what makes a suitor suitable?

I came across this list of possible questions for a father to ask a young man prior to giving him permission to court his daughter and, having a family full of sons who also have sons, wondered what moms of sons and potential suitors themselves think of this list. What about the “vetting process?” What things are missing from this list? Which ones would be a deal breaker? What things do you think really should not be a father’s business? (This was what I kept coming back to as I read it.) Brother Michael and Lewis,  if you are out there, I would love to hear your thoughts, too.

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  1. says

    Oh my that is a SUPER long list! I made a list of what I wanted in a man before I got married. I found the man that my list fitted, but we *both* changed over the years, and a lot of that stuff on the list is now no longer viable, LOL!

    Honestly, I got weary reading that list

  2. says

    Oh my word. To be fair, I wasn’t able to stomach the entire list as of yet…

    The author and her husband lost me when she suggested hesitance to publish this list of questions for fear of people turning courtship into a formula. I just wanted to scream, “Are you kidding me?!!!! Courtship itself IS a formula!!!”

    He’s lucky that I’ve never been the recipient of his questions, because after reading the first couple of categories, I’d have to tell him, “You may be the most “religious” man I’ve ever encountered. Let me ask YOU…Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Describe it for me, please.” Again, to be fair, maybe the vibe of his questioning changes (like I said, I only made it through a couple of categories before steam was coming out of my ears).

    Most of the questions I saw were and are none of his business. It would be FAR different, and acceptable, for his DAUGHTERS to ask a potential boyfriend/eventual marriage candidate those questions (although it might prove to be a red flag for the young man), but the smart money would say that he’s in no way, shape, or form raised his daughters to even be able to ask those questions. He’s obviously a man who ascribes to commandments of men concerning his own duties as a father. He seems to value religious ritual and ceremony over substantive relationship with Christ, and would seem to approach his “faith” with the veil still hanging in the temple.

    It brings me back to something I’ve stressed on my blog, and to Hillary’s article on “An Unnecessary Jesus”…If you stripped away all of the form, ritual, and ceremony, if you stripped away the human authority structure, what would their Jesus look like, and would there even be any Jesus there?

    If I’m able to finish the list, I’ll try to offer some more thoughts.

  3. says

    Heather: “Honestly, I got weary reading that list” — No kidding, imagine having to answer them!

    I was really impressed with the humbleness with which Mrs McDonald presented this topic. Clearly indicating a concern for the misuse and misunderstanding of she and her husbands usage of this document which should not be seen as a formula, but a guideline for how the family might approach each gentlemen depending on circumstances. However, as thatmom herself questioned, do some of these topics seem a bit over the top? I think so.

    Issues that stand out most clearly to me…

    Most of the issues regarding children and rearing in my mind are way beyond the point a gentleman of this age should be over concerned about. Also, these are issues that the couple should consider together after marriage.

    Questioning the young man on his parents beliefs and character seems inappropriate as they seem to put him in a difficult position of interpretation of his parents and critical analysis of them. The questions themselves seem to be a trap of disrespect towards his own parents. This followed by disclosing sensitive medical information that his family may not appreciate. I wonder if this father would be bold enough to have asked these questions directly of the gentleman’s family members? Which I would think would be far more appropriate. (Not that I myself would be so bold.)

    Overall, I think the tone seems very controlling and judgmental. If they indeed respect the young man’s viewpoints and don’t argue or judge him for difference in position, than some of the questions become less of a concern and more of an opportunity to open conversation and assess the man’s ability to find a position and present it with confidence. It also ascertains his ability to humble himself in honest assessment of his own character which one would hope would carry over into the marriage as the ability to be open and vulnerable to the future wife.

    Adding to my own concerns of the nature of this exchange, Mrs McDonald’s closing statement seems to indicate that these potential husbands have perhaps never received anything resembling acceptance from the young woman that would prompt him to even approach her parents. I think I find that the most disturbing issue in this article.

    A mother of three young men

  4. says

    Jesus’ list to accommodate every kind of relationship for all of time:

    1.Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength
    2.Love your neighbor as yourself.

  5. Susanne says

    I am personally familiar with courtship and how destructive it can be. It does a pretty poor job guarding hearts from what I’ve seen.

    After reading that list, all I can say is that this guy must have some pretty stupid daughters who are going to marry some incredibly wussy men. Try ushering in the kingdom with that combo.

    One question was, “what are your feelings about pets????!!!” LOL!

  6. says

    So many, many thoughts.

    First, I know too many stories of courtships gone bad where either the marriage took place or the girl was able to escape before it was too late. In one case, the young man had issues with porn and expected his young, innocent bride to participate in horrible perverted stuff. She went home to her parents and the marriage was dissolved. In another situation, the bride’s mom picked up on some scary (potentially violent) vibes from the guy and asked her daughter about it. She burst into tears and confessed her reservations. They later found out that after the wedding, he was going to sell her car and keep her isolated miles away from anyone in a trailer in the woods.

    I also know stories where the girls had issues before and/or after the wedding.

    But here is my first thought…..if we truly believe that God is sovereign and that He is working in the midst of His people, are all these details that important? Where does living by faith come into this? And what of the growing together in grace that organically happens within a marriage? Seriously, so much that is on that list never even occurs to me today after 35 plus years of marriage. Still processing…

  7. says

    Another thought…I have heard some parents say that they had to “straighten out the theology” of potential suitors before the young men could process so I am wondering if that is instrumental to the 200 year plan or dominion or whatever you call it.

  8. says

    And doesn’t it seem that if a young woman is old enough to be married and begin a family and would know the young man well enough for him to want her to consider marrying him that she would already know the answers to most of those questions? If not, upon what is the young man basing his interest?

  9. says

    I can understand the heart behind questions like these, especially from parents who desire their children to enter into godly marriages. Which should be every Christian parent, although they might not go to the extreme of a ‘Marriage Interview’. (That might be a fun game though, like Cranium or something, to do in a group setting or event.;-))

    I don’t mean this hypothetically, but sincerely: what happens after someone “passes” this test, marries, and then as we all usually do, ends up changing? I’ve been married 8 years to a wonderful man and yet can say wholeheartedly that I am no where near the same person I was then. Life, maturity, experience, growth, other relationships, and the Holy Spirit all have an influence. For someone who married under the “approval” of such a questionnaire then feel deceived? Would it become grounds for separation? What other ramifications would it have?

    I really like what Rachel Ramer said about the extreme emphasis on emotional purity which is so prevalent in the courtship movement: “…while it may prevent broken hearts before marriage, it does nothing to prevent broken hearts after marriage, and it may very well cause them.” (From her article “Christian Families on the Edge: Authoritarianism and Isolationism” included in my book.)

  10. Dana says

    I was speechless when I read this. If I were the one, needing to answer that list of questions, I think what I’d feel would be missed–as if my ability to answer certain questions was the sum of who I am.

    As for the doctrinal questions, I had to write a doctrinal statement at 21 years old for a college class. It was a helpful exercise, but now, at 40, I realize (1) how little I had (or have) my theology figured out and (2) how little my doctrinal stances told of my walk with the Lord. I am married to a faithful, godly man whose theology differs from mine in key areas. But it’s not what defines us. Sometimes I tease him because in a certain situation I’ll “act” or sound more Calvinist than he does and I’m the Calvinist. It’s good to talk about what we believe, but I can’t imagine how alienating it is to have one’s theology be criteria even for a young man to express his interest in a young woman.

    I feel like relationships should happen in relationship, and the things the Dad needs to know about the young man should come out over time, as he spends time with the girl he likes and her family (and vice versa). No young person has all their theological ducks in a row, nor even philosophical ones. Judging a person by the answers to questions about how they get along with their own father seems really crass, without the foundation of getting to know the person and then hear their stories, in context, and IN RELATIONSHIP.

    I’m not against parents asking questions of a young man interested in their daughter. It’s how relationship is built. But to have those questions (and the right answers to them) be the prerequisite TO relationship seems really awkward and best, and counterproductive at worst.

    Questions are so easily answered “correctly”, and in my way of thinking the only person sure to benefit from such questions is a smart, deceptive suitor who has learned all the right answers and pasted on all the right lifestyle, so he can pass a test. To the rest of the honest, human boys out there, put to such an interrogation, it just makes me sad. I know the author of the post mentioned that the questions are asked, over time, at lunch or other get togethers, but if they must come before he is even allowed to express interest in the girl, to the girl, the answers really are divorced from daily life and relationship, it seems to me.

  11. Amy R. says

    I don’t know. I have a feeling what that list will look like, and I haven’t dredged up the guts to read it yet. Maybe later.

    We teach our sons that serial dating is unwise, and that they should grow up and be men and then go find a wife (as opposed to being teenagers finding girlfriends) but we don’t believe in parent-sanctioned betrothal/courtship.

    All I know is that when I was a girl, I had a list a mile and a half long, and I dated all the boys of my Christian denomination in four counties (and some from out of state)and many boys fit my list but they didn’t fit my heart.

    Then I met Mike.

    He fit *two* requirements on my list. Still, I loved him from Day 1. We got married 2 months after we met, and we’ll be celebrating our 15th happy anniversary next month.

    Jacob saw Rachel and loved her. Esau saw Rebekah and loved her, and she comforted after the death of his mother. Mike saw me and loved me, and God’s hand was in that, too.

    Why should I plan or desire this cold checklist business for my sons? Jesus came so they could have life and have it abundantly, and joyful, passionate love is LIFE. The kind that leads to more life, or more specifically, the pitter patter of little feet.

  12. Anthea says

    Hello Karen
    After a lengthy period with no computer, I am v much enjoying the chance to dip into your blog. I have only today downloaded the talks on organic family – and I love the idea of an extended metaphor – and patriocentricity, so I’m looking forward to listening to them.

    I have just read this list. Well I also found it v difficult to read the list – and I have read Paradise Lost, Piers Plowman and The Waste Land!! Of course, some of the questions are important, but must be handled delicately. For example, your family background might have little to do with your own faith walk. Some questions are sectarian and given undue prominence, for example,placing adherence to a Calvinistic list above the personal walk of faith (although that could just the random order in the thoughts).

    I was particularly amused by the culturally-specific questions. In the section on Marital Roles, the suitor is asked, “How do you feel about guns?” Here in the UK, the only way you can be a respectable man who uses firearms is to be a farmer, a soldier, an Olympic marksman or a copper. The coppers can only use a gun if they ask very nicely, and the policemen who do carry guns in the special unit are usually proud to say that they’ve served for 20 years and have never fired a shot. To be honest, if any everyday man said he liked guns he would be seen as a nutter. We just have a different culture.

    But it does get me thinking about how many other qus in the list might be culturally-specific, rather than biblical.

    What do you think,Karen? Also, why has courtship become such a big big trend among home educators? I have seen a few references to it over here in the UK. What’s going on?

  13. says

    Honestly, there are many, many things on that list that I’ve never even thought to ask my husband nor do I know that answer to. And I’ve been happily married to him to 6 years! I’ve known him closely for 11!

    Just so much unnecessary stress and judgement! Do they really think that a list will “protect our daughters’ hearts”?? That’s some powerful list. 😛 What happens when the Perfect Godly Suitor decides 7 years down the road that he doesn’t agree with the Westminster Confession (or whatever it was)? Or will the daughter feel obligated to keep her beliefs exactly the same for her entire life since she subjected him to these questions before they were married (which I hope she is in agreement with)? Besides, any homeschooled guy with a brain can answer all the questions “right” whether he’s truthful or not.

    do they really think that a good marriage is built and sustained on getting all the right answers and having all the right beliefs? How sad. How very, very sad.

  14. says

    Oh and did you see the comment where a mother asked what they’re supposed to do if they deem a suitor unsuitable yet the daughter insists on marrying him anyway? Like they have an unruly child on their hands that they don’t know what to do with. 2/3 of all of my peers who have married have done so against their parents’ wishes. And NONE of them regret it. On the other hand, of the other 1/3 who did it all “right”, at least half of them are divorced or in an unhappy marriage. Courtship and parents’ lists are so infallible after all………

  15. says

    Ooooh….this is a great blog topic.

    I read the list and found it so long and over the top, that I immediately felt sorry for any poor young man who has to pass this test.

    One gal who commented on that site made mention of the fact that while courtship is designed to protect the daughter, the young man who doesn’t pass the test, after putting so much out there about himself and his own family, can be very emotionally rejected, especially if the father doesn’t handle the situation very gently. Granted, a young man can also experience feelings of great rejection when not accepted into a college or does not receive a wanted job offer, for example. These are certainly the things life is made of for us all, and must be dealt with, but…in matters of the heart, how much the more devastating.


  16. says

    I’m the (older) mother of one child, a daughter who is almost 4. I’m trying to imagine her 20, 22 or 24+ and expecting a young man to write a lengthy dissertation in which he is forced to reveal a great deal of personal information about himself before he can approach her. I simply cannot wrap my mind around this and I’ve tried for the past few hours since reading this list.

    Do I want to help Caroline protect her heart? Of course. Do I want her to stay pure? Of course. Do I want her to find the man of God’s choosing for her? Of course. But do I think that her father and I (oh, sorry, just her father) should have an overwhelming role in determining who that man is? No. I just don’t see that as a clear biblical principle in Scripture. Anywhere. (Seriously. Show me the Scripture passage, in context.)

    My goal is to raise Caroline to be an insightful, thoughtful, confident, smart young woman who loves God and is faithfully walking with Him. If we’ve done our job then by the time she is old enough to marry, she really should not need us to grill, analyze and scrutinize a young man who is interested in possibly marrying her. Would I suggest things that they should discuss before getting serious? Yes. Would I want to meet his family and friends? Yes. Would I like to spend time with him in various settings? Yes. Would I tell her if I felt there was a big red flag or I had a check in my spirit? Yes. Would I threaten him with great bodily harm if he ever hurt my daughter? Probably. 😉

    But ultimately the decision is Caroline’s and I have to believe that if she is walking with the Lord that He is certainly big enough to guide her just as he brought her parents together. How can I possibly encourage her to marry and take on that huge responsibility and not trust her enough to make these kinds of decisions for herself? It just seems like a total disconnect to me to think the father has to go to these lengths if he’s done his job for the previous 20+ years.

  17. says

    Sallie…Beautiful, beautiful comments. Especially liked this part…

    “Do I want to help Caroline protect her heart? Of course. Do I want her to stay pure? Of course. Do I want her to find the man of God’s choosing for her? Of course. But do I think that her father and I (oh, sorry, just her father) should have an overwhelming role in determining who that man is? No. I just don’t see that as a clear biblical principle in Scripture. Anywhere. (Seriously. Show me the Scripture passage, in context.)”

    That’s the thing with patriocentricity – unless something like parental-based courtship is upheld and artifically raised to “biblical command” status in it’s practice, essentially being force-fed into any relationship equation, the entire system, and I mean the entire system, of patriocentricity comes crumbling down. These hyper-patriocentric fathers know this, and it’s why, regardless of whatever protests to the contrary they put up, the train of life derails if a child attempts to follow a different path, and as in my personal experience, the world becomes about how miserable the father can make everyone’s life until compliance can be achieved. In my case, my former future father-in-law mortgaged the future of not just my ex, but every single one of his daughters, making their names mud in the music business. It was worth it to him to protect the sanctity of his perceived authority. These girls were practically assured of careers in the music business, whether as solo artists or making hundreds of dollars a day as background singers in the studio. Within 6 months of the end of my engagement, I couldn’t even get a record exec to so much as think about them. Their father did some very stupid, and very destructive, things.

    Your daughter is blessed to have you as her parents.

  18. says

    I really like Sallie’s comments.

    Of course you want your daughter to get to know the man she is about to marry, and ask probing questions. But wow!! I couldn’t read them all. They did make me sick to my stomach. And this from a woman who asked a lot of questions of my husband….but it was ME asking, and HE asking me. I do think it’s good to ask questions….but in reality…we all change!! I also think it’s not the father’s role to ask most of these questions. I see a real lack of faith in this list! WOW!!

  19. says

    Anthea, I have missed you! Glad your computer situations is corrected. I just hate being computerless!

    Here is a bit of homeschooling history in a nutshell…hope you all don’t mind.

    When we were first introduced to homeschooling, at the same time we heard Bill Gothard speak about what godly dating looked like. Words like courtship and betrothal weren’t even in anyone’s vocabulary at that point. Hew talked about impressing the importance of moral purity on our children and your whole family getting to know both girls and guys outside of your family, seeing how they interact, getting to know them personally and naturally. He talked about young men preparing for marriage and not dating until you do so with the intent of getting married.

    As time went on and we heard him speak, he changed his stance to one of courtship and talked a lot about guarding a daughter’s heart. About that time, Jonathan Lindvall came along and talked about betrothal. I didn’t know one single family who heard him who didn’t think he was a nut. Along with this came the idea of not allowing daughters to go anywhere unchaperoned, even to lunch with a girlfriend. Lindvall didn’t believe in a daughter having a driver’s license because her future husband might not approve, etc. etc. etc. Lindvall was considered so out there that he made Gothard look reasonable.

    For many years,the personal lifestyle choices of families were not a part of homeschooling conferences. Occasionally someone from Gothard’s group would speak and often the counsel was for parents of older children and much of it was really really good. I still remember Gary Fraley’s admonition that college age children are making all of their important life decisions at that time and that is when you cash in on the relationship building of the younger years. He warned us that it is not a time for wallowing in empty nest delight, but rather, a time to still be a mentor and counselor as the children leave home, go to college, chose their own marriage partners, etc. It was great advice from a father and grandfather of college educated daughters.

    Fast forward to now and you wonder how did this all happen and how did godly dating and even courtship get replaced with the Lindvall nuttiness? Here is my take:

    If we go back about 11 or 12 years, right before Y2K, we see this fear factor about the world being promulgated in these homeschooling circles. Phil Lancaster, author of the Vision Forum published Family Man, Family Leader and editor of Patriarch magazine, even bought land and began a type of commune in North Carolina (I think) for homeschooling families in anticipation of Y2K. We saw a lot of that in our area and one guy was absolutely obsessed with it all, approaching our family about starting a commune with his and a few others. (He wanted my husband to be in charge of weapons because of his Special Forces background…..scary stuff.)

    Then Y2K came and fizzled and went. And that is just the time that Doug Phillips started all his current push for world dominion. I truly think that these people sincerely believed the world as we know it was going to end with Y2K and that they would be in charge. Delusional, yes, but I know that is what many of them actually thought. After it was a big nothing, there had to be another way to achieve world dominion so they began talking about things like a 200 year plan, etc. Fear is a very successful motivator and using it to see to it that parents hook up their children with “approved” husbands and wives has been quite effective. When you read the phrase “like minded” it doesn’t only mean a Christian marrying another Christian. It brings with it a list of all sorts of things that are irrelevant to those of us who aren’t thinking “multi-generationally” as an approach to world dominion.

    Now betrothal has become the standard in many places and I believe it is for that reason. What do you think?

  20. says

    We also can’t underestimate the view of women in this whole mix. The success of the 200 year plan etc. depends on women marrying young, which to some that means at 17 or 18. It means that there will be the goal of Duggar size families for all and so they have to marry before they have thought through many of these things for themselves, hence they need mom or dad to do it for them. (What is it, 23 or so before the human brain is actually fully developed?)

    The young man must also hold to these views of women, that they only have “one role.” My guess is that the vetting process even has another layer and that guys who disagree with the party line won’t even get an application in the first place.

  21. says

    “It just seems like a total disconnect to me to think the father has to go to these lengths if he’s done his job for the previous 20+ years.”

    Sallie, this is the way you and I would think about this. But women in patriocentric circles are taught to listen to their dads and elders and husbands for guidance on these things. They don’t need to worry their pretty little heads about this stuff. 🙂

  22. Deb says

    Oh, dear me … I just found this blog, and reading the newest entry, thought it was promoting courtship. Then I began to read the comments and sighed a huge sigh of relief.

    Courtship was something I used to think was a good idea. Failing in this area (thankfully), I am now a very blessed mother-in-law. Out of desperation (failure in Pharisacical thinking)I prayed like crazy for God to bring the right man into our daughter’s life. Today I have a wonderful son-in-law. And no, neither he nor my daughter – nor myself or my husband – are the same people any of us were the day of their wedding! We’ve all been growing in grace. And imagine such a thing – the Holy Spirit is alive and well, and guiding us in our daily lives and in the bigger picture of our lives. Conforming us to the image of His Son!

    Now we have 4 more children who are unmarried, and my faith has grown so much in what HE can do – rather than what I and my husband need to control.

    We are still in the process of being set free from wrong thinking. It takes a long time to sift the good from the bad. Right now, at this moment, I am really struggling because I have come face to face with spiritual abuse once again – the very thing I ran from. And it has appeared right in my back yard. I’m being a bit cryptic on purpose – can’t talk freely right at the moment. Suffice it to say I am rather depressed these past few days, and trying to process it all. I have listened to almost every podcast on spiritual abuse.

    So if you can imagine what a breath of fresh air this blog was to me … and how I lost my breath seeing a post on courtship. Whew.

    Thanks for this oasis.


  23. says

    A few more random thoughts after mulling this over some more…

    I completely agree, Karen, that fear is a big motivator. And from that fear springs a crushing level of control. But God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). And it can be really easy to try to convince yourself that you are doing something out of faith when it is in fact driven by fear. (Don’t ask me how I know!) 😉

    It would be interesting to know the Myers-Briggs profile of a lot of these people. (Except that is psycho-babble and they probably don’t know their profile.)

    Re: deal breakers… I can see a few on there that would probably be deal breakers as in I would seriously counsel Caroline as to the long-term, real life ramifications of a particular viewpoint/practice. But one of the sure deal breakers in my mind is the use of pornography to any degree. We’re witnessing the destruction of a family we know due to this very issue and it is heartbreaking to see all the fallout. When you read articles about how college students at Christian colleges don’t discuss whether or not it is wrong to watch pornography but rather if they feel guilty when they do so… We have a very serious problem on our hands. I pray regularly for Caroline’s future husband’s purity and this is included in that prayer. Drug usage would be another one although that would have always been on my radar. But the pornography thing has become much bigger to me over the past year or so.

    Great topic, Karen! 🙂

  24. says

    I was discussing this with my husband (who is a biblical counselor by trade)and he mentioned that this type of thing could actually create leaving and cleaving issues. When dear old Dad is looking for a replication of himself for his daughter he’s asking the young man to join his clan instead of giving his daughter into another. When and if the young husband changes his mind about something, who does the young wife follow, her husband or her dad?

    And I was thinking how horrible it would be if your parents were not at all what you wanted to become–maybe a young woman wants desperately to be a Bible Translator in a foreign country or a lawyer looking to end human trafficing–and you were squeezed into your parents’ mold under the guise of proper biblical courtship/marriage. It used to be a joke when someone said you were turning into you mother! Seems like a good recipe for anger and depression to me.

  25. says

    Deb,so happy to be part of your jolt for the morning!!!! 🙂

    Will keep you in prayer. Spiritual abuse is ugly and painful.

  26. says

    Sallie, I have been thinking about the deal breakers. We probably each have a different list and those things that aren’t so clearly outlined in Scripture and are preferences are probably mostly based on bad experiences. As much as I hate the whole porn thing and see it as a terrible blight within our culture, I would imagine that very few young men reach adulthood without having been exposed to it in some way. I have shared before how my son who was 15 at the time went down to our small town barber shop full of old WW2 vets and one of them placed an open Playboy on his lap. He immediately got up out of the chair and came home and told me. I was livid. I mean, I could feel my blood pressure rising and I drove to the barber shop and let everyone in there have it. (I tell this story on the podcast about having a gentle spirit!) 🙂 I have had other moms share with me the same sort of experience and how devastated they were that someone had done the same thing to their sons. So exposure to porn wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me because I think nearly every young man would then be disqualified.

    I once remember, a long time ago, when a homeschooling mom wanted to “warn” me about a homeschool girl we knew who had been sexually molested as a child. She wanted me to know that for the sake of my sons down the road. I was really taken aback because I certainly didn’t see this as something that I needed to know, let alone to imply that that somehow would rule her out in the future. This is the sort of thing that I think happens when we start making these ridiculous check lists. Whatever happened to becoming a new creature in Christ? And why would you want to punish a young woman or to see her as unclean for sins committed against her? And would this really be my business? It seems like there are a lot of things that really should remain between a young man and woman and when they marry isn’t the marriage bed to be undefiled, meaning, in part, that that area of their lives is really none of our business?

  27. says

    Saralyn, I, too, have been really concerned about the leaving and cleaving aspect of all of this. Absolutely the most essential thing we can do for a young married couple is to promote that and let them know that, though we are supportive and there for them in times of crisis, they are on their own for the most part. We lived in Germany for 3 1/2 years after we were married and looking back, it was a wonderful thing for our marriage. We had no issues with families dropping by or interfering as we learned how to be parents or even dealing with the family holiday issues I have often heard about. We had no TV or car either so we were home together all the time, reading together and to each other, enjoying music, playing games, etc. We were a family, just us. Becoming one flesh, I think, has two aspects. The first is the obvious, the sexual union. But the second is a marriage-long process that “cleaves” you to each other. I don’t want to be involved with that in the lives of my kids. I am more than happy just to play with grandchildren!

  28. says

    How important do you all think the “sparks” are in this process? And does it make any sense to anyone that there will be no romantic feelings until a betrothal or engagement takes place? And can you seriously watch all those Jane Austen movies without being touched romantically?

  29. says

    Karen, I agree and understand about what you said about exposure to porn. That’s why I said use. Unwitting exposure a few times is completely different than seeking it out and using it.

  30. says

    Another thing that we have experienced with our own children. Four of them are married and we are continually amazed and how perfectly matched each of the couples are. We see so clearly God’s sovereign hand bringing them together and giving each of them just what they needed. When we see such great combinations and how the Lord brought them together without our manipulation or even check lists and how He has worked to grow them together through the years (one has been married 11 years now…hardly seems possible) we see nothing of our works in them, only what the Lord has done. And we have all grown up so much in these years!

  31. says

    Sallie, I should have clarified. I realized that is what you said but know that many betrothalites would consider exposure as a reason to check someone off the list!

  32. says

    In the comments, I found this question asked of Stacy to be interesting, and her answer to be even more interesting – and telling…

    The question:

    “How would you handle a situation where you and your husband felt he was NOT a suitable man for your daughter but she insisted on marrying him anyway. Do you allow the wedding to proceed?”

    It would seem to me that the response of a rational, loving parent would begin with “Whether a wedding proceeds or not isn’t up to us…” Stacy’s response seems to suggest that she believes it is largely, if not entirely, up to the parents.

    Her answer begins with…

    “I guess it depends – what was the reason we felt the young man was not suitable?
    We’d have to determine this on a case by case basis. Is he an unbeliever? Is he addicted to pornography? Has he shown a tendency to be dishonest? Is he unwilling to respect or submit to authority? Has he given us reason to believe he may be abusive? All of these things would be serious issues that would require us to be more insistent that she listen and submit to her father, trusting that God is protecting her through her father’s wisdom.”

    Too be fair, one should read the entire response, but I think this opening section portrays the mindset pretty clearly. It assumes authority on the part of parents/fathers that God hasn’t given and points a daughter toward human wisdom, encouraging her to “trust” in a promise that God never made. God requires us all to honor our parents, but nothing in scripture even dares to suggest that a grown woman must submit to her father or that God will “protect” her through the wisdom, supposed or tangible, of her father.

    It also comes with the presupposition that what the father is offering is actually “wisdom”, and while a parent DOES have life experience to draw on, Hebrews 1 gives us ALL an equal promise of Godly wisdom. It would seem to me that a parent would encourage trust in THAT promise which is real.

    The problem with this list of questions as a whole is the same problem the Vision Forum mission statement has, in my opinion…There’s an awful lot of dad, and very little Christ.

  33. Connie says

    What an artificial and awkward way to begin any kind of relationship, much less a marriage.

    And I’ve always been mystified as to how the guy is supposed to figure out if he can love the girl (his part of the pre-betrothal process according to the McDs) if there is supposed to be no emotions or romance involved until betrothal which, according to them, is a binding commitment. Makes my head spin.

  34. says

    Connie…Emotions are mechanical with these formulas. Regardless of what proponents say about it, including emotions in the mix is frowned upon, because more often than not, a girl’s emotions (and those of the guy interested in her) will put her at considerable odds with daddy. Emotions are a no-no.

    The first piece of my former future father-in-laws “wisdom” I received was about his daughter’s emotions. My former future in-laws were adamant, to the point of repeatedly berating my ex, about her not becoming “emotionally attached” to me, or the two of us falling in love with each other, until a time they felt comfortable with it. And her devotion to me? Yowza! Once, well after our engagement, as she was becoming very emotionally bonded to me and devoted to me, her mother hit her with a tear-riddled, “It’s too soon! It’s not time for that! It’s too soon!”

    I’ve always been of the opinion that we have far less control over who we fall in love with, and when we fall in love, than we like to give ourselves credit for. And devotion, well, if a couple isn’t “married” emotionally, if the kinship of the soul isn’t there, well BEFORE the walk down the aisle, they’ve no business having the ceremony, because it’s not a magic switch that gets flipped and suddenly you’re madly in love and totally devoted.

    It’s all so mechanical. It’s like they’re reading from a manual that tells them, “Well, it’s day 282 of the relationship, which means after 3:30 PM you can hold hands, and after next Friday we’ll approve of you having feelings.”

    Sorry to be so long-winded on this subject, folks. It hits very close to home, and the heart, for me.

  35. Lois Brown Loar says

    I am of mother of 8 sons, and 4 daughters. I would be intensely offended if someone thought my medical history was fair game in the betrothal process!!

    I have 5 married children. Each has chosen their own spouse,and in the process, asked our opinion of various things involving them before the walk down the aisle. Each has chosen a mate very well suited to them, their own personalities(because, frankly, there are always things a kid holds back from their parents), and their own vision for their life!

    Our oldest married(gasp!), a nonchristian! But we had been given the opportunity to get to know him well, and began to love him as a person himself! I had been praying for Diane’s future husband from the time she was about 3 years old….and Bob and I felt that Diane, at age 23, had made her choice, so we would support her marriage. Besides, we both trusted that God is in control and we had a lot of peace about them. Unheard of among most Christians, and would appal the patriocentrists. I don’t go around recommending “date evangelism”…I’m just reporting how it turned out.

    Diane and Terry married and moved 500 miles away from us to Iowa. She immediately found a church around the corner from their home. SHE approached her beloved and asked him to attend with her, explainging that she would want to take hteir future children, and if nothing else, his responsibility of a father should investigate it for himself(godly submission is how I saw her attitude) for his approval for his children that would come one day.

    He went with her, and was embraced by loving, grace-filled Christians, and on Good Friday, six months after their marriage, he repented of his sins and accepted Jesus as his savior!!! Today, 11 years later, Terry is a wonderful Christian man, an elder in his church, and a terrific father and husband.

    Had we expected Terry to answer all those questions, we would have missed out on a wonderful son-in-law and dear friend and brother in Christ. We trusted God and our daughter’s good sense.

    Nancy and Chris both decided in their high school years that high school dating wasn’t for them. Nancy is actually older than Chris, and he was still in high school when they realized their attraction for one another. But, because both of them were committed to seeking God for their lives first and foremost, as a result of their own growing faith, they kept it “friends” for nearly 3 years before they married.

    They both sought their parents’ counsel as they began seeing each other, then got engaged. We had different counsel for them than Chris’s parents did, but all six of us were praying and seeking God for their upcoming marriage.

    Nancy and Chris have now been married 2 years and are starting a family. Nancy has worked full time while Chris finished his master’s degree and is now taking hte CPA test. He has employment waiting for him, and she will be “retiring” to raise their future little ones.

    They are, together, committed to the Lord and following where He leads them.

    But, had we presented Chris with such a list of questions, how would he and Nancy learned so well to seek the Lord’s guidance on their dating and engagement? We would have circumvented far too much of their relationships with Jesus….and THAT relationship has produced a wonderful marriage.

    I won’t tell the other stories. Suffice it to say that Joseph, Isaiah, and Matthew have all married wonderful women who are exactly what they needed, and vice versa. I love my daughers-in-law dearly for the diverse women they all are. And I appreciate them all so much.

    BTW, I’m also the happy grandmother of 11 adorable grandchildren…..

  36. says

    More thoughts.

    I appreciate the comments from Lewis, who apparently who has BTDT with this whole system and knows what he is talking about.

    Karen, you did mention that you’d think that most couples who are entering marriage will have discussed many of these topics themselves anyway. Welll…I will kindly disagree with you on that. I can think of very few couples I’ve known entering marriage (including myself) who have mastered a list of that type. In fact one guy I know literally married because he and his wife were a terrific looking couple when she held onto his arm. No kidding! They divorced not long after. One of my friends married because she just wanted to be married! She eventually came to the conclusion she was making a mistake, but she already had sent out the wedding invitations and went through with it. They divorced too. I sat through the wedding of a family member knowing that the groom had no idea of the seriousness/sacredness of the vows he was taking. Another divorce. One lady I know said in her day her circle of friends chose their potential husband based on how cute he was. And she was serious. Another divorce. Another friend of mine married just to make her already-engaged-in sexual relations legal. Another divorce.

    I do think there is something to be said for premarital-type counseling or mentoring, which can often take the form of natural sharing of older men to younger men or older women to younger women. But also, a one on one situation with a pastor or small group Bible Study type situation would be beneficial. Garnering wise, Godly counsel from others is a good thing. IOW, yes marriage is a huge responsibility and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Preparation? Yes, but grilling the initial suitor to this extreme is well, extreme! (I do happen to think that not all of the questions from this huge list are rididulous, though. For example, one I liked was, ‘If “you” were courting “your” daughter, what cautions would you take?’ It was something like that, anyway. I would agree that is a type of question that causes a young man to think more seriously about the whole way he would treat a young lady and his own character traits, too. Not a bad thing.

    I just recently checked out a book from our church library called Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date, by Dennis Rainey. It’s a real small book and much more to my liking. For one thing, it doesn’t assume a Patiocentric mindset. It seems to be presented from the idea of a father letting a potential date know that his daughter is very precious to her parents, and letting the young man know that he expects him to treat her as such! I can understand and appreciate that. BTW, this little book was purchased and donated to our church library by one of our senior saints who is in her mid-80’s. Isn’t that interesting?

    How many parents today (Christian or not) really put any sort of parameters around their teenagers about dating in the first place? Most parents I know just sort of let it happen and hope for the best. I’ve seen this up close. Daughter starts dating a very questionable boy, parents aren’t happy about it, but don’t say a thing, other than ‘she’ll probably want to marry the idiot’. Guess what? She does. Another divorce, BTW.

    Parents and others can give advice and counsel. Parents should pray and pray some more. Young people can and should seek that advice. Young people should pray, pray, pray. But, even with that I know that there are no absolute guarantees against broken hearts and broken marriages.


  37. Michelle G. says

    To be honest, I wouldn’t want to marry a man who would be willing to talk about even 20% of those things with my parents! What a wimp! Here’s a good idea: Train up your daughter to be strong in the Spirit and able to think for herself. All her life point her to Jesus, not to her own or her daddy’s works or abilities but to the Savior so that by the time she’s twenty something she’s well versed in discerning all of life’s issues and able to clearly hear from the Holy Spirit ON HER OWN. Then build a relationship with the young man and make him your friend. Treat him as you would treat yourself. Love like Christ loves and drop the inquisition tactics! I believe that’s what Karen means when she uses the word “organic” throughout this blog. Organic relationships take time to build and at their foundation should be MUTUAL respect. SO many of those questions I found to be just down right disrespectful, not to mention offensive and hurtful. It would be so difficult to have in-laws like that. And I don’t mean this to be mean-spirited but wasn’t Pastor MacDonald married with children before he married Stacy?? I have NO problem with that as my hubby was married before also. But by his own incredibly strict standards wouldn’t that fact alone taken him out of the running if his inlaws were using his own criteria??
    Lewis – I KNOW there is a bright, beautiful and spiritually strong woman out there for you who can think for herself and is going to LOVE chewing on all of these spiritual/theological issues with you! I thank you so much for your perspective.
    Lois – Your comments about your grown children were dripping with grace and so refreshing to read. Thank you!

  38. David says


    It’s great to hear a man’s perspective on this issue for once. It’s rough to go through authoritarian experiences and work out our freedom in Christ. I appreciate hearing about other men who do.

    I read the list and the first thing I thought was that they’ve got waaaaaay too narrow a list. How could ANYONE meet all that? Impossible.

    The only approved man could be someone who is exactly like the dad. And he’d deny it. But that’s the only way it would work.

    But for the grace of God, there’s little hope of a free joyful loving relationship.

  39. says

    I read the whole list–as fast as I could so I didn’t have time to get too irritated by any one section! My overall impression was “wow, what a largely irrelevant, hugely intrusive, and incredibly rude invasion into a man’s private life”. Some of these questions are pertinent for the couple themselves to discuss (and which ones would differ from couple to couple, I imagine) but NONE of them seemed like any of a parent’s business.

    Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of marrying a man my whole family disapproved of. His only acceptable characteristic was having been raised strict Southern Baptist. Everything else (divorced, a father, military, drinks, smokes, reads Playboy, no college degree, definitely not white-collar professional) caused my family’s collective nose to sniff derisively. When we left organized religion after our marriage, everyone pretty much wrote us off (not that we much noticed, living on the other side of the country on the Navy base).

    But, this man treats me like I cause the sun to rise and set and has spent almost two decades working at what he considers his holy calling to support and provide for his family; he adores his almost teenaged daughters and they adore him. He will drive 2hrs across town to help an acquaintance whose been thrown out by his wife, give money to anyone in need, and offer shelter to those who find themselves between housing. My oh-so-christian family never did any of these things, at least not without condescension and moralizing.

    The only question I as both a daughter and a mother consider appropriate to ask a future in-law is not something that can even be answered in words, “Does this person love my child and treat them with respect?” Anything beyond that very basic tenet is preferential to the couple themselves. Nothing else is a better guarantee of relationship success.

    I do think it is important for a father of daughters (and perhaps a mother of sons? I have only daughters) to impress upon anyone who desires a relationship of any kind with the daughter that she’d better be well-treated because we’ve got her back. Women are still at a disadvantage politically in a marriage and it never hurts for everyone to know she’s not alone.

  40. says

    Susie, what I was trying to say and that I think most homeschooled kids have already thought through many of these questions and have even discussed many of them with peers, certainly not all of those things, but many of them. I would guess that none of those friends you mentioned were homeschooled. ? I think we are looking at a different demographic, a group that,for the most part, thinks on a deeper level, certainly a deeper level than I ever did at that age. (Michelle, I know I would certainly never have passed muster if I had been asked these sorts of questions! Who would have back in my day?) But as some have already pointed out, most homeschooled guys could answer those questions with the “approved” answers today!

    That being said, we were studying 1 Thessalonians 4 in Sunday School this am and I had one of those light bulb moments.

    Verse one says:
    Finally, then, brothers, [1] we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.”

    and verse 10 repeats this phrase “But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more.”

    In this passage, Paul is reminding his readers that growing in grace is something we are all called to do, that we never arrive, that we are to practice holiness “more and more” all the time and forever.

    This is the mindset we pray our children and their future spouses have and will continue to have “more and more.” Looking for a solid walk of faith is what we should be doing rather than checking off a list of certain answers.
    Hopefully we are seeing the “more and more” in each of us!

  41. Anthea says

    Hello Karen

    Thank you for your very informative reply to my post. The whole panic over Y2K/End times etc is understandable but v diff from the way the Bible tells us to remain joyful, steadfast etc.

  42. says

    Karen (and Lewis),
    I happened to leave town with the screen still open to the post and it’s questions. Since I haven’t closed out of the page nor refreshed it since Saturday morning….I was able to retrieve the response in full. Here it is:

    Stacy McDonald says:

    Friday, August 20, 2010 at 9:19 pm
    “How would you handle a situation where you and your husband felt he was NOT a suitable man for your daughter but she insisted on marrying him anyway. Do you allow the wedding to proceed?”

    Hi Paula,
    I guess it depends – what was the reason we felt the young man was not suitable?

    We’d have to determine this on a case by case basis. Is he an unbeliever? Is he addicted to pornography? Has he shown a tendency to be dishonest? Is he unwilling to respect or submit to authority? Has he given us reason to believe he may be abusive? All of these things would be serious issues that would require us to be more insistent that she listen and submit to her father, trusting that God is protecting her through her father’s wisdom.

    But what happens if the parents are simply being unreasonable or controlling – maybe they just don’t care for the guy’s personality or profession? Or what about cases where the parents are putting unreasonable requests upon the young man (you must have $50,000 in the bank and a paid-off house). This could keep their daughter from ever having the opportunity to marry a man and train up godly seed for the Lord. And, personally, I think many parents need to examine their hearts here, and see if they aren’t in sin.

    Ultimately, the man a daughter marries, needs to be the man the daughter wants to marry. We don’t advocate arranged marriages. But, at the same time, a daughter is wise to heed the counsel and direction of her parents. When a father has won the trust of his daughter, she will be glad for his guidance – and it will be a blessing to everyone involved.

  43. says

    On the topic of emotional involvement…I’m wondering if I’m off my rocker, but I have four daughters ages 10-17…and they’ve all had CRUSHES at some point or another!!! And yes I was surprised the first time it happened at AGE 9!! But I don’t condemn them, or tell them it’s WRONG. I tell them it’s a perfectly natural God given feeling to have. They’re starting to WAKE UP to boys. I then help them to deal with the emotions. I’m so very thankful all my girls feel like they can come to me with these feelings.

    BUT…my point…and tell me if I’m wrong….girls get emotionally involved way before there are any prospects of “marriage” or “courtship”. I just don’t see how you “guard” that, or prevent it from happening. I see this as a time for direction and counsel so when they get to marriage age they’ll be able to better handle the emotions and still think clearly about those “deal breaker” type of issues.

    As you can see I’m still a “young” mom….I don’t have any married children….so I’m sure I have a lot to learn in this area!

  44. says

    Oh…and one thing my husband and I talked about…is the definitions of certain terms. How what we called “courtship” back in the early 90’s, is definitely NOT what we are seeing taught as “courtship” today. And how we probably need to change the terms we use with our children, or at least make sure they know what our definition is. Also, when in a conversation with someone on the topic always, always ask what they mean by “courtship.”

  45. says

    “Ultimately, the man a daughter marries, needs to be the man the daughter wants to marry. We don’t advocate arranged marriages. But, at the same time, a daughter is wise to heed the counsel and direction of her parents. When a father has won the trust of his daughter, she will be glad for his guidance – and it will be a blessing to everyone involved.

    I agree with this. But I also think the “vetting process” can be done by daughters, whose trust a father has won through years of relationship building. If she is not mature enough for this, I doubt she is ready for marriage.

  46. says

    Lynnea re: crushes,

    This is such a great aspect of this to discuss. And I think if we are being honest, ALL girls develop crushes of some sort. Parents may be able to control outward behavior but not the heart.

    Something that has always puzzled me is the book and movie choices of those within this movement. They typically disapprove of the Love Comes Softly series because the women are independent. But they LOVE the Jane Austen books and movies, though, especially Pride and Prejudice. I hadn’t seen the A and E version for about 8 years so got it over the weekend and began watching. My sons have been watching with me and one of them, without my prompting, pointed out several things that are contrary to patriarchal thought. The first is that Elizabeth Bennett is a very strong and independent woman. In fact, she is the grown up in the family, the one with the discernment while her parents are flakes. Secondly, the father is a twit and so foolish in how he raises his girls. Thirdly, the whole thing is about romance and “making a good match’ that is based on superficial things. I once had a PW tell me that P and P is not a romance but how can girls watch Colin Firth’s eyes without melting….it is totally a romance. How are girls to guard their hearts and watch this stuff at the same time? Seems pretty inconsistent to me. And another thing my son pointed out…what is with all the breasts in this movie? Is this modest dress? 🙂

    Lynnea, I think you are absolutely correct that we are to use crushes, whether they are in real life or on the screen, to teach our daughters about preparing for marriage, qualities of mates, etc. I am still trying to get over my crush on Jonas Blaine, by the way, now that The Unit is off the air! 😉

  47. says

    Re: Pride and Prejudice (A&E version)… Can you imagine if a daughter of patriarchy ever spoke to a man the way Elizabeth dresses down Mr. Darcy after his initial proposal?!?!?!? But, in the end, that is what he loves about her – her forthrightness, wisdom, insight, etc. That is why many women find a kindred spirit in Elizabeth Bennett, Anne Shirley, and Jo March – they are strong, bright, articulate women.

    As was recently discussed on your thread about No Girl Left Behind… real, secure men want strong women who can engage in conversation and bring some spark and interest to life. David could care less if I can crochet a doily (unless it is something I want to do for fun). But he greatly appreciates my strengths that would get me into serious trouble in any gathering of patriocentric folks.

    Sorry for all the comments lately, Karen! This topic just really gets me going! LOL! 🙂

  48. says

    Oh, I know what good little homeschool girls do with crushes! You ignore and deny them and that way, they don’t actually exist. 😛 That and beg God to take them away before your parents find out…..

    Re: P & P (which I can’t stand, btw :P), my mom wouldn’t let my little brothers watch it because of all the bare chests. 😆

  49. Caroline says

    I’ve read your blog since a friend of mine referenced it about a year ago, but I don’t think I’ve ever commented. My family (large, homeschooling, patriarchal) fits the stereotype of so many of the issues you have discussed here. One of the big ones for us was courtship, which really became popular in homeschool circles just as I hit my teens. I was on board too, and would read about it as much as I could and defend it to anyone who listened (at first, I think, I was really just excited about the prospect of getting a “promise ring,” but it really became theologically important to me as well.) And then, when I was about 18, reality hit. I really liked a guy in my church, and he liked me. I had had crushes before, of course, but this was different; I really thought this guy had husband potential. I thought that if I followed the proper procedures, we could court and everything would be beautiful, just like in the books, right? The problem was that neither the timing nor the individual were chosen by my parents; since both were of my choosing, they were automatically suspect, and I was put through the fire: my emotions couldn’t be trusted, we were too young, he was “immature,” (I can look back now and honestly say he wasn’t). The short version of the story is that the two of us were ultimately forbidden to even talk to each other, and our two families became estranged, with angry, hurtful things said by both fathers (albeit, his had more justification). I have moved on, of course, in the 10+ years since then, and now have a beautiful family (not sanctioned by my parents, but that is another story), yet it still hurts me to think about those events. For me, this quote by an above commenter says it all: “It just seems like a total disconnect to me to think the father has to go to these lengths if he’s done his job for the previous 20+ years.” What is the point of raising godly children if you are not going to allow them to practice any of what you have taught them? Frankly, it’s insulting to them, and usually has one of two outcomes: codependent, emotionally and intellectually stunted adults, or children who reject and turn away from all they have been taught.

  50. says


    I almost thought I knew you because your story and name are identical to another Caroline. It was only when you mentioned ten years ago as opposed to a couple of years ago did I realize you were an entirely different person.

    Treating grown daughters like infants is so insulting and downright wrong. The control exercised by these patrists is a reflection of their lack of faith.

    Are they trusting God?
    Are they secure in their parenting methods to believe they have honorable adult children?
    Are they so egocentric that they believe they can orchestrate someone else’s life better than that person can conduct their own affairs?
    Is their authority so weak that they must support it with such heavy handed force?

  51. says

    Over on Stacy’s site, a commenter named Tom asked this of Stacy…

    “I am curious to your answers to these questions personally as well as if you would provide them to the potential suitor since you are digging so personally into their own lives.”

    Stacy’s response speaks volumes…

    “I would not provide the answers to you. What’s your last name again? 🙂 However, we would be very willing to have such a conversation with a young man we trusted enough to pursue marriage with one of our daughters. Her heart is more important than any one of these questions.”

    I think this demonstrates that the ideological movement behind the idea has become the god of the situation, and has given both Stacy and her husband a very unhealthy view of their role as parents…(to be clear) that is, when applying this methodology to adult children.

    It’s pretty obvious, regardless of whatever is stated to the contrary, that Stacy and her husband feel it’s wrong for a daughter to move forward with a relationship without hers and her husband’s approval. They would probably also suggest that it isn’t “godly”, which is another fear-inducing, thought stopping, manipulative tool. As such, it isn’t honest to attribute it to the choice and desires of the daughter when, in fact, it’s the parents making up the critical mass of any final decision, essentially officiating the daughter’s life. It reminds me of the “peace game” I wrote about a few weeks back. It’s a subtle, but powerful, form of manipulation.

    She speaks of this all being based on biblical precepts, although I really haven’t the foggiest what those biblical precepts are (that’s a question I’ve been asking to no avail for 3 years). In 1st Peter 4:15, we’re given direct biblical INSTRUCTION to avoid meddling, translated from the Greek compound word “allotriepiskopos”, which means, “not one’s own overseer”. Meddling. Just who is being “ungodly” in this scenario? The officious parents, or the grown woman making her own choices?

    It isn’t healthy. At all. But doctrine over…well…everything. The movement reigns.

  52. Beth says

    I’m chuckling at Lynnea’s post above about her girls having crushes, because I remember being shocked when my daughter first decided she was madly in love with some boy. 🙂 My reaction was along the lines of “HEY! This isn’t supposed to happen! We homeschool! We believe in courtship!!” It was an eye-opening experience for me and my husband, though I wonder now why we were so surprised.

    We’ve been through the legalistic waters and are emerging on the other side. My husband has never been one to be gung-ho about any of the patriocentric ideas. More often I have been the one thinking “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if he was more like those guys.” Thank God, THANK GOD, He gave me a husband who is NOT like those guys!!

    Being sort of committed to courtship worked out well for us while our daughter was teen, though. It didn’t hurt her to be known as the pretty girl whose dad you would have to approach if you wanted to date her. It probably protected her from some situations she was too young to handle along the way. We also have a son, and I’m sure when he gets to be a hormonal teenager I will be glad there are some girls out there who tell him “no” and scare him by telling him to go talk to their daddies. 😀

    But my daughter is now an adult, and we are horrifying some people around us by “letting” her date! When I saw the post with the list of courtship questions I forwarded it to her with a note saying “If you ask your boyfriend these questions and he has a ready answer for all of them…RUN AWAY…FAST!!” Her dad and I still change our minds about things and still talk through our positions on life issues and we’ve been married 23 years. There is no way I want her to marry some young punk who has everything all figured out and is ready to start his own little patrio dynasty.

  53. Kat says

    Thank you so much for linking to this, thatmom 🙂 I came here from Sallie’s blog. I haven’t read all the comments, just wanted to add a verse (although someone may have said it already 🙂

    “He has showed you, O man, what is good.
    And what does the LORD require of you?
    To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.” micah 6:8

    I’m so thankful that God doesn’t put an x on suitors whose mother’s may have a mental illness (this one was just off the charts!…don’t we all have some illness?), but delights in mercy, and grace, and redemption! Wow. Wow…

  54. Michelle G. says

    Beth same here about wanting hubby to have more “vision” there for awhile. I even started to get a little miffed at the Lord for not rewarding my submission (doormat style martyrdom my dh never could understand and be comfortable with) and change him. The men I seemed to be reading/hearing about were searching the earth for a husband for their grown daughters, leading family devotions morning and evening plus schooling their boys, working at their own home-based business, etc. Instead, the Lord did me the enormous favor of NOT changing my husband. Throughout my patrio-legalistic days he remained a man who felt like his daughter was bright enough to know for herself when she’s met Mr. Right, who believed in his wife enough to trust her with the majority of the education of their children, and who believed that if living in poverty can be avoided he would work some long days and sacrifice his precious time and energy so that money wouldn’t have to be a huge worry for us. And to be honest, I villified him sometimes for these “shallow” attitudes. What a fool I was! I have an awesome husband who, thank God, isn’t swayed at all by the latest spiritual fads.

  55. says

    I think one of the biggest things about this for me was the way that, in an attempt not to be “pushy,” McDonald stated at the beginning of the blog, “And again, remember, there are no right or wrong answers.” Which, for a lot of the questions, is true. Many of these questions are just matters of conviction, or even mere preference. However, there are some questions which both have and require a “right” answer, or at least, not a wrong one. The first question, for example, about being saved; I feel like that is an important one to get right. Or perhaps the one, “Do you show a regular willingness to serve others?” My point is, some of these questions really must be answered in a certain way, and I think McDonald’s provision at the beginning is merely a way to decrease the intensity of the whole thing so it’s easier to swallow.

    My other biggest issue is that 90% of this list is about trivial, peripheral, non-essential matters, and to even be worried about those matters as a parent is foolish. What does it matter to a parent whether their daughter’s potential “suitor” is neat or messy?

    I agree with Hillary. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said the whole law was summed up in that.

  56. says

    This too, from Michelle above, was excellent: “To be honest, I wouldn’t want to marry a man who would be willing to talk about even 20% of those things with my parents! What a wimp! Here’s a good idea: Train up your daughter to be strong in the Spirit and able to think for herself. All her life point her to Jesus, not to her own or her daddy’s works or abilities but to the Savior so that by the time she’s twenty something she’s well versed in discerning all of life’s issues and able to clearly hear from the Holy Spirit ON HER OWN.”

    I want to have a relationship with my LORD and Savior that is sturdy and robust and guided by His Holy Spirit. As an not-yet-20-year-old I appreciate how my parents raised me immensely on that front. Obviously they were not perfect and at times like every parent tried too hard to pass on their convictions in addition to God’s essential mandates, but for the most part my parents, as Michelle said, pointed me to Jesus my whole life, and when I moved out to attend Bible college, they happily sent me off, trusting God that they had done the best they could and that He would take care of the rest, because after all I belong to Him.

    Thanks Michelle, that comment was very well-worded.

  57. says

    Caroline, your story is so sad. I look back over the years we were in the patriocentric camp and one of my greatest regrets is the friendships we could have had if we hadn’t been so uppity!

  58. says

    Emily, I really appreciated this statement:

    “I want to have a relationship with my LORD and Savior that is sturdy and robust and guided by His Holy Spirit.”


  59. says

    One more thing I remembered yesterday…

    When we were in college (small Christian school), one of our professors, who was about 30 at the time) felt compelled to “mentor” some of the students when it came to dating and choosing life partners. One of my roommates was dating a young man headed for seminary and she had been to visit his parents’ home many times and he had also been to her family’s home. Things were very serious between them but for some reason this professor didn’t’ like the match and took the young man aside to tell him so. Within weeks he broke it off with my friend and she was devastated. A couple years later, he married a woman in a marriage that was encouraged by this prof and he went on to finish seminary and pastor a church. A couple years and a couple children later, they were divorced.

    As the years have gone by, I have counted more than a dozen couples just during the three years I was at this school who had been mentored by this same prof and who have ended up divorced and am told that even this man has a rocky marriage of his own. Even before Clay and I married, one of the dorm supervisors took me aside and warned me that we would be a terrible match and yet within a few years, she and her husband were divorced.

  60. says

    No wonder Quiverfull girls are finding it hard to get married! This sounds like the pre-ordination of a Pope! Honestly, I can’t imagine any guy being willing to go thru this ordeal.

  61. says

    Lisa, that really made me laugh out loud! Maybe the girl’s parents can have black smoke coming from the chimney so onlookers will know they have found a suitable mate! 🙂


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