Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďRESPONDING TO QUESTIONS ABOUT COURTSHIPĒ

Proverbs 18.22; 31.3; First Corinthians 7; Second Corinthians 5.17

What does a pastor do when young women who are concerned about their future, who dream about marriage, love, children, and family as do most young ladies who have some hope for the future, approach him? You bring a message about courtship.

What is courtship? Courtship is a process whereby two people enter into an arrangement wherein they agree to consider marrying each other by devoting themselves exclusively to cultivating their interest in the other person and seeking common ground for a lifetime together as husband and wife. They do that in order to reach the best possible decision about their marriage to the other person. Courtships are frequently not open-ended, but usually have a beginning and a definite ending, at which time the two people announce their considered decision about the future with or without each other. Courtship is a more mature process than dating, in that it does not involve rejection but the pursuit of Godís will. Therefore, should one or both decide not to marry, the decision does not reflect a reject the other person, but the conviction that the other person is not Godís suitable choice for his or her life in marriage. Another benefit of courtship over dating is the means of persuasion. Dating typically involves manipulation and passion at some point, while courtship focuses on mature reflection and an honest consideration of what kind of life the two people can reasonably expect after reviewing, praying, and seeking the counsel of others.

One other tendency found in courtship that is not often found in dating is where the two people spend their time when they are in each otherís company. Daters tend to want to be alone, which suggests the absence of real love and the inappropriate cultivation of lust. Courtship, on the other hand, typically sees each person wanting to expose the other person to friends and family as much as possible to see how everyone fits together and interacts. This reflects the mature realization that when one marries one formally marries only the spouse, but practically marries into the family life of the other person. In other words, it is dumb to think you can marry a woman and enjoy a life of bliss together while hating her mother and father, and vice versa. One cannot expect a woman to be happy when her husband hates her mom and dad, and will have nothing to do with her brothers and sisters. Conflicts arise, and the spouse is torn from those she loves when such a tearing away is not at all necessary. The same thing is true for a wife.

Ladies, should you opt for courtship before making the final decision about marrying a man, allow me to suggest four main considerations that should inform your evaluation of that man who is courting you:

 First, CONSIDER THE ISSUE OF CONVERSION

 When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, He did so to suffer for the sins of undeserving sinners.[1] When He rose from the dead, He was raised for our justification.[2] When He ascended to His Fatherís right hand on high, He was enthroned to be our Advocate on high.[3] The result of Christís saving and keeping work is that those who come to know Jesus Christ are new creatures, Second Corinthians 5.17.

Keeping in mind that many men will lie to get what they want, as well as some men simply being deceived with respect to their own spiritual condition, a woman has to be very careful who she decides to marry. If you love Jesus, why would you consider allowing any man who does not obviously love and serve Jesus to court you? If you love Jesus, why have any interest at all in a man who does not love Jesus in a telling others and serving way? As well, why would you expect a man who does not actively serve God now to begin serving God after he marries you? After all, it is easier to serve God single than to serve God married, therefore, you should naturally expect that if ever that man were going to serve God, he would do so now, before he is married.

This is quite beside the established principle that no Christian has any business accepting as true any personís assertion that he is a Christian without corroborating evidence.[4] Okay, so he says he is a Christian. The question is if he acts like a Christian, loves God and his neighbor as a Christian is commanded by our Savior, and bears fruit the way a true Christian will bear fruit. No responsible and sensible woman would allow any man to court her unless she is persuaded he is already a Christian. Furthermore, during the course of the courtship you should ever more closely scrutinize your suitor for evidence of the new birth, for evidence of spirituality, for evidence of determination to serve God, and for evidence by his explanation of his conversion experience that he knows the Savior. Ask him to tell you how he came to Christ and what Jesus means to him. He does not like talking about such things? He likes talking about himself. He likes talking about his interests. Is it not suspicious that when it comes to Jesus, he doesnít want to talk about Him? Since many are called but few are chosen, and since many will claim to be saved who are not, marriage to a Christian man is so important that to guarantee marriage to a Christian man a woman should make sure he is a Christian man before she marries him.

If you would like some explanation of the heartaches associated with marriage to a lost man, all you have to do is ask and I will introduce you to women in our church who know from tragic firsthand experience.

 Second, CONSIDER THE ISSUE OF HUMILITY, SUBMISSION, AND CONTROL

 Have you ever had sex with a man? Have you ever been married? Do you realize that the answer to those two questions determines what spiritual categories you occupy in the Apostle Paulís treatment of the subject of marriage in First Corinthians chapter 7? Women who have ever had sex, whether or not they have ever been married, occupy a radically different relationship to their fathers than those who are virgins. I will bet you did not know that.

Allow me to state but not at this time prove that Godís general plan for Christian women is submission to a divinely instituted authority, with the men in her life provided by God for her headship and then for her spiritual protection and oversight being her father, her pastor, and her husband. When a woman chooses to have sex with a man without benefit of marriage, she is irrevocably casting off her fatherís oversight and spiritual protection. Once that is done, you cannot ever completely recover that relationship. You are now in a different category. A virgin, on the other hand, can make use of courtship to wisely, cautiously, properly transfer the responsibility of protecting and guarding her spiritually from her father to the man she carefully chooses to marry. A woman who is not a virgin, including a divorced woman or a widow, needs to recognize her exposure to spiritual danger, making courtship and the matter of submitting to the man you marry an extremely important and beneficial step in your life.

Should you determine that any man who wants you will have to first court you, consider that you are honoring your father by requiring his permission for a young man to try to persuade you to live with him in marriage instead of continuing to live with your father, to submit to him instead of submitting to your dad, and exercising an incredible amount of control over the process. What better way of humbling yourself to Godís will for your life, while at the same time submitting to your father and exercising a great deal of control? Control comes to you by means of your influence in your fatherís life, as well as your decision to opt for courtship and any final decision concerning marriage when the courtship has ended. You can spare a young manís feelings by seeing to it that your father does not give his consent for you to marry, along with your commitment to marrying no man your father does not approve of.

 Next, CONSIDER THE ISSUE OF PURSUING VERSUS BEING PURSUED

 Proverbs 18.22 tells us, ďWhoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.Ē No one who has read Godís Word will be surprised to discover that there are no instances in the Bible in which a woman sets her sights on a man and finagles to marry him, with the except of Delilah (and we know how that turned out). Yet we find that kind of thing permeating our society, and even our churches. Yet a woman finding her husband rather than a man finding his wife is a recipe for marital disaster.

My recommendation to you young ladies is that you discount once and for all any interest in any guy who does not seek you as a wife. If it is you who seeks him, if it is you who pursues and persuades him, then he is not the guy for you, in my opinion. Your man needs to seek you out, and my recommendation is that you insist on courtship as the avenue by which you are to be sought and secured for marriage by a man. This is all predicated on you understanding that the man who seeks and secures your favor in the proper manner has found someone who is good for him, and has obtained Godís obvious favor. Since that is true, you should expect interest from men who will not court you. They do not want to be subjected to your scrutiny or the scrutiny of your father, your family, or your pastor. In other words, he thinks you are good for him, but has no confidence that he is good for you. You do not need that kind of a loser in your life.

By the same token, you do not need for a husband someone who is so passive, so shy, so insecure, so awkward and backward, that he is dependent upon your efforts and your determination to pull off an agreement to marry. Excuse me, but seeking a wife is a male leadership function, and if a woman seeks and secures a husband, she has performed the leadership function that sets the stage for the entire marriage. I am sorry if I offend anyone with this statement, but I think I can tell in a marriage who sought who for marriage, the man or the wife. I am not saying a guy who was sought by his wife cannot be a very nice man and a wonderful Christian in most respects. What I am saying is that such a guy will tend to be somewhat backward when it comes to decisive leadership in his home and marriage. It will be harder for him to take the strong stand than if he had initially sought his wife, and his tendency is to hold back instead of stepping up during times of crisis in the home when strong and assertive leadership is needed.

I am not suggesting that men in marriage are required to be loud and blustering, or that they all carry Bowie knives and wear sleeveless shirts. Neither am I suggesting that wives be docile and mute. What I am suggesting is that the way in which a serious relationship begins goes a very long way in determining what kind of relationship will continue to exist between a man and woman in marriage. Even if two young people have known each other their entire lives, there is an occasion in which a new kind of seriousness enters into their relationship, when the future is beginning to be pondered, and marriage is now considered. Proverbs 18.22 tells us which of the two should initiate that process, and it should never be the girl: ďWhoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD

ďPastor, what should I do if I think a certain guy is the right guy for me, and I am convinced of it, but he never says or does anything?Ē What you think is one thing. What he shows you by his actions, by his willingness to set aside his shyness (which is pride, after all) and humble himself enough to take the necessary steps to seek you as his wife, is what shows you if what you think about him, and what you hope about him, is actually true about him.

If he cannot seek you, he cannot lead you. If he does not seek you, he will not lead you. You will not want to spend the next thirty years wishing, hoping, praying, and fretting because your husband refuses to step up and do the right thing. He is waiting for you to make a decision, just like before the two of you were married.

 Finally, CONSIDER THE ISSUE OF MANLINESS VERSUS WOMANLINESS

 Proverbs 31.3 is, in my opinion, an intentionally overlooked verse in Godís Word, because of its implications: ďGive not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.Ē This advice from a young kingís mother is crucial in the spiritual formation of a man. Ladies, you would be well advised to make sure during the courtship phase of your relationship that the man who seeks your hand in marriage lives by this principle. After all, you do not want to be married to a wimp, but to a man.

Notice the context in which this verse is set. Verses 4-7 address the influence of alcohol:

 4      It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:

5      Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

6      Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

7      Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Alcohol should not be consumed by kings or princes, by those who lead and who make decisions that affect other peopleís lives. Why so? Alcohol causes a drinker to forget the law and to pervert judgment. Therefore, strong drink should be reserved for those whose life is about to end, so he can forget his responsibilities and his misery.

Lest you think this passage is all about liquor and nothing else, keep in mind that verse 3 was about not giving your strength to women. Verses 4-7 are about the effect of liquor on oneís judgment. Verses 10 and following have to do with a virtuous woman whose price is far above rubies. My opinion is that this entire chapter in Proverbs shows the great value of a virtuous woman, while at the same time showing the deleterious effect of a man who allows any woman to unduly influence him. Since the title of the classic, ďOf Mice And MenĒ is already taken, allow me to coin the phrase, ďOf Wimps And Women,Ē to describe the danger women should watch out for when considering marriage to any man who gives his strength to women, who yields to bullying or browbeating or seduction or any other type of inappropriate attempt to influence by a woman.

You will grant that our culture is virtually taken over by women who, if they are not loud and boisterous, are certainly bossy. They were raised to be bossy and obnoxious by their indulgent parents, and they will continue to be bossy and obnoxious for the rest of their lives. I well remember Shirley French telling me years ago about a child brought to Archieís office one day by her parents for some type of dental appliance who stubbornly and obnoxiously refused to cooperate until she had extorted bribes from her parents. That is the kind of nonsense that has produced this generation of bossy women. Dear Lord, I hope you are never that way.

My challenge to you, young lady, is that you consider for marriage no man who gives his strength to women, who surrenders his position as the leader in your relationship with him, who conducts himself as though marriage is a democracy and the wife has the discretion to veto his decisions in matters of finances and child rearing. This is not to say there is any virtue in stubbornness or being pigheaded. On the contrary, Proverbs 31.3 shows it to be a virtue for a man not to give his strength to women, and stubbornness is nowhere shown in Godís Word to be a virtue, but is a terrible sin. This is not a matter of stubbornness, but a matter of manliness. When you are courted, make sure a man is courting you. I am not saying he has to carry guns and knives and kill everything he eats. He can be the geekiest and most uncoordinated guy in the world and still be a wonderful and very manly man. It is not a matter of physical attributes, but of character.

We know from Genesis 3.16 and the fall of Adam and Eve into sin that the relationship between husbands and wives will be troublesome at times. Godís plan is for every husband to rule over his wife. Proverbs 31.3 shows us that in addition to every husband ruling his own wife, no man should ever yield his strength to any woman. ďGive not thy strength unto women.Ē Not to your wife, ever. Not to your girl friend, ever. Not to your sister, ever. And certainly not to your mother, ever. To do so shows that you are not a man, but a boy, and no boy has any business getting married. Is this chauvinistic? Call it what you want. Is it arbitrary? No, it is Bible. Is it unreasonable? I see no conflict between being manly and being reasonable.

 When my wife and I met and married, we did not engage in anything like a courtship. Our parents were not in any way involved. We did not know to seek the counsel of our pastor. We had not known each other for nearly long enough from the time we met until we married. The result has been a marriage that has at times seen conflict and head butting that could have been greatly minimized had I courted her. However, we did some things right in our haste in getting married. First, we were both twenty-five years of age, with the ages of those getting married being of great significance in the long-term success of the marriage. Second, I was educated with a career, and she was financially very well established. That is, we were not short of money in our marriage. Finances are usually the single biggest contributor to stress in marriage and in failed marriages. However, finances were not an issue with us until God called me into the gospel ministry. Even then, we were both mature enough to be thrilled at Godís provision in our dire straits.

Of the four issues I have urged you to consider, let me quickly review my experience with each of them: First, neither of us considered the issue of the otherís conversion. Second, neither of us considered or discussed each otherís past. Therefore, the first two things I have advised you to do, Pam and I did not do. However, the third point, Proverbs 18.22, we both did right. She did not pursue me. No one observing us could have had any doubt that I was seeking for her to be my wife, and this was a tremendous help in establishing the way our marriage would start off. There has never been any question of who is the leader in our house. Finally, the fourth point, Proverbs 31.3, ďGive not thy strength to women.Ē This was an operative principle in my life long before I ever read this verse in Godís Word, by no conscious decision of my own. The men I have known throughout my life have been really and truly men. My grandfathers were especially towering figures in my life. And my mother would not tolerate in her sons anything less than manliness. Thankfully, Pam was all for that with me.

I say that to say this: A woman will never be so fulfilled as a Christian woman than when she is married and living with love and harmony with her Christian husband. If you mistakenly marry a wimp, marry a man who is not a genuine Christian, or marry a man you can push around or intimidate, you will eventually be a heartbroken and frustrated woman. Of course, you will also lose respect for your husband, even if you love him. If you tend to be a contentious young woman, pray that God gives you the kind of husband who will lead you, who will not give you his strength. It is not likely you will end up marrying such a man, because generally only wimps will lower themselves to marry bossy and contentious wives. However, God is merciful and sometimes a godly man with real strength of character will marry a woman who is difficult to deal with. Back of it all, of course, is your love for God and your service to Christ. Marriage is complicated, but it boils down to a man and a woman joining their lives together to glorify God and serve the Savior, something that can only be properly done when the husband is the spiritual leader and the wife is the spiritual follower.

What if you are already married and something is amiss? What if one spouse is not a believer? What if one spouse does not occupy his or her proper position in the marriage? Obviously, these serious issues cannot always be satisfactorily resolved. That is why such issues are best addressed before getting married. However, God is merciful. We have seen Him do great things in peopleís lives, once problems are addressed honestly and truthfully. And I am here to tell you that the success that my wife and I have enjoyed in our marriage far exceeds the marriages of either set of parents. For that, we are grateful.

God designs marriage to picture in the relationship of a husband to his wife the relationship of Jesus Christ to His church. What an awesome privilege is given to us in a Christian home. Therefore, how careful we ought to be in consideration of whom to marry, and how the decision to marry is properly arrived at.



[1] 1 Peter 3.18

[2] Romans 4.25

[3] 1 John 2.1

[4] Deuteronomy 17.6; 19.15; Matthew 18.16, 19-20; 1 Corinthians 14.27, 29; 2 Corinthians 13.1; 1 Timothy 5.19; Hebrews 6.18; 10.28; 1 John 5.7-8



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org