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The 9 Real Reasons I Am Opposed To Courtship

June 7, 2014

So, I was tempted to use a lot of big words and impressive phrases to introduce this next point.  But, it’s really a simple distinction in viewpoint.

Why do I oppose the modern construct of the ancient methods of courtship?

I don’t believe it is within my power to dictate to my sons whom they should marry much less upon whom they should set their affections.

Why?

This is where it gets long.  My apologies in advance.

Isaac and Dillon are separate and distinct human beings who will live a journey of discovery, success, failure, hopes, disappointments, in order to, ultimately, develop faith in God both owned and handled from every angle with their own hands.

They cannot  and should not live by my faith or blindly join in my conviction.   Should those two points align I will count myself incalculably blessed.

Would my perspective be different if I had girls?  Only if I believe that girls are weak, foolish, and incapable of making life decisions without my approval.

And I don’t.  Believe that, you see.

In regards to my progeny, Brian and I have been given the opportunity to provide for needs when these children are too young, too impoverished, and too weak to care for themselves.  It is our responsibility to educate them to the point they can stand firmly upon truth and live.  Just live.  To mature, to provide for themselves, to begin to care for others: This is our purpose as parents.

If that does not occur I am either not done parenting or I have failed as a parent.

Are you hearing me?  Oh, that it could be the vision and goal of each parent to eventually be found with genetically similar peers capable of making good decisions and providing for their own self-care.

How does relate to courtship?  I thought you’d never ask.

We spend way too much time emphasizing romantic and long-term relationships to our kids.   We look for besties and life-long companions instead of holding lightly to each other and thanking God for the seasons of fullness and the seasons of quiet.

Wilderness and harvest have places of purpose and beauty in the life of the individual.

If you have read this far, I congratulate you.  These are my observations, my opinions, and I know there are plenty of people who have found great success, meaning, while experiencing a depth of conviction regarding courtship which I have not.

I encourage you to examine your perspective and see if any of these observations relate to you.  I don’t assume all courtship advocates find themselves solidly fulfilling all of my objections and I know there are those who have navigated this issue with grace and dignity.  And to those folks, I applaud you.

For those who are struggling with the concepts of legalism and rigidity which I observed?  Be convinced that God’s grace is enough to guide and lead you to freedom and joy as you walk through these issues with your own children.

I have recognized, even with the best intentions, modern application of courtship often experiences a de-evolution into the following areas of weakness:

1. Excessive pressure on male/female peer relationships

There is often limited or no gentle opposite sex friendship in this constricted, controlled world.  There must be always be purpose or end-game.  All this pressure develops an urgency, which effectively categorizes young people into “marriageable” and “non-marriageable” based on casual acquaintanceship rather than the development of a keen understanding of the other person. This is a utilitarian and ultimately selfish viewpoint as peers are accepted or discarded upon whether or not they fit the criteria of spouse, life-partner.

2.  Reactionary in the negative toward their current Western society

I have never spoken to an advocate of courtship who didn’t directly address this choice as a reasonable alternative to the evils and wickedness of immorality within the world.  Those who live as a reaction to the world instead of a response to God’s Word will invariably find themselves without much of a platform in the event their paradigm changes or they find themselves within a society that doesn’t reflect the issues to which they have found themselves so vehemently opposed.

3. Selective application of Biblical concepts.

While there are definitely plenty of Scriptures to define what is a Godly marriage, there is very little said about the selection and “application” process of finding a spouse in the Commandments.  There are ancient traditions wherein the fathers of the bride and groom come to an arrangement regarding a marriage.  Samson told his dad to get him that one girl in Timnah, for example.  There is a concise list of the commandments indicated in Torah, for those who care about such things, but nothing that indicates, in that portion of scripture, that it is indeed the responsibility of the parent to choose or deny the spouse chosen by their children.  To bless or withhold blessing?  Sure, I can find a precedent for that, but not the authority to deny.

Rebekah chose to go, Jacob worked for Rachel (despite her father’s cunning machinations), Michal loved David and Saul thought that was a great idea, until he went all crazy-pants.

Point? Either you are following the ancient traditions or you aren’t.  Don’t be selective and tell me it is Biblical.

4.  Over-emphasis on the sexuality of boy/girl friendships and interactions

If all the hugs are considered foreplay and every casual holding of hands a precursor to lustful thoughts then we are living in a scary, scary world.  This is also part of my argument against the extreme modesty movement telling us knees and elbows are the epitome of hotness, our girls are mini-seductresses, and our boys are wild, hormone driven, beasts of instinct and testosterone.  It’s demeaning to both parties and all too often creates the very beastie it was intended to keep at bay.

5. Often imposed by parents who did not live chastely and pure as young people themselves. 

So, this hits kinda close to home.  I was, um, fairly stupid.  I wasn’t as pure as the driven snow when I met and married my husband.   He was more chaste than I but we still carried plenty of individual regrets.   It has been our privilege to share God’s redemptive grace and transforming power in our lives with the boys.  How He was faithful when we were foolish and has given us the humility to walk carefully today.  Of course I want my kids to enter into the beauty of eros love with all their heart pieces intact.  But, I also want them to know that the brokenness of life is redeemable by our gracious Creator.

6. Steals the innocence and joy of the discovery of young love and romanticism by replacing it with “life decision” caliber considerations based on childish feelings.

I think this one stands on its own, but just for the sake of argument…  I have had plenty of crushes.  One on my best friend’s dad at a particularly silly point in high school and, God forbid, I would have been led to believe that all my life decisions, in fact probably the second most important decision in life, following salvation, would be based on those childish feelings.  Practicing what it is to behave with decorum and self-respect when your emotions are engaged is a big accomplishment for adults, can we just give the kids a bit of a break? Maybe if we lived with more restraint and decorum ourselves in emotionally volatile moments we’d have more credibility with them?

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7. Creates a false sense of security. “If I do all the Right Things, I will have a good, strong, beautiful marriage and life.”

Are you feeling me? Given the number of divorces between Christian couples within my own circle of life over the past 5 years?  I would say “doing the Right Things” isn’t as much a guarantee of success as good, old-fashioned, humility and huge doses of repentance, grace and hope.

8. A false gender distinction on the roles, responsibilities, and consequences of the persons involved.

As the parent of young men, I am consistently inundated by all manner of Christian literature dictating to me that the XY chromosomes are the leader, the initiator, the provider, and, ultimately, the culprit if things go badly. While the girls are the victims, the weaker sex, the prey, and the follower.

Frankly?  I’ve seen some pretty scary girls chase after my boys.  Not to mention the luggage-tanned cougar giving my 15 year old the once over last year.  Eww.

I choose to encourage my kids to find young women who are capable of standing on their own convictions, defining their own parameters, and who are pursuing their own dreams and ideals.  And, fundamentally, reminding them it takes “two to tango”, helps them to own their own behavior without taking on someone else’s.

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9. Assumes parental dictate trumps the individual choices of a fellow adult.

This is, by far, my biggest argument against the modern patriarchal and courtship type movement.   I don’t really think my boys will be great husbands at 18, 19, 20 although they could surprise me.  I’m not opposed to young marriage. We all know there are worse things than being young and stupid and broke and married.  But I want them to know who THEY are before they are required to become the other half of a marriage, a parent, a provider of love, counsel, and companionship.

So, all that to say, it is likely they will be adults when they find Miss. Right.

Adults.

As such, they will stand shoulder to shoulder with me before the Lord and are responsible for their own decisions and choices.

Why in the world would either my husband or myself insinuate ourselves into the role of  “giving permission” for the relational judgments of adult children? 

Hopefully, by then, they will be capable of making these choices intelligently, with integrity, and we will have cultivated a relationship with them that welcomes them to discuss their heart issues with us.  Hopefully, we will have proven ourselves as trustworthy counsel and the older-wiser brother/sister that we will be at that time.

But all those thing started long ago, when they were small and still looking for bugs and lizards.  When we looked for ways to encourage the people around us and little boys helped old ladies with their grocery carts, teens volunteering in the 4 year olds classroom, and those times it doesn’t occur to them NOT to help carry bags and open doors.

Because life isn’t solely about whom they will marry, how they are going to function in marriage, or the romantic nature of relationships.  Life is about who we are when we are alone and before God.  Life is about personal character, integrity, and the value and grace of being engaged in the lives of people around us.

I can’t afford to spend a giant chunk of life on the single issue of marriage and it’s development when we are so busy developing, within ourselves and our family, the vision of becoming individuals dedicated to following God and honoring His creation wherever we find ourselves.

And, frankly, the kind of husbands they will become has far more to do with how my husband and I love each other than any conversation or external dictate we could ever have.

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  • Vickie

    Very good post. I watch the Duggars and have read so much about courtship lately. While I get what they are trying to do I have had many of the same feelings that you mention. I have a 20 year old son & a 15 year old daughter & I’m glad that they ask our advice on important matters who they will marry is their decision. I almost feel if they would be very unsure that that’s perhaps not the right person for them.

  • Jason75

    Thank you Heidi.