I use the My Fathers World curriculum for home school, and since I finished my Pride and Prejudice reading assignment my latest writing assignment is an essay explaining my personal beliefs on dating/courtship and marriage. Since this is a topic I’ve been interested in blogging about anyway, I thought I might as well just write it to you all!
These are the questions I am supposed to answer in my essay:
- What are your personal beliefs about dating/courtship and marriage?
- What are the character traits you consider important in a spouse?
- How will you “find” a spouse?
- How will you know he is the one for you?
- What role will your parents have in this?
Great questions aren’t they? I’ve wanted to fall in love, get married, and have a brood of children since, well, as long as I can remember. (I also wondered how people found anything besides the faces of others attractive till I was probably thirteen, so it was in no way, uh, inappropriate?) Consequently I’ve had a lot of thinking to do on the subject, and I’ve done my own research and “fact collecting” (like a good ISTJ 😂) about Bible-honoring romantic relationships and also about myself, and the kind of person who I want to marry some day.
Let’s tackle the first question, and arguably the most controversy-inducing question of them all. I’ve looked into courtship and dating and looked at the pros and cons of each. When I was around 14 the Duggar girls were first shown entering romantic relationships through this process called courting which, at that time, I had probably only heard mentioned in Victorian books. It seemed perfect. And yet watching it made me cringe. Everything about the whole process was awkward with a good many sweet moments thrown in, but mostly awkward. Ben Seewald and Derick Dillard approached Mr and Mrs Duggar to ask to “enter an official courtship” *shudder* with their daughters and just as well could have been asking to marry Jessa and Jill by how grave and nerve-wracking it was. I’m not trying to disrespect the Duggar family in any way, this is just the best example I can give of a flawed Christian courtship (even though it ended well).
Here’s my step by step breakdown of modern Christian courtship:
Step 1. Boy and girl meet, maybe on several occasions, and there’s some attraction on at least one part.
Step 2. Boy asks mother and father of girl if he has permission to enter a courtship with their daughter (aka: get to know her better with the end result being their marriage).
Step 3. If mom and dad permit it, the girl is then asked if she would like to enter a courtship with boy. If she complies, they begin an official courtship which is basically a betrothal.
Step 4. The rest of courtship is them getting to know each other before getting married, doing “real life” things together, not this floofy “fun” that less spiritual people speak of (sorry, I have to be a tad sarcastic).
Do you see any problems with this description above? It took me awhile but I finally figured it out. THE COMMITMENT AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS TYPE OF RELATIONSHIP IS EQUIVALENT TO AN ENGAGEMENT. Do you see anything wrong with that? Let me explain myself: if you have just “come of age”, and never had any romantic relationships before, do you even know, truly, what you want in a spouse? I haven’t even had a full conversation with a peer of the opposite sex (besides cousins) since I was thirteen. What if you get several months into a courtship and find that, hey, he/she isn’t really what I want in a lifelong spouse? Breaking it off, from my research, has traumatized some similarly to the breaking off of an engagement, and left both participants in a state of discouragement and heartbreak. Another problem with this system is that Godly young men are left feeling worthless as fathers and mothers deny them the opportunity of getting to know their daughters better (because nobody is good enough for their princesses), and Godly young women start doubting themselves, wondering if they’re not good enough get any romantic inquiries.
This is why (along with a few other reasons) my family has decided we are not going the traditional courtship route once we kids are old enough. Does this mean we must resort to the worldly, sometimes fornication-included dating? Absolutely NOT!
Here are the three steps I’ve outlined, between “just friends” and “man and wife”, in a God-glorifying dating relationship:
Step 1) Dating: a time to determine through several dates if there’s any future with, more than likely, a couple different guys/girls. Casual, no set in stone commitments. Can be discontinued without huge emotional trauma or violently hurt feelings. Friendship status.
Step 2) “Going steady”: a time when you’ve dated one guy/girl consistently and have determined that you could have a future together. Not engaged, but marriage is definitely possible. Breaking it might be a bigger deal than just after the above friend type dates, although not devastating. Boyfriend and girlfriend status.
Step 3) Engaged: a time to plan for your wedding and broaden your relationship. Full faithfulness required.
Now, since this is so long already, I’m going to break it into at least two parts. Be sure to check back soon for the answers to the rest of the questions, and also dating restrictions and requirements I’ve written out for myself using Gods Word and what wisdom and discernment He has graciously granted me.
What do my readers think about the Dating -vs- Courtship controversy? Leave a (nice and respectful if you please) comment!