I was recently listening to a popular Christian radio program. On that week’s edition, they were celebrating a recent book that encouraged fathers to interview any young man who wanted to date their daughter. The author was interviewed, and he discussed with the program host how any young man who wanted to take a girl out for a date should be questioned by the father, and made to promise that he (the young man) would respect the girl, knowing that some day she would be someone’s wife (possibly his own, possibly not), and that he should treat her the way he would want someone else to treat his future wife. He was also to promise not to touch the girl in any way, not kiss her, and always open the door for her. He should protect her, including her purity. It was his responsibility. The young man would need to promise all these things and more to the father before the father should permit his daughter to go out on a date with the boy.
This struck me as troublesome. First of all, it is certainly honorable and desirable for a father to show interest in caring for his daughter. Oh that more fathers would! But it seems to me that this particular message and method encourages a kind of demeaning treatment of the girl that does not foster full participation on her part, a good pattern of communication between the girl and boy, good decision-making skills for the girl, and good patterns of maturity for future adulthood for both of them. I kept thinking: where is the mother in all of this? And, why isn’t the parent talking to both the son and daughter, together, about the decisions they will make? Wouldn’t it have made a much better Christian impression and model for the young people if both mom and dad talked, together, to both young people together, showing a united desire for the young man and young woman to make wise decisions together? And how does this recognize the reality that girls, as well as boys, often initiate physical intimacy and need to understand God’s call upon their lives for purity and good decision making? And now that many young people wait to get married until well into adulthood, how will this pattern help young adults with good dating practices? (Daddy may not be around to interview your date when you are in college!)
Surely there is a better way to encourage purity and wise choices for young people, that encourages both girls and boys to take responsibility for their actions and to be able to communicate clearly with one another and encourages both mothers and fathers, when possible, to work together in providing good advice and examples for their kids, both daughters and sons.