend did, so I didn't seem like such a stick in the mud....well, okay.....pass the White Russian. (Seriously, do not under any circumstance pass the White Russian....even the smell of them now....makes me sick . You don't want to know that story either.)
In Kiss Dating Goodbye, it talks about all of these things....but mostly talks about the fact that God gave you gifts and talents so you could use them...not hide them. It got me to thinking about my kids.
They do have unique gifts and talents. I don't want them to be dimmed or diminished for anyone. I want them to be developed and nurtured and then used. I don't want a boy or girl to come along and distract them from that development. I want them to come along at the right time in their life, and support their talents and have talents and gifts of their own to share with the world.
So, the basic premise of this book is, yes, be friends with the opposite sex, you don't have to avoid them like the plague, but don't couple up....don't even be alone with the opposite sex, even if they are really nice and you met them in the church youth group. (Even those "too early" relationships with nice young people end in drama, emotional turmoil, or going farther than you intended....but mostly, they just distract you from becoming the best you there is.)
Because, really, the ultimate point of dating is marriage....so you shouldn't do it until you are ready for marriage. Which means after you have finished your education and you have an actual job.
That is an astonishing thing to think about, isn't it. It even sounds kind of crazy and unrealistic, I know.
Anyway, I read that book. Identified with so many parts of it. Identified with how I wished things had been in my life. Identified with the hurt and pain from meeting the perfect boy at Vennard Bible College who thought I was perfect for him our freshman year and then decided in our sophomore year that the new, cute little red headed freshman, was perfect for him (which apparently she was....they are still married and have 4 beautiful children). Identified with all the stupid mistakes I made with men after Mr. Perfect moved on.
Identified with not really knowing who I was or my purpose in life.
The book spoke to me way deep down. I asked Rainman if he would read it so we could talk about it. I was afraid of what he would say or think.
His take on the book was much the same as mine, overall, with one difference. He said, "Well, that is basically how I did things. I knew I wanted to get married. There were girls that I liked through the years, but I knew they weren't anyone I could marry, so we just stayed friends. I wasn't trying not to date or anything, but I wasn't just out looking for a good time."
So, he went to school, went to graduate school, got a job, bought a house, went on vacations, played on the softball team, got involved in church, then, one night, he answered a sales call where someone told him about a match-making service called Together.
He was 35 when we met and 36 when we got married. He was purposefully single.....until his dream woman (yes, me....) came along. He wasn't sitting home twiddling his thumbs or bemoaning the fact that he didn't have a woman. He was living life. He was having fun. He was being adventurous. He was spending time with his family. He was getting lots of good practice at being a father with his nieces and nephews.
Okay, now we move down to our teenagers, because by this point, Rainman and I are both thinking that this path is the one we want our kids to take. Yes, I am talking about that word: Courtship.
It sounds so old fashioned, and Duggar-ish, I know. But, based on our separate and very different pasts....Rainman and I both felt that this was the best for the kids. The only problem was how to convince them and not have it be something forced upon them by their mean, old fashioned, living in the past, parents.
So, I assigned the book to D-man (and eventually A-girl) for school. I tried not to talk to him too much about what I had thought when I read it, but once he started, he knew that these were some of the things he and I had been sort of talking about for a while (even before I realized God was getting thematic with me). When he finished the book, I asked him to write a paper outlining the pros and cons of dating versus courtship and then to state his opinion.
Without printing his whole paper here, apparently God was speaking to him too, and he came down on the courtship side of the equation (but didn't want to call it that).
On to A-girl, who remember is only 12.....but, you have seen her new picture on the top of my header?
That is why I had her read the book.
She was a much more reluctant reader (literally and figuratively). She didn't want that to be another way we were weird homeschoolers. Then, she ended up taking the book with her a few times when we were going to be out and about for other kids activities during the day. People saw what she was reading. By people, I mean other teenage girls.
One of them had already read the book and said that this was the way her family thought too. The other girl is a friend of A-girls from church and is a junior in high school. Older and cool. She hadn't read the book, but was so excited about it and said that she also was thinking along those lines....and they ended up having a talk about purity.
Can I get an amen for the right kind of peer pressure?
Okay, so just in case I haven't made myself clear, our family is going to pursue a courtship model of dating for our kids. The news is out. Spread the word. We are weird. We are okay with that.
The problem is: What does that mean in 2012?
How do you court in this day and age?
Come back for Part II of Knights and Fair Maidens and find out!