Someone asked me to give my opinion on dating. At first I thought I was really in no way qualified to have an opinion on the subject, since my children are all so little. But as I thought about it, I realized that my children are never too young for me to be demonstrating to them the value of marriage. That’s what I think the courtship/dating debate hinges on anyways. Do we really believe that it is not good for man to be alone? That children are a blessing and the calling of wife and mother is a high one? Do our lives show it? And do our children believe us? Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how many rules or fences we put up, if they haven’t seen the good life in us, then the game is already lost.
Dating is only a natural outworking of modern culture. To the world, marriage is incidental, if not downright hazardous. Do what you want to do, achieve your goals, have fun first, and then, if the right man eventually comes along, go ahead and take him. You’ve had a good run. But to us this is the good run. This is the good life. These are the things we can’t live without. I want my children to covet the love my husband and I have. I want them to have a heart for home and family and see the value of a good woman. Not just any woman, but a cheerful, godly, muscular, reverent, thinking woman. I want them to be able to chalk what they have in their mother against some hussy outfitted by Forever 21 and say, “…Um, no thanks.” I want the girls to see the way their daddy works unselfishly to provide for them, how he gives us his whole life, and then to never want to settle for anything less than that in a man. I want them to enjoy a home full of life, full of children, music, color, good food, and laughter, and pass over anything short of that as second best. When the world comes and offers them a life of barrenness, recreational relationships, a series of apartments, and a career, I want them to find the prospect hilarious. Sorry, but you’re just going to have to try harder.
I like how courtship recognizes up front that the reason we’re doing this is not for kicks, but for keeps. This isn’t a game you enter into lightly. And while it’s easy to peg people who don’t go along with “dating” as old-fashioned or prudish, I would hate to give you that impression. I don’t want to be protecting my children from the world or from boys, or hiding them under a wimple until they’re 20. I want them to be spinning their tires at the starting line rearing to go. I want them to know exactly what they want. I want them to have confidence in who they are, in what they have to offer, and then when the flag is lowered at the starting line, I want them to watch the mighty fall.
“Behold, you are beautiful, my love,
behold, you are beautiful!
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in rows of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
all of them shields of warriors.”
I have always thought that it would be wonderful to give girls a sense of the appropriateness of time. To preserve for them their girlhood. That they could somehow know that boys are something they don’t need to worry about now. That this is a time for them, to make themselves all they want to be. To rack up their accolades and accomplishments. But to know that someday the gloves come off. I like how the idea of courtship kind of respects this sort of timing. If you’re not ready to cook the roast, ain’t no need to be turning on the oven. But once we pre-heat this business you had better watch out. Because we’re taking it all. And we’re not giving anything away. I want my girls to see their purity, not as a burden, but as an honor. As part of their glory, that they are as eager to protect as we are. I want them to know that they are not cheap. In fact, their price is nothing short of his whole life, laid down. I want them to own it, heads high.
I also believe that my husband is responsible for his daughter. He is her protector. But that doesn’t mean he’s her jailer. If he’s her jailer, then basically we’re just faking it at that point. I want my girls to value their daddy’s opinion, to be glad when he’s there to do their dirty work, and for him to be the standard they measure all men by. This means that yes, if anyone wants to date our girls they will be asking their father first. Not for the sake of tradition, but simply because if a man doesn’t have the balls to step up to the plate, then we don’t want him anyways. I would like to think that a girl’s merit should speak for itself. Her honor, and the requisite hurdles to attain it, should attract the men who are looking for that kind of challenge, and deter those who aren’t. Good girls don’t chase boys. Boys come and lay their shields at their feet.
The Otto men, on the other hand, have their work cut out for them. I want them to know how to take a wife in honor. Which requires being able to support one. Which basically comes down to WORK. I want them to be laying down their lives for this woman, before they’ve even met her. So that when they do, they too can be confident in what they have to offer. Face it, they’re skinny and weird. They need all the help they can get. I think when Gideon was 7 he started a savings account. Jehu has recently started one as well. I think the breakdown for any money they bring in is 10% tithe, 40% savings, and 20% for their wife’s engagement ring. I want them to be able to plunk down a rock that no girl can refuse. “Will you marry me? I’ve been saving for this ring since I was 7. It’s SHINY.” Is that cheating? Cuz I’m all for it. Today’s men are famous for their extended childhoods. But I want my boys to be aspiring towards manhood. Which means, when they look at their father do they see a man who is blessed, a man who is honored? A king in his kingdom? Or do they see a man piddling away his existence for a petty tyrant? Ouch, that might be one to work on. If we want our boys to want to grow up into men, we had better be treating our husbands accordingly. This is his his kingdom and we’re about his business. Or wait, I can’t remember, isn’t it the other way around?
I can’t say I’m any kind of real advocate for courtship or any authority on the subject. I don’t know what all the rules are, and if I did, I would probably break them. But I do believe in marriage. And I want my sons and daughters to believe in marriage. More than that, I want them to believe in children. I am already amazed by how much my children love babies and the prospect of more babies. When Judith wakes up from her nap, just like Rahab before her, her room is flash mobbed by older children singing her praises. If I give her a bath, I am obliged to let her take a turn around the house nude, so everyone can scream and pinch her butt. If I neglect to do this, I am fired. I remember Jehu contemplating the number of wives he would need to produce his desired number of offspring. (It was in the hundreds.) Sorry son, it doesn’t work that way. Sad, but true. In the end, I think courtship turns out to be kind of incidental. Our lives right now is where the real battle is won. Will our children look at us and want what we have? Or can they hardly wait to start looking somewhere else?