Dating & Courtship: What's the Difference?

Scott Croft from the Boundless Crew has written a very informative article analyzing this question: “What is the difference between courtship and dating, and is one more biblical than the other?” He provides a working definition of each, describes broadly how the two methods are different, and then recommends why one method is fundamentally more biblical than the other.

Obviously, the issue is not whether one uses the term ‘courtship’ or ‘dating’.  (If you’re in the Pivot, you’ve probably heard me use the terms interchangeably.)  The thing we need to explore is what God’s Word has to say about relationships and marriage and whether we’re seeking to live by the wisdom of Scripture or the dictates of culture.

A word on wife-finding

Yesterday was my wife’s birthday, so as you might expect it gives me a special occasion to think about and give thanks to God for bringing her into the world (30 something years ago), bringing her to Himself (about 14 years ago) and bringing her to me (we’ll be married 12 years next month).

The tip and a theme that has loomed large in my mind throughout our marriage has been this: when choosing a wife, choose a friend.

As men, and particularly in our sensually-supercharged culture, it’s a fight to resist the seepage of worldly thinking into our approach to marriage and relationships.

Not too long ago I spoke with a guy who’s been considering marriage with a girl he’s been dating, but he had some questions about how/when/whether to proceed. He was asking for input on what are the kinds of things that help one discover that God has marked this relationship for marriage and we can, as it were, head chapel-ward. The first thing I started to ask him about was the nature of their friendship.

What are your conversations like? Do you enjoy being around her more than anyone else … and not just because you get to look at her lips while she talks, but because you love what she says? Are you able, like any good friends, to give both care as well as loving correction or do you constantly let each other “slide” into spiritually harmful talk? Do you laugh together? Is the thought of being old, wrinkled and unshapely together 40 years from now, swinging on a swing and talking about your grandkids make you smile? If she was in a terrible accident and ended up in a wheelchair, is your love so conditioned by externals that you think you’d have a very hard time sticking around?

This reminds me of a poignant piece written by an inspiring, prayerful almost-wife of Ian Murphy named Larissa. Ian, cousin of our very own Emily and Rebekah Berger, was in a terrible car accident that put him in a coma on September 30, 2006. She’s been loving him, sitting at his bedside, and praying for him ever since.

The relationship is not about marrying a man who will give her everything she ever wanted. It’s not about his looks or the car he drives or the job he has. It’s not even about his famous wit and clever humor. She writes this just last month…

I’ve been very encouraged lately to continue to pray for Ian to be able to speak. He has communicated to me several times that he wants to be able to speak to us. That’s what motivates me the most. Ian knows that he can’t talk but he knows that he wants to. God needs to give him the strength and knowledge to be able to ever speak to us again. I know that God is big enough to give him that strength if it’s His will.

It seems to me that communication is all that we need. I could care less if the man I marry is in a wheelchair. We just need to be able to talk to each other so that we can move forward with our lives, like everyone else is doing.

Join us in fasting on Wednesday. I’ll be praying specifically for Ian’s communication.
Thank you always,

My wife is the best friend I’ve ever had. Thinking about life with her – anywhere and under any circumstances – is, in the most meaningful sense possible, a happy thought. We’ve lived in dumps, on streets where 3 people (on 3 different occasions) were shot and killed. We’ve slept on borrowed furniture together and “rented” movies from the only affordable “Blockbuster” (the library) together. We’ve endured some trials together. But, by the grace of God, our home has been characteristically marked by joy. And a huge piece of that has arisen from the simple reality that we love being together.

Bottom line, when you think about choosing a wife, choose a friend. Then, twelve years later with (hopefully) kids in tow, you can turn around and help another brother keep this priority in view. That’d be right around the time that Hunter and Will are coming into the Pivot. So, please … remember to do that!

By the way, given that this blog is, you might say, sparsely traversed, here’s another personal post on my “good thing”.

The Greatest Gift

Milton Vincent, author of The Gospel Primer:

“The greatest gift I can give to my fellow-Christians is the gospel itself. Indeed, I love my fellow-Christians not simply because of the gospel, but I love them best when I am loving them with the gospel! And I do this not merely by speaking gospel words to them, but also by living before them and generously relating to them in a gospel manner. Imparting my life to them in this way, I thereby contribute to their experience of the power, the Spirit, and the full assurance of the gospel. By preaching the gospel to myself every day, I mature the bond that unites me with my brothers and sisters for whom Christ died, and I also keep myself well-versed in the raw materials with which I may actively love them in Christ.”

All young men, read this!

This is pure gold from Dr. Ray Van Neste on maturity and manhood. I found it convicting (especially his remarks on whining and complaining) and provoking. I think you will appreciate the wisdom here and the pull-no-punches style of Van Neste’s appeal. Let me whet your appetite with a few selected portions.

Here’s a slice from his thoughts on the question of when to pursue marriage:

I know some have told you that the way to take leadership, step up, progress in manhood is to get married. However, I must differ. Marriage is the last thing some of you need to be thinking of just now. You need to grow up first. I affirm what I think these others are getting at- start preparing yourself for marriage. Move Halo down your list of priorities in order to begin thinking about what sort of vocation you will pursue, how you’re going to pay your bills, etc. But much progress in this may be needed before you really start looking for a wife. If you are not right now getting your class work done, and fulfilling your comparatively light responsibilities as a single student then don’t even consider the prospects of marriage. Instead start working on growing up.

On work, laziness and work-aholism…

Expect to work. That is what God made you for. Reject laziness. See laziness not merely as a foible but as damnable sin, a dangerous cancer that can eat away your soul. Laziness and avoidance of work is a typical sin for men so wage a particularly diligent and merciless war against it in your own soul.
Yes, work-aholism is another error that affects men, but the answer is not laziness. In fact work-aholism is often a way of avoiding the really challenging work of caring for and leading one’s wife and children.
Work is good and ennobling. If this is not the way you think, change your thinking to adopt this biblical view. Reject the “live for the weekend” mentality. Instead, begin asking God and godly leaders what work He has put you here for. Find you calling. Yes, I know He created you for His glory, to be in relationship with Him and with others. But he also made you to work. For what task were you created? What work will you commit yourself to? You need to have some clear thoughts about this (not a full blueprint) before you can seriously consider marriage. Before you should take a wife you need to know where you’re taking her. You need to know what you intend to do in life. Of course God sometimes shifts things, and things change. But you need to have a goal. You need to know, to the best of your ability, under God, and in concert with godly, wise counsel, where you are headed.

The LCC pastors are sensing the need to rally the men of our church this coming year and, in stronger ways, to urge them to step up and, by God’s grace, press on towards God’s great purposes for us as men.

The much-misunderstood Josh Harris

Josh Harris, sometimes touted as the dating-guru, must have thick skin.  His books bring no small response from critics of the so-called doctrine of purposeful dating or courtship.  Then, to boot, his fans can tend to add fuel by investing each detail and illustration from his books with divine authority and slapping demerit badges on all relationships that fall short of the Joshian codes of courtship.

He seems to handle all of this very well.  Whenever I bump into people who are self-proclaimed “not fans” of Josh, I try to say just the sort of thing Josh is saying here.  But then again, it’s better coming straight from the source.  See the links, get the messages.

This pastor/author has done the Body of Christ a great service and despite the extreme cases and abuses of his stuff here and there, I’m very happy to consider myself a fan.

A Mess Worth Making

I think I know what you need. One more book to read right now.

Really though, here’s a new book about relationships and also some interaction about the issues that the book touches. We encounter daily the upheaval of all that’s in our hearts as we relate to others, but relationships are indeed A Mess Worth Making.

Resisting Adultescence

Adultescence or adultolescence, as it is being more popularly called is a huge dilemma in our day. In many places 25 is the new 18 as young adults sing the ToysRUs song and refuse to grow up and settle down.

Time magazine has done cover articles. Both secular news pieces as well as Christian-based studies are being done to see what’s happening among this generation of 20 somethings and approaching-20 somethings.  They’re also attempting to project the impact this will have on the culture as time goes on.

John Piper writes here on how churches can contend for maturity and resist the tide of adultescence. If you’re from Lakeview, you know how deeply I resonate with these things. When Al Mohler talked about this at New Attitude a few years ago it lit a fire in me that has only increased since then.

I thank God for the multiple marriages happening in our church. I was at a rehearsal for some good friends even tonight. They’ll be married by this time tomorrow. I thank God that someone from another church told a friend, “Oh that’s the church where the singles are encouraged to get married?” Well, if I might qualify that and say, “if you don’t sense a call to lifelong singleness, then Yes! Absolutely. We do encourage it. We encourage couples to pursue marriage with wisdom, but encourage them, we most certainly do.”

With that qualifier let me add that this is not to imply that the only way to mature is by getting married. Lifelong singleness is no less godly or noble or sanctifying than marriage is – provided (a big qualifier here) you’ve been called to that. All this said, I think that the major thing our victims or perpetrators – depending on how you want to diagnose it – of adultescence are afraid of is the commitment of marriage.

Piper’s call to the church here beats in my heart. I hope it beats in yours. I hope in our churches we become a part of the adultescence-resistance-effort for the glory of God.

Interview with John Ensor

“Brothers, it falls to us to be the initial risk takers in matters of the heart. Headship means being the one to go ahead and ask. It is ours as men to suffer the embarrassment of rejection if need be. It is our role to initiate. Get to it right merrily. We are the hunters. They are the quarry. It is for men to strike out into the forest and look. It is for women to crack the twigs and stir the leaves so we know where to find them.” (John Ensor)

Remember this quote? We heard from some guys at Carolyn McCulley’s blog about how girls can “crack twigs.” Well now we’ve got an answer from the author!

GirlTalk did an interview with John Ensor, the auther of Doing Things Right In Matters of the Heart. Here’s what he had to say in response to this now-famous analogy and how he believes girls can “crack twigs.”

When God Speaks About Relationships

God speaks to His people. Still. Primarily in His Word, and he also speaks to our hearts specific application of what He has said in His Word. I’m sure we all have some category, if not now probably recently, where we need to “hear from God” about what to do, or what His will is for us. It just isn’t in the Bible if I’m supposed to marry this person, or go to this school, or change to this major, or serve in this ministry.

When we believe we have heard God give us an answer, is it trusting God’s Word when we still go to man for wisdom? Are we doubting God if we examine with others what we believe we’ve heard? Carolyn McCulley shares oh so helpful wisdom to free us to pray and hear from God, and to also diligently embrace the examination and help of others in our lives.

Jane Austen anyone?

Dave Harvey, one of the leaders for Sovereign Grace Ministries, has written a new book called When Sinners Say I Do. Matt shared this excerpt on the guys blog along with a personal confession, and I thought it was so funny, so I’m passing it along! I do personally love Jane Austen (I’m wondering if this excerpt affirms that I’m indeed feminine as a result?). Even if you don’t know Jane Austen, enjoy this difference we have with the guys:

I’m way too masculine to enjoy Jane Austen. Now, I realize that women usually read that as, “I’m not smart enough to get Jane Austen,” and I suppose there may be some truth to that. But even if guys like me don’t get the point, I’ve got to respect any author who can actually capture the imagination of an audience without mentioning a grenade-launcher. Even once. And I’m still way too masculine to enjoy Jane Austen.

In a touch of divine humor, God has given me a wife and two daughters who love everything Austen-esque. Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that the plot is always the same. The only difference I can see is the name of the mansion.

If you’ve never read a Jane Austen or seen a movie adaptation, let me save you some time. Here’s the plot. Start with an anxious, unmarried woman in late eighteenth-century England whose mom is wound up even tighter than she is. Bring in a clueless guy, also usually rich and unexplainably single, who doesn’t know he needs to temperamental unmarried woman to make him normal. Throw in some eccentric characters, frilly clothes, a formal ball, and lots of soggy English countryside. End with a deliriously happy wedding, leaving the distinct impression that this could will never know anything but harmonious marital bliss. Cut to the credits, cue the violins, go buy the soundtrack. That about sums it up.

Why doesn’t anything happen in Jane Austen after the wedding? What about sequels? Here are a few post-wedding Austen stories I’d like to see:

Sense and Sensibility, Episode II – I Miss My Mom
Pride and Prejudice – The Sequel: Darcy’s Hunting Buddies Move In
Emma Returns: The Matchmaker Strikes Again

I know…not likely. That’s why I prefer guy flicks. They end at the right spot–usually when somebody dies. A Western never ends before the two main characters face off in the street, guns blazing. War movies don’t end just as the bombing raid is taking off. And sports movies don’t end until you see how the big game turned out. But in the world of Jane Austen, stories end at the altar, just when reality is about to come knocking. I don’t get it.