"It is not an easy topic to discuss because people have violent opinions and the younger the children the more violent the opinions get."
This was definitely me a few short years ago. It's amazing what actually having some experience in the matter will do to your opinions. I think the violent opinions come from wanting so badly to protect your children from unnecessary hurt. But God knows it is often times pain that forms our character and like Jesus we can pray for what we think is best but ultimately we need to say, "God's will be done."
"Almost every family I know with older children has modified their views on courtship. That is not to say that they have rushed towards dating but just that they have stopped believing in courtship as a panacea. Courtship carries within itself just as many pitfalls as dating, some of the same pitfalls and a few more besides."
That would also describe me and I would have to agree with the rest of the paragraph. Both of my older girls have been hurt through a courtship process and in one of the cases a few others were hurt too and we ended up having to leave our church of eleven years because of the situation going sour. However, we have all have grown tremendously from it. And because we were involved and our wishes respected, neither relationship became physical so they both still have the chance of entering into their marriages completely pure. I thank God for that.
In one of the comments Cindy says,
"One thing we have not been confused about is that the goal of all this is purity. Our boys are not in any doubt at all about the fact we expect them to remain pure until marriage and guard the purity of the girls they pursue."
Amen. I have known people who have different standards for their daughters and sons, thinking it is up to the girl's family to protect her purity and putting no responsibility on the sons. I think that is pathetic and pitiful and I'm glad to hear Cindy say otherwise.
"For parents of boys, courtship basically means whatever the father of the girl decides it means. This can range from mild interest to the boy almost having to fall in love with dear old dad. "
For us, details about things such as where they spend the majority of their time are no longer pre-determined. I'm sure our children will want prospective mates to spend time with us because they like to spend time with us and they will want our opinions on the matter. I expect the prospective mates will desire the same thing with their own families. As one commenter brought up the idea of long-distance relationships and the problems that brings for the girl to spend time with the young man's family, if we were in that situation I think the ideal would be having the young man and the young man's father as committed to protecting our daughter's purity as he would his own daughter/sister. If that were not the case, I would not suggest sending her alone.
And being that the bride is the one being "given", I still think that her father should know enough of the young man to be able to give wholeheartedly, thus demanding some amount of relationship. However, it is the girl who must live with the choice for the rest of her life. She is wise if she seeks counsel from those she trusts, especially in case her emotions are blinding her. But demanding a best friend relationship with a father-in-law is foolish in my opinion. Why should we assume that the kind of person our daughter wants to marry should be the type that my husband would have as a best friend?
Sometimes as humans we like formulas. But God often gives us principles instead. I think this is a good scripture to apply to the matter. When you look up the definitions of the words sanctification, defraud and transgress it makes it even more clear.
"For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification." 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7