Action Alert!

Is your family life an adequate school of marriage for your kids? Think about this now.

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jul 21, 2016

Have you had the facts-of-life discussion with your kids? If so, it is just one step along the way. Even more important is giving them the formation they need to properly approach relationships with the opposite sex, including dating, courtship and matrimony. Ideally, sound parental attitudes toward everything from modesty to marriage will have been seeping into each child’s bones from the earliest years. But there comes a time when it makes sense to establish the right social guidelines and to teach more formally what it means to prepare for a good marriage, a Christian marriage.

Earlier this year, Sophia Institute Press republished Fr. T. G. Morrow’s Christian Dating in a Godless World, making only minor editorial revisions since its first edition in 2013. Fr. Morrow takes a straightforward, practical approach, offering clear guidance on love, courtship and marriage itself in a series of seventeen chapters. It is worth listing the contents:

  1. Choosing Mr. or Miss right
  2. Understanding Love
  3. A Major Challenge: A Chaste Courtship
  4. Why a Chaste, Christian Courtship?
  5. Living a Christian Courtship
  6. A Modesty Proposal
  7. The Biblical Roles of Courtship
  8. Christian Courtship Strategies
  9. Finding Mr. Right
  10. Finding Miss Right
  11. Communications 101
  12. Past Sins and New Beginnings
  13. Enjoying Singleness
  14. Christian Marriage, Part 1: Love—The Form of Marriage
  15. Christian Marriage, Part 2: Children—The Fruit of Marriage
  16. Christian Engagement
  17. A Catholic Wedding

Now, have I read the entire book? No: After 44 years of marriage, including six children and twelve grandchildren, with frequent reflection on the past and more opportunities than I care to count for making the future better, I figured I could tell in a relatively few minutes whether Father Morrow is the real thing. He is: On target and always accessible.

This is a book I would read entirely if I were still forming my children, and one that I would place in each child’s hands at least by mid-high school, encouraging them to review it during the college years. Instruction in purity (while certainly essential) too often occurs in a sort of vacuum—without a serious look at the full dimensions of dating, courtship and marriage. There is a great need not only to discipline the heart but inform the head. In previous centuries, Christians understood that courtship was serious stuff. We fail at our peril to revive that understanding in our own families.

If you have children who have not yet locked their vocational future in stone, I recommend that you pick up a copy of this book. Let your teenagers see it, and let it inform your family conversations. Don’t assume your own courtship was just fine, or that good things happen by chance. A seminarian goes through years of study and formation before ordination, but your children’s school of marriage is your own family life. Inculcate as much of this as you can organically. But also encourage your kids to wrap their heads around Christian Dating in a Godless World

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Edward I. - Jul. 22, 2016 11:04 PM ET USA

    Bought the book this morning, just finished it. The book's greatest strength is its orthodoxy. It is not tightly argued nor is the prose particularly compelling. Father's proposed form of dating begins with "friendship dating" i.e. low-pressure, zero romance social dates, and escalates from there. He goes over in detail the importance of affection & light physical touching in a "courtship". There is a lot of practical relationship advice, and he champions traditional gender roles.