Knightly Discussions
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
But again we are coming back to the issue of understanding: What is Courtship, and what is Dating?

For the young man in the story we read (Courtship and the Male Ego) Courtship meant going to a lady's father, asking for permission to see her, and then effectively dating her.
For my church, on the other hand, Courtship until very recently meant asking a girl's pastor and father to court her, drawing up a covenant of courtship, and then following a rigid set of rules for courtship complete with homework and four different 'stages'.

For some people, Dating means going to clubs and hooking up immorally. For many Christian singles, Dating means pursuing a friendship with a mutual understanding of interest in each other and standards for the relationship that both parties have talked through and agree are wise.

Which of those two does the Bible say is the real Courtship?
Which of those two does the Bible say is the real Dating?
What then does the Bible indicate is a Courtship which avoids the pitfalls of Dating?
And how does the Bible indicate that it's good for Courtship to grate against the Male Ego?

The answer would be that the Bible doesn't directly answer any of the above questions. It doesn't even directly set out standards for how a young man is to pursue a young lady.

The Bible does say not to sin. And that if your hand or your eye causes you to sin, better to lose it than to go into sin.

But the problem is, we come up with a set of rules to keep ourselves from sin, make it a tradition, and then start defending it as a packaged deal straight out of Scripture. And then confusion reigns.

I do agree with the apparent point from the story that Courtship should not become a program but should be a heart matter of personal conviction.

But I think as a whole that instead of coming up with a program or a new social order, the Christian church would be better off just emphasizing personal holiness and conviction, and counseling young people to run to accountability and set up standards for themselves when they realize they like each other.

Yes, and also that if you just make it about a set of rules, it does not go to the heart of the matter. And that Courtship can be the same as dating if it is not followed with a heart that is open to the Holy Spirit.
Pretty thought provoking.

It seems like part of the point of the story was to point out how the process of courtship is good because it grates against the male ego. Is that a fair assessment?

(Also see Tim Eatons explanation of the article at the bottom of
You are correct that there is no substitute for personal integrity and self control. So I give you a story that looks at this topic from that viewpoint.

Courtship and the Male Ego

Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Uh... actually, Chris, you used that Webster's reference as support for the argument that we have lost in society today what was "common knowledge just 100 years ago". And what you seem to be indicating we have lost is the way fathers, young women and prospective suitors interacted in the 1800's.

OK, yes, I'll admit that from a convenantal standpoint Numbers 30 does indicate that ladies should be under the arbitrating coverature of their earthly father and husband when it comes to vows and oaths.

But it sounds like you are saying this also means a young man has to pursue a young lady through old-school formal courtship with a log book of man-made rules. Or that a young man needs to ask a young ladie's father before he pursues any kind of friendship with her.

(Some of these might actually be decent ideas in certain situations. But they are no substitute for personal integrity and self-control, which is the real issue, and cannot be legislated.)

So I don't believe Numbers 30 was intended to mean anything like what you seem to be implying it means. I believe instead it addresses exactly what it says it's talking about.
Friday, June 06, 2003
Hey Ted,
My example of the Dictionary was this dictionary

Webster's 1828 Dictionary
Description: The American Dictionary of the English language is based upon God's written word, for Noah Webster used the Bible as the foundation for his definitions. Hardcover, over 1800 pages.

No as secular as you would have imagined :)

Friday, May 30, 2003
Thanks Ted, its is good to know that we can all agree on at least some of it :) Although on some points I'm sure that we can say, you believe that and I believe this and leave it there. And I think that's okay, now when you are married I don't believe you get to do that. Chris and I definately have different oppinions about things but we are continually aiming toward unity in what we believe.

Anyway, you didn't answer my question-so did you ask her out yet or not? :)
Thursday, May 29, 2003

Ted Response to Jenni


I think we're finally discovering our common ground instead of just our differences! I agree with everything (that's right, everying) you said in your latest post. And yes, I do plan on owning a shotgun myself when the time comes!

I love what you said about honor and gentlemanly acts, because I really believe in that. But the rest of the world isn't where I'm at, and much of where I'm at (good or bad) is as much a product of my cultural upbringing as it is of my understanding of Scripture.

Anyway, I appreciate the grace you and Chris have given throughout this conversation for me to speak straight and for us to consider what each other has said. I love it! I love conversations like this.

Talk to you two soon,


(Excerpt from a chat discussion between Ted and Christian)

Ted says:
No I don't disparage the principle. I disagree with it's interpretation to mean a man has to ask a woman's father before they go out a couple of times together

Christian says:
what if you are the father?

Ted says:
If there's something there betweeen the two, talk it over and run to the father. But if you haven't gotten to that point there's nothing to discuss.

Ted says:
fine with me. Honestly if my 32 year old (or even 23 year old) daughter asked my permission I'd rebuff her. If she asked for advice, cool. But she has to make some decisions..

Christian says:
But my daughter will let me know that she is going somewere and with whom

Ted says:
she should

Christian says:
can I post that?

Ted says:
but not when she's 25

Ted says:

Ted says:
I'd quiz her if she was living at home and I noticed suspicious behavior (like staying out late, etc.) But just going out with a friend like normal? No prob.

Christian says:
I will know more as I get closer to that day.

Ted says:
But see my point?

Christian says:
yes, the entire thing comes back to relationship between father and daughter

Ted says:
yeah. cool.

Response from Jenni

Now we're getting going! It's great for our spiritual muscles to be exercised. I think Ted has a good point Mr. Burns, though the scripture you used makes a great point for the covering of a woman it doesn't speak directly to the question of how a man is to go about initiating a relationship with a woman. I believe that this is the real question and I don't think we will come up with any pat answers. Its good to be challenged in our thinking Ted. Although, no matter how much you challenge my thinking I know that one day when our young ladies are pursued by a young man, Mr. Burns will get his shotgun out and find out if the guy is even worth a moment with our daughter. The bummer about our society is that dads don't care anymore-like the dad you called to see if you could get to know his daughter better. I think that what you did was honorable and if that poor girl knew her value and what a gentleman was then she would have thought so too. Our society spits in the face of a gentlemanly act, and in doing so we strip from our men their place in our homes and they learn to take what isn't theirs. No wonder why there is so much infidelity in our marriages.

Here's what I know that the Bible says in Exodus 20, "honor your mother and your father that your days may be long, do not steal, do not commit adultery." My dad thought that Chris was nuts too when he asked him if he could court me and he probably wouldn't have cared if we had sex before we got married as long as we kept it a secret. But whether he cared or not is between him and God and what we do is between us and God, we chose to honor Him with our actions whether its asked of us by our parents or not. In so many cases even in my case we had to run to the Holy Spirit for His "guidance" in our relationship, but I don't think that it nulifies the need for adult interaction in a relationship. So whether we call it dating or courtship or something else I believe that the Lord asks us to honor our mother and father, honor God and honor one another. The way we do this will indeed look different for every individual circumstance. So are you dishonoring her or her parents or God if you ask her out? I don't know, you could be, where is your heart? is it pure? I guess the real answer is that its between you and the Holy Spirit.

So have you asked her yet? :)

Thought about the guidelines-I agree that the Bible gives no strict 1. 2. 3. steps here but Chris and I chose to write our own according to our weaknesses and I think they were a great tool, a little over protective at times but they surely didn't harm us. You cant deny that boundaries can keep you out of a lot of trouble, the problem is that we want pat answers but there are none. Are you going to let someone tell you how to have a sexual relationship with your wife one day? No. Because its between you and your wife and you will enjoy intimacy how the two of you please, the same with guidelines-do what works for you remembering to honor one another and listen to the Holy Spirit and of course the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

All for now. I wrote this post outside of the covering of my husband, I may be lashed with a whip when he gets home. Pray for me Ted, he's a violent man ;)

Response from Ted

Chris and Jenni,

Jenni, I loved the tail part of your discussion. I loved your definition of courtship as "two responsible and mature adults seeking the wisdom of their parents or other spiritually wise adults." I think the problem was that for years we never taught our children to do that. And then, when we finally caught on, we went to far and turned it into a rigid set of parameters (i.e., courtship with official stages and homework).

OK, the "no spin" answer to Jenni's question:

I originally asked, "Would it be wrong for a guy to ask a gal out one on one to Starbucks because he was interested in her? Why or why not?"

Chis' answer was, " is up to a father"

Then Jenni asked, "What would keep you from asking for permission (from someone other than her) to go out with her?"

My response was, "Where does it say in Scripture that a lady is supposed to be 'under' the covering of her father until she is married, and that a young man must ask the father to pursue her?"

I believe my query was a legitimate response to Jenni's question, because if there is no Scriptural requirement for a young man pursuing a young lady to ask permission from her father, then my answer is implied that I wouldn't have to ask.

OK, regarding Numbers 30:3-8 (the covering of a young woman's vows uder her father or her husband)

I agree with this Scripture. And if a young lady is going to make covenant, then yes she should consult her parents and those she's walking with in the Lord.

But does that say a young man can't pursue a young lady unless he asks her father first? No. Until two young people realize they are interested in each other, there is nothing there to ask about in the first place. And if out of a religious spirit they make unrealistic rules for themselves (I will never ride alone in a car with a single person of the opposite sex!) then they run the danger of cutting themselves off from ever realizing if they and someone else are interested in each other. That's been my concern all along.

OK, in the "early days" of our church turning on to courtship I met a young lady up North and I was kind of interested in her. She had never gone to our church, never heard of courtship or anything, but I thought, "why not try" and looked up her father's number in the phone book and called him. I explained that I was interested in his daughter and that before I even asked her out once I wanted to ask his permission to pursue her. Do you know what his response was? He thought I was nuts. He thought I was in a cult. Then she called back and said she thought I was nuts, and don't bother calling her back again, thank you.

That was a learning experience. See, the idea of courtship is fine. The idea of putting parameters on a relationship so everyone knows where they stand is awesome and I think necessary. But there has to be a relationship there in the first place. A young man and a young lady have to realize they like each other before they run to put parameters around their relationship.

The idea of a young man asking a father to court his daughter, and then coming over to the house and sitting on the front porch sipping lemonade, is not a biblical idea but a Western one. Chris, I noticed that besides the reference to Numbers 30 your only other appeal was to Webster's dictionary. I.e., to a Western reference, not a biblical one. That's interesting and I think it's worth thinking about.

Hey, I gotta go now (work) but let me know what you think.


Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Response from Christian and Jenni

Thoughts from Christian:

Ok Ted, maybe we will write a book before this is done. The coolest part about iron sharpening iron is that it gets really sharp. And spending an evening studying the scriptures to verify or refute what I believe is more fun and way cheaper than going out to a movie.

I want you to know that this is written by both of us. We spent a good amount of time discussing the issues that you raised. We agree with you about the attempt of us all to legislate what it means to be a Christian, with rules and standards that may go beyond scripture. And we are still waiting for a response to Jenni’s question to you. And answering with another question will be interpreted as an attempt to spin. No Spin Ted. We are not politicians here. You have not answered one question. Just answer straight :)

We are trying to find out what the Bible says regarding courtship. We believe that the bible is not silent on this issue but because of where we are as a society it seems to be a disputable matter. You see we are lacking basic principles today that were common knowledge just 100 years ago. There has been a steady move to tear down what God has established. In the area of family the role of the father is said to be almost irrelevant. We know that is not true, but how far have we been tainted by the world’s standard? You asked about where in the bible it says that a lady is supposed to be “under” the covering of her father until she is married. Remember, we are going after the principle. The world would like to say that there is no need for covering. Feminism says there is no need for a man to lord over a woman. But they are missing it. We do not even need to look to our college campuses to see it, just go to your local Jr. High and see how our kids relate.

Where in scripture does is it said that a woman is under covering? This is the verse that comes to mind. Numbers 30, the whole chapter, you need to read it to get the point but a few things stand out. First it is Moses declaring "This is what the LORD commands,” not much room for interpretation here. It is dealing with vows.

3 "When a young woman still living in her father's house makes a vow to the LORD or obligates herself by a pledge 4 and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand. 5 But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the LORD will release her because her father has forbidden her.

The principal seems clear; a father can forbid her vow or keep his mouth shut and allow it. Silence is an affirmation. Feminism says to men to keep their mouths shut. But a father must take action by saying no, or he will affirm her choice with his words or silence. Today to many men stay silent. It is part of the plan of the enemy to keep men submissive to the values of this age.

But this scripture continues,

6 "If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself 7 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. 8 But if her husband forbids her when he hears about it, he nullifies the vow that obligates her or the rash promise by which she obligates herself, and the LORD will release her.

So it carries into marriage.

“But wait” you say, “that was then and we do not treat our women like that anymore.” Like what? This is a protection to her. This is not bondage, it is freedom. This chapter is a window into the covenantal relationship between a father and a daughter, and between a husband and a wife. Using the argument that this no longer applies to us today shows us how far the enemy has taken us, not just the church but as a nation. Here is a word that may seem foreign to us now but it was once part of everyday life. That word is


1. Covering; shelter; defense.

2. In law, the state of a married woman, who is considered as under cover, or the power of her husband, and therefore called a feme-covert, or femme-couvert. The coverture of a woman disables her from making contracts to the prejudice of herself or husband, without his allowance or confirmation.

This definition is taken from Webster’s dictionary 1828.

To my knowledge a couple was not able to be married without the approval of the father at that point in history. I am not sure that we have really gained much freedom since that time.

The word "courtship" is not in the Bible, but the principle of covering is clear.

You brought up Judges 21 and the Benjamites carrying a lady off to be their wife.

23 So that is what the Benjamites did. While the girls were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.
24 At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance.
25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

This is clearly not what God had in mind for his kids, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” But that sure sounds like what we have today in regards to relationships.

Now you also point out “And the passage of Scripture that says "guard your heart" doesn't even occur in the context of a young man and a young lady coming together, but instead comes at the tail end of a discussion of the lifestyle of the wicked versus the lifestyle of the righteous”

I disagree, it is a father (20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words) speaking about life

21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man's whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

And it is followed in the next few verses of Chapter 5 with a warning against adultery. Here is chapter 5:15-23 from the Message

Never Take Love for Granted
15Do you know the saying, "Drink from your own rain barrel,
draw water from your own spring-fed well"?
16It's true. Otherwise, you may one day come home
and find your barrel empty and your well polluted.

17Your spring water is for you and you only,
not to be passed around among strangers.
18Bless your fresh-flowing fountain!
Enjoy the wife you married as a young man!
19Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose--
don't ever quit taking delight in her body.
Never take her love for granted!
20Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a whore?
for dalliance with a promiscuous stranger?

21Mark well that GOD doesn't miss a move you make;
he's aware of every step you take.
22The shadow of your sin will overtake you;
you'll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark.
23Death is the reward of an undisciplined life;
your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end.

Covering is about discipline, and courtship is about self discipline.

Thoughts from Jenni:

I totally agree with you on one point Ted, I believe that courtship has been really over-talked and over-complicated. I think its really simple, why? Because godly principles should work for anyone in any circumstance at any point of their life. Jesus didn’t die for the few who had it mostly together, but for whosoever believes in Him.
This is what we believe about courtship-Wives or daughters are “given,” God established this with the first marriage. He was the Father and saw that Adam had need of a wife and He gave Eve to Adam. Here God established that women’s authority goes from father to husband and you see this established authority throughout the Bible, I personally am truly grateful for this because another fact about women is that we were not designed to be out on our own. (I’ve tried this and from personal experience, it really sucks!)
Think about it from another perspective Ted, one day you will marry and hopefully God will bless you with daughters. Think about how you will feel about those young ladies. One day Mr. Nice Guy will come knocking on her heart’s door and will you choose to just let her do what she wants or will you realize that when she was born into your care that you made a covenant with her to protect her (just like you made with your wife on the day you married her) and you being the father are responsible for her actions until you release her into a new covenantal relationship with her husband.
Back to today before you find that woman. Why should that young lady be treated any different than how you will treat your own daughters. I think courtship is simple. Its two responsible and mature adults seeking the wisdom of their parents or other spiritually wise adults. Someone who can give wisdom when needed and can be an open door when sin needs to come into the light. Take for instance Proverbs 4. It starts out with a Father saying, “children listen to my wisdom.” But this is truly up to the child if he wants to do this or not. Pastor John and Adele were not breathing down our necks throughout our courtship but they listened to us and gave warnings when needed. But when we messed up it was awesome to be able to bring our sin into the light and see the incredible Grace of God at work in our lives.


Response from Ted

Chris and Jenni (Hi Jenni!),

I really appreciate both your responses. Very well written and well thought out.

I want to clarify again that I am not trying to come against people applying principle and following personal conviction in regards to courtship. But what I am trying to address is the very human tendency of people to try and legislate areas of life that aren't directly addressed by Scripture, and I believe this has happened in the church with courtship.

We as Christians tend to want to legislate many aspects of our lives. Why? I believe it's because, as fallen people we have a natural tendency to want to hide from God, and being able to track our own progress through rules allows us to avoid the peril of open, honest relationship with God. I also believe that every one of us in Christ has fallen into that pitfall at one point or another.

I'm not saying there aren't standards that apply to our lives. For example, yes, no one should sin or teach others to sin. And if anyone is caught in a sin those of us who are strong should restore such a one gently (Gal 6:1,2).

But some things in life aren't directly addressed by Scripture and are matters of personal conviction. For example, one person may smoke a cigar and see nothing wrong with it. Another person may have a conviction that for them to smoke a cigar it's sin. This is what Scripture calls a 'disputable matter'. In such matters each person should be fully convinced of where they stand on the issue, follow their conviction, and cast no stumbling stone before their brothers and sisters in Christ. (Romans 14).

Courtship is a disputable matter because it is not directly presented in Scripture. Instead it is taken from principles in Scripture. And those principles are subject to a wide interpretation.

In fact, (and this is going to sound scandalous) I believe much courtship teaching borders on eisegesis- which means reading popular social ideas into Scripture. For example, some have taken the phrase, "guard your heart" and interpreted it to mean "hide your heart" (which is found nowhere in Scripture). And the passage of Scripture that says "guard your heart" doesn't even occur in the context of a young man and a young lady coming together, but instead comes at the tail end of a discussion of the lifestyle of the wicked versus the lifestyle of the righteous (Prov 4). Or what about the idea of the covering of a father. Where does it say in Scripture that a lady is supposed to be "under" the covering of her father until she is married, and that a young man must ask the father to pursue her? Where does it say they should never be alone together in public?

In fact, what passages of Scripture really do directly address the way a young man and a young lady come together? I would have more of a claim to proper context citing the Benjamites carrying a lady off to be their wife (Judges 21) than you would citing the guarding of one's heart (Prov 4).

I'm being jealous for Scriptural purity here. And I'm being serious. When people add to Scripture there is a curse (Rev 22:18) and I fear that in our seeking for a blessing there are many in the church who have come under a curse and been taken out over this issue.

Love you two. As always dying to hear what you think.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Clarification from Jenni

In addition to last post, clarification to my statment

I feel like your question about asking a gal out whom he is interested in is one in which you are asking what you can get away with and still maintain a "courtship standard."

Just wanted to make sure you know that I meant it when I said "correct me if I'm wrong".

Response from Jenni

Wow, you should write a book Mr. Burns! Can I have your autograph?

Well Ted, I think you have to realise who you are asking the question of. We completely believe in courtship, and the idea of covering and going through the fathers in regards to relationships. We believe in it not because it's a great new idea (which of course it isn't a new idea), but simply because it worked for us and many others who are willing to be honest and who's motives for courtship are not selfish, and people who aren't in a hurry to get married. Courtship only works right if the persons involved are whole individuals, and no matter how whole you are we all have flesh and we all have an enemy lurching in the shadows. As soon as we step into the shadowy places the enemy inevitably will snatch something away from us, whether that be through humiliation or a lack of integrity, the list goes on. These are my personal beliefs about guy/girl interaction, I know that they may seem extreem but I know I wont get into trouble if I stay as far away from the line as possible. I guess I tend to ask the question (regarding relationship with the opposite sex), what is the right thing to do? What pleases my Father?

Correct me if I am wrong Ted but I feel like your question about asking a gal out whom he is interested in is one in which you are asking what you can get away with and still maintain a "courtship standard?"

I think its a simple thing to do to ask her father if its okay for you to take his daughter out for coffee( if that's what you want to do), again an integrity thing. From a woman's perspective, she will always remember how your relationship first began. What better way to lay down a foundation for your future (if there will be one) than to ask her father, whether he be spiritual or actual.

Question for Ted...What would keep you from asking for permission (from someone other than her) to go out with her?

This is fun, have a good night Ted-we love you :)

Response from Christian

Answer to ted re: Would it be wrong for a guy to ask a gal out one on one to Starbucks because he was interested in her?
Why or why not?

I think that you need to change how you look at it. Like PD has said, "Courtship is not a Church thing, it is a family thing." So if you are interested in her, how are you involving her family? You see the father is her protection and if she has no father, who will stand up for her on her side? If you go to the father and be honest and say "I like your daughter SusieQ, can I take her out to coffee?" No need to ask the Young Adult Pastor. Just her father. Or in the abcense of a father, an older man that can act as her advocate. Still no approval needed from a church leader.

Qualifications for this man must include,
Does she trust him?
Will he look out for her intrests?
Will he protect her?
Will he take an active roll in the relationship?

Here is where the protection comes from. If she does not like you back then can you go out to coffee and it be ok? The answer is to be asked of the father. Every person is different and that is why we can not make hard and fast rules for this kind of action. It is not up to the church body to determine if a young man and young woman may go out alone, it is up to a father.

It is the abcense of fathers that are willing to lead that creates the vacum that is filled with mothers and kids judging other couples that are not a part of their family. We like to point at the formula, but it is not a set of rules. It is the principal of godly leadership within the home that is lacking. And if it is lacking in the situation described by you, it is your resposibility to seek out a covering for that young lady. A godly man will recognize the lack of covering and seek it out. Just like if you are stepping off of a large step, you offer a hand to the lady to help her down, or while walking down the road you instictivly place yourself between her and any percieved threat, you will seek to place a "go between" yourself and her in a relationship because if not guarded, any young man can threaten the heart of any young lady.

That is my opinion. Not sure what my wife will say :)

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