Potential Christian Spouse: It Takes One to Know One

As my daughter, Hannah, and I were driving home one day from a youth rally, we naturally began to talk about the lessons we had heard that day.  In the middle of that conversation came the comment from Hannah that is every mother’s nightmare: “Mom,” she said, “I am just really sick of hearing teachers and preachers say ‘Just say no to premarital sex’”.
I’m sure I almost had a wreck. I could not imagine such a statement coming out of her mouth! I had always heard that moms of teens should be on the look-out for the morphing;  you know the time when the compliance is replaced by complaining, the respect gives way to rebellion, and the silliness turns to sulking.  Other moms had told me to prepare myself for a time when she would become a “real” teenager and just go to her room and talk on the phone or listen to music or whatever it is that teenage girls do for a few years. But Hannah and I had a sweet and open relationship.  I was taken aback that the transformation could be so sudden and marked by such a blatant “out of the blue” remark.
“I beg your pardon, Hannah, but what on earth do you mean?” I stammered.
“Oh, mom, you know. I just don’t think sexual promiscuity happens like that. I mean I really can’t imagine myself ever having to seriously say “no” to a guy who is pressuring me to go all the way.”
“I’m still a little fuzzy…”
“Well, Mom, you see it’s like this. In my circle of friends it’s most often me who suggests that we change the channel because the show gets raunchy or the commercial is obscene. I am the one who won’t go to the pool party because I’m not going to wear a swimsuit in front of a guy. Remember, it’s me again who’s home on Friday night because the movie they’re seeing is not clean. And I am the one who won’t even sit at the same table in the restaurant where someone is drinking. C’mon now Mom….Do you really think that there is a guy out there who would ask me out with the faintest notion in his little brain that dating me would include sex?!”
She had a valid point. As she went on to explain, the guys who really are interested in sexual relationships are generally smart enough to “take the cues”. They are more likely to look for girls who aren’t displaying obvious defense mechanisms against sexual impurity.  While perhaps failing to understand that the devil can also “wear down” well meaning couples, she used good logic. It is true that a young girl’s chances are far better to stay away from fornication when she is making a good attempt to flee (I Cor. 6:18). Perhaps she didn’t see though, at that moment, the most profound inference she was making about her future. She was actually saying that a girl can, by her demeanor and all the little day to day decisions of sanctification, “weed out” many unsavory potential boyfriends.
Our son has verified on several occasions that the same shoe fits the male foot, as well. Our conversations go something like this: I say…
“Caleb, what about Susan So-and -So?  She’s really cute. Have you thought of asking her out?” (I always try to be helpful like that.)
“Yeah, Mom. I thought she was cute, too….And she’s pretty smart.  She’s in my club and I thought about asking her out, but then one day I passed her in the student center and she used this vulgar word that just totally made me NOT want to date her.”…OR
“Yeah, Mom.  She’s nice, but she wears things sometimes that just really aren’t very modest. I don’t think so.”…OR
“Well, I did think about her, but she was in that group that invited me to go see that movie that no Christian should really see.”
I’m their mom. I understand that finding the right mate involves more than the process of elimination. I certainly am not under the delusion that we did everything right as we tried to develop moral courage in our kids. I hope they will forgive us for all the times we failed to take advantage of opportunities to strengthen the muscles of conviction. At the same time, though, I hope our kids remember all those hundreds of prayers in which we said their names, imploring the Father to help them find faithful Christian mates; mates who would help them get to heaven. I hope our nightly family Bible times had a powerful and cumulative effect of showing them the importance of a marriage united in God’s Truth.  I think they will remember times when we desperately tried to help other couples who had made poor choices in selecting mates. When they were old enough to start dating we gave them little dating “check cards” they could carry in their wallets with important characteristics for which they should be watching; things like “Can she be happy when she is not the center of attention?” or “Does he speak respectfully to and about his parents?”  We encouraged them to attend a faithful Christian university where young adults from similar homes would likely attend. Their dates are always welcome at our house and are included in our family Bible times. You and your son can observe a lot about a girl’s spiritual moorings in the atmosphere of a family devotional. You and your daughter can learn a lot about that guy when your family engages in a deep spiritual conversation. There is truly a plethora of everyday activities, conversations, and nuances in the Christian family that make it only natural that the children look for someone with whom they can share the passion that dwarfs all other interests.
We are counting on our theory that the job of getting faithful sons-in-law and godly daughters-in- law is 95% complete when we successfully place real conviction in the hearts of our sons and daughters. The devil is very assertive in America in 2010.. If our children grow up with their affections on heaven (Col.3:2),  it will not be an accident.  Furthermore, if they grow up to be morally pure adults, they will be very dissimilar to the average person of the world (I Pet. 2:9).  For distinctive young Christian adults, moral and spiritual priorities will serve as fences, seriously narrowing the field of potential mates.  While this thinning of prospective candidates for marriage is a good thing, it may make the process of finding him be arduous, perhaps even daunting. It may mean going out of your way, flexing your schedule, or even traveling to places where faithful people come together: Christian colleges, lectureships, seminars, and fellowship activities. The decision of whom to marry is larger than life. Its ramifications affect destinies of generations and reach to eternity.  While the stakes are very high, we, as parents must remember that, while we may give advice, we are not in charge of the final decision. But we have a very powerful ally in our corner.  God, who pities us like a father pities his children (Psa.103:13), has promised that when we ask according to His will, he hears and answers(I John 5:14). I believe it is His will that my children marry people who will help them go to heaven. So I will keep on asking daily. I really want God to help choose the two people who will be helping to raise my smart and beautiful grandchildren.  He has never failed to give me the spiritual desires of my heart as I delight in Him (Psa. 37:4).
As my husband and I wait on the Lord with eager hearts of hope, we are overcome with a sense of wonder at His amazing care. We know that He is preparing another stage of our lives in which He has potential blessings the richness of which we don’t yet have the capacity to fully anticipate. We believe there are two things that, by the grace of God, parents can do to help insure the marital security of their children. The first is to daily teach, by your words, your priorities, your own marriage relationships, and your cumulative reactions to the immorality of the world around you.  The second is to fervently pray for your children: that their major choices in life will always be those which will ultimately lead the future generations of your family to heaven.  The first one is the hardest.  It is also urgent because it is a fleeting responsibility. Parents have one span of about eighteen short years (the shortest span of your lifetime!) to fulfill this huge and sacred responsibility.  The second is the one we never stop doing.

*Article first appeared in THINK magazine, Focus Press, Brentwood, TN

"Someday My Prince Will Come" – West Huntsville Purity Day

One Sunday night, not too long ago, several of our teen girls approached me after services and wanted to know if I would speak for an event they had decided to plan. Well, how often do you get the opportunity to respond to the spiritual initiative of a group of teen girls these days? These teen girls are planning a purity day. They have planned a program, made invitations, designed t-shirts and flyers, made a huge wall mural, and planned food and decorations. They are hosting the event. I am just speaking. Well, I already had a fairly bulging speaking schedule for the months ahead. But do you think I was going to pass up this opportunity? Not when they tell me they want an emphasis on modesty. Not when they are trying to think of activities that will really help them grow. Not when their purpose is to help teen girls plan strategies to maintain holiness and purity. As long as there are girls who want to put this message out, I plan to do all I can to help them! In fact, they honor me by even asking. Most importantly, they are honoring God in their diligence to make this happen. Kudos, then, to Meredith, Jordan, Emily, Cara, Jessica, and Kristen. They are the girls who just completed the GIFTS program for Lads to Leaders; the study that sparked this event. And special thanks to Ellen and Bethany and the moms who are working, too, to make this day a success.

So we’ve all gotten busy and now it’s almost time. We’ve put the word out to as many as possible. Flyers were displayed at Horizons Camp at FHU and distributed at the Southern Evangelism Conference last weekend in Birmingham. We mailed out 120 to congregations and girls are passing them out at school and to their friends. We’ve promised free housing to out of town groups that come. We already have groups signed up from Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee. But in case you haven’t yet been invited, consider this your invitation. Make your reservations now. We hope to see you there!

Guest Writer: Hannah Colley

The post today is a reprint of an article written by Hannah for her university newspaper, The Bell Tower. While it may seem to be a lightweight piece with little spiritual relevance, I believe it does make application of a scriptural concept. In Titus 2, godly older women are commanded to teach younger women some basics of Christian womanhood. These lessons are staples of lots of what you read on this blog. Among the principles to be passed from older to younger women are those of chastity and discretion. So the topic of pursuer or pursued in romantic relationships is the one she addresses. When I thought about what she wrote here, it occurred to me that discretion and chastity within marriage might well be a lot easier to come by if girls were accustomed to some prudent dating practices prior to walking down that aisle. So I decided to print her thoughts. Her regular feature article, by the way, is entitled His View / Her View. Thus, her references to Brad, who always takes the other side of every issue.

Dating Initiating?

When Brad and I decided on this week’s topic, I warned him that I’m definitely a traditionalist on the issue. As I understand it, Brad’s vision seems to be that all girls desert whatever they’ve learned about etiquette in dating and do things the “modern way.” If a girl likes a guy, she should call him up herself and ask him out. She should have no problem initiating a relationship, nor should she have any problem paying for dates.

Frankly, I couldn’t disagree more. I realize I’m old fashioned. I’m not oblivious to this fact. I still, however, believe there’s a lot to be said for chivalry—whatever is left of it. I truly believe that, deep down, every girl wants to be sought after. She wants to be chosen, pursued, and cherished as something special. At the same time, I think Brad is wrong about guys, too. I think the guys worth having are the ones who are willing to actively pursue what is worth the most to them.

Girls, do you want to have to always wonder whether he would have asked you out if you didn’t make the first move? Do you want to have to wonder whether he really liked you or whether he just acted interested because you made the first move?

As a true dating conservative, I’m not embarrassed to say that if I like a guy, he’ll never know it unless he shows obvious signs of interest. I don’t call guys, I don’t text first, and I certainly never ask them out. I know what you’re thinking—that’s why I’m single (it’s okay, I can take a hit), but in all reality, I view dating that way because if a guy isn’t wiling to take a risk and ask me himself, I’d rather not have him. I’m not that desperate. If a guy truly respects me, he won’t make me do the work. He’ll want to chase me…and deep down, every girl wants to be chased.

Speaking of chasing, I once heard a devotional by the great Lonnie Jones, who demanded that all the guys in the audience listen up, because he wanted them to hear this sentence: “Stop chasing the easy ones. Chaste girls want to be chased…and they’re the ones that are truly worth your time.”

As far as the money issue is concerned, if the guy can’t afford to pay for our dates, we’ll have Gano (university cafeteria) dates and picnics. We’ll go stargazing and watch movies under a warm blanket. We’ll take long walks and play games. But we won’t do things that cost money. The girl should never have to pay for a date. It throws our roles as male and female completely off-balance. It’s not about the money—it’s the principle of the matter.

I’m currently enrolled in Donald Shull’s King Arthur class, and in one of my readings about this time period, I ran across this description:

“Every knight in Britain who was noted for valor had clothing and arms identical in color, and the women had exquisitely matching garments. They deigned to love no man until he was three times proven in military combat. Thus, the women were made more chaste, and the knights more valiant because of their love of them.”

How much better and more appreciated would relationships be today if people had to work for them—if people set them in high esteem as something to be cherished, reverenced, and placed on a pedestal as they did back then? I realize we’re no longer living in Medieval times, but some things are simply timeless—or they should be, anyway.

Don’t Kiss Toads

Toads are really nasty creatures.
With totally boogey-eyed wart-y features.
They’re lazy and they eat gross stuff,
Until their throats and bellies puff.
They don’t mind slime or mud or muck.
Sometimes, they hop in a pick-up truck!
If you grab one, you don’t have him long.
He wriggles and squiggles and slips out. He’s gone!
And you are left with slimy fingers
And a swampy smell that ‘s putrid and lingers.
And Grandma says you may get warts,
Cuz’ “that’s what happens to a toad’s cohorts.”
Maybe you’re okay with walking out on that log
Reaching in the “yuck” and grabbin’ that frog.
‘Cuz you’ve heard that tale about how you can change him…
Clean him up spic, teach him tricks, rearrange him.
You’re not worried at all. You’re a girl with good sense.
So you go ahead and kiss him and then he’s YOUR…

TOAD.

by
C. Colley

Part Two, Can I Help My Child with a Huge Decision?

HAPPY CHRISTMAS MORNING!! If you are having half as much fun as we are, you don’t have time to read this! If your house is one tenth as messy as mine is, you have a lot to do. But don’t do it. Just walk on the torn paper for a while. Walk around the strewn presents. Don’t take the tree down for at least three more days. Drink hot cocoa and eat warm cinnamon rolls. Don’t count calories or weight watcher points today. Take an afternoon nap and then get up and play games. Savor the day with your family. Your time together will be over all too quickly.
I hope you caught the twinkle in your kids’ eyes when they opened their presents. Mine are both in their twenties, but surprises still bring the desired reaction. The giving is still as much fun (well, almost) as when they were toddlers. When I think about giving them gifts, though, I know that it’s not the ones under the tree that are ultimately important. In the last post, I wrote about one of the most enduring gifts you can give them. It’s a tool box with just a some very practical warranted tools to help them one day build a great marriage and a happy home to His glory. If you can help them, early on, to make wise choices when they choose spouses, you have given them something money can’t buy. Here are just two of those tools:
1. When your child is old enough to talk at all, begin making this statement to him/her: “When I marry, I’m going to marry a ________________.” Do this daily with even your two-year old. Elicit the response “Christian”.
As your child matures, accompany the statement with an elicited definition of what a true Christian is. A Christian, by definition is a follower of Christ. This means more than being a member of some church. This means patterning his/her life after Christ in all practical areas.
2. Then, well before your child begins to date, come up with a list of characteristics or qualifications for which to search in finding this Christian. When we did this at our house we made little wallet sized cards, laminated them and called them our “dating check cards”. They look like this:

Remember, it’s too late to say or do any of these things once your son or daughter has fallen in love and decided whom to marry. While you should still do all you can to help your child avoid marrying someone who will endanger his/her eternal salvation, the time to begin is well in advance of the teen years. If your child can walk and talk (even a little), get busy!

Can I Help My Child with a Huge Decision?

I am quite convinced that rarely does any young person contemplating marriage really realize the seriousness of this decision. Future successes or failures, the plights of generations to come and the destinies of souls can all be swayed by the choices we make about marriage. I was 20 years old when I married. I had dated Glenn for a year and a half when we made our vows. We were both faithful Christians having been raised in Christian homes. Glenn was already preaching the gospel on a regular basis. We were serious about spiritual things. Yet I am now convinced that I could not, at that vulnerable point in my young life, have fully comprehended the vast implications of the marriage decision. I think it’s especially hard in modern America, a society in which the media puts so much emphasis on outward beauty and material success, for young people to focus on the eternal import of choosing the right mate. A recent TV viewing season had all of America, it seems, engrossed in a couple of reality television dramas in which groups of people were paid large sums of money to participate in marriage competitions; contests in which some “lucky” contestant would marry the supposed millionaire. As a culture we are sending the wrong message to our children about the marriage vows. We are cheapening the sacred and desecrating the holy union of marriage when we convey that the one who gets the glamour guy with the most money is the winner. Marriage is a God ordained institution and should never be relegated to being the grand prize at the end of a game show.
In Judges 14, we get a look at a young man who became very determined to marry the wrong girl. Samson’s mother and father were devastated by his choice. After all, he was promised by an angel, set apart with a Nazarite vow for the purposes of God, and moved by the Holy Spirit of God. This incredible young man had found his wife-to-be among the uncircumcised Philistines.

And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

Are there things we, as parents, can do early on to help our children make wise choices when it comes to dating and marriage? Look for the next post for free ideas that just might help…and certainly can’t hurt.
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(much of this post is from Women of Troubled Times, by Cindy Colley. Publishing Designs, Huntsville, AL)