Honoring Women (A Word on Courtship)

Honoring women also honors yourself, others and God in the process! What do you think of when you think of honor?

Historically speaking, across most cultures, women have been marginalized, disrespected and mistreated. But do you know who was one of the first great leaders to stand up for women’s honor?

Jesus Christ.

Jesus, in his actions and teachings, showed great love and respect for women. Let’s take a quick glance at some examples. (Feel free to breeze through this list as it is only meant to prove a point):

·         His Mother:

o   He obeyed her (Luke 2:51), he accommodated her wishes (John 2:3-11) and provided for her care even as he was dying (John 19:25-27)

o   One of the 10 commandments is to “honor your Father and your Mother.” This is the only commandment that has a promise attached to it if it is followed.

o   ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.’ (Deuteronomy 5:16)

·         Women who had done many things wrong:

o   Luke 7:36-50 This woman was known around town as a sinner. She was crying at Jesus feet and the religious people around are judging her but Jesus stands up for her

o   John 8:1-11 There is a crowd of religious people who want to stone a woman for adultery. Jesus stands up for her and says “let he who is without sin throw the first stone.”

o   John 4:1-42 The woman at the well

·         Poor and/or Sick Women 

o   Mark 5:25-34 The woman with chronic bleeding who touched his garment

o   Matthew 9:18-26 (and Mark 5:35-43) raised a girl from the dead

o   Luke 13:10-17 healed the bent/crippled woman on the Sabbath Day. Then defended his decision to do so when all the religious people tried to get upset with him for breaking the Jewish law instead of being glad for the woman!

·         Women of a different race/culture

o   Matthew 15:21–28 (& Mark 7:24–30) Canaanite woman who asked to have her daughter healed

o   Again, the Samaritan woman at the well

·         Jesus chose to reveal himself first to women after He was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-10)

So, we can clearly see that ALL women should be treated with honor. But I want to talk to you, young men, about how to treat girls you are interested in romantically.  I find it interesting that there is not much in the Bible about dating. I think God is telling us something by his silence. Honestly, dating is a bad idea. I am much more a proponent of courting.

Wow! Courting is an old word and many young men are not sure what this means! So, let’s talk about it. This is how I approached my wife and I know other people who courted their wives as well. I am not describing some fantastic ideal.

The first step to courting is what? Let’s be honest, you have to be attracted to her! Many things can attract us to a girl, her looks, her personality, her sense of humor, the way she laughs, etc…. But what should attract us to a girl is her love for Jesus Christ. If she doesn’t have that, you should remain friends only. Things may change in the future. You do not need to court every girl that is pretty or that you are attracted to!

The second step to courting is actually pretty simple. Be her friend! Dating promotes a false front, putting on your best self. In dating, you are not your “real” self and, no surprise here, neither is the girl! All the less desirable tendencies and past mistakes are hidden. In contrast, friendship, true friendship, promotes being yourself, honesty. A friend is a friend no matter what comes. You are there for each other without judgement.  If you cannot be great friends with a girl then there is no reason to try and go any further romantically. Worth mentioning is the fact that once you go past being friends, you cannot go back. So, before you consider moving things along further, ask yourself “Are you ready to lose a friend if things don't work out?”

Step number three to courting is the true test. You put on your big boy britches and ask for permission from her parent or guardian to court her. Awkward? You bet! And I will tell you (listen up all you two year old boys out there!) If you want to date my daughter, you will come talk to me first. BIG HINT here, young men: This honors the girl and her family and will show her that you care about her more than you can understand right now. An added benefit of this is that you can get to know her parents/guardian which may help you understand your girl even better. You are going to need all the help you can get with understanding women (I love you, Honey!).

If you get past step three without a shotgun shoved up your nose, then you proceed to step four of courting. In the words of a good friend of mine, this is where you “Act like somebody.” Your behavior at this point is aimed at treating this young lady with the highest degree of honor. Honoring a girl includes honoring her family and God and yourself! So, the same is true of dishonor! Don’t be in a situation that could lead others to think that you are dishonoring her. Think guard rails! These keep your car from flying off the interstate if you are going too fast and lose control. So, determine ahead of time what physical/sexual limits you and your girl will have and talk about them and commit to them. Believe me, you will not make a good decision in the heat of the moment when you are going too fast and lose control. (This is where I would normally stop and talk about STD’s, but that is beyond the scope of this blog.)

Getting to know a girl is important but you should never go further physically than you go emotionally. A good rule of thumb here is to treat a girl the way you would want someone to treat your daughter. You don’t know that you are going to marry this girl so don’t do anything with her that you wouldn’t want your wife to have done with other guys in her past. On your wedding night, wouldn’t it be great if all the other guys your bride had ever known had honored her by not having sex with her? You were the very first one! It is a nasty lie that having sex with multiple people makes you better at it. It only destroys your soul and makes it hard to trust each other (This is a good place to discuss how God designed sex to be within the confines of marriage like a fire in a wood stove, warming the home. But what happens if you take that fire out and put it somewhere else? Destruction.). If things don’t work out between you two and you run into this girl later in life with her husband, wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk to them both without any shame or regret? After they walked away, wouldn’t it be great if the girl could say to her husband “That guy always treated me with so much respect.”

Somewhat of a phenomenon these days is sexually aggressive girls. It is a big turn on and an ego boost for you when a girl comes on strong to you. But here is the sad reality. She is doing that to all sorts of guys because she doesn’t know what it is like to be honored and loved in the right way. So, sex is all she knows about love, which will sadly lead to pain and regret for her. Big point here…it is NOT your job to help her, young man!  The best way to show respect and honor for a girl who is sexually aggressive is to flee. You can mention her privately to a mature Christian woman who may be able to talk to her but you need to go the other direction because the temptation is strong. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” Proverbs 5 says about the sexually aggressive girl “keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” It goes on to say that otherwise you will lose your own honor, your years, your strength, the money you earn, and your own flesh and body.

For those of you who have messed up sexually or mistreated females in some other way, know that God forgives you of this through the atoning blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. Despite this forgiveness, you will experience pain and some scarring from these mistakes. You should do your best to respectfully apologize, if you can, to anyone you have hurt.

We are not going to get into discussing marriage but there is some great advice about how to treat women that we can glean from the Bible’s advice on it. 1 Peter 3:7 says “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” From this verse we can gather many things:

1.       Try to learn about your girl and understand who they are

2.       Show honor to them

3.       Protect them. Women are not weaker mentally, but physically (with some obvious exceptions!).

         o   NEVER use your physical strength to intimidate a woman, the opposite of protection.

         o   Men and women are EQUALLY important to God and bear His image.

4.       Women inherit the grace of God just as equally as men

5.       NOT doing these things can actually turn God’s ear away from you!

In the end, the way we treat women is a reflection of who we are. Every girl is someone’s daughter. And every girl is God’s daughter. God cares about how His daughters are treated.

Honor. Respect. Dignity. Trustworthiness. Strong. Sensitive. Understanding. Self-controlled. Do these words describe who you are? Do you want to be known as a man of honor?