Why We Had A Hands-Off Courtship

Before the 20th century, courtship was only conducted in the family parlor under the watchful eye of a chaperone. It was customary for the courting couple to use a speaking tube in order to say anything privately to one another! Eventually courtship, which took place in a home setting, turned into what became called “dating”, taking place in public at dance halls, movie houses, restaurants, and often involved “parking”. It went from courting one partner with the intent of marriage to dating many different partners for a period of time before going “steady” and then getting married.

 

In the 21st century one could say that dating by the world’s standards means “hooking up” and living together. Why get married when you can enjoy the benefits for free? Somewhere along the way, courtship lost its original intention.

 

This blog post is not about courtship vs. dating. The world will never go back to ancient dating practices. That time is lost and done. Therefore, this post is for followers of Jesus Christ who seek to have Godly dating relationships. I do believe that the current state of courtship in our circles needs to have some changes made but that is a discussion for another time. The reason I share a brief history of courtship is to shed light on the old-fashioned practice we call “hands-off courtship”.

 

It amazes me how few people have heard of a “hands-off” dating relationship. People listen to my story with interest and then admit that is something they could never do. They don’t get it. I understand. In today’s world, by today’s standards, it IS laughable, ridiculous, and legalistic.

wedding

Our Story

Yes, we were laughed at when Gene and I greeted each other by shaking hands. In this day and age, guys and girls hug each other when saying goodbye and hello. In my Calvary Bible School days we wouldn’t have dreamed of hugging the opposite sex. Now, it’s a common practice. So there’s that. Physical contact is definitely more casual and expected now.

 

I recently learned how some of my parent’s age and older played “Walk a Mile”  where the guys and girls walked together in pairs, holding hands. After a while they would switch and walk with someone else!  I’m not sure what the point was except to get to know each other a little differently?  I know most of them didn’t have a hands-off relationship. My parents didn’t. They didn’t have much physical contact, but I remember them telling me that they wouldn’t advise doing what they did. When Gene called to ask if he could date me and he asked for hands-off, they were very pleased and supportive.  I was willing to go along with it.  Which is surprising.

 

I am an avid reader and as a young girl I read everything I could get my hands on. Mom tried to protect me from reading too many romance novels, but I got carried away. I lived in a world of mushy-gushy love and fairy-tale romance. I dreamed of the day I would find my own romance!  So when my real-live prince came along, I didn’t expect to have a hands-off relationship, but because he was so strong on it, I agreed and decided to make the best of it.

 

There were times I dreamed of us holding hands as we went on walks, or when we prayed.  And as our love grew, I wanted to kiss him and hug him. It was hard. But not too hard. It wasn’t impossible at all, like many believe it to be. Because we were limited in physical contact, we developed a very fun, teasing, flirting relationship as a way to express our feelings for each other! There were lots of sweet looks, water fights, romantic cards and notes, and long phone conversations. Believe me, there are plenty of ways to show your love for each other without it being physical!

 

After we were engaged I was surprised to realize that I had been protecting a part of myself during our courtship. There was an “awakening” within my heart after we committed to spend our lives together. I tend to think I was protected physically; therefore we didn’t get too deep too soon in our emotional relationship. The physical and emotional are very intertwined and are hard to separate!  We began to give each other side hugs when saying goodbye and hello, but stuck to no other contact.

 

Then the big day arrived. Yes, you can see some stiffness in our wedding pictures, because we were new to contact! (We do wish we would’ve taken after pictures as well!) Yes, our first kiss was far from perfect (we still laugh about it) and it didn’t light sparks like in the movies. But, we sure caught on fast! And when we held hands and embraced…there was electricity!!  I had never experienced anything like it, and I will never forget how amazing it was to hold my husband’s hand!!!  I think I will remember the magic till I’m old and gray…We were over the moon to finally be able to be together the way we had been dreaming of…

 

Awakening Love

Three times Song of Solomon warns of not awakening love until it is time;

Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4: “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”

In her blog called Lies Young Women Believe, Paula Hendrick Marsteller shares:

“What surprised me most was that this lovesick bride urgently warns her girlfriends over and over not to arouse or awaken love until it so desires (until it’s time). Why would she want them to be so careful when she had found such an incredible gift? I wondered.

Whatever the reason was, Song of Solomon 8:7 explains why she felt so strongly about this: “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” And as the verse before it says, “It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

Can you imagine a blazing forest fire that several rivers worth of water cannot put out? That would be one intense inferno! See, this woman was experiencing the mind-blowing beauty of love and sex as God intended it. Within marriage its heat and intensity was welcomed, but this bride knew that if her friends didn’t wait for God’s gift of marriage, they would get severely burned.”

 

What’s wrong with holding hands, hugs, and sharing a few chaste kisses? We can handle it!  It won’t lead to anything. We have self-control.

 

I’m sure many of you do have admirable self-control and that you have gone into marriage with no regrets from your courtship–that is wonderful! But what about those who had previous dating relationships?? I am so grateful I do not have memories of physical contact with a man other than my husband. (It makes me wince to re-read that last sentence because even though it is stating the truth it sounds a bit “holier-than-thou”. My experience doesn’t make me better than anyone else!! I was blessed because it could have been so different.)

 

But to the ones who aren’t dating yet, let me tell you something the romance novels, movies, and your peers don’t: lots of physical contact leads to kissing, and kissing leads to much, much more. Kissing is always the beginning. And once you start, it’s very hard to stop. You are setting in motion a natural God-given gift that is only meant for married people!! It is awakening love before it is time.

 

    There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-5

 

I have read and heard testimonies of girls who felt pushed into physical contact by their boyfriends. It made them feel immensely guilty, but they didn’t know how to say no. They took those feelings of guilt into their marriage where it caused scars and hurts. I firmly believe that the guy must be responsible to set the hands-off plan in motion because we as women are wired to please. We can be strong on our position, but unless the guy respects us enough to not push, it doesn’t work. He must lead, and she will follow.

 

In today’s age we are surrounded by romantic novels and movies that encourage physical affection. We are surrounded by peers who are doing it. We don’t want to be made fun of. We don’t want to be different. We live in an age of self-gratification. Pleasing ourselves.

 

Doing what WE want to do.

 

Whatever happened to sacrifice, honor, and devotion? To chivalry? To respect for ourselves and our partner?  We need to put our loved ones ahead of ourselves–be unselfish. If we can’t do this in dating, how can we do this in marriage?

 

In Conclusion:

We were old-fashioned. And we would do it all over again. I pray that the young man who comes calling for our daughter someday will desire a hands-off relationship as well!

 

-I will not judge you if you didn’t have a hands-off dating relationship.

-I will not judge you if you choose not to have a hands-off dating relationship.

-It is not right or wrong. Black or white.

-I wanted to share our story for the people out there who would like to do this but don’t know how or if it’s even possible.

-I encourage you parents to seriously and prayerfully consider what you want to teach your children. You may not have struggled with the physical part of your dating, but maybe your children will. Think about their future and what you want for them!

-For those of you in a dating relationship or if you will be someday think about it this way: you have the REST OF YOUR LIFE to hold and kiss your spouse!!  Dating is but a short time in the wide span of your life.

-Guys: women will have incredible respect for you if you show your regard for her by your self-control and having a plan that you stick to!

-Live a life with no regrets!  As James Clear notes in The #1 Regret Of Dying Patients, far too many people spend their final stage of life regretting their youthful choices. “Live a good, honorable life which you can enjoy a second time when you are old.”  Of course, we need God to live an honorable life!

 

**Disclaimer: this doesn’t mean that we had the perfect dating relationship or have had the perfect marriage! We had and still have things to overcome–God is still at work in our lives!! For now we are diamonds in the rough. 

I would love to read your comments and testimonies on this! Please share!! 

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14 thoughts on “Why We Had A Hands-Off Courtship

  1. Christina, Thanx so much for sharing!! My husband and I did not have a hands off relationship and we both wish we would’ve! Having children of my own now that time period looks so scary! It is so much my hearts desire for them to have a hands off relationship! I’m not sure what all I can do to prepare them!? I do believe that through Christ all things are possible!

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Laura! If you share your heart and your story with your children, that will do so much to prepare them for their own relationships! Give them to the Lord and pray over them…as I’m sure you are. 🙂 Blessings to you!

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  2. My hubby and I did not have a hands off policy while dating and we have no regrets. 18 yrs later we still can’t keep our hands off each other! 🙂 I think being open and talking about the different stages of dating and being in agreement is important. Honestly, with the high rate of childhood sexual abuse, I think it could be traumatic to go from hands off to sex on the first night.

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    1. Faith, I don’t know why your name is faith. 1 Cor. 7 says it is good for the man not to touch a woman (with sexual lust), and the cure is to be married, in other words, marriage is for romance.

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    2. I read your comment and knew I needed to speak up, Faith. I was abused and raped as a child numerous times and by a few different men. It was so traumatic that I blocked the memories. We had a hands-off courtship. We both do not regret it at all. Here’s why: Because of the abuse, I didn’t know how to say “NO.” I thought that all men want is our bodies and that women have no say over our bodies. So having a “hands off policy” in place for us was HUGE! Also,we were able to find ways to love each other without the physical. And yes, his love langauge is touch and mine secondary language is touch as well. But we learned to love without the physical. On our wedding night, we had a big blow…due to the rape, I was not able to have sex. (I was diagnosed with vaginismus.) But because we had kept touch for marriage, it was still very special. After 12 weeks of marriage and still no healing in sight, we asked God to heal me. He did instantly. (Thank you Jesus!) Yes, you read that right. 12 weeks and then instant healing.
      I often wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t had a hands off courtship. Would we have gone too far? How would it have affected our wedding night and the following 12 weeks of no sex? I don’t know. But I am forever grateful that we knew how to love each other and were connected emotionally without the physical. It is possible to love without physical touch.
      And as a side note, I began to have flashbacks of the abuse/rape when we were able to consummate our marriage. God has brought much healing and He is still healing me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for commenting, Ann!! Bless you for being brave and sharing your heart and your story. I am so sorry you went through such tragic suffering–I cannot imagine what you have gone through! Thank the Lord He healed you and that He is still healing you.

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  3. Wow..I truly appreciate your story! It means a lot to me. Having been in a relationship before, and not doing things in the way I was taught and raised, I have regrets. Since then, I have spent the years loving the Lord and my family, working, and also focusing on getting my education. However, I still have the desire to one day marry and have a family of my own. This has not been an easy thing for me to think about, and sometimes inside I still beat myself up for being foolish when I was younger. I am very much afraid what it would be like if a very charming and God-fearing man would have interest in me,…How would I tell him about my past? Will he still see me the same? Would a marriage with him work? Only the Lord knows. But as for the young women out there who are single and are planning to date, and those who are already dating,…it is indeed true that one thing leads to the other. And yes, you have the rest of your lives to hug, hold hands, and kiss. A hands-off relationship may sound bogus, but if he really loves and respects you, he will be willing to work hard at keeping you until you are his wife.
    Mrs. Beachy, thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for bravely sharing your heart and story with us, Alissa! I am sorry you have regrets but I know the Lord has forgiven you and He is bringing healing!! I hope and pray there is a Godly young man who will love you no matter what–because your past isn’t who you are now!! I love how God forgets our past and brings us into a future with Him…He gives us a “future and a hope”. (Jer. 29:11) Blessings to you!

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  4. My husband and I had a hands-off courtship, and I have never for a moment regretted that. It wasn’t always easy, but at the end we had absolutely no guilt to deal with over having gone “too far”, and our wedding day was so exciting. (And we had a baby nine months later, so you know there were no problems getting to know each other physically 🙂

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  5. I have to say bravo to you as a couple! My husband and I also had a hands off courtship, and I could identify with everything you said! I don’t think I even realized at the time what a gift we were giving ourselves. (It was his idea too)We have the rest of our lives to grow physical passion, but what a gift to build that emotional and spiritual foundation first! Because after you’ve got the “cherry on top” who wants to go back to the healthy stuff? Hands off isn’t something I would say every couple needs to do, but it’s certainly wise. Why start the engine if you have to work so hard just to turn it off again? Those lines get messy.

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    1. Thanks for commenting!! I like how you said: “after you’ve got the “cherry on top” who wants to go back to the healthy stuff?” And the fact that not every couple needs to do hands off but that it’s wise. Blessings to you!

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  6. I bless you for sharing your story. It is something that needs to be heard. We didn’t have a hands off courtship. However, we were very reserved with physical contact until engagement which helped us to “keep our heads” while trying to discern the Lord’s will for our lives. We did remain pure, but I wish young people could understand how powerful love is once it’s awakened. It would be easier to never kiss and hug before the wedding day than to try to hold back passion once it’s aroused.
    You said it all so well!

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  7. We weren’t completely hands-off, but our physical contact was limited, and we kept an open conversation about it throughout our dating. We had an agreement about what was okay and what wasn’t, and we adjusted that agreement a couple of times as circumstances changed, or as we realized something wasn’t working. The key was, we stuck to our agreement. I loved what you said: “Guys: women will have incredible respect for you if you show your regard for her by your self-control and having a plan that you stick to!” I completely agree. Thank you for treating this subject with open-mindedness… you are very convincing.

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