Luke 8:54

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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Courtship Defended Part II

Spiritual Lessons 

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 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. 

Next Post:

The issues of "Group settings", Is courtship biblical?, Arranged marriages and Is courtship delaying marriage?. 

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