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My wife and I have two grown children at home, a son 24 and a daughter 21. Both have a strong desire to have godly Christian homes of their own. After searching the Internet regarding Christian courtship I was struck by how many web sites are oriented towards a sort of Christian dating but with more rules, restraint, and delay.
I think these are often well-intentioned efforts to recapture a discipline that holds marriage as a lifelong commitment to build a family as the Lord would lead. However, those that share their experiences often describe how things went wrong. To give some context, it might be helpful to consider the extent of the problem young Christians face today.
As more and more young people abandon Christianity, there are fewer opportunities to meet other like-minded young people. A Lutheran pastor I know told me that he estimated that they lost about 80% of their young people to the secularism of the world. Some churches attempt to compete with worldly influences by making their church more consumer friendly with an emphasis on a church “experience”. Others reacting against this may impose soul strangling legalism.
We have tried traveling to churches within 150 miles and not found a single one that had members with any discernable difference from any non-Christian group. Our children face the additional difficulty of living in a rural area.
I think a major reason why the courtship of 100 years ago is such a poor fit today is that most of us do not live like people did 100 years ago. The automobile was still a new and rare phenomena. People lived in neighborhoods and knew their neighbors. They often had similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Families were in close proximity and extended. When two young people became interested in each other, the families had probably already considered such a match and had guided them towards each other such that when interest became kindled, there was already approval. Poor matches were usually anticipated and influence applied to discourage the development of any interest.
Because of our mobility and demands on our time, today there is no comparable shared experience between families to help young people make wise selections. A 50% divorce rate and perhaps another quarter living in what one writer once called “lives of quite desperation”, gives testimony to this deficiency.
In addition to the isolation of families from each other, modern families can often be seen as similar to four roommates with outside friends and interests. This can doubly isolate a young person attempting to find someone with whom they could build a family together to serve the Lord.
We chose to homeschool our children. This gave us a closer family connection with each other, but we are still isolated from other families. I think that many of the problems Christian young people face in attempting courtship is that they try to do it all on their own. The key to making it come closer to the more traditional courtship model is to find a way for like-minded Christian families to connect with each other. In this way, young people would have the resources and wisdom of those that love them the most to explore connecting with others.
Given the difficulty in finding like-minded Christians in one’s own community or even sometimes in one’s own church, the Internet becomes a tool that posses the greatest potential for allowing geographically distant families to make connections.
An additional difficulty is that most families are so crunched for time, that there is little left to allocate to an exploratory project like getting to know other families. However, fathers and mothers that can see the benefit of investing the time to search out prospects for their children may hold the key to their future happiness.
We live in a time when even the words “father” and “mother” are under assault. The darkness of this age might be likened to living in Corinth during the first century. However, finding those who still live for Christ is more difficult because many still claim a Christian heritage or legacy, yet live according to the world.
The desire in the hearts of a Christian parents for the happiness of their children is difficult to describe. Many parents have grieved to see their children try to navigate a hostile world on their own where dating and cohabitation are the norm.
As Christianity and traditional values seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate, I would be interested to hear if there are others who also seek to find godly mates for their children. If there are enough people, it may be worth it to put up a web site where families can connect.
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