Road Map to Love for a Lifetime


by T.G. Morrow

OSV, 2003

320 pages, $13.95

To order: (800) 348-2440

While immediately directed to the young single adult, Father Thomas Morrow's manual makes equally engaging reading for married couples who recognize the value in “courting” one another throughout their lives.

Christian Courtship not only makes the case for chaste romance but also charts the entire journey. There are chapters on love, modesty, how and where to find a spouse, courtship strategies, engagement, marriage, children, communication between the sexes and even a wedding planner. Not assuming that all readers will be starting out on the right foot, the book also presents a program for “new beginnings.”

Father Morrow is associate pastor of St. Catherine Laboure Church in Wheaton, Md., and the former host of a three-year radio series, “Catholic Faith Alive!” He entered the priesthood in his 30s, after his own period of Christian courtship, which gives him the credibility of having practiced what he preaches. He also helped found two societies for single adult men and women, with chapters in four cities, and he proves himself a gifted teacher of faith, reason and the moral virtues.

There's no question we need good guidance on sex, dating and marriage — and fast. As Father Morrow says in the introduction, the typical pattern today is for a couple to date two or three times a week, sleep together after the third date and get married after a year and a half. About half of those marriages will end in divorce; for those who live together first, the divorce rate rises to an eye-opening 74%.

Christian Courtship is not the first book to try to introduce some hope and sanity into this scene. But unlike Joshua Harris' popular I Kissed Dating Goodbye or Elisabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity (to which Father Morrow gives favorable nods), this book opens up the possibility of “shared affection” during courtship — affection that is tender without being sexually arousing.

“One young man about 30 years old called me after one of our ‘Christian Dating in an Oversexed World’ seminars and asked, ‘Well, Father, what should I do to tell my sweetheart goodnight?’ I told him, ‘Well, you might put your hand to her face and move forward ever so slowly, and gently kiss her. Once. Twice. Then give her a big, slow hug, pressing your cheek against hers and feeling the warmth as a way of proclaiming your real warm feelings for her. Then, perhaps say something nice, such as, ‘You are so precious to me,’ and then gently kiss her a second time. Then say goodnight and kiss her once, more slowly, tenderly, as if you fear she might break if you aren't careful.’”

There you have it, gentlemen. Clip and memorize.

Christian Courtship is an excellent resource, conversational in tone and bursting with good sense. Chastity, Father Morrow explains, is not a white-knuckled struggle from puberty to age 28 (which he cites as the minimum age most associated with successful marriage). It is, instead, a “true virtue, since it wins the appetite over to reason, thereby eliminating the battle. With chastity the person has head and heart united in pursuing the more noble values of a relationship with the Lord, the truth about the sacredness of sex and loving another as a human person in his/her dignity.”

Single or married, that's a lovely place to spend a lifetime.

Ellen Rossini writes from Richardson, Texas.