Any Man of Mine

“Do not put your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation…” (Ps. 146:3)

 It seems that everywhere I look I see books on waiting, courtship, dating, and singleness; blogs and posts about it; podcasts and magazines, articles and videos — the list goes on.  It’s a hot topic today.  Our world of fleeting romance is definitely not the ideal.  Yet it seems that as a result of choosing the path of purity we are turning out members of society with the ‘ideal’ as their ultimate focus.  Most of it belongs to the feminine side of the equation.  Some belongs to the masculine side.  With the commitment to purity, it seems that many young people form an idealistic concept of who, when, where and how, and when theses dreams don’t take place quickly, the participating faithfuls begin to lose faith.

High school is far too young for young people to be dabbling in relationships.  This is a fundamental idea that with any rational thought can be perceived as perfectly valid.  But what about afterward?  Why is the homeschool/purity movement producing persons (especially women) whose only real desire is to ‘get married’? 

The problem is not with marriage.  I truly believe that marriage is wonderful and I will be delighted when it happens to me.  Yet I have observed, over and over, young women leaving the nest of homeschool with one purpose alone: to catch a man.  My dear persevering relatives have seen this same tendency in me — although not so much to ‘catch’ one, as simply to throw my dime-a-handful fish pellets in the water and see if any come around. 

Girls will dream of their wedding day, that is a given.  But what about making your life around a wedding day?  Until you reach that time, you will not have a purpose.  No goal except to find a mate.  With any other object this may be attainable — a job, an education, even a home — since these things can be found and earned.  A mate is an entirely different animal… a human.  As time goes on, this human can become a god:  all youth is spent in pursuit of him, much time is spent in dreaming of him, and marriage, a wedding and a mate can become all you ever want out of life.

So what happens… when the wedding is over?  What then?  Wedding days are over by sundown, honeymoons are over in a week, and then there’s the rest of a lifetime to deal with.  Tests and trials much like singleness come — often much more difficult as the family must provide for itself.  What then?

The Ideal Mate suddenly is revealed as a sinning human, as well as are you — despite all the preparation for marriage.  If marriage was your idol before the ring, your eyes are opened wide as you see that it’s not all romance and candles.  All the time spent to attain it may make you wonder if it was well spent at all.  Did you redeem the time of your youth?  Did you make the most of the years you had?

Preparing for marriage is an admirable goal, and I would never say to stop learning to be a homemaker or provider (whichever you may happen to be).  At the same time, if that is your only goal in life it is a low-sighted vision.  While God works mightily through married couples, He can work mightily through anyone who is called by His name.  Those with the freedom of singleness are often more readily available than those that are wed, as with the Apostle Paul:

“Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.  I wish that all were as I myself am.  But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.  To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am…”  (1 Cor. 7:6-7)

Would I like to stay single for a long time?  No.  I want hugs and kisses too.  My mom and dad seem to have a rather fun time with it, and I wouldn’t mind trying it myself with my husband someday.  However, if that becomes my only goal then I am making an idol out of something that is a blessing of God, not God himself.  It is the same with a career or an education — or anything that takes the place of God in our lives.  Yet it often seems that marriage is somehow given a license to take this position in the lives of young people while careers and educations are not, especially to girls.

You may be alarmed by the feministic ring to that last statement, but don’t be; I will tell you what I am for.  I am for young men and women making these years when they are unmarried, without commitments and people to provide for, the years that they fill with learning and moving forward.  These are the years to do things you dream of — not in a selfish way, which the world recommends, but the dreams that God lays on your heart.  Dreams beyond marriage.  Once a woman has children she should be in the home educating them as her God-given position in the family.  But until then, she has work to do either for her husband or for her God.

Marriage can seem like the safe haven that escorts a girl out of her parents’ home into the home of her husband.  She never has to face ‘the world’.  The truth is that we live in the world.  We may not be of it, but we sure better be able to face it.  We had better know what to say and do, how to speak and how to teach — and in these things we can still be all the wife or husband that we need to be.  In fact, we will most likely be better. 

Any man of mine will be worthy of my respect and love because he went out into the world and accomplished the dream God laid on his heart.  He will be my hero because I will see in him a man who took his time and redeemed it, preparing for me by not wasting his time dreaming of me, but working to support me.  And I will do the same:  use these years to their maximum.  So when my man and I meet, our years together will be twice as powerful as our years apart.  That’s my dream, and marriage is a part of it — but marriage isn’t the dream itself. 

Society may be set against marriage, instead being a proponent of the ‘swinging single’ image, but that does not give us the license to take the pendulum the other direction with the idea that marriage is the ‘only way’.  We must strike a balance, with morality as our guide and God as our hope, knowing that our work for Him will be effective whether we have a spouse at our side or not.  When He is in His rightful place, then He can give us those blessings that we desire.

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A Courtship Success Story

I have been to only a few weddings in my lifetime — I think perhaps three.  I love weddings.  Unfortunately, the Michigan climate seems ill-suited to making couples marry.  This is rather frustrating, as the only chance I really have to dress up for a party would be at a wedding; so I am currently working on getting my friends married so I can attend their weddings in a pretty dress :-). 

Of the weddings I have been to, however, there is one that stands out.  The wedding was lovely, as most are — but the reason that couple was getting married was a result of their prior relationship.  It was the only wedding I went to where the groom had courted the bride. 

It was beautiful.  It was special.  But what made it even more special was the fact that the couple had saved themselves only for each other — everything belonged to the other, nothing was held back… nothing had been lost.  The groom had wooed the bride, and won her hand.  He didn’t waltz in non-committally and eventually decide to pop the question.  He fought to win his bride — and he was indeed the victor!

This couple now has three beautiful little girls, and if you ask the bride, she will tell you she never regretted her decision to wait.  Of course she made mistakes — she told me and other girls the mistakes she had made in high school when it came to dating — but when her heart was in the right place, God brought her a man who loved her completely.  And she loves him.

Seeing a success story is always encouraging.  Sometimes it can seem like courtship is a long way off, or that no man will even attempt to try it.  These stories give us hope.  Now, this is my last post on the topic of courtship for a while — but as I end, I want to recommend a website for readers to visit.  It is the story of a married couple, their courtship, wedding, and lives as singles.  It is a great encouragement and a great example to those of us following in their footsteps: please visit Woody and GIna’s Website.

God Bless!

Courtship? Are We Talking 1880?!

When it comes to finding a mate, there immediately arises much controversy as to how you should go about it.  Some suggest you go out and try out every person like a bathing suit until you find one that ‘fits’; others suggest that you don’t interact with the opposite sex at all, but let God and the head of the family decide your spouse.  And yet others decide that it is combination of all the above.  Then there are the suggestions of Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Bob, and the advice of friends and enemies, and the ill-resulting attempts of the church lady who wants to see you wed by the end of the year.  What method is best?

The one aspect that I completely advocate is waiting till eighteen to engage in any relationship, no matter what your method.  High school relationships are destructive emotionally and often physically as well.  Being old enough for commitment is a necessary step preceding anything else.

So say a young man has decided to approach a young woman.  He likes her better than any other girl, and he wants to get to know her better — and not just as a ‘friend’.  But he isn’t ready to drop to a knee just yet.  There are many things he doesn’t know about her.  So what does he do? 

First,  Talk to her father.  No matter how you go about this, no matter if you date, court, betroth or whatever — TALK TO THE FATHER.  He is the authority over his daughter, her protector and her guide.  If a man wants to win her as his own, he must first ask the current ‘owner’!  In the discussion with her father, the young man will clarify his intentions.  This step eliminates those guys who are in it for ‘fun’.  They have no intentions to clarify — why should they talk to Dad?  Also during this meeting, the young man will be told how the family goes about the whole relationship.

This is where the relationship ‘begins’, and this is where we will explore what the three major options are for stepping into the waters of love.  First: Dating.  Everybody dates.  The problem with it even after high school is that stereotypical dating involves two people either with their peers or alone, unaccountable, and without any future commitment in mind.  Why do you think so few girls maintain their virginity?  It is because they are alone, unprotected, and cannot withstand the temptation.  Plenty of Christian families allow dating — it is actually the norm.  But that doesn’t make it the best choice.  Often Dad has no clue who his daughter is with except for a short glimpse when the boy is on the front porch.  So what are the alternatives?

Another group, primarily made up of homeschool families, advocates ‘betrothal’, which at first glance can be confused with courtship.  However, betrothal is totally different.  This system involves the young man coming into the relationship with the express intention to marry the girl.  He has no escape — he cannot back out of the commitment.  He begins the relationship almost by engagement, and most of his interaction is with the father, and less with the girl herself.  This method is neither realistic nor effective.  The couple do not really know each other, and the young man is left ‘dating the Dad’ in order to reach the daughter. 

The third method is courtship, and while it is under one section, it differs with each family.  I will detail my own family’s method here as an example.  I feel, as an 18 year old woman, that I have and will have much freedom in my relationships with young men.  I think that the man who wants to ‘get to know me’ will also have a lot of freedom.  He will not feel pressured into marriage, but he won’t be able to be vague about his intentions either. 

Courtship is like dating, where a couple does things together, talks, and gets to know eachother and their respective families.  The difference is that the couple does things in the open, with groups, or with family.  They do not find the need to ‘be alone’, knowing that temptation is often right behind them in that time.  Also, courtship works toward an end.  The goal, eventually, is to culminate the relationship in marriage.  People don’t get to play games.  There is no deceit or falsity, because anything that might be gained by being so can’t be gained in daylight. 

Obviously, this is the method I advocate.  Now, some people may be alarmed by the fact that I have ‘gone out’ with young men when I am committed to courtship.  I will tell you why.  First, I am eighteen and graduated.  I have new responsiblities and new privileges.  Second, I had an understanding with these young men that we were ‘just friends’.  Thirdly, I cleared the whole event with my parents.  So for two friends to go out, eat at a bistro, and look at an art gallery in broad daylight with other people present gives 1) accountability; 2) preserves purity; and 3) maintains friendship.  These young men were friends who my father knew and who I knew did not have deeper intentions.

A choke hold on a relationship will kill it.  There must be some trust, some freedom, or the couple will become a greenhouse plant that dies when real weather rolls in.  But by the same token, there must be adult supervision and guidance.  Couples are still young.  There must be accountability. 

To some of my readers this may come as a complete shock.  Perhaps you never considered the problems with dating and are less than convinced.  For those of you who are still doubting, I suggest reading “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy.  Also, evaluate your motives:  would accountability grate on you?  If so, what are you doing now that you couldn’t do with parents or adults present? 

Think about these methods and make sure that you and your family have firmly established the method you choose for relationships after high school.  That day will come quickly.  Be prepared!

This Is Your Time!

Whether you are in high school or graduated, if you have committed to maintaining your heart purity for a man who will commit to you, there will be waiting involved.  During this time, we have established several things:

1) Marriage isn’t the goal.

2) Good male friends can be beneficial and healthy.

3) Jesus Christ must be your focus and the Love that satisfies.

4) Finally, this isn’t a time to ‘twiddle your thumbs’ – and this is what we will talk about today.

I am naturally a procrastinator, and have tendency to do the things I like before the things I don’t.  Thus, all the things I don’t like end up having to be done on the same day.  This wouldn’t happen if I did them during the week, but as it usually occurs, my weekends are spent catching up and trying to finish everything before college, church and speaking deadlines.  I’m working on it! 

Now apply my method of organization to your life as a young woman or man.  If the years before marriage are spent daydreaming over a mate who isn’t there, or spent ‘just being a teenager’, or wasted on more trivial things than how to run a house, cook, and clean, what do you think will happen when you ARE married?  Serious catch-up time!  You will be learning by the seat of your pants, and wishing that there had been a few less movies and a few more hours in the kitchen.  Am I a gourmet cook and amazing laundress, who cleans the bathroom every day and scurries about like a magical Mary Poppins?  Far, far from it.  And none of us will ever have every day to be and get things done perfectly.  But these years are years of preparation, not just play.

How do we maximize this time?  There are several things I think are essential for any girl to learn if she hopes to get married.  I have not learned them completely; most are very much still in the works.

Cooking:  “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is actually very true.  Henry Ford proposed after eating his girl’s apple pie.  Bob Evans married his wife because of her buttermilk biscuits.  Learning to cook is essential to raise healthy children, have a happy husband, and to keep the family finances within budget as well.  Meal planning and using the grocery flier is necessary to make economic choices.  Fast food and eating out are fine once in while — for dates, or when you are in a hurry — but if it is a regular occurrence, the bill soon racks up.  Cooking from the home is a talent too many girls lack and all should learn.  I’m one of them! 

Cleaning:  I don’t know about you, but I hate cleaning bathrooms.  It never lasts longer than three days anyway.  And dishes too — every meal there they are again!  Unfortunately, this will be the story of our lives for… the rest of our lives!  Proper, thorough cleaning has to be done not only for a good presentation, but for health and comfort.  And not surprisingly, there is a way to clean a house that is indeed the ‘right’ way.  Swiffers and dust wipes aren’t going to cut the mustard — or the dirt.  They are great for quick cleanups on an already mostly-clean room, but for a regular cleaning hands-and-knees mopping, dishcloth dusting and edge vacuuming are what make the difference.

Sewing:  I hate sewing.  I don’t have a bit of patience for it, and I always do it wrong. I was the one that sewed the sleeves shut on a jacket and put the interfacing on upside down.  But still, this is a very beneficial talent to have.  My mom taught herself and has been able to sew costumes, nightclothes, dresses, formals, and all the valances in the house.  My best friend is an amazing seamstress.  Not only does she sew her own clothes, but she designs them as well!  While these days buying patterns, buttons and fabric can make sewing just as expensive as buying clothes, there are many times this talent is of great benefit to the family.

Budgeting:  Learning about money and how to use it is the most important thing to learn in these years.  I am still learning it myself.  With the economy in its current state, and with our new president soon to bring much ‘change’ to the nation, we need to be prepared to be frugal.  And we need to know how.  I am reading Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” on my mother’s recommendation, and I would suggest it to other girls as well. Learning these things now is essential, because learning them on the fly in a marriage will just cause extra stress and strain.  One of the primary reasons for divorce is finances. Educate yourself in budgeting and using funds — help your parents with the bills, and watch how money is spent and what it is spent on.

Interpersonal Communications:  Can you talk to a bank teller?  Can you talk to the JC Penney clerk?  Can you call a company on the phone and get the refund they didn’t give you?  Can you talk to an angry person without getting angry yourself?  If you can’t communicate, you can’t marry.  Them’s the breaks, Binky.  Communication is what makes the marriage.  ‘He says, She says’ has to be constantly worked out with understanding and love, and if confrontation makes you angry, or incites a collapse into tears, not much will be accomplished.  This is the time to learn to listen, and think before speaking.  This is the time to develop excellent phone and computer skills.  This is the time to learn how to get what you need from a clerk, teller or other employee.  I was terrified of clerks when I was younger.  What finally broke this was working in a retail environment.  Suddenly, I was the clerk!  I was forced to learn to communicate in many different ways.  I think this is unfortunately a weakness of many girls.  Practice now!  This is the time.

Work and Education:  I guess you could call me a stay-at-home daughter if you wanted.  I am living at home, and staying with my family.  However, I am not ‘staying’ at home in the sense that I am there all the time.  I work Tuesday through Saturday, and Mondays assist as stage manager to a drama troupe.  Sundays I have a few ministries at church to help with as well.  I am also midway through my second year of online college.  I do not intend to have a career in any way, but I have other reasons for getting my degree.  Homeschooling is becoming more and more threatened, and with our government changing hands, it may one day be illegal to teach children in the home without a Bachelor’s degree.  Am I wasting money on a chance occurrence?  Not in my mind.  I am maximizing my time: working to pay for college and insurance on my car,  teaching young ladies in the drama group, helping in my church and gaining a degree in something I love.  If you are at home, rather than just waiting to get married, make the most of these years.  If you don’t get married, what would you do with your life?  Do it now! 

What this comes down to is faith.  My dad told me this.  Did you see Facing the Giants, the movie?  The old man in the movie told a story.  There were two farmers whose land was suffering because of a drought; both men prayed to the Lord, asking that they might have rain.  One farmer prayed and kept waiting for a downpour.  The other prepared his fields to receive it.  This is what we are to do.  God blesses those who ask in faith and then go to work for Him, maximizing the talents they have been given.  Don’t just sit!  Go, seek, find, pray, work and learn.  This is your time.

So… Can I See You Again?

Girls who choose not to date in high school are making a hard but good choice.  Not only does it give them time to focus on God, but it also gives freedom in friendship and time for the family.  These girls are preserving their precious gift of purity as well.  We have already gone over the ‘dangers’ of dating and what to do in the time of waiting.

But now you are eighteen.  High school is over.  What now?

I have watched several girls go different directions when they finished high school.  For some, they ‘put in their time’, and were swiftly seen with a boyfriend, scruffy and short, as soon as their Open House was over.  Others continued on with the exact same commitment they had in high school, perhaps more stringent than before.  Others were married within the year.  Each family had a different system for what they deemed appropriate after high school, and their daughters, for the most part, followed that system.

I turned eighteen six months ago.  No one showed up on my doorstep with a pocket full of posies and ring.  But things do change when you turn eighteen, and how you deal with those changes will determine who you grow to be, who you meet, and how you go about relationships in this new adult life. 

Some of this will reiterate what I said in the post, ‘Can I Have Guys as Friends?’ and for those of you that haven’t read that post, I would suggest it simply so that you can see where I am going on this topic.  Truly, it all comes back to that question — can I have male friends, and how do I interact with them?  There are, however, two different answers.  The high school answer was used in the ‘Guys as Friends’ post, and I have a different answer for those who have graduated.  While very similar, there are a few differences when you become an adult.

Eighteen is the age where guys become bolder.  You are no longer in high school; you are recognized as an adult.  With this in mind, offers for dates will become more common.  How do you answer?  Young men will want to spend time with you in public places, or in groups.  How do you deal with that?  And what about when you can’t stand someone, and they won’t leave you alone??  I have an example of the last question, so let’s start with that one:

There is a young man at my local college named Bill.  I am only taking one class at the college (the rest are online) and it is at night.  So every night I go to class, and there is Bill.  One time, I repeat, ONE time, we walked back to the parking lot on the same sidewalk simply because both our cars were parked in the same lot, and I had no choice.  But he took that one little walk as a sign that we were meant to be.  The next few weeks he made sure we left class at the same time so we could walk again.  I was very much not interested in him, he is not a Christian and also, our interests are just too different.  So I got smart:  I parked in another lot closer to the building so we couldn’t walk together.  That worked at first, but soon he got smart too, and parked in the same lot.  He chased me down the sidewalk to ‘ask my advice’ about a speaking project.  So I got smarter:  my desk was closer to the door than his, so I made a run for it like Eric Liddle as soon as class ended, and by the time he maneuvered around to follow, I was gone!

Unfortunately, that method is not going to work with everyone.  I knew, though, that Bill was the type of guy who would ask you out on his fourth week knowing you if you gave him the time of day.  I was not interested, but I didn’t want to hurt him or make him afraid to ask other girls out, which can happen if one girl turns a man down rudely.  So I came up with a plan.  If Bill asked me out, I would say: ”I’m sorry Bill, we can be friends in class, but I am in a committed relationship right now and can’t date you.”  My parents helped me come up with this.  Am I in a committed relationship?  Yes — with Jesus Christ!  This answer will be true and also unoffensive to someone who enjoys your company but just doesn’t meet the standard.

But what about when you LIKE the guy that asks you out?  This is where it gets tricky.  I have another example for this one:

I went to a concert in the park this past summer, and although I had invited a mixed crowd, I was the only one that showed.  I was sitting by a pleasant older lady when a tall, dark and handsome young man came up to me.  (Yes, it’s true, but I didn’t believe it either, at first) He patted my dog and we chatted generically a moment.  Then it began to rain… or rather, pour.  Everyone ran, soaking wet, up to the Presbyterian church.  I put Lassie in the car and slipped quietly into a pew, dripping from my skirt and hair.  Who comes up but Mr. McDreamy.  “May I?” he asked, gesturing toward the seat.  “Yes,” I answered.  He asked me my name, if I lived around here, and all that stuff they ask in the movies, you know. “I’m Samuel, but you can call me Sam.” He said it as I were receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He went to tell me how well he sang, and how he had a paid lead part in a play, and how he knew all about voice techinique and where he was schooling and how old he was and what his dreams were.  Now, a man’s ego tends to take over a bit when he is nervous, but this was over the top.  He gave me a cordial farewell before joining the choir for the performance.  (He did a good job, too, at least he’s not a liar!)  Afterward, I left the church and walked down the tree lined sidewalk in the summer sun.  The trees were still dripping, the sun was gleaming…  I looked back, and there, on the steps, stood Sam, frantically looking over the heads of the crowd.  He spotted me and raised his hand.  I waved demurely and walked out of sight.  It wasn’t five seconds before he came running down the sidewalk hollering, “Phylicia! Wait!” I turned to face him and he said, “Can I see you again when I come back to town?  I mean, do you have a phone number?”  So I told him, “I don’t usually go out with people I have just met…” “I understand!” “But you can do something with me and my family, if you like.  You can call my dad if you want to.  Here is my card –”  His face had fallen. His manner grew cold.  It was like night and day.  “Alright then.” And he left.  I liked him.  He was proud, but he was friendly and attractive.  My human, girlish self liked him.  But as you can see by his change of manner, he didn’t want family involved.  He didn’t want accountability. And when he read the Bible verse on my business card, his face revealed he didn’t want that, either.  He wasn’t the right one.

These instances will become more and more frequent.  I would suggest planning your responses so you are not caught off guard.  Being distracted by these attentions can cause you to be either rude or unable to answer, which usually translates as ‘yes’ to the normal, confident male! Also, if not already, plan with your parents what you are to do after high school when it comes to relationships.  I will be getting into my own family’s methods next week.  However, now is the time to figure it out, because whether you like them or not, the suitors will eventually come!

Twiddling Your Thumbs?

This past summer, before I began working at the showroom, I worked as a waitress in a little diner a mile down the road.  I had to be there at 6:30 every morning to open, and then I stayed until 2 or 3 pm cleaning up.  The restaurant was very small — only eleven tables fit in the dining area — but I spent every day, all day, running back and forth and to and fro like a frantic hen.  People could be friendly, fussy, flirty or freaky — rude, rambunctious, Really Annoying… it didn’t matter what you felt, you were to wait on that person and serve them to the best of your ability. 

The title of ‘waitress’ implies that you are waiting on something.  Truthfully, a waitress ‘waits’ on the customer to order his food, ‘waits’ on the cook to produce it, and finally brings it out to be served.  Yet while she is waiting for these things to happen, she is alway moving.  She is not idle, she is not shiftless — she continues to work even while the food is not ready.

Waiting on love is the same.  As Sarah Mally said in her book Before You Meet Prince Charming,  waiting does not imply that you are sitting around waiting for something to happen.  You aren’t twiddling your thumbs and humming “Someday My Prince Will Come”.  On the contrary, this time of waiting is to help you become all the woman (or man) God wants you to be. 

The reason we wait is often lost in the occasional pain of the waiting.  Truth be told, you aren’t waiting to get married.  The goal is not to get married.  One of the problems that arises with the ‘wait not date’ mentality is that it produces girls who think that marriage is the end-all.  It becomes their life goal, their only calling, and any other services are either scorned or ignored.  This is not a right or true way of thinking.  Do you know I know?  Because I did it. 

Being a wife and mother is a wonderful thing, but there is a time for it.  Until that time, girls should not spend their days focusing on reaching that time.  This time, this day, this present, is where you live.  This is where you become effective.  You may be waiting, but keep moving.  Keep other goals!  Develop alternatives.  What if you never marry?  Then what?  What if you don’t marry till you’re thirty? What will you do with your time?  Make the most of the years God has given you.  While I do believe that singleness can be a trial, making the most of that trial grows you into a person worthy to marry another. 

Each day is given to you and me to glorify God and grow in our walk with Him.  While planning ahead and having dreams are fine in moderation, an over-focus on the future produces discontent.  As Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious about itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt. 6:33-34) 

This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Got a Boyfriend Yet?

Every Christmas one side of my family used to gather together in the town hall of the little village where my grandma lives.  There was usually a huge turn out — up to 100 family members total.  And every Christmas, while I piled my foam plate with mashed potatoes and baked beans and my cousin’s squeaky violin was tweeting out “Silent Night” from the corner, my Aunt Charlotte would come out of nowhere and ask the question she had asked every Christmas since I was eleven:

“Got a boyfriend yet, Phleesha?”

While other people may not grab your elbow and ask it in the same nasal tone, you have probably already fielded this question plenty of times.  And you will continue to answer it for years to come, until you’re married, and society becomes bored with your faithfulness to monogamy. 

As one guy friend of mine said, “It seems to me people are so bored with their own romantic lives that they have to go meddling around in everyone else’s.”  It seems that that is the case.  Now, some of these are well-meaning relatives that just want to see their little babies grow up and move on and be happy — but often even they can’t understand why a girl would consciously choose not to spend her high school years dating.  “Hey, it’s fun! I did it, and I turned out okay, right?”

Maybe in the 50’s, when there was a current of morality still running through the culture, dating could be viewed with a little less caution.  Back then television had just appeared on the scene, and music wasn’t constantly blaring with sexual innuendos and overtones.  Children grew up innocent, girls learned to be homemakers, and boys learned to be men.  But even in that time, dating opened up room for temptation and consequently, failure.  With the invention of the car, young people could ‘take off’ anywhere they wanted to.  No one was watching. 

And no one was watching while the dating scene became more and more centered around physical interaction.  No one was watching when children — fourteen and fifteen years old — were committing adultery without even knowing what the word meant.  Namely, parents weren’t watching. Or perhaps they watched, with hands thrown in the air, and ‘let kids be kids’, rather than training them to be the adults they should be.  The current of morality became nothing but a trickle through the 60’s and 70’s, and in our present day, we are lucky to see but a drop of it on the wasteland that once was our country’s moral standard.

Choosing not to date in high school should not be done out of fear, which is what many people would like to say is our motivation.  The decision to wait is a decision not to avoid, but to attain. Our motive should not so much be to make known what we are against as to proclaim what we are for.  While a discussion of the problems with dating is necessary to understand why we need an alternative, focusing only on the negative turns off the world faster than anything.  What solution do you have?  Why should you wait instead of date?  What are the benefits?  What can you attain by waiting to be marriageable age before entering a relationship?

So we tell them.

“You can attain freedom to have friends, and to be one.  You can attain character as you wait, free of distraction.  You can attain a greater understanding of family and marriage.  You can attain appreciation for the sanctity of the marriage relationship.  You can attain inner peace knowing God will bring the right one, rather than grasping for him or her.  You can attain, and maintain, purity of body — out of the way of temptation.  And you can attain a purity of heart, unbroken, untarnished, and precious in the sight of God.”

What can a temporary relationship offer that outweighs those benefits?  The teen years should not be wasted with broken hearts and unkept promises.  They should be a time to grow, and enjoy life with friends without the unknowns and pressures of a ‘special’ relationship.  Am I saying that after high school dating is also unadvisable?  No.  I will be addressing that in later posts.  But high school is a time where a relationship has a 98% chance of ending.  Is that worth the time, energy, emotion and temptation?

I don’t think many people realize the implications of the teen dating scene.  Unsupervised interaction between girls and boys in this over-sexualized culture will inevitably lead to the problems we see all around us today.  Parents bewail the state of our generation, wondering what to do, and what went wrong.  We know what went wrong — and now we can offer an alternative; a way to do things right.  Many people won’t want to receive it because it seems too ‘extreme’.  Let me ask you:  in view of the consequences of unsupervised dating relationships, is there any alternative that wouldn’t be ‘extreme’? 

Waiting instead of dating in high school is a commitment.  Like I said before, it isn’t always easy or fun.  But your Lord knows that you are doing it to honor Him and your future mate, and He will bless your decision.  Saving your heart and body will be a decision you will never regret.  Make your high school years the best they can be.  Have good guy and girl friends, have fun, and enjoy life.  A temporary relationship is not necessary to fulfill that goal.  I can testify to that!  I am now out of high school, and no, I don’t have a boyfriend yet.

So one more Christmas for Aunt Charlotte to go unanswered.  But that’s alright by me.