36.9%. What would you say if I told you that this is the percentage of sexually active FOURTEEN YEAR OLDS in America, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics as cited in an online article? What if I were to tell you that according to FOX News, 22 out of every 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17 became pregnant in 2006, and that number is continuing to rise having increased by 3% just from 2005-2006? This doesn’t even account for the sexually active boys. Also, according to statistics females aged 15-24 account for 51% of all abortions in America, and 84% of these women are unmarried. Keep in mind, these are just those who are considered to be “having sex”, these statistics exclude those engaged in sexual activities other than intercourse. Add that to the fact that 50% of all American marriages end in divorce, and only 68% of our teens are currently living with two married parents AT ALL, regardless of whether or not those two parents have had previous divorces that these children have been through (citation). WHAT IS GOING ON?!
Sisters, I have no doubt that every single one of us is DEEPLY disturbed by these statistics, & not only that but by what we see every single day we are in this world! You go to Walmart and you see a 12 year old couple with their arms around each other and their hands on each other’s hips! We have FIFTH GRADERS “sexting” at school, sending text messages to members of the other sex with pictures of their body parts! We have rainbow parties and rainbow bracelets, all of which demonstrate partners that a boy has had and how far a girl is willing to go! WHERE IS IT COMING FROM?!
Sisters, I am going to be boldly and crassly honest: it is coming from us! Let’s not fool ourselves by thinking this is everywhere but our town, everywhere but our CONGREGATION! I can personally site example after example of good Christian girls from good Christian homes who have ended up pregnant, or with an STD, or having had an abortion that haunts them to this day!
I am going to use a word that I typically do not use at all, but it is the only one that seems appropriate. A practical definition of stupidity is doing the same thing you have always done, expecting to get different results. Recently I was with a family I love dearly as they were dealing with their daughter’s first “heartbreak.” The mother and the daughter both were agonized over modern dating, and both said that there MUST be a better way… as they began to discuss the next boy she would date!
Allow me to say that DATING, and our encouraging our childrento date, is the problem! Dating in American society is no longer a girl and a boy on opposite couches sipping tea, listening to music, and visiting in the parlor. Dating today is where we send our often-times 13-year old children into the world accompanied only by their raging hormones and members of the opposite sex… ON THEIR OWN! Shame on us! Horrible things happen in movie theaters! Horrible things happen in cars! Horrible things can happen in YOUR living room if you leave your children unattended!
These horrible things do not happen to “bad” kids, and they don’t happen to “bad” parents. They happen to unsuspecting kids and parents who want to do the right thing and do not know how.
So what are we as Christian teens and Christian parents to do? Allow me to suggest courtship. Courtship?! When I first heard that word I immediately pictured Scarlett O’Hara in her puffy dresses being “courted” by all of the men, or Mr. Brooke bowing to kiss Meg’s hand in the entryway in Little Women. My automatic reaction was, “we can’t do that today?!” So, as someone whose automatic reaction to courtship was less than positive, let me throw out some things for you to consider.
First of all; what was the divorce rate back when they operated by courtship? Had teen pregnancy ever even been heard of? Have you ever heard the saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”? Well, the system of courtship was not broken, yet in America we have replaced it with the VERY faulty system that we refer to as, “dating.”
I firmly believe that it is time to change back! Our children depend on it! If you are brutally honest, & those you talk to are brutally honest, how many people do you know who did traditional dating and did NOT do something they shouldn’t have? You don’t have to have intercourse to sin. Because of all this, we have chosen courtship for our four children. It is not without its difficulties, especially for us since our children attend public school, but it is absolutely doable, and our kids are worth it! Our oldest just finished 4th grade and we had to have many discussions this year because all of her friends were beginning to have “boyfriends”. Our 2nd oldest has been dealing with this since Pre-K.
But ladies, as Christians are we not to be aliens in a foreign land (I Peter 2:11ff)? Are we not to be in the world and not of the world (John 15:19, John 17:14-15)? Why do we apply these Scriptures to every area of our lives BUT the all-important area of how our children will choose their spouses?
Especially since our children are exposed to dating in the world at school, we have found it very useful to have very free and open discussions any time the opportunity presents itself. They are perfectly okay with courting even though their friends do not understand it, because it is what has always been expected of them. Honestly, as Re’Elle, our oldest, has gotten older it has given her an incredible sense of peace and comfort that her worth is NOT dependent on who her “boyfriend” is or how many “boyfriends” she has had even though many of her friends struggle with this very thing.
I have been very proud of how our kids have handled themselves in this regard. For instance: my girls know that there is no reason to “date” or have a “boyfriend” until they are ready for marriage. They are intelligent kids & this makes perfect sense to them. They know that when they are ready to pursue marriage, the young man (woe to him!) must start by asking their daddy permission to court them. In my husband’s words, “If he is not man enough, & does not care enough about my daughter to ask my permission, he is not good enough for her.” Of course, we will raise our son with this same expectation. They also understand that once they begin courting their time will be spent with our family or his family. It has been said that you can fool me, but you can’t fool me and my entire family! This is so true. We teach our children that marriage is the combining of two families, but how often do we teach them HOW to do that when they are dating? Courting accomplishes both. We have also been very honest with our kids. We have been very open with them about the fact that their friends will see this as odd, & it is. We have told them that others will not understand, and they don’t. But we have ALSO taught them that this is the way of Christianity and our faith in our Heavenly Father and His Word is what is most important. Once again, even our 6 year old understands these things. So often I think we sell our children short to our own shame.
I believe that part of the problem many have with the idea of courtship is a direct result of our worldly view of what it takes to make a happy marriage. We throw around terms such as, “compatability” and “falling in love.” Fall in love? No; you fall in a hole; you DECIDE who you are going to love! What greater compatibility is there than that of two Christians? Yet it seems for many whether or not a potential spouse is a Christian is of little or no concern. Let me suggest to you that if a couple is made up of two God-fearing Christians who base their lives on His Word, it WILL be a happy marriage! What could make a happier marriage than one modeled after Ephesians 5 or Solomon and the Shulammite? What better wife than one who strives after the example in Proverbs 31? What better husband than one who is striving to live like Christ? Incompatibility is a direct result of worldliness in our marriages!
When you look at our Biblical examples–which is what we do with everything else in our lives as Christians– we see that they took it even further and had arranged marriages (Genesis 24, Genesis 21:21). Yet how many Scriptures talk about the love, care, and affection between a husband and a wife? This is themed so much throughout Scripture that the relationship between a husband and wife is compared to the relationship between Christ and the church in Ephesians 5. Would Christ’s bride go out alone with a man?
Sisters, divorce and teen promiscuity have literally reached epidemic proportions in today’s society, & even within the church. This WILL NOT change unless WE change it! I petition again that we CANNOT continue with the same actions and expect different results! Our purity and that of our children, is one of the most precious gifts God has given us. If we don’t protect it, then who will? If we don’t protect it, what will the consequences be? Let us prayerfully, Biblically consider the amazing change that courtship can bring not only to the church, but to our communities and our society as we are shining our light into the world.