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.
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.
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 lust. Courtship 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.