So this fall I finally met a great Christian guy who has the same goals in life. From the very beginning of our relationship we were very intentional about our conversations, discussing our beliefs, desires for the future, etc. He is 31, and in the many, many hours of conversations we have had, I have come to respect him deeply.
He has been a Christian for about seven years. Prior to his conversion, he lived a pretty wild life, but since he was saved he has truly followed God, and all that is under the blood of Jesus. I have seen his faith lived out in his daily life, not just in his words.
After we had spent about four months (intense months, I might add!) getting to know each other, we were ready to move to the next step and make our relationship “official.” He asked my dad for permission to court me with the intent of marriage.
My dad is a very godly man whom I love and respect. He had a whole list of “checking this guy out” questions to ask. Some of the questions were very personal and specific sexual questions. My intended suitor told my dad he was more than willing to answer any questions relating to his spiritual life, finances, beliefs, etc., but that sexual questions should be reserved for husband and wife, or those intending to marry.
My dad was not OK with that and would not discuss any other questions with him, nor give him permission to court me. He also counseled me to break off our relationship completely.
Who is right here? Does my dad have the right to ask anything he wants to know? Does he need to know? As an example of what we’re talking about, my dad wants this guy to be tested for AIDS and STDs and give the test results to him. My friend is willing to be tested for my sake, but thinks he should share the results with me, not my dad. Is there a reason my dad should see the results? (I’ve told him he can assume everything was fine unless I tell him otherwise, but he won’t accept that.)
Is it OK for a young man to say, “I’m not going to talk about this subject with you”? (Note: He has been very upfront and honest with me in this area, and has told me what I need to know.) Does he have a right to privacy? Should our age have any bearing on this (i.e., we aren’t immature teenagers anymore)? I know my place as a woman is to submit. I don’t see any Scriptural reason for him to have to “submit” to my dad.
And what should I do? I love and respect my dad. I want to honor him (that’s commanded by God). I’ve never gone against my dad’s advice, counsel or wishes in my life. I want him to be involved in my relationships! But I realize that he can make mistakes, too. (I should add that I’m the first one in my family to get to the courtship stage, so this is new territory for everyone!) I also want to be a good example for my siblings and not “rebel” against my parents.
I know you may not be able to give personal advice, but I have never seen this addressed in any books or articles, and I’m really seeking answers. I want to do what is right, no matter what the cost.
This can hardly be handled in a short answer, but we’ll try. Most readers are going to react to your letter and say, “Are you kidding? You guys are old enough to be giving advice to your own children by now! This is overkill. Just do what you want to do and let the chips fall.”
And that’s one course of action, but that will only exacerbate problems that must eventually be addressed anyway, so we might as well dive in now.
God has a plan for you, and that’s what you want, and that’s what your dad wants. That’s our starting point. From there it’s a matter of everyone hearing and obeying the same Voice. So before we do anything, let’s begin praying in that direction. Start asking God to remove every barrier to what He wants for your life. We can trust that God will do that. You and your friend should do that together as well for the both of you. If you’re already doing that, great. But you might want to step it up for the breakthrough that you’re seeking.
To me, your friend is being entirely reasonable by offering to take blood tests and sharing the results with you. That your dad wants to be in command of all of that information is a red flag to me and could be a sign of future dysfunction with regard to his involvement in this relationship.
I know you want desperately to honor your parents and honor God by doing so. I strongly commend you for that. Like I said, your parents should be very proud. But it might be time to prayerfully take a stand, if you believe this is what God has for you.
When you feel like the time is right, I think a heart-to-heart with your mom and dad would be productive. Here are a few things to consider for your conversation with them.
You’re the firstborn and the first to get married, so there’s an extra measure of anxiety for your parents regarding your marriage. Also, the guy to whom you’re attracted clearly does not have the background your parents, especially your dad, had envisioned for you, so that adds another dimension of anxiety for him. And it could be that your dad sees something you don’t and is trying to protect you.
That last item is what we need to figure out. If your dad thinks this guy would in some manner be destructive to you, then he just needs to tell you why he thinks so. Ask him what his concerns are and assure him that you share them. You might also need to give your dad some idea as to how you will react once you are aware of whatever answers he’s looking for.
Remind your dad that all he and your mom have invested in praying and teaching and rearing you in the way of the Lord has not been in vain, and they have trained you to approach these kinds of decisions with much prayer and sobriety. Reassure them that you’re putting into practice all they have poured into you over these almost 30 years, and that you’d never knowingly go in a direction that wasn’t what God had for you.
And then ask your dad to trust you with this.
If after all of this he still says no, I think you’re on solid biblical grounds (given your age and maturity) to move forward in courtship if you believe that’s what God has for you. It isn’t the ideal situation, obviously, but I don’t think any reasonable person would say that you haven’t made every effort to honor your parents.
Naturally, you’d have to understand the consequences of such a decision. It might include making your own way without the help of your parents until you’re married. Your dad might not even want to speak to you. I’d hate for it to come to that. But at this point in your life you need to think about what God has for you, not what makes your dad happy.
I also advise that if possible, bring your concerns to an objective someone who is a solid believer and knows your family and respects both you and your dad (maybe an extended family member or close friend of the family), and see what he or she would advise. Don’t make it a gossip session and don’t create any unnecessary family drama; just seek their wisdom. They might have a suggestion we haven’t thought of.
By God’s grace your parents have reared a smart, sharp, godly young woman. If you were 16 years old and wrote this letter, I’d have a little more sympathy for Dad. But you’re almost 30, and you probably have your head and heart more together than most girls your age. I think your dad should give himself and your mom a little more credit in the job they’ve done in rearing such a gracious young woman. With all my heart I pray it works out.
Copyright 2009 John Thomas. All rights reserved.