Monday, October 18, 2010

Committed to courtship

Twelve year old Stephanie sat on the floor, totally absorbed in the video we were watching together. A friend had sent us a Dateline NBC segment titled “My One and Only” about a young Michigan couple who, as young teens, had separately vowed to never date but rather to wait on the Lord to bring their life partners. The documentary discussed the pros and cons of “old-fashioned” courtship and followed Chad and Heidi through their short engagement up to their very first kiss; at the altar (you can read their story here). As the newlyweds drove off into the sunset and the program ended, Stephanie turned to look at her daddy and me with tears in her eyes. “That’s what I want!” My heart froze.

Terry and I had come to Christ just four years earlier (read my testimony of Salvation here). Neither of us had heard of modern-day Courtship before. If Steph had wanted to date around I could have offered her abundant advice. But to help her remain not only physically, but emotionally pure for the ONE MAN that the Lord would someday send to her??? To say we felt incompetent is an understatement. Praise the Lord that what He calls us to, He will equip us to do! 

Since that pivotal moment ten years ago, Stephanie and her younger sister Emily have both separately entered into a covenant with their Daddy that basically states that they will keep themselves pure for their husbands, obtain their father’s blessing on their courtship and will wait for Daddy’s full release before entering into marriage. In this Covenant, Terry agrees to protect them from unqualified men, teach them God’s principles of life, and pray for them and for God’s choice of their life partners. 

For Stephanie’s ceremony Terry and I asked Pastor and his wife to join us and Stephanie at a Victorian restaurant. After the meal, we discussed the Covenant and prayed together.  After the Covenant was signed, Terry presented Stephanie with a signet ring with an emblem of a key before a heart, under an umbrella. This emblem signifies that the key to her heart is safely guarded by her authority.
Stephanie's Covenant Ceremony 2002

For Emily’s ceremony a few years later, we prepared an elegant meal and had this celebration once again with Pastor’s family after church. Terry also presented her with a special ring with the same emblem.
Emily's Covenant Ceremony 2007
Haley is reading through the Establishing Biblical Standards of Courtship booklet (which includes two Covenant forms; one for a son and one for a daughter available from  Courtship Connection) in preparation for her upcoming Covenant Ceremony.
We have yet to go through an actual courtship, but as we’ve read books on the subject and have observed several friends who have made similar commitments, we do have an idea of how we would like things to go. 

We realize that this approach is radically different from the world and opposite from the way Terry and I were raised. By the time we came to our marriage, both of us had been married and divorced, and had left a trail of numerous broken relationships behind us. We had given pieces of our hearts to so many different people that there was little left over for our “life partner”. We do not believe this to be God’s best and by God’s grace, we have chosen a different path for our children. 

Recommended resources:
Books on Courtship/Purity:
Preparing to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl
Get Married by Candace Waters
Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris
Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Eliott
(For early to mid teens):
Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally
(For younger girls/boys) Beautiful books by Jennie Biship Chancey
The Princess and the Kiss
The Garden Wall
The Squire and the Scroll


Courtship stories 
Young Ladies Christian Fellowship Courtship Stories 

If you like this post, you might also enjoy Stay in the Castle.

This post is linked with Raising Homemakers and Domestically Divine Homemaking link-ups. Check out all the wonderful posts there!


  1. Thank you very much for this post. My husband and I are in the same boat, but our daughter is only 1 years old :)
    However I feel very strongly that God is calling us to go against the world, our families advice and wishes. This post is one of many stepping stones place by Him. thank you!

  2. Debbie, we bought the signet ring at a jewelry store and took it to an engraver that has the original template designed by our Pastor when his boys were younger, to have it stamped. Emily's is a different style, but has the same engraving. We plan to get Haley's soon.

  3. Me and my husband have also chosen to have our children follow the path of courtship rather than dating. We also have very bad pasts with dating, and no experience with courtship ourselves. However, we do feel God will lead us in this. Blessings to your daughters! :)

  4. oh wow lots of info, I have to come back and bookmark lots of them :-)

  5. Thanks for sharing this information. I am from Sweden, and not until last year did I hear about the modern day courtship.

    Oh, thank you very much for displaying my blog button. I just noticed and I really appreciate it.

  6. Cheryl, thank you so much for sharing and linking up to Domestically Divine.



  7. Thank you for this post! Do you know of any way others can obtain a copy of the video? Chad & Heidi's testimony is so powerful and rare! So many of us do not know what courting is. I had a chance to see this video at a conference recently and am desperately trying to obtain a copy. Thank you! Blessing!

  8. My all time favorite book on this subject is "I kissed Dating Goodbye" by Josh Harris.

  9. @ Stay at Home Daughter; I've read the book, but didn't list it here because I felt that it is more beneficial for older teens and/or those who have already dated more so than for those who've made a commitment to court. Also, Boy Meets Girl is good (though only our 22 year old has read it and omitted Chapter 9).

  10. I am glad you are committed to keeping your daughters safe and happy, but please become fully informed about courtship before making that decision. There are many stories on the web of good faithful young Christians for whom courtship was a disaster. One prominent young courtship author is now divorced with four young children to support. If nothing else, reading their stories may help you avoid the same pitfalls in your daughters' courtships. God bless.

  11. That is a beautiful idea! My stepdaughter is only 8, but there's coming a day if we're not raptured out soon that I will have to handle this... I wasn't raised to do "courtship" either, so new ground here for us too!

  12. Cheryl, I just came across this post of yours! What an encouraging story of how you had the little ceremony with your daughters,and I LOVE the idea of including the Pastor and his wife!

  13. The concept of “emotional purity” makes me twitch. First and foremost, it is just not Biblical. I am not suggesting that it is contrary to Biblical principles, but, unlike sexual purity, it is not a clear Biblical mandate. When parents, and even churches, begin teaching kids that their hearts are somehow made impure, or incomplete, if they develop romantic feelings for a person whom they do not later marry, I think that we are potentially bordering on the unhealthy. Also, as I see kids who were raised with this teaching growing up, I am seeing at least some of them: A) Feel guilty when they are attracted to a person of the opposite sex, and/or B) Have an extreme reticence to move forward in pursuing any relationship when the time is right, because they have trained themselves to hit the emergency shut-off switch the moment they begin to perceive romantic feelings for someone. We were designed to have feelings. They are good. They help guide us toward our future spouse. When they come up at the wrong time in someone’s life (i.e.: when he/she is not positioned to pursue a relationship) they are best managed and dealt with…not squelched, stuffed down, denied, or regarded as inconsistent with the will of God. Besides, if we are going to be faithful in our relationship with our spouse, we’d best learn to appropriately manage feelings for persons of the opposite sex to whom we are not married.

    1. We do believe that emotional purity is Biblical: "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23)

      In many places in Scripture we are admonished that what we entertain in our minds is as though we have done it already: "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28)

      We realize that temptation itself is not sin; it is what we do with the temptation that determines whether or not it culminates in wrong-doing.

      Of course our children are going to have emotions to deal with. But what better way to learn to appropriately manage inappropriate feelings than BEFORE they are married?

      We know many young people who have been raised with this teaching and they have strong, healthy marriages. We are looking forward to going through this beautiful process with each of our children.

  14. I just hope to encourage you. I signed a purity covenant when I was thirteen and kept it through one amazing courtship and tomorrow will be married a year. Don't loose heart, I did not meet my husband until I was 25 and God has greatly blessed our marriage and commitment to purity. Keep strong against naysayers God will bless you and your daughters in this great adventure.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment; this is very encouraging to me! As I realize that not everyone will agree with the way we choose to live our lives, I will allow negative comments, as long as they are respectful.

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