Luke 8:54

"And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid arise." Luke 8:54

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Courtship Defended Part I

Spiritual Lessons 

Courtship Defended 

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.

Christian maturity
How they treat authority
How the opposite gender is respected
Treatment of children
Character traits
Friends (company)
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'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....

Next Post:  The Writer discusses the" Advantages of Traditional Dating" 
(ie: More League awareness, More Matchmaking, More Fun, More Marriage, More Interaction, Less Temptation and Less Heartbreak.)

For Part II click here.

1 comment:

  1. So proud of you for the thought you have given this and how you are responding. Extremely interesting and you make some very good points. This is not a simple issue by any means, and I admire you for tackling such a profound and complex subject! Looking forward to Part 2!