When I was growing up, it was common for dating to start at middle or high school age. The purpose is to gain relationship experience with the hope of one day finding prince charming and to be married for a lifetime! I never learned anything in advance about dating, nor was I given specifics on how to do it. All I knew was there would be one-on-one dates to the movies, restaurants, concerts, etc. and hanging out with friends. Parents and family were never involved. Although it was still not acceptable to have sex before marriage, I knew everyone was doing it anyway. It was common to date many people in search of that special someone which in reality is training in how to break up/divorce from relationships. As I got older, it became more common to engage in all facets of the "married life" like having sex and living together, without committing to marriage. It was better to test everything out first. While divorce was not as common and even considered shameful back then it is quite different now. Since then, the divorce and abortion rates have risen higher then any other time in history, and many hearts and lives have been broken and devastated. When compared to the history of courtship, chaperones and purity until marriage, it has become evident that the choice to live by the world's view of free-spirit dating has devastated our culture.
My own high school dating experience was the worst thing that ever happened to me! While I didn't start dating until sophomore year of high school, I was truly seeking to find that one special guy for a lifetime and wanted to stay pure until marriage. I was not raised in a Christian home, and had no knowledge of courtship, or involvement and supervision of my parents, so I dated the world's way. I fell in love with my one and only high school sweetheart. He was popular, the most handsome guy in the school and he intentionally sought me out! He would be waiting at my locker to talk to me and just seemed to be where ever I was. He told me I was pretty, he knew I was a good girl and he wanted to be my boyfriend! He made me feel special because he wanted to be with me when he clearly could have any girl in the school. I knew nothing about dating and my parents pretty much had a hands-off mentality about it. All the cool people had a boyfriend in high school so it was normal to respond and allow his wooing and pursuing. I soon learned the truth that I entered the world of pain, suffering, rejection, lies, shame and regrets that would be with me forever!
I fell in love thinking we were going to be married. After two years of investing our lives together we got pre-engaged (which was common back then) and I was dreaming of my wedding day right after high school graduation. Since I "knew" we were getting married, I fell into the temptation and lies that it was okay to give my virginity to him before marriage. It wasn't long after that he began to change. He started to hang out more with his friends instead of me and then after some time I found out he was actually dating other girls behind my back. Then the most horrible and devastating thing happened....I got pregnant! My worst nightmare came true. While I wanted to get married and start our life together, he didn't! I knew he was not the man I should marry. He was very emotionally abusive to me and he had a lot of anger stemming from his parents divorce. He told me I had to get an abortion and I knew that he wanted to break off our relationship. During my entire childhood my mother had always told me that if I ever got pregnant out of wedlock, I should have an abortion so that it didn't ruin my life. I should never get married because "we had too!" A "shot gun wedding" as she put it, was the worst thing you could do to yourself. So between my mother's training and my boyfriend demanding, I had an abortion. In my heart, I wanted to keep my baby that was conceived in love, on my part anyway. Although I was not raised in a Christian home and didn't know God's Word, deep down in my heart I knew it was wrong. But, I felt like I had no choice and I believed that it was just a mass of tissue, as was taught in health class throughout my childhood education. In spite of that, I always had a deep and heavy pain and sadness in my heart that never went away. I felt guilt, shame, anger, betrayal, and heartache like I have never felt. I wondered if I did the right thing even though everyone said I did. I always wished I could go back for a do over. I would have never started dating him and would never have had sex before marriage. But now, I had to live with myself and the consequences of my choices! I honestly never thought this would happen to me! I was the good girl who was going to wait for marriage! I learned first hand how easy it is to fall into temptation with a life of regret and wrong choices!
When I became a Christian years later, while reading the bible, I read Psalm 139:13-16; "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
For the first time, I understood the truth of God's creation and realized that I was a "murderer!" I killed my first baby that God created in my womb. I cried for days and days and poured out my heart to my Savior Jesus Christ. I was overwhelmed with guilt and shame and I wanted to die! But as He always promises, My Savior poured His grace over me and filled my heart with the cleansing blood of forgiveness. He whispered to me that I was forgiven because He laid down His own life to take the punishment for my sin of murder. He then reminded me that David and Moses also committed murder and because of His forgiveness, He was able to use their lives for His glory and purpose in spite of what they did! This brought great comfort and healing to my life but it never took away the regret and sadness that I still feel today!
Because of this, I have determined to do everything in my power to teach and equip my children to walk through their lives with wisdom, discernment and to intentionally build hedges of protection from falling into the same pitfalls that I did. I know hundreds of stories from friends and family members that have the same testimony as mine and I have determined to make a difference in the lives of my children if they so choose to let me!
I first learned about the courtship process from Dr. Dobson's "Focus on the Family" radio broadcasts when Melissa was about five years old. I have since read as much as possible and prayed for the Lord to give us wisdom on training our children for purity and righteousness in pursuing their lifelong mate. We have discussed and taught/teach them that the Lord has a plan and purpose for them and He already knows who the spouse he created for them will be. Therefore, we need to pray constantly and be intentional to wait and discern who that mate is when the time is right! The right time is when they are mature enough to take on the responsibility of being a spouse and parent! I don't have an exact age in mind, but rather have intentionally and conscientiously trained my children to be ready by the time they want to leave the comforts of our nest.
Because of my and my husband’s personal experiences, much study and prayer, together we have chosen the "Biblical Courtship" method of pursuing a spouse for our children. We have discussed this in detail with all of them and agreed this is a personal choice they have to make, we do not force them. We have had the experience of our children starting in relationships either without our intentional involvement or without going through the intentional nature of our questions and they were not successful. Unfortunately, they had to go through the always-painful experience of a break-up. Since then, we have comprised our own "Courtship" plan of intentional involvement and questioning starting at the very first contact with a potential person of interest. All three of our oldest children have since agreed to follow this method from then on and we are praying the five littles will as well! They are getting a first hand preview and are already involved in this process which should be helpful to them in the future.
Our purpose and prayer is not to control our children, but rather to come along side to encourage and guide them to make wise and discerning choices. The scriptures tell us to seek wisdom from many counselors and to learn from the history of others who have gone before us. We want all of our children to have the best outcome in their lives and to avoid sin, pain and heart ache as much as possible. Our prayer is to also protect the other person involved as well. By being intentional from day one, we can help determine compatibility between two people that are obviously attracted to each other. Marriage is a serious covenant before God that is not to be taken lightly. It is hard! It is two sinners coming together in a commitment for life! When the honeymoon and newness wears off, there has to be a strong foundation for marriage to stand strong and to glorify the Lord. In everything we do, we seek to glorify him and love others well.
To begin, we don't date! We intentionally start the process of getting to know a person for the purpose and plan of marriage. If not ready for and intentionally seeking marriage, there is no need to even start getting to know a person on an intimate level. Once you do intentionally get to know a person intimately, it doesn't take long to know if "He/She" is the one. We also are very intentional to pray to God for His leading and discernment. God is faithful to give wisdom and discernment when we intentionally seek HIM! "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3
We start the process by first "Calling the father of the other person to ask his permission to get to know each other for the purpose of marriage!" We clearly communicate that we do not date! The father then has the right to question and interview the person calling. He will then privately speak to the child being pursued to see if they are interested in pursuing this person for marriage. If not, the father calls back to tell the person there is no interest and wish them well. End of possibility of anything other than platonic friendship. This protects my child from being in the position of hurting someone’s feelings or leaving room for discussion. If it is a "Yes, I am interested in getting to know this person more intimately," then we start the open lines of communication. We have the person over for dinner and fellowship and then the meetings begin! We communicate to the other person that we will begin a series of discussions with the list of questions we have compiled for the purpose of redeeming time and energy in a relationship that may not necessary. It also protects both hearts from getting attached too soon, only to be torn apart if it is discovered that there is no compatibility later on. Again, the other person has to make the choice to participate or not. If not, that is the end of the possibility of a relationship. That settles things quickly! It's all about redeeming time and protecting hearts! However, if the other person agrees, we begin a fun time of intentionally getting to know each other on a personal and intimate level and have a lot of laughs along the way. Just by agreeing to this process shows integrity, intentionality and character of the other person! I have comprised a list of questions that are very intentional, revealing, very personal and some even embarrassing. At first, I wasn't sure about some of them, but then I realized that nothing is off limits, or too personal when you are considering giving and spending the rest of your life with this person. It is a huge responsibility that I do not take lightly to be giving the child the Lord has entrusted to my care, to another person for a lifetime of service! This is also going to be the father/mother of my grandchildren and this is my first opportunity to love, protect and care for them as well. God gives us a multi-generational command to train our children and grandchildren to know Him! These questions come from personal experience as well as learning from other people’s experiences. They are specifically geared to our family's preferences and traditions but can easily be modified to your own. It is true that when you marry someone, you marry the family too! It is important that when two people come together they are compatible and able to prosper and grow and not stifle or dominate one another. We believe marriage is really another form of adoption. You become a member of that family for a lifetime! So, it is important that you are compatible and comfortable with the whole package and not just the individual person. If we do it right, we don't lose our children but rather gain another member of the family!
We have had great success with this process so far and desire to share this with you for the purpose of encouragement. I dedicate this to those who are seeking to love well, be a good steward to redeem the time, protect hearts and lives, and glorify the Lord in the process. I pray you will find this helpful and ponder how you can take an intentional role in the lives of your children as you seek to equip them for every good and perfect work and gift from above. The Lord desires that we walk in truth and righteous, being holy as he is holy.
The process we have established begins with the four of us at the kitchen table with refreshments, we open in prayer and then Jerry and I lead with questions. We give both parties the opportunity to answer and ask questions of each other with the other party always giving the answer first. (Not giving opportunity to just agree with our answers!)We ask permission to take notes and give permission as well. If at any time there is resistance to answering a question...red flag! We always give the freedom to end the process at any time with the option to continue another day or to end it period. Again, this redeems the time invested and reveals things. When it comes to the questions about sex and other personal things, we do give the option for our child to leave and we discuss these issues privately so as not to cause inappropriate situations. This process takes a long time with several visits that require priority of time. But, I assure you it is well worth it! It is a blessing to see someone be transparent and willing to make sacrifices to get to know your child. It requires integrity, perseverance, humility, and a true desire to know you and your family. If done right, you end up becoming friends who know each other well!
As a result of this process, we have been blessed to hear, "I would have never had the nerve to ask those questions but because you did, I learned a lot about this person." "I am able to really know if I want to continue or not now." "It is encouraging that this person is still here after the questions last time. He/she must be serious." "It would have taken months or years to get to know this person so intimately if not for this intentional discussion time." "Regardless of the outcome of this particular person and me, when I have children, I want to do this process with them too!" "Thank you for taking the time to do this with me. I feel very loved and protected!" "This is exactly what I prayed for, to get to know someone in the context of the family." I feel safe and comfortable with this person now!"
After completing the questions with us, we then encourage meeting the other family and offer the questions for their family to go through. We now allow them to spend quality time together, to continue to get to know each other with intentional hedges of protection from temptation, with a plan for marriage. We don't believe in long engagements after going through this process because when you are already seeking marriage and know that this is the one, it is not necessary to wait. This also helps reduce the battle with temptation and makes for a wonderful honeymoon! While we have no guarantees in this life, we do believe this process does establish a good foundation to build on. We continue to have intentional discussions with each other and pray and seek the Lord's wisdom and will for each party. And then, when it is clear that they can not live without each other, we plan the wedding and celebrate the covenant of marriage! And we are blessed to "KNOW" and "LOVE" our new son/daughter!
SO HERE ARE MY 256 QUESTIONS:
By Eileen Mestas 2/23/06
1. What is your life’s goal, mission?
2. What is your passion?
3. What career / education/ hobby/ministry/ goals and experience do you have and why did you choose them?
4. What were your favorite subjects in school? Why?
5. What was your least favorite subject?
6. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
7. Do you like art?
8. Describe your gifts – talents and how you demonstrate them.
9. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
10. What do you consider to be your greatest weaknesses?
11. Why has God put you here on planet earth?
12. Do you “THIRST” for God?
13. Do you read the bible regularly?
14. What bible studies have you done and do you have a preferred method of study?
15. What is your favorite book of the bible, verse, story, hymn and why?
16. Describe a time when God’s word spoke directly to you.
17. Are you governed increasingly by God’s word?
18. Share your testimony of how you became a Christian.
19. How would you describe your spiritual growth now compared to 2-3-5 years ago?
20. Are you sensitive to God’s presence in your life?
21. Describe a particular time you have SEEN God in your life.
22. Describe the Holy Spirit and how He impacts your life.
23. How often do you pray?
24. Do you ask for prayer from others? Who and how often?
25. What have you done to establish accountability?
26. Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?
27. Are you a servant to others? If so, how?
28. Do you delight in the “Bride of Christ”, the church?
29. Are you a member of a Church?
30. How do you serve in your church?
31. Do you fellowship with people/families from your church?
32. Are spiritual disciplines increasingly important to you?
33. On what foundation is your life’s compass based, how do you make decisions, etc?
34. Where do you plan to be in 5- 10 years; describe your plan of action. (Spiritually-- Career-- Family etc.)
35. Are you engaged in things now that are going to bring you closer to God?
36. Describe your relationship with your family, parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, etc.
37. Describe your relationship with friends, best friend how long, etc.
38. Do your parents have best friends? Practice hospitality in your home?
39. Describe your family. How many siblings, cousins, etc.
40. Do you think a man can be best friends with a woman? Before and after marriage? (Other than/in addition to wife)
41. Do you have friends/family of various ethnic backgrounds?
42. What do you think about bi-racial families?
43. What does your family think about bi-racial families?
44. Do you speak another language?
45. What is your ethnic back ground?
46. Do you have pets?
47. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
48. Describe your communication style.
49. Are you shy? Outgoing?
50. When at a party are you in the middle of the action or a bystander?
51. Describe integrity.
52. Describe honesty.
53. Who do you strive to please and why?
54. Who is your biggest cheer leader/encourager?
55. Who or what is your greatest frustration?
56. Describe your philosophy on dating, courtship?
57. Describe the role of family, friends, etc. in this process.
58. Do you think physical touch i.e. Holding hands, kissing, etc. is appropriate and at what point in the courtship process?
59. What do you think of waiting until your engagement/wedding day to kiss?
60. What is an appropriate time frame for courtship -- engagement process?
61. How do you think you will know if this is the girl for you and if not, how do you intend to handle that?
62. Describe your plan of action to protect her heart and yours from being broken.
63. Describe your plan of protection from physical temptations.
64. By what authority do you base your decision to move to the next level or not in this process? i.e., Who will counsel and encourage you?
65. How are you preparing to be the spiritual leader of your home; wife & children?
66. Are you ready for that responsibility now?
67. What is your plan of action to grow and how can you improve?
68. How do you see your role as a husband?
69. How do you see the responsibilities of daily chores being played out? i.e., cleaning, cooking, yard work, gardening, trash, laundry, paying bills, food shopping, fix it maintenance, etc.
70. Describe your family routines growing up. i.e. mom vs. dad, siblings’ responsibilities, etc.
71. Are you organized or a messy?
72. If I go into your car/truck right now will I need a trash bag? How often do you wash it?
73. How often do you change/wash your bed sheets, clean your bathroom, floors, etc?
74. Do hang your clothes up in the closet/put in drawers?
75. Where do you put your dirty laundry?
76. Do you iron your clothes?
77. When do you shower? a.m. or p.m.
78. Do you visit the DDS regularly and how often do you floss?
79. Describe your happiest memory.
80. What is your saddest memory that you feel you could share?
81. Have you had previous relationships? How did you handle them, how long, etc.? Tell us about it.
82. How do you handle conflict?
83. Are you a stuffer or a talker? (Grab by the horns, sweep under the rug)
84. In previous relationships did you initiate and pursue or did the other person?
85. Did you remain pure in those relationships?
86. If not, did you use birth control? Any pregnancy?
87. What is your relationship with that person today?
88. Is there unforgiveness or anger as a result of that relationship?
89. How are you different today as a result of those relationships?
90. What is the greatest lesson learned?
91. How long since your last relationship with someone?
92. Are you content to be alone/single?
93. How much time do you spend on the computer/cell/texting/ what exposure--practice of watching pornography?
94. Do you need to have your phone w/you at all times to check Facebook, etc.?
95. How are you dealing with temptation/pornography?
96. What are you doing to guard yourself, eyes, ears, heart?
97. Do you have a filter/accountability on your computer/telephone/TV?
98. How do you address this situation with friends, others?
99. Do you initiate accountability for their concern and ask them how they are doing?
100. What do you think of cursing/ course joking?
101. Do you practice that behavior?
102. Do you watch “R+” rated movies?
103. What does scripture teach on this topic?
104. If a friend invites you to watch something inappropriate what do you do?
105. Describe your relationship with your mother.
106. Describe your relationship with your father.
107. How do you see your role as a father? (Duties, responsibilities, diapers, feeding, etc.)
108. Describe your childhood.
109. Describe your relationship with your siblings.
110. Describe your favorite memory with your dad/ mom.
111. What is your least favorite memory with your dad/mom?
112. Describe your communication style in your family.
113. What word best describes your childhood?
114. How many children would you like to have?
115. Do you plan to use birth control?
116. What if your wife wants more or fewer than you?
117. What if you are not able to have children biologically?
118. What is your philosophy for discipline of children?
119. What do you think of adoption?
120. What kind of education do you plan for your children, home school, government or private school? Why?
121. What books have you read and what is your favorite?
122. How have you prepared /Are you currently intentionally preparing yourself for marriage?
123. What do you think of divorce?
124. What does scripture say about divorce?
125. Describe your expectations for the role of your wife? i.e., Working, parenting, chores, responsibilities, education, cooking, baking, etc.
126. What is your favorite food? Dessert? Candy? Drink?
127. Do you eat cheese? Vegetables? Cake? Cookies?
128. What is your least favorite food?
129. How do you feel about tasting food you have never had?
130. Describe your thoughts on drinking wine, beer, alcohol?
131. Do you drink socially, privately, occasionally, etc.?
132. What does scripture teach on this topic?
133. Have you ever been intoxicated? When and why?
134. Does your family drink?
135. Have you ever taken drugs, pot, etc.?
136. Do you take vitamins, medications?
137. Do you have allergies, or health issues?
138. What is your favorite movie, TV show, book and why?
139. Is there any kind of store you could get lost in, because you love so much of what they sell?
140. Are you a procrastinator or a doer?
141. Describe your favorite vacation.
142. Describe your dream vacation as a single man, a married man, and father.
143. Do you like camping? Hotels? Resorts? Cruises? Boating? Fishing? Hunting?
144. Do you own a gun? If so, what kind? Why?
145. Have you ever been to the Biltmore? Did you like it? Do you desire to visit?
146. Have you been to Disney and do you desire to go?
147. Do you like the beach? Mountains?
148. What is your favorite season and why?
149. Do you swim?
150. Describe sports you have played and which is your favorite?
151. How much time do you devote to sports?
152. How much time do you devote to watching sports on TV? Going to sporting events? Playing sports now?
153. Describe your travel experiences.
154. Which was your favorite?
155. Where is your dream to visit?
156. Where would you never want to visit?
157. Where would you like to live and why?
158. Have you done missions trips? With who, where, what did you do?
159. How has your life been impacted by your missions work?
160. Where is your mission field now?
161. Describe a perfect day…
162. What do you fear?
163. What is your greatest accomplishment?
164. What is your greatest regret?
165. What are your pet peeves?
166. What is your unfulfilled dream?
167. How do you spend your time? Describe a typical week day vs. weekend.
168. Do you live intentionally or fly by the seat of your pants?
169. Are you a planner?
170. What is on your list of things to do now?
171. Describe joy and peace. Do you have it in your life?
172. When faced with a problem/crisis, where do you go for help?
173. What is your decorative style? Color or white? Rustic or Classic, traditional or trendy?
174. What is your favorite color?
175. What do you think of flowers?
176. Why did God create them?
177. Describe your dream house? Garden?
178. What kind of car/truck do you prefer? Why?
179. Have you ever taken a personality test? If so, which one? What were the results?
180. What makes you angry?
181. How do you process that anger? Are you a screamer? Temper tantrums?
182. Tell me about a tough decision you had to make.
183. What is the hardest decision you ever had to make?
184. What kind of music do you like?
185. Do you dance? Sing?
186. Do you play an instrument?
187. Do you like the theater? Opera? Broadway?
188. What do you like to do for entertainment?
189. Do you like to host parties?
190. Describe your birthday celebrations/traditions.
191. What was your favorite birthday and why?
192. Describe your relationship with neighbors.
193. How long have you lived in your home/town, etc.?
194. What kind of work does your father/mother, grandparents, siblings, do?
195. Do you have nieces, nephews?
196. Describe your relationship with them.
197. When you see trash on the ground, do you pick it up or ignore it?
198. Where do you put your trash when out in public? What if there is no trash can?
199. How would you describe your reputation according to others?
200. Who would you give for a reference and why? Will you give me their telephone number?
201. What role will friends play in your life after marriage? Your wife’s friends?
202. Is adoption an option in your future?
203. What do you think about day care? Babysitters? Sleepovers?
204. Do you have a mentor?
205. Who is your best friend? Why? How long?
206. What are your favorite ministries and why?
207. Do you support them?
208. Do you tithe?
209. Do you budget? Save? Plan for your future?
210. Are you a spender or saver?
211. Are you a gift giver?
212. Are you an impulse buyer or over-think a purchase?
213. Do you think it is appropriate for you or your wife to make a purchase without consulting the other?
214. Do you plan to have one or separate bank accounts?
215. Describe your world view. Political and Social
216. Who did you vote for in the last election and why?
217. What is your opinion on the sanctity of life?
218. Is there ever an appropriate time to end someone’s life?
219. Did you ever go to camp? Describe.
220. Are you a man of your word?
221. What do you think about being late to an appointment?
222. What do you think of lying? When is it appropriate?
223. What do think of air conditioning/heat usage in your home?
224. How do you plan to train your children with two different cultures/backgrounds? One dominating the other?
225. Do you want your children to speak Spanish?
226. Would you be willing to relocate for your wife’s preferences?
227. What is the order of priority in your life? Work, Ministry, Husband, Father, Church, etc. Which comes first…last?
228. What does scripture teach on this subject?
229. Would you consider taking a relative in to live with you if necessary?
230. Will your home be the “hang out” for your children or do you prefer they go to other places?
231. Describe your expectations/hopes for your daughter? Education? Dating? Etc.
232. Describe your expectation/hopes for your son? Education? Dating? Etc.
233. What is your plan for housing in your future? Rural/urban? Farm/Community
234. How do you plan to keep your marriage alive and vibrant?
235. What travel plans do you have for your future/children etc.?
236. Have you ever witnessed a miracle?
237. What are your wedding—honeymoon expectations? Big, small/local/weekend/week?
238. Who are your heroes? Why?
239. When you die, what do you want your legacy to be? He was …..
240. What do you think about death? Fear? Peace? Are you ready?
241. How would you respond to the death of child, wife, and parent?
242. Will you ever consider living w/your parents or in-laws?
243. What is the nicest thing someone has done for you?
244. What is the nicest thing you have done for someone else?
245. Describe some recent fruit in your life.
246. Do you have debt?
247. What is your philosophy on debt, credit cards?
248. Do you have a savings account, emergency fund?
249. How are you preparing for your future, i.e. buying house, etc?
250. Where do you want to live?
251. Why are you interested in my daughter/son?
252. What is on your bucket list?
253. Now that we have gone through these questions, what do you think of this process?
254. Are you willing to proceed with this courtship?
255. Do you have any questions for us or anything to add?
256. Thank you for taking the time and going through this process with us!
At the conclusion of discussing all these questions, we privately discuss the answers given and any concerns we may have with our child. Then if we all approve and our child chooses to move forward, we initiate and announce an "official courtship" and proceed with prayer, counsel, caution and excitement!