To Have and to Hold

A critical question each family must face is this… Would you desire your children to experience a repeat of your own dating experiences or those of your friends from the “Me First” generation? If your answer is a resounding “NO!”–then we can most assuredly conclude that we need to introduce an alternative to our children, protecting them from the heartaches of the deceptive, destructive dating scene. Building on the foundational message of Warning! Dating Is No Game, Preparing for Courtship and Beyond addresses a common-sense alternative and “game plan” that has stood the test of time and personal application.

Website: www.mantleministries.com

Review written by Deborah Deggs Cariker at Eclectic Homeschool Online

Richard “Little Bear” Wheeler lends his passion and his humor to a topic that seems determined to stump parents: dating and courtship. Recorded before a live, 2003, Texas audience, Wheeler strongly but kindly encourages parents to a strict understanding of this prickly issue in To Have and to Hold: Preparing for Courtship and Beyond. He said he started writing and living this message 20 years ago when courtship was not at all popular, as it is becoming today.

In 1980, the evangelist and historian began to analyze the personal conduct and lifestyles of different American historical figures. He wanted to know why divorce was unheard of among the Pilgrims, Puritans, and similar groups, but now one-out-of-two CHRISTIAN marriages end in divorce.

“As a father, I was quite concerned that my children NOT go that way with the fatal statistics of marriage,” he said. “This is more than just a message; it’s a lifestyle.”

Little Bear and wife, Marilyn, have three children, Noelle, Amy and Joshua, and have now lived through the entire process about which he preaches in this message. Just a few years ago they released Noelle in marriage to Joshua Goforth. At this writing, the Goforths have two sons. Wheeler said it’s good to begin this training when children are young, even in elementary school, preparing them for purity and chastity, and implanting in them the idea of courtship, not dating, which he calls practicing for divorce. He said through the years they`ll get used to the concept of this “high calling” and “it becomes a part of their life.”

Animated in his talk, and even using sound effects, Little Bear will convince you of your need for a game plan. He told the Texas group he has given this message in 48 states and it’s the same across the country: parents have no direction and just fall into the dating scene because everyone else does it. He noticed this first hand when their oldest child, Noelle, now 25, was just a baby.

“I began to see the Christian teenagers in the youth group, and I got to thinking: Is my daughter, and my son if I have one, going to grow up and do the things I saw the teens in the youth group doing? Ug!” said the former youth group pastor, adding that, often, teens want to do what parents did in dating. This scares parents, who remember their B.C. days: “Whatever I did, you ain’t doing!” And for you who believe everything will be OK because your child is a Christian, listen to Little Bear: “(Parents tell me) `Oh, but Little Bear, I wasn’t a Christian then, but, praise God, my kids are Christians and they’ll do better because they know better.” Little Bear quoted sad statistics that prove otherwise: 64% of youth in evangelical churches in a small town in Oregon had already lost their chastity. “The spirit is willing,” he said, “but the flesh is weak.”

Some quick guidelines: kissing is a no-no until marriage; so is hand-holding – despite the Beatles’ hit that promoted it. Start with teaching your children to fear the Lord. Remember, not everything in a Christian book store is Christian. Be careful of books and music you let into your home. Teach your children, “You reserve your lips for when the pastor says, `You may now kiss the bride.” He closes the talk with a letter Noelle wrote him after a potential suitor broke a pre-courtship relationship with Little Bear. “You have my best and full confidence. . .,” she wrote to her father. “Thank you for guarding the key to my heart. . .”

The audio CD is available separately or in a set with follow-up messages, Mission Possible , and Prepared to Prevail. The set, in a sturdy CD binder, is $20; CDs are $6 singly. Preparing for Courtship and Beyond also is available on video for $20.

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