The Rock Church's Marriage and Parenting Pastor Darren Carrington says parents need to teach their children from an early age about dating and marriage so they can spot "counterfeit" Christians who attend church but show no spiritual growth.
The NFL player-turned-pastor at the San Diego megachurch founded by Pastor Miles McPherson, also a former San Diego Chargers football player, said he started teaching his two daughters and son about marriage from birth, modeling with wife, Vickie, what a "loving, imperfect, fun marriage" looks like.
The Carringtons also began talking to their children about dating when they were 14 years old. However in this fast-paced society, Carrington suggests parents start talking to their children sooner.
"With the way things are moving at a faster pace in society these days, the media and society is making an impression on dating and marriage at a much younger age. You see this on TV, online, billboards, magazines. With this in mind, I would say that 13 is a good time to begin having discussions around these topics," he told The Christian Post in an email.
In the interview below, edited for clarity and brevity, Carrington shares how parents can best model marriage to their children and explains what traits young adults should look for in a godly spouse.
Christian Post: How did you prepare your children for dating and marriage?
Carrington: Vickie and I prepared our children for dating and marriage by modeling a godly example of a loving, imperfect, fun marriage right from birth. As far as dating – teaching and modeling what love looks like, sounds like and acts like, so when they come across counterfeits, they can detect the difference.
CP: At what age did you begin talking to your children about marriage and dating?
Carrington: It varied. Vickie and I began talking to our children about marriage and dating between the ages of 14-present!
CP: What traits, qualities, and actions have you advised your children to look for in a potential spouse and why?
Carrington: A man or woman of God is actively growing in Christ (different from a church attender), who bases decisions through the lens of Jesus. Someone who is loving, wise, kind, minimal baggage, fun, effective communicator, pride-less, a leader, a pure or recycled virgin. It's important to look for qualities that are sustainable, because that is what will last.
CP: How did your advice or approach differ from what you told your daughters to what you told your son?
Carrington: We are more protective over our daughters because their hearts are more tender.
As far as advice, it didn't differ a lot, other than for our son to seek a wife who is respectful (submissive), who knows how to love as well as receive love. One who also has good relationship with her father. As for our daughters, seek a man who is a servant leader, a gentleman and who has a good relationship with his mother.
CP: What advice would you give parents about when to talk about these issues and what to say?
Carrington: With the way things are moving at a faster pace in society these days, the media and society is making an impression on dating and marriage at a much younger age. You see this on TV, online, billboards, magazines. With this in mind, I would say that 13 is a good time to begin having discussions around these topics.
The most important aspect is to give them a good example of love right from birth, setting that godly example of what love looks like. From the day our children are born, they are observing every move we make, every word we speak. Ephesians 4:29 says "Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."
By providing great examples and giving our kids the godly information to make wise decisions and walk with Jesus. There are still no guarantees that's why we must fully rely on God's love, mercy and grace.