Courtship Defended (part 3)



I recently read a post from Facebook that made a case that Courtship is flawed and even detrimental. I enjoy discussions on such topics and it interested me that this man was a homeschool graduate, a Christian, a lover of writing and had read “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”.  This was someone I could relate to! And yet, as I read, I realized we had little in common on this subject. By the end of the post I was actually appalled with the advice he was giving young people and equally dismayed that many Christians (even some friends of mine) were being swayed by his argument. I decided to write a “reply” to this well liked post. I realize that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but just as he wrote to influence, I also write to take a stand on this vital issue. 

(Because of his lengthy post I will have to make “installments” of my post.  Click here to read Part I or here for Part II )

Responding to Common Questions & Objections to Traditional Dating

 

Why Not Just Spend Time in Groups?

The Writer:   “The problem with group settings is that not all personality types open up in group settings. Many married couples include one spouse who is more comfortable in group settings than the other. These couples may have never found each other if they were limited to “group dating.”

In group activities, it can be hard for the wallflowers to be discovered for the flowers that they really are. They need a less intense 1-on-1 setting in which to bloom. Group settings are particularly rough on women who grew up in communities where they were trained to value submissiveness, meekness and quietness.”

Response: Group settings do make it more complicated to completely open up. That is kind of the point. A young person will not be given to the same temptations if being held accountable by others. During “Stage 1” or otherwise the Friendship stage, there is nothing needed beyond group settings. As far as “Stage 2” or the Courtship stage, the group setting is still safe and greatly encouraged. Of course, depending on the individual families standards, once courtship is initiated, there may be allowed times where the couple is only chaperoned by one or two people. The idea is to remain chaste and given little opportunity to do otherwise. Most situations that have led to compromised purity started when the couple became secretive or alone. A mature couple will see the blessing of this protection.

And just for the record, I have grown up in a home where I was trained to “value submissiveness, meekness and quietness” and have never considered myself socially awkward because of it. The Bible calls the meek blessed, and claims that a meek and quiet spirit are, in the sight of God, an ornament of great price,(1 Peter 3:4). It commands for the woman to submit herself unto her husband, (Ephesians 5:22), and speaks of a soft answer turning away wrath and commends studying quietness (1 Thes. 4:11). These attributes grace young woman, not strip them of their confidence.


The Writer: “Where is a stay-at-home daughter who attends a small family integrated church supposed to find groups of young people to hang out with? The result of limiting interaction to group settings is many lonely nights interacting with no one.”

Response: I have known loneliness. I believe most singles at one time or another have experienced it. But loneliness can haunt you no matter who you have to “hang out” with.

I will attest to the fact that there aren’t many groups of young people worth hanging out with. But that isn’t because I’m a stay-at-home daughter, or because I attend a small church. It is because of the general lack of sincere God seeking Christian young people. Most young people are merely interested in the here and now, present gratification, shallow selfish desires. Dating kind of fits with those interests. Sometimes being set apart from those kind of people can be a lonely stand. But I am not a lonely person. Christ is my best friend. After Him I have a couple really close girl friends, many siblings that are my dear friends, grandparents and church family. I could hardly say I’m lonely. Group settings do not equate to loneliness.

 

But Isn’t Courtship Biblical?

Courtship is based on biblical standards.


 Such as:

A man and woman make up a marriage, strict purity standards (1 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Timothy 5:2),that the man is the leader of his home and therefore the father is the leader of those under him, (1 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Timothy 5:8), true unselfish love, (1 Corinthians 13:5),

only marrying Christians (1 Corinthians 6:14 James 4:4), and honoring and obeying our parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-3).

The Writer: “Most of the moral arguments for courtship are actually arguments for arranged marriage…

When I started my website, one of my goals was to never use the site to criticize arranged marriage. …Arranged marriages have the lower divorce rate.  Arranged marriage has been used by many cultures for many years with good results.”

The problem is that arranged marriage is not a good fit for western culture. Many Americans value individual liberty more than life itself. Giving this most important decision to someone else is not something many of us are comfortable with. Also, parents are often hesitant to arrange marriages lest their child resent them if the marriage turns out to be an unhappy one.

I don’t see Arranged Marriage taking off in Western Culture.”

Response: It interested me that the Writer wasn’t against arranged marriage, but obviously quite against courtship. The arguments he gives against courtship (ie: identification, interaction, and initiation) would definitely be present in arranged marriages.

And yet arranged marriage is not similar to courtship. In arranged marriages the young people has little to no say in the choice of a spouse. The fathers or parents usually decide…and often while the couple (or at least the woman)  is still quite young. This is nothing like courtship, although it surprised me that the Writer has more tolerance for this approach than courtship itself. He is right – arranged marriage won’t be taking off in the Western Culture anytime soon.


The Writer: “Traditional Dating fits our culture like a glove. Most of Americans already intuitively know how it works because it is part of who we are as a people. If you don’t know how it works, ask your grandparents and they will tell you of the glory days when men were free.  Watch the twinkle in their eye when they tell you of a time when men and women could fall in love and pick their own spouses.”

Response: Traditional dating fits our culture because our culture’s mentality is interested in two things, gratifying self, and gratifying self right now. That is why divorce has become culturally accepted. The marriage stops being self gratifying so we end it.

The fact that traditional dating fits our self gratifying culture doesn’t make it appealing. The Writer says that back in our grandparents day men and women could pick their own spouses, as if implying that nowadays, due to courtship, men and woman are reduced to having their marriages arranged. Not so. At least not by our parents, or any human being. Perhaps it is the fact that we believe God is the Arranger of our marriages that he upset with?

Hasn’t Our Sexualized Culture Ruined Dating?


The Writer: “There is no denying that the media is far more sexually charged than it was when my grandparents were dating in junior high. Now while some of that is the media following culture (The Beatles sang about hand holding while hippies swapped STDs in the 60s), I do believe that media affects the culture. The question is how do we best respond to that culture.

The commitment, exclusivity and intensity of dating is what lead to temptation and compromise in the first place. Courtship makes the problem worse by increasing the commitment which intensifies the temptation.”

Response: How would commitment intensify temptation? If I have decided to save my heart for one man, and committed to saving it until the day of marriage, then I would be hard pressed to give it up to just anyone, (or multiple men).

On the other hand, if there was no commitment to do so, what keeps me back from sharing my heart?

The question is not how do we best respond to that culture, but how to be a light in it. (Romans 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Ephesians 5:8; 1 John 2:15-17)

The Writer:  “The other problem with courtship is that it often delays marriage. Courtship communities expect young people to live celibate lives in a sexually charged culture for a decade or more before they get married. The Bible instructs us to flee temptation and to marry lest you burn with lustCourtship teaches instead to delay marriage until you are ready.”

Response: Firstly, the Writer talks of “Courtship communities” like those that believe in courtship are part of a cult. We may be a minority, but certainly not a cult. Secondly, those who believe in courtship do not expect young people to “live celibate lives for a decade before they get married”. It is expected to remain a virgin until marriage, but the amount of time has no bearing. I have friends that married a year after graduating, and friends that didn’t marry until past twenty-four years old. Time have no relevance. There isn’t a specific time of “delay”.  We just keep our heart with diligence.

The Writer:  “The benefit of traditional dating is that the lack of exclusivity reduces temptation. It also helps young people find out who they are and who they are looking for faster. Early marriage reduces the number of years a young person must resist sexual temptation through celibacy.”

Response: How would going out with multiple men reduce temptation? By not dating I am in no position to be tempted in sexual sin. If the Lord has asked me to prepare and wait to be a wife, then I should happily prepare and wait until He gives me the gift of marriage. Just as in anything the Lord has asked me to prepare and wait for.

The Writer claims that dating is the short cut to marriage.  Clearly the Writer is trying to make a case for not waiting for the Lord’s timing. If we applied this to any other area of Christianity it wouldn’t be applauded. The Writer is encouraging us to just go with the fast method (dating) so we aren’t made to endure any temptations that we may come up against. This is ludicrous. The Bible says that no temptation has taken us that is not common to man.(1 Corinthians 10:13).  Every “single” will go through singleness. And yet He will never allow any temptation above what we are able to bear. If we are called to singleness at this time of our life, then it is good and is not more than we can handle.

Now Lets Talk Some Specifics

 

Suggestions For Single Women


The Writer” “If you are a single woman, realize that the reason guys are not asking you out is NOT because you are unattractive. It is because you live in a system where he must want to marry you before he can get to know you. It is the system that is broken, not you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Somewhere out there is a guy who will see you as the most beautiful woman in the world. The more guys you meet, the faster you will find him.”

Response: Really? If this is a race to go through all the guys available, this doesn’t sound like the efficient way. Courtship relies on God bringing your spouse to your attention. If we have millions of singles to go through, this could be a complication! 🙂  

There is no reason a godly woman should feel unattractive because of the lack of men calling.  If you carry yourself righteously, and in Christ-like love (charity vaunteth not itself, doth not behave itself unseemly or seeketh out her own. 1 Corinthians 13) then most likely you won’t be called on by troops of men.  The majority of men in the world aren’t looking for godly spouses.  Don’t be discouraged if men do not call.  The Lord knows exactly what we can handle.  He may not want to distract us with callers at this time in our life. The amount of men calling on us is not a scale to our beauty. 


The Writer: “If I Christian guy asks you out for dinner, say ‘yes’.  You don’t need to love him to say yes to a first date.”


Response:  That sounds desperate. Where is the wisdom in that? If a Christian guy asks to get to know you better, you are going to want the Lord’s opinion on the matter. Being asked out is not a little thing. The guy is obviously interested in you more than a friend or sister in Christ. If he wanted to take a godly woman out to dinner just to be nice, he could have taken his mother or sister out. Obviously he wants you for a reason. Relationships are complex. To begin anything beyond friendship is a big deal.


The Writer:  Be friendly.  Give the guy hope that he has a chance with you.  Coyness is not as attractive as the media makes it out to be.

Don’t make him run a gauntlet before he can get to know you.  Realize he is not asking to marry you when he asks if he can buy you dinner.”


Response: What is a guy asking when he takes you out to dinner?  If he just wanted to be friends he wouldn’t be requesting alone time with you.  And yes playing coy is ugly, almost as ugly as playing easy to get. 

Also, if my guy can’t run a gauntlet for me, I really don’t know that I find him that appealing. Of course there comes some godly fear with approaching my dad for his daughters heart. There is a slight cost. If a guy is willing to make that costly effort, it says something of his character.


The Writer:  “Some guys are gems and more than meets the eye.  Give him a chance to win your attention and to earn that second date.”


Response:  What is our goal? To begin a relationship with a future? Or to win that second date? We don’t need to go around giving guys chances and making ourselves available and worrying about our attraction status. God is in control! He knows what He is doing, He holds an expected end for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Life is not about making sure we earn a date.


The Writer: “Don’t call in your dad unless he won’t take a hint.  Your dad and his shotgun should be the last resort.”


Response: The time before marriage is an imperative time in a girl’s life. This is when she needs protection, advice, and guidance from her father. Marriage (outside of salvation) is the biggest choice a girl will make. Only cowardice or ignorance would keep a father from participating in his daughters relationships. If a guy wants to take a girl out then it is obvious he has more interest than just being friendly. “Getting to know her” involves intimacy. Maybe that’s why the Bible uses the word “know” to describe sexual intimacy (Genesis 4:1). When we bond with someone, 1 on 1,  in an exclusive relationship (which dating is, no matter if it’s with one guy on certain days of the week and another one on others) we are giving of ourselves emotionally and the result is “knowing” them. Our bodies are only part of us, but intercourse involves our mind and heart which is part of who we are as well. To get to know a man beyond friendship that you do not intend to marry is emotional adultery. See post “Adultery of the Heart” ). A serious thing. And to share our heart intimately with Bob and Bill is whorish.



Suggestions for Single Men



The Writer: Start asking girls out.  Most girls would love to be asked out and will say ‘yes’ if you would just ask them.”


Response: Maybe this is the mentality that get’s guys a rejection rate of a dozen fathers?

The Writer: Realize that asking a girl out to dinner is not the same as proposing for marriage.”

Response: What is your motive then? 

The Writer: If she  says you need to talk to her dad first just move on to the next girl.  Don’t let the fact that some women have controlling fathers keep you from dating the girls with more normal families.  There are a lot of fish in the sea, and some dads are nicer than others…”

 Response: Basically, girls that need their fathers permission are out of the Writers league.  Like I have said before, if a guy isn’t willing to ask my dad, I don’t think he is worthwhile.  I find it slightly insulting that he implies that courtship families aren’t normal.  But maybe we aren’t.  Maybe being normal isn’t such a great thing.  We are called to be a peculiar people.  

The Writer: “If you have been browbeaten by harsh courtship fathers, I feel your pain.  Ask God to heal your heart and to give you the courage to try again.  The tide is shifting.  The leaders that those men used to justify their actions are quickly fading into the past.  We are entering a kinder, gentler age.  Who knows.  Maybe the next girl you ask out could be the one.”

Response: A kinder gentler age? Or one filled with compromise? I understand, rejection would not be easy. But maybe there is a reason you have been told no. Perhaps God is using the authorities in your life to point something out to you. Maybe you are rushing ahead of His timing.

The Writer: Get a job.  Money makes you more attractive.”

Response: That seems altogether shallow. But whatever works when its all about “earning” that next date.

Suggestions for Both Single Men and Single Women

The Writer: “Do what your grandparents did and go out on dates with lots of different people before going steady with any of them.”

Response: Because Grandma and Grandpa did it that way doesn’t make it okay. The predominant Christian worldview was replaced as early as the beginning of the 20th century. Our culture has been spiritually blind for a long time. Someday you will be a grandparent. Just because you did it this way won’t make it right for your grandchildren.  

The Writer:  “Have fun.”  

Response: Amazing how often this comes up.  Courtship and marriage both involve the element of “fun”, and yet this is not why we court or marry.

Suggestions For Parents

Some of the Writers suggestions were not wrong.  (ie: Pray for your children), but what stood out to me were these —

The Writer: “Encourage your sons to ask girls on dates.  

Allow your daughters to say yes to first dates from Christian guys you don’t know.

As your children become adults, give advice instead of commands.  Being a parent does not make you a Pope of another adult.

Encourage your children to find their way to places where they can meet other single people.  

Don’t force your daughters to stay at home.  Let them get out into the world where thy can meet godly men.  If you want to catch a fish you must first walk to the pond.”


Response: The overlying message is “Parents: keep your hands off”.


Firstly, I’d like to mention that we aren’t meant to be fishers of men (unless we are talking about souls). I’m not trying to “catch a fish”. I plan on following God’s will for my life. Wherever He sends me I’ll go. Wherever He keeps me, I’ll stay. Whomever He has me meet and befriend, I will. When I meet my man and God says “He’s it”, I’ll obey. I’m not walking the pond.

Secondly, fathers in our day and age are actually taught to relinquish their responsibility to lead and guide and guard their children. It’s easily recognized in media, especially Hollywood. It may start out as early as Day Care, classrooms, friendships, and later on in employment or on campus., but somewhere at some time the father will be challenged to give up his biblical role. The culture has accepted the mentality that men are tyrannical monsters if they try to take on the biblical headship over their families. The world actually condemns men who try to guard their daughters.


When I was young, my dad taught me in the admonition and nurture of the Lord. He taught me that if I did not obey (right away, all the way) there were consequences to my actions. Not only was I disciplined, but he also strove to win my heart. Because I learned to trust my daddy, as an adult I seek his advice. My dad doesn’t need to command my obedience anymore because I know that when he warns me of something it is because it carries a consequence. He doesn’t act like a Pope, but as my guardian, my knight in shining armor, my leader.

How to Talk With Your Folks About Courtship


The Writer:  “Share this post with your parents and talk to with them about why courtship is flawed and why you are going to start going out on dates.

I find that even the most controlling parents start to mellow out as their single daughters start entering their 30s. That biological clock waits for no man, even Prince Charming. It will help when their friends start bragging about their grandchildren. If all else fails, play the grandchildren card. Most parents want grandchildren. Try to explain that if they want grandchildren you need to get married and courtship is not helping you do that. Realize that many of their rules were created out of fear.”

Response: This is a scary case of bribery and fear tactics. Play the grandchildren card?

Rules are not made out of fear. Rules and standards are guidelines for security and safe keeping.

Where do we go from here?


The Writer:  “Share this post with your community on Facebook and Google+ to continue the conversation. My hope is that as single people start embracing traditional dating we can restore the fun first date to our culture. The more people who read this post the more guys that will start asking girls out and the more girls who will say “yes” to that first date.”

Response: Again comes the desperation for fun and fast.

Purity and God’s way and timing should be “where we go from here”. There aren’t many people who are willing to take such a stand in this day and age of fun and fast. But God makes all things beautiful in His time. Thankfully we aren’t called to boring decades of nothingness. The Lord has great plans for singles. This is the time we are able to serve Him with little distraction. This is the time of preparation. A time of sweet lessons and triumphs right now. For young woman I would like to recommend a book titled “So Much More” by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin. We are called to more than just surviving our single years. This book is a great encouragement on how to view our singleness through Christ’s eyes. Also, my book which is becoming available this next month is called “Maid Arise”. I know how discouraged young woman become when they are told that they are holding out for a fairy tale. I also have my blog maidarise.blogspot.com. For young men I would recommend “When I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris. As well as “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy.  

What do you think?

I would love to get some feedback on your thoughts on this topic!  Please feel free to comment.  

Courtship Defended (part 2)

 

 

Courtship Defended

Part II 

I recently read a post from Facebook that made a case that Courtship is flawed and even detrimental. I enjoy discussions on such topics and it interested me that this man was a homeschool graduate, a Christian, a lover of writing and had read “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”. This was someone I could relate to! And yet, as I read, I realized we had little in common on this subject. By the end of the post I was actually appalled with the advice he was giving young people and equally dismayed that many Christians (even some friends of mine) were being swayed by his argument. I decided to write a “reply” to this well liked post. I realize that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but just as he wrote to influence, I also write to take a stand on this vital issue. 

(Because of his lengthy post I will have to make “installments” of my post.  Click here to read Part I )

 

Why the Courtship Divorce Rate is So High

The Writer: … I have seen a spike in divorces amongst couples who courted. I have a few theories as to why this is. Young people whose parents often maintain veto power on all of their decisions are then expected to make this most important decision without any experience in good decision making. They have no context of who they are, past decision making or any idea of what they are looking for in a spouse.”

Response: This amused me. I have a heavenly Father that “maintains veto power on all of my decisions” and this does not leave me confused on how to make decisions, or wondering who I am. Could it be that our grandparents generation had less divorces than our own because of their era, not the fact that they dated? It was socially taboo to divorce during our grandparents time. Now it’s the norm. I don’t know that it has anything to do with the fact that couples courted.

The Writer:How can you know what personality you fit well with if you only go out with one other person? The result can be a mismatched couple and a marriage that is difficult to sustain.”

Response: Our God happens to be a big God. He doesn’t need to imitate the World’s way of finding mates. When we are moving in and out of relationships on a whim, we aren’t giving God much of an opportunity to bring someone into our life in His own creative way. It isn’t our job to find the perfect personality match. He will! And it is foolish to believe that we must date in order to know what personalities clash or meld with ours.

 

Advantages of Traditional Dating

The Writer: Less Temptation – “It is hard to fall in love with Bob on Tuesday when you know you are going out for coffee with Bill on Thursday.”

 Response:  It is? To me it sounds emotionally draining. And when sharing your heart with someone exclusively, it doesn’t really matter if you only see them twice a week, you are bound to become emotionally attached. (At least I can be sure from a girls perspective. Maybe some men are able to move from one relationship to the other without consequence. Sounds brutishly predator like). Just as we are to save ourselves physically for one man, we must also save our hearts. Our bodies are really only half of who we are….our heart….(mind, will and emotions) is equally important to guard. If we are to keep our heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23) than giving access to Bob on Tuesday, and Bill on Thursday….really doesn’t sound like we are doing that.

The Writer: More Interaction “I know many homeschool girls who are frustrated that they never get asked out on a date. It is not uncommon to find a 21 year old stay at home daughter who has never been asked out on a date. The reason for this is not because the girl is unattractive (although that may be the story she convinces herself of over time).

The real reason is that few guys are willing to ask permission from a woman’s father to marry her before being able to ask her out on a date to get to know her. Even when this permission is requested, it is unlikely to be given.”

 Response: Is there something wrong with a stay-at-home young woman of 21 never being asked out? Is 21 the year of the old maid? There are plenty of young women who have never been asked out for a date and don’t grow insecure in their looks because of it! By 21 I had a few young men approach my father. I have never been officially asked out to date. Does this bother me? Not at all. And for goodness sake – I’m 22!!! By the way young men go to my father I realize that young men see me as a treasure. I’m someone worth protecting. I have a father and two brothers who are proof of that statement. I consider it an honor that young men do not see me as just “up for grabs”. I’m not on the cheap table to be pawed over. Attractiveness has nothing to do with it. And if a guy is turned off by the fact that he must reach me through my protector first, then I really have no interest in him. Obviously I’m not worth it to that guy.

The Writer pointed out that most men don’t really want to ask the father, because they realize the fathers expectations of a visit to call on his daughter means courtship….and they just wanted “to get to know” the girl. If a guy wants to get to know the girl…then he should. He doesn’t have to date her to find that out. Courtship is stage 2. It’s for serious relationships only. The best way a guy can get to know me is by observing me with my family, in my home, doing my hobbies, interacting with other people. Not by taking me out to dinner.

The Writer: I know several godly, hardworking and attractive homeschool guys who have been rejected by as many as a dozen fathers. I respect their tenacity. Getting turned down by courtship fathers is tough on guys because the fathers are rarely gentle or kind. So if you are a courtship-minded girl wondering why the guys are not calling, you may want to ask your dad how many guys he has run off.”

 Response: If a young man has been rejected by as many as 12 fathers….maybe the guy should stand back and take a good humble look at himself. Maybe he is being a little hasty. Maybe he has some growing up to do that the fathers are seeing. Maybe it’s the fact that he went after as many as 12 different girls in the same month, convinced that they were “it”. Are fathers of girls who court tough and rarely gentle or kind? I guess I can’t really say since I don’t know all of them, but the fathers I can speak for, have always been very protecting (which with that territory comes a dose of toughness, thank the Lord) but were always polite. If there are unkind “courtship fathers” than this fact would not be proof of courtship’s failings. I’m sure there are some unkind “dating fathers” too. It would be a matter of failings on the fathers part. He failed to be kind while protecting his daughter.

I believe that the Lord works through my Dad. God is bigger than my Dad’s “no”. If my Dad “runs off” the right guy, I know the Lord will lead the right guy back to me because I am trusting Him, and the right guy won’t give up. Not all guys are Prince Charmings. Some of them are predators. Some guys are worth running off.

Lastly he points out that:

The Writer: With Traditional Dating, asking a girl out on a date is no big deal. All the guy is asking to do is to get to know the girl better. Maybe this leads to a deeper relationship, maybe it doesn’t. Either way, the interaction is easier and more fun when it is not so intense.”

 Response: When I am ready to begin a relationship with someone, I want it to be a big deal. By the time it passes the Friendship (stage 1), I am expecting Courtship (stage 2) to be a big deal. I want it to mean more than getting to know me. I’m not really concerned about how much fun I can get out of it. And like I said earlier, dating is a big deal. It will involve intimacy to some degree. Non-commital-relationships are unhealthy and a risk of heart-ache.

The Writer: Less Heartbreak – One of the promises of courtship is that it can lead to less heartbreak than dating. I laugh at this to keep myself from crying. This could not be further from the truth. Calling off a courtship can be as emotionally wrenching as calling off an engagement. It can take years to recover from a “failed courtship.” 

 Response: He has a point here. Theoretically, courtship is a period where the young couple and their families evaluate the compatibility of each other. At any point either person can politely bow out if they believe that the marriage may not work, without heart ache on either side.

Courtship is a safe guard, but of course our hearts are frail. We still find ourselves attached, even under the most ideal, secure and practical scenarios. Having a courtship called off can be as devastating as a “break up”.

Courtship cannot guarantee no heart-ache. It merely provides some sensible safe gaurds. Yet, break ups in courtship shouldn’t be common. Unlike dating, courtship does not assume your relationship is temporary, just for fun, or a short term trial. This is why courtship is taken seriously, and is stage 2. Courtship actually strives to minimize the risk of wounded hearts from a constant sting of temporary relationships. Courtship encourages open relationships without foolish emotions or temptations.

So a “failed courtship” will most likely be heartbreaking. But that is why courtship includes such seriousness. It isn’t meant to be temporary, begun then broken.

The Writer – More Marriage – Let’s face it, most married people got married because they dated first. I would even submit that most homeschoolers who do get married supplemented with dating at some point in their journey. Courtship is not resulting in many marriages despite having been advocated by (sometimes unmarried) conservative leaders for nearly 20 years.”

 Response: If most married couples today dated instead of courted, that would make sense. Our culture dates. Courtship is tried by a minority. And yet, most courtships I have seen have resulted in marriage. Because marriage is the expected outcome of courtship (unlike dating), then it would make sense that courtship leads to marriage.

The Writer may be implying that courtship families are keeping their young people from getting the chance to marry. I don’t see that in the people I know or talk to. But even if courtship lessened the likelihood of marriage (which I don’t believe it does; it just lessens the likelihood of becoming involved in multiple relationships beforehand) we have to remember that being single is not a curse, and marriage is not our goal in life. Life does not begin at marriage. If young people, including the Writer, could only see singleness as the gift it truly is, there wouldn’t be such a desperate frenzy. Who is in control of our lives? Even if courtship was only a radical, extreme and careful attempt to purity, the Lord would not be hindered by it. If anything He would reward our sincere desire to obey Him in keeping our hearts pure. Our abandonment of our love life to His care can only result in Him taking it over. (What’s so bad about that?). But our management of our love life is sure to lead to lesser results.

The Writer – “More Fun”– The institution of marriage is crumbling. Of the last two generations, one won’t get married and the other won’t stay married. A smaller percentage of people are married in America than at any other time. Part of what helps perpetuate the institution of marriage is making the process of getting married fun. My grandmother made dating in her day sound really fun. Courtship on the other hand can be awkward and emotionally heartwrenching.”

 Response: Is the institution of marriage possibly crumbling because the unpopular method of courtship has made getting married a bore? Or, could it be that the trend of dating  has taken away the habit of commitment? Maybe…just possibly.

Let’s really face it. Is marriage a pleasure ride? Who says in order to perpetuate the institution of marriage we have to make the process fun? Marriage is not all honeymoon. Marriage is a life time commitment to someone through sickness and in health, for better or for worse. Marriage is where two people come together to be one flesh…a very self sacrificing thing. Where the husband gives himself up for his wife, and the wife submits herself to her husband. Of course there will be fun times. But “fun” has nothing to do with marriage… or courtship.

The Writer: “Dating also trains people to continue dating their spouse after they get married.”

 Response: It does? What if your precious Bob makes you angry…do you start to pine away for Bill on Thursday? Why wouldn’t courtship encourage a couple to continue to pursue their spouse after marriage?  Courtship is all about commitment.  

The Writer: “The kind of parents who are the strongest advocates of courtship are often the ones who go on the fewest dates with each other.”

 Response: Where did he get that stat? I found that rather odd. In fact, I have two married friends (who courted) that live close to me, and I’ve never known two couples who have gone on more dates than they have.

The Writer – “More Matchmaking”– Modern Courtship doesn’t really have a mechanism for matchmaking. How can there be blind dates if the man must first get permission from a father?”

 Response: Well, courtship doesn’t offer matchmaking tips because it assumes you believe that Someone bigger than you is orchestrating your love life. Who wants to go on a “blind date” if the Lord has someone already in mind?

The Writer: “Courtship relationships are so intense that even introductions can be awkward. I know many happily married couples who met through a blind date or an online matchmaking service like eharmony. Matchmaking is a time-tested practice that Traditional Dating is fully compatible with. Courtship? Not so much.”

 Response: If you jumped right into courtship without ever knowing the person, than yes, the introduction would be very awkward. But the Writer here has totally overlooked the fact that there is a stage 1 of friendship.

Online match-making really seems to be it’s own topic. But online dating isn’t exactly a plus, is it? It seems to be a place people go when they are desperate. Not to mention it isn’t really romantic. So if it isn’t really compatible with courtship, it doesn’t pose that big of a problem.

Of course these reasons alone wouldn’t be enough to stand on to prove that online dating is wrong. It is plausible for a couple to meet online and fall in love and have a good relationship. But of course, it is equally as possible for two people to meet at the local bar, fall in love and have a good relationship. Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s ideal. The fact that God can use our less-than-best choices is evidence of His care and mercy more than an endorsement for online dating.

Even “Christian” online dating sites have a emotionally driven, humanly manipulated romance. Not to mention that someone online can be just about whoever they want to be. Like dating in general, online dating seems to be a less-than-best approach to relationships. If God created romance, than He certainly can create a beautiful rendition for you.

Also, a little note —  The Writer continually refers to dating as “traditional”.  Like modern medicine, dating is “conventional”, not traditional.  Courtship is traditional.  But honestly, just because a method is long established doesn’t mean it’s right or the best.  

The Writer– More League Awareness –  Not everyone has the same level of attractiveness, character, intelligence and wealth. Parents tend to see their own children through rose-colored glasses. Homeschool communities can be a bit like Lake Wobegon where all the children are above average. It is easy for “no guy to be good enough for daddy’s little princess”. The sad result of enforcing this mindset is a daughter who becomes a spinster. With traditional dating guys learn their league by finding out what girls say “yes” to that second date. Girls learn their league by seeing what kind of guys ask them out.”

 Response: This is a sad statement.

If there are leagues…then it would not be defined by attractiveness, character, intelligence and wealth. That is how the world defines worth. Traditional dating is an ego booster to the ones that fit in certain leagues. But for the rest of us that aren’t up to par in attractiveness, personality, intelligence or wealth it rates us as less.

In Christ, our attractiveness, character, intelligence and wealth have little bearing. We are all “out of His league” and yet He chose us to be His bride. He considered it worth dying for us He loves us and will never leave or forsake us. Thank the Lord His love is faithful and true. Marriage is an earthly picture of Christ’s marriage to us (the saints). Courtship is an accurate image of this heavenly relationship. Thankfully Jesus doesn’t abide by any “Bill Bob Bill” rules. 

Courtship Defended (part 1)

 




I recently read a post from Facebook that made a case that courtship is flawed and even detrimental. I enjoy discussions on such topics and it interested me that this man was a homeschool graduate, a Christian, a lover of writing and had read “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”. This was someone I could relate to! And yet, as I read, I realized we had little in common on this subject. By the end of the post I was actually appalled with the advice he was giving young people and equally dismayed that many Christians (even some friends of mine) were being swayed by his argument. I decided to write a “reply” to this well liked post. I realize that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but just as he wrote to influence, I also write to take a stand on this vital issue. 

(Because of his lengthy post I will be making “installments” of my equally as long defense)

The Flaws of Courtship

This writer (who I will be referring to as “the Writer” throughout this post) begins with the flaws in courtship. Firstly, he points out the fact that courtship is ill defined, while also pointing out that we should stick to the old custom of dating like Grandma and Grandpa.

I would like to begin by saying that courtship really is not a new movement, but a rediscovery of age old family-oriented marriage customs. Of course the name “courtship” may be more modern, (depending on your definition of modern) but the practice in and of itself is quite old.

Also, courtship really isn’t a formula. No one has come up with a formal definition. This may be because of the fact that each couple is bound to have unique circumstances with unique convictions.

The fact that courtship has flaws is quite undeniable. That is because it involves human beings. Of course there will be flaws! And yet this method has worked beautifully for many families and couples I know.

So what is courtship anyway?

The writer of this post seemed greatly disturbed by the fact that courtship seems to have no exact definition, as if this was a negative trait. He is right, there is no “exact” process. That really is the simplicity of courtship. Every family determines their own standards and rules of conduct. Courtship is a process based on biblical principles.

The Writer’s definition of courtship is as follows:

The man must ask the woman’s father’s permission before pursuing the woman romantically.

High accountability (chaperonsmonitored correspondence, etc.)

Rules about physical contact and purity.  (The specific rules vary…)

The purpose of the courtship is marriage

High relational intentionality  and intensity. 

High parental involvement.  Fathers typically hold a “permission and control” role, rather than the traditional “advice and blessing” role held by the father.



I would agree with most of what he says here. Other than the “intensity”, and his odd remark on the traditional “advise and blessing” role.

Courtship is all about pursuing a mate in security, with pure standards and honorable intentions in God’s way and in God’s timing.

Young people, like myself, who are committed to courtship are people who have decided they want more than what the World offers. We realize that romantic relationships must be approached objectively and with counsel because of it’s seriousness.

This writer also has one huge misconception about courtship. Over and over he points out the foolishness of the “intensity” of courtship and how ridiculous it is to go from being acquaintances and then suddenly to the betrothal-like method of courtship. His misconception is this: he has entirely ignored the friendship stage.

In the courtships I have seen, the first stage seems to be friendship. Before any inklings of matrimony there is an informal friendship on the part of the young man and woman. The young man and young woman will get to know each other as a brother and sister in Christ. Many basic, yet crucial things can be observed from this safe perspective.

Salvation

Christian maturity

Vision

How they treat authority

How the opposite gender is respected

Treatment of children

Character traits

Worldview

Friends (company)

Education

Family relationships

Financial habits

In the ideal situation, the families have already known each other, are like minded, and have spent time with each other before the young man pursues a relationship with the young woman.   But obviously, that is not the case for everyone. Thankfully, courtship is not a regulated formula and so fits the needs of varying situations. If the father does not know the young man well, he will need to find out enough about him to know if marriage is a possibility. Biblically, the father is the daughter’s protector, and in such a critical time in her life must be involved. Of course there are situations where there is no father. Yet even then, courtship has worked in such situations. So first comes the friendship stage.

The Writer was concerned by the caution and seriousness of courtship. Courtship is taken with caution and seriousness because courtship is stage 2, not the beginning. We must remember that hearts are vulnerable and sensitive and who we marry will affect us the rest of our lives. When hearts and relationships are valued it is obvious to use caution and a healthy dose of seriousness.

The Case for Traditional Dating

This writer often refers to his grandmother’s success in dating. There are dating success stories. This doesn’t mean it’s the ideal method. He mentions his grandmother’s advice called “The One Dating Rule”. Basically: Don’t go out with the same guy twice in a row.

He explains:

So if she went out for soda with Bob on Tuesday, she had to go to a movie with Bill on Thursday before she could go to the school dance with Bob on Saturday.

… The lack of exclusivity helped them guard their hearts and kept things from getting too serious too quickly. The lack of exclusivity kept the interactions fun and casual.”

He also points out that by dating over 20 men, his grandmother knew which “Bob” she wanted to marry when she was ready. How else would she have known?

The first red flag is the words “fun and casual”. Friendships are “fun and casual”.

What makes dating “casual”? If young people wanted to have a fun casual relationship then they would be okay doing things in groups, as friends. But this wouldn’t be dating.

By “casual”, the Writer in actuality is striving for the idea of “non-committal”. He is encouraging a method of relationships without commitment. A temporary thrill without any other motive. A playing at true intimacy, yet not the real thing. A recreational relationship. This is why courtship is offensive to the Writer. Because courtship encourages a serious, faithful and real relationship with motives beyond temporary pleasure.

A couple going into a dating relationship, believing it to “just be fun and casual” are deceived. When becoming “an item” or “pairing off” the couple has begun an emotional driven attachment. It’s inevitable; especially without the accountability of a group setting. Even with it being “fun and casual”, they will become attached informally. The dating environment initiates emotional intimacy, and encourages an emotional response. Even with only “casual and fun” intended. Is this wrong?

It is wrong when emotional intimacy is stirred up for someone you have no intention on marrying. The problem with non-committal-relationships (Dating) is that you are playing with vulnerable hearts. It might be “fun” for a while, but it is temporary. You will not marry every Bob and Bill. And when you “break up”, wounded hearts are the outcome. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so fun or casual. That’s because we aren’t meant to invest ourselves romantically in someone temporarily. Especially multiple people. Courtship protects that intimacy for the one you will one day commit  becoming “one flesh” with, for the rest of your life.

The Writer tries to make a case of a difference between dating and “going steady”. It sounds nice, but really they are just different shades of dating.

The Writer mentions that by sticking to the One Dating Rule (Bob, Bill, Bob), you are not in an exclusive relationship and therefore it must be easier to guard your heart. And yet, on Tuesday you are exclusively Bobs, on Thursday exclusively Bill’s, and on Saturday exclusively Bob’s again. I think it could be proved by the simple fact that if anyone had tried to go out for a soda with Bob and you, you would be quite miffed. Why? Because today you’re Bob’s girl. It’s just another shade of dating.

Really, this definition of dating seems to diminish the spectacular beauty of a God-planned love story, and exchange it for a “fun and casual” recreational one. The word courtship doesn’t even have to be used…it’s the methodology of what people have titled “Courtship”. It defines relationships, it maintains honor, it gives God preeminence, in involves security and selflessness.

The writers “specific challenges” that he identified with courtship were:


Identification (Finding that other person)

Interaction (Spending time with the other person)

Initiation (Starting the relationship)



He goes on to say that…

Each year I waited for courtship to start working and for my homeschool friends to start getting married. It never happened. Most of them are still single. Some have grown bitter and jaded.”

The first thing I’d like to mention is that singleness is not a curse. It is a gift that God has given to us for a season. If marriage is our life’s goal then of course it will become discouraging if years pass and we don’t “achieve” marriage. Marriage is also a gift. There is so much more to life than just the gift of marriage. There is so much to live for, and learn. God’s timing is best. When we give Him our love-life to orchestrate we can rest in the fact that He knows best and take this time to not only prepare for marriage but to fulfill His present plans for us.

Many of my friends wanted to marry early, but when the Lord had them wait, later on they were so grateful. They had personal spiritual battles yet to go through, lessons to learn, families to support. The Lord knows what He is doing! In reality, this is a trust issue, not a question of courtship’s method.

Identification: God has no problem showing you the identity of your future mate. Of course the Lord reveals “the one” to us in individual unique ways, since each one of us have unique and individual circumstances.

But, how does the Lord show us anything in our lives? He shows us through prayer, our authorities and His word. And certainly with something so imperative as our life’s mate He won’t leave us in the dark.

We serve Jesus. The Almighty Creator of the universe. Why do we fear that He can’t possibly orchestrate our love life for us? We don’t have to sit on the side lines, passively yawning our single years away. We are to be industrious, knowledgeable, prayer warriors…that doesn’t magically happen when we walk down the aisle. That is why we pursue these things now in our singleness. If we let Him choose, we will receive the best. By pursuing Bob on Tuesday, Bill on Thursday and Bob on Saturday, we leave God out of the equation.

Interaction: I’m unsure exactly why the Writer sees this as a challenge. I have seen over a handful of courtships. Yes, there are awkward moments. Are there not in dating? Maybe not. But if awkwardness is a cost of a pure relationship, then it is a small cost. Seeing a courting couple interact has only been a sweet thing to behold. The young people I know have only positive things to say when it comes to having their parents involved in their courtship.

Initiation: The Writer mentions that people committed to courtship wait until they are ready to get married before initiating a relationship.

Readiness can become a carrot on a stick, an ideal that can never be achieved.”

In a sense he is right. Of course we will never be perfectly ready. There will always be room to learn and grow. But the idea is to only pursue a relationship in the Lord’s timing. He knows when we are ready. If we believe we should move forward then we simply pray for that green light. He cares, He will let us know.  

To be continued….