Friday, February 12, 2010

Book Review: The Princess and the Kiss

My cute and wonderful wife loves to change the decor in our living room every month or two. As part of that, she puts out collections of books and magazines, related to that particular theme. Last weekend was the big Valentine's Day push. Our house is now exquisitely arrayed in reds, pinks, and purples (very manly, I know!). On a lampstand sit several love-themed picture books, including this one: The Princess and the Kiss, by Jennie Bishop. What it lacks in action, it makes up for with a strong Biblical view of courtship and a heartwarming story that brings tears to our eyes, every time we read it together.

In the story, a baby girl is born to a King and Queen. God entrusts the new parents with a most precious gift: their daughter's First Kiss. As she grows, they dilligently guard their daughter's treasure, until she is old enough to be entrusted with it. Suitors then come, asking for her hand in marriage, and the story tells the tale of how she finds the only one to whom she will trust with her most treasured possession.

It's simple, but sweet, and appropriate for any age. It reads like a fairy tale and manages to teach a moral without sounding preachy. Our son loves to hear it each year, and I think it's a great opportunity for us to impart our views of dating, on to our son (even though we did not follow those protocols ourselves).

Now, for some background...

Although our son is not yet a teenager, it's never too early to develop a Biblical model of dating, for your children. Dating and relationships are difficult topics for parents to discuss, and Farrah and I want to avoid the mistakes that we feel our respective parents made when raising us. So, a couple years ago, we attended a talk on courtship, given by a pastor in our area, and our eyes were opened.

The Bible has lots of examples (good and bad) of how men and women got together (Adam and Eve, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel and Leah, Sampson and his women, David and his women, Solomon and his women, etc...), but there is no single recipe for how God specifically wants his people to handle courtship.

While parents implement it to varying degrees, courtship is somewhere between the sterility of arranged marriages and the emotionally clouded, modern dating model. The basic idea is that the parents are responsible for their children's purity, and need to guide the process by which their children select a spouse.

Some of the guidelines include:
  • A minimum age for courtship (possibly old enough to marry)
  • Boy asks parents' permission first
  • Boy and girl do not "go out", but get to know each other only as part of family activities
  • Boy and girl study the Bible together with the families
  • Affectionate behavior, including the first kiss, reserved for marriage
This may sound strict and maybe unrealistic, but it represents the moral high ground that our children and society so desperately need. Divorce rates are at an all-time high. Teen and out-of-wedlock pregnancies are rising. Domestic and same-sex "partnerships" are getting footholds as acceptable "lifestyles". If we are to salvage what's left of the traditional family and Biblical marriage as its cornerstone, we must make the effort to pass on those values to our children.


Gigi said...

What a lovely book!!

I agree...the moral climate of today's dating scene leaves MUCH to be desired. Kudos to you and Farrah for being willing to set firm boundaries now!

jeleasure said...

my mom was 16 when she married my father. My dad was 18. What would have been the appropriate age for dating. They divorced after 9 years of marriage.

Jeff said...

I really like the artwork of that book cover. The book sounds like it's a good one.

I would think that it would be really difficult to implement courtship in today's society, but, at least a few years back, Joshua Harris made the idea popular, and I think it gained a following. It's definitely a good idea, I think. One key point, I believe, is a strong biblical grounding from a young age; and, as far as the child, not just hearing their parents tell them what to do, but reading the Bible through and through, to get their own thoughts grounded firmly in thinking biblically. I think this is the best defense against going against the wrong influence of our society.

Greg said...

Thank you all for stopping by!

Gigi, we won't be able to dictate rules to our son forever, but we hope that we will have passed a firm moral foundation onto him, that will carry him through all the difficult choices he'll have to make. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the cornerstone. :)

Jim, I'm sorry to hear that your parents got divorced so early in your life. By contrast, my wife's gramdma got married when she was 14 (he was in his 20s), had her first child at 15, and was happily married for over 50 years, until his death from cancer. The "appropriate" age depends on the child, but Farrah and I believe that a man should not date until he is ready for marriage and can support a family. Some may argue that people need to date to get experience, but my first kiss was with the woman I married, and we have a very happy and solid marriage. If both spouses love Jesus first and foremost, a healthy, happy marriage is just about guaranteed. :)

Good point, Jeff. Rules are useless, without a thorough understanding of the Bible and a genuine relationship with Jesus. While today's society is not conducive to the courtship model of dating, I think there are lots of Christian families that do. Another thing that helps is the fact that we homeschool.

DJR @failedatheist said...

Sounds like an interesting book, although I would be careful about setting to many do's and don'ts. Other than those are clearly what couples shouldn't be doing before marriage.

I agree that the ideal should be that we meet and court people when we're in a period in life where we are prepared for marriage. Unfortunately life is far more complex than this.

Joshua Harris's books are excellent I must agree. I'll be married in 5 months myself..goodtimes :)

Greg said...

Congratulations, Dan!

True what you say. In fact, Farrah and I did not follow the courtship rules ourselves. While relationships are too complicated to restrict to any set of rules, but Jesus and Biblical morality must trump all else. The problem, as we've started to explain to our son, is that emotions can greatly cloud one's judgment and skew our moral compass. It's important to make these decisions beforehand, so that you will stay on the right path.

Nothing to worry about; Jesus has it all handled, doesn't He? :)

Dr. Russell Norman Murray said...

For me I would need to add...

* Meets someone reasonable.

Cheers, Greg.

Dr. Russell Norman Murray said...

Please see my most recent audio post where a listener asks a related question.:)

Thx, Greg.

Tamela's Place said...

Hi Greg,

Yes, i am taking a break from the computer as a whole for awhile, but thought i would swing by and say hi.

May God give you and farrah all the wisdom needed when your children become teens and may they hold fast to the Biblical teachings that you all have instilled in them. Keep up the good work and dedication to raising your children in the admonition and fear of the Lord.

Tamela :)