Kelly Bates Talks Courtship……The Bates Family Views

Kelly Bates is an amazing Christian wife, mother and woman.  Thank you for your inspiration!

Kelly Bates is an amazing Christian wife, mother and woman. Thank you for your inspiration!

Kelly Bates is awesome.  I love her personality, I love her great big ole’ country heart, and I love that she loves her children so compassionately.  When my children started to hit the age of ‘dating’, I really began researching how other conservative family’s deal with this touchy subject.  The Duggars were the first encounter that I had with ‘courtship’, when Josh Duggar courted and then married Anna Keller.  Then the world saw Zach Bates in a courtship relationship.  Well, guess what?  While Josh’s experience turned out with a blessed event, Zach’s endeavor with Sara Reith didn’t end with the ring.  So, what did Kelly Bates and her family do?  They changed.

No, they didn’t change from conservative to liberal……but, they did change their views on how courtship should be ‘done’.  They realized, or maybe they realized all along, that each adult is different, and each situation and relationship needs to be treated uniquely.  The core of courtship remains the same, no sex before marriage, but how a couple shows their affection should be left up to the two in the actual relationship.

So, what does Kelly think about courtship?  Well, below you will find out exactly what her thoughts are.  She takes the time to answer her readers questions, especially on the subject of courtship.  Thank you Kelly for being such a role model for us!

A reader on Kelly’s blog asked the following question about Erin Bates and Chad Paine’s courtship:

Are they allowed to spend time alone together in conversation? How about private telephone conversations? I’ve always been confused about how courtship allows couples to really get to know each other if there is no opportunity for private conversations.

Kelly replied:

Dottie,
I guess every family is different about the ideas they have on courtship. There are so many books and speakers on the subject now. It has become a hot topic around many conservative families. There are a lot of ideas we don’t necessarily agree with, which is why we struggle with what to call it… courtship, pre-engagement, or dating with a purpose. The thing we do agree with is a desire to maintain purity until marriage. We agree with having a desire to discern God’s will for marriage, rather than just dating around with multiple companions, for many years.

There are also many things we disagree with. We don’t think there is a mold that everyone has to fit in (i.e. do it this way, in this amount of time). Although no one wants a long drawn out 7 – 14 year relationship like Jacob had, it doesn’t make sense to tell couples they should have to rush and get married in 3 months either. The couple misses so much that way. They miss learning to romance each other; they miss learning self-control; they miss a very fun and important part of their relationship. Every couple is different; their circumstances are different; their geographical distance is different; so there should not be just one mold. We also don’t agree with some avid courtship speakers who maintain that the couple shouldn’t say, “I love you” until whatever time they think is appropriate. We think the couple should certainly be serious before that stage, because it’s easy to have shallow conversations filled with emotional “I love you’s” and “I miss you’s”, to the neglect of deeper conversations to get to know more about each other. However, we expect any boy who is serious about pursuing our daughter to have feelings for her! Imagine courting someone with no love! We’ve heard people preach that is a good thing, but I think a relationship with spark is a much healthier relationship!

We think if a couple is old enough to think about getting married, they’re plenty old enough to learn to talk to God and each other, and make some decisions for themselves. We’re glad that our children respect us and ask our counsel about things, but I think far too often parents have a very difficult time “letting go.” An adult child entering a serious relationship better be able to also make decisions!! So yes, Chad and Erin are allowed to talk on the phone alone. They have chosen to have chaperones when in each others presence, because they like the accountability. Having chaperones doesn’t mean they aren’t given some space or that they have to have all their conversations monitored (i.e. they asked us and some siblings to accompany them on a date, but we all sat at a different table so they could be alone).

Before courtship, we chose to allow them to communicate through something we called accountability texting. They texted to a sibling’s phone who forwarded their messages. This may seem like an unnecessary process, but it served two purposes for us: 1. It allowed them to guard their conversations before they were certain that they were ready to become more serious about their relationship. This meant they focused their talk on really getting to know each other, rather than just repeating a lot of emotionally charged words before they were ready for that phase. (Many couples can say “I love you,” but they never learned to show it, and they never took time to ask questions to find what makes their companion feel loved). 2. It made the whole family become close friends with Chad. Chad even gave the siblings “Thank you” gifts for all the forwarding they had done for him before courtship. This was one of the best and sweetest things we did!

Before courtship, when it was obvious they were growing more fond of each other, we felt like they needed some alone conversations to share personal things to learn about each other’s pasts, goals, etc… so we had what we called “Open-talk Saturdays.” They talked on the phone direct on Saturdays for a half hour in the morning and evening (of course they could ask for extensions whenever they needed to). After courtship, they began to text direct and talk on the phone each morning and night.
Does this mean courtships can’t end? Obviously not…two people plus their families are involved when dealing with relationships. Any one of those people might decide that they don’t think the relationship should continue. I think that’s why many parents don’t want the couple to express their feelings for each other. But we’ve learned sometimes the greatest lessons of life are painful, but God has a purpose in everything. We learned this through Zach’s courtship, and I think we’re all closer as a result. Because of that, we decided that we still wanted to post about this stage of Erin’s life. Exciting information is fun to share, and it is a phase of their life that they desire to have prayer for. As a family, we’ve had mountain top experiences and valleys! We share them both… so our friends rejoice with us through the good and encourage us through the trials.

Chad and Erin’s goal is that this relationship would glorify God to the fullest degree. They covet the prayers of others. They have made certain commitments because they want to be good role models for their younger siblings. They have a genuine and refreshing Christ-like love for one another, because their goal is to help each other become closer to Christ as they become closer to one another. So if for some unthinkable reason they decided to end their courtship, their goal would’ve been to have helped one another spiritually…which means they both are benefactors, no matter what their future holds. They’ve already challenged and encouraged one another spiritually in such a way that we can all say, “We’ve been so blessed!”

Love, Kelly

Another question from a reader:

Congratulations to Alyssa and John! I notice she’s wearing a ring on her left hand..is that a promise ring, purity ring, or just a ring she really likes? Reminds me of Kate Middleton’s engagement ring :D .

If you don’t mind me asking, I have a question for you, if you don’t mind answering. When Zach and Sarah were courting, you guys clearly had more “conservative” standards compared to now, with the distance between them and such. There are some families I know who, even after a few failed courtship, still continue with their courtship model because they feel that’s the “right” way and do not want to change some viewpoints from child to child. Was it difficult for you and Gil to “loosen” up your standards on what courtship should be about or was it an easy transition after Zach’s first courtship? What made you guys realize “You know what? We’re acceptable with holding hands and expressing love and feelings during courtship period”? Like you said, everyone views courtship differently and no view is the right one..after all, what works for one family may not work for another family.

Kelly replied:

Dear Elena,

Yes, that is her promise ring. Yes, change is always hard. Sometimes we swing too far to the left and sometimes too far to the right, so achieving balance is difficult. We constantly try to evaluate, hear the kids input, and pray for wisdom! We try not to be too prideful to admit when we’ve been wrong and need change or insight or help. With Zach, he realized at the end of courtship he didn’t even know how to communicate with a girl to get to know her. He was very shy. All of our children had avoided casual friendships with the opposite gender in trying to be wise in relationships. However, we began to talk and think and ask questions. Can there be value in friendships with opposite gender, while still maintaining wholesomeness and avoiding the typical dating for fun mindset? Our own past convinced us they could with certain cautions and open communication. We began to as a whole emphasize friendships that help strengthen each other spiritually, rather than focusing on relationships that lead to courtship. Their conversations with friends often center around Bible doctrine, or life struggles that they are encouraging each other through. In the process, Zach learned to communicate with girls! Not all of our children shared his same shyness and timidness, but he was much more prepared in his relationship with Whit since they learned to communicate on a very real and vulnerable level. They are better prepared for marriage than most couples we counsel, yet have still maintained wholesomeness and purity. We think a little emotion and sparkiness is actually healthy, since we see so many marriages missing it! The goals must be to honor God and maintain purity, so of course, there’s still accountability and lots of talking and evaluating.

Love, Kelly

I hope that my husband and I are half as graceful when we navigate these unfamiliar waters with our two teens.  Love does not come through force, nor can it grow simply because we want it to.  Having an open mind to good council and following God’s Word is the key to success in any situation.

Kelly’s blog can be read here:  http://blog.thebatesfamily.com/

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