One Danger of Modern Dating
(Adapted from chapter 9 of Reb’s book, Dating: Is it worth the risk?)

Dating lacks the protection afforded by the parental involvement of courtship.


Proponents of dating claim that traditional courtship wrongly places a parent between an adult child and God. "After all," they reason, "they are adults, with their own walks with Christ. They are the ones marrying, so they should have the chance to develop their own romantic relationships without parental intrusion. Unless they are invited in, parents should stay out of their adult children's affairs."  But as we established earlier, this line of reasoning indirectly criticizes the biblical models.

Godly parents in all past centuries played a strong, guiding role in their children's lives from birth to marriage. Would we really suggest that they were out of God's will in the area of courtship, when they maintained their parental position between their adult children and God? Do we mean to imply that they were over-protective and intrusive? With such bad fruit born from our "hands-off" approach to parenting, it would seem a bit shortsighted to suggest the modern Church is more enlightened in its freeing children from parental "interference." According to our Savior, a tree is known by its fruit,[1] and the fruit born from dating is decidedly rotten.

The tragic results of modern dating demand that we cease criticism of our godly predecessors and instead, look to them for wisdom. They, obviously, understood the parenting role better than we do. We must consider that our approach to dating may reflect a misunderstanding of biblical family structure and an error in our entire approach to parenting.

God created the family complete with goals, roles, and rules of operation. He held parents responsible, particularly the men, for the administration, provision, and protection of their families.[2] Biblical parents oversaw the education, training, and discipline of children,[3] and were responsible to be in control of their children's behavior.[4] God gave specific commands for children which would contribute to their maturity, prepare them to worship Him, protect them spiritually and morally, and maintain order in the home. The primary guide He gave to children was the fifth commandment. Keeping it, meant that they obeyed their parents from birth until they were married, and behaved honorably toward them their entire lives.[5] It is clear from the fifth commandment, that parents do not place themselves between their children and God – God does!

Scripture gives no hint that parents were wrong to involve themselves in their adult children's lives. Quite the opposite. Parents, Eli, Samuel, and David, were each held responsible by God to exercise strong authority over their adult children.[6] Not only were these three parents not discouraged from giving input to their adult children's lives, but God took special note of each of them for failing to exercise firm discipline and give direction. God viewed strong parental involvement not as intrusive, but as necessary! Adult children must heed their parents' instructions, as evidenced by Solomon's admonitions to his adult sons throughout the book of Proverbs.[7]

When parents carefully oversaw the process of their children's pre-betrothal relationships, they did not call it "courtship." In the Bible, courtship had no name – to biblical parents it was just parenting. Parents simply governed their children according to common sense, from the time they were born until they were released from the home. They entrusted them with responsibilities which cultivated maturity, and protected them from temptations too great for them to handle. Courtship was a natural and logical part of protective child rearing.

Parents must understand the position of authority God has given them over their children. By providing strong leadership, parents do not intrude upon God's plans for children, but in fact, He uses them to direct their children's lives. This perspective for most of human history caused children to accept strong parental involvement in the development of premarital romantic relationships.[8]

     Unfortunately, modern parenting ideas limit parental involvement in the lives of teenage and adult children. Particularly in the area of dating, parental input is unwelcome. In fact, fathers, although charged by God with  protecting their daughters' chastity,[9] are especially resented when they try to oversee or influence their daughters' relationships. This modern belief of parental "un-involvement" has been accepted as so normal, that most parents now view the freedom to date as a "right" which they are afraid to violate.

     For parents, who long ago released their teenagers to independence, re-establishing influence may be a frightening thought, but by no means need they fear disrupting God's plans for their teens – they fulfill His plans. God obviously uses parents to direct the lives of their children, or He wouldn't have commanded children to obey them. In preparation for marriage, He intends that the wisdom and discernment of concerned parents be used to guide young adults in the selection of a mate. The objective insight offered by parents in such a life-affecting decision can be invaluable, and may make the difference between a strong marriage and a broken one.


[1] Mat 12:33; 7:17-19; Luke 6:43-44

[2] Eph 5:23; 1 Cor 11:8-9; Gen 18:19; Josh 24:15; 1 Tim 5:8

[3] Eph 6:4; Deut 6:6-9; 11:18-28; Prov 3:12; 13:24; 19:18; 22:6; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:17

[4] 1 Sam 3:13-14; 8:3; 1 Kings1:5-6; Deut 22:20-21; 1 Tim 3:4-5; Tit 1:6; Ex 21:17

[5] Exo 20:12; Deu 5:16; Mal 1:6; Mat 15:4; Eph 6:1-3; Col 3:20; Gen 2:24; Mat 19:5

[6] 1 Sam 3:13-14; 8:3; 1 Kings1:5-6

[7] The book of Proverbs was written by Solomon to his adult sons. Consider: Prov 1:8  Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching; 4:1 Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding; 13:1 A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke; 23:22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old; 30:17 "The eye that mocks a father, that scorns obedience to a mother, will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley, will be eaten by the vultures.

[8] Jer 29:6; Deu 7:3; Judg 3:6; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30; 13:25; Prov 18:22; Gen 2:24; Mat 19:5; 22:30; Mark 10:7; 12:25; Luke 20:34-35; Eph 5:31; 1 Cor 7:36-38 [KJV]; Gen 29:26; 34:8; 34:16-18; 41:45; Ex 2:21; 22:16; 28:32; Josh 15:16-17; Judg 1:12-13; 12:9; 21:1,7,18, 22; 1 Sam 17:25; 18:17,19,27; 25:44; 2 Ki 14:9; 1 Chr 2:35; 2 Chr 25:18; Dan 11:17; Mat 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:34-35

[9] Deut 22:20-21