hot homeschooler’s topic

I wasn’t originally going to post this, but it appears that many are still interested in the subject.   I originally wrote this because I am applying to be a mentor in a conservative youth mime/drama troupe (they are, at this time, under an umbrella that upholds courtship as the only way to go), and they require a statement on courtship versus dating.  So, without further ado, I present my statement/letter.

When I was younger (in high school, early college years), my parents did not want me to date.  Rather, they chose to embrace the idea of courtship, which they never got a chance to use very well, because no one legitimately expressed interest in me.  I have read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Waiting for Her Isaac, Boy Meets Girl,  When God Writes Your Love Story, and countless other books on courtship.  I am now on my late twenties, have lived on my own, have gone out on dates, and have come to realize that courtship is not for everyone.
“Courtship” is the general process whereby a man pursues a woman.  Method is not important, as a man who is “dating” a woman could easily say “I am courting _______.”  Back before women gained more independence (early 20th century and before), courtship was used in a broad and specific sense because a man would court a girl at home under the supervision of parents, and “dating” had not yet arrived on the scene.
The term “courtship” has been more recently associated (mostly in the home school circles) with an alternative to “dating”  as a throwback to the old-fashioned way of doing things, per se.  Usually, when a guy is interested in a girl, he would speak to her father.  If the father approved, then the guy would be given permission to visit the girl at home, in the company of her family.  Restrictions vary from family to family, but the main goal is to “court” with the ultimate intention/goal of marriage, under the strict guidance of the parents, as opposed to “dating”, which does not usually involve the parents as much, and does not often have the goal of marriage.
Courtship (from hereon as defined in the second paragraph), is very often  purported  to be the “biblical alternative” to dating, implying that dating is not biblical, but that idea has been sorely misconstrued.  First, courtship is found nowhere in the Bible.  Anyone who knows the Scriptures well knows that couples were married by betrothal.  Secondly, it is not guaranteed that every courtship will end in marriage.  The purpose of courtship is to seriously consider the possibility of marriage; to guarantee a marriage would be to utilize the method of betrothal.
Dating (and here I am referring to a case in which a girl gets asked out by a guy, without going through her father)  has a different approach  than courtship, but, for the most part, serves the same purpose.  Most people in their twenties and beyond who are looking for a serious relationship leading to marriage will use dating as their approach.  And again, as with courtship, it is not guaranteed to end in marriage.
Based on the above, I do not believe courtship is superior to or more biblical than dating.  They both serve the same purpose, and marriage cannot be guaranteed by either one.  For the Christian who wants to please God, s/he will date or court for God’s glory, and will seek wisdom no matter which method they choose to use.  To say that courtship is more biblical than dating is a fallacy.
I do not recommend courtship as the only way to go for everyone.   For the girl or guy who is still in high school, still living at home, I certainly do not recommend one-on-one dating.  For the woman who has established a singular identity, no longer living at home with her parents, dating would be more convenient.  In both scenarios, however,  it would be remiss not to seek wise counsel, and in some instances, I would advise against either approach, because a person must have his/her life right before God before pursuing a relationship with anyone.  In short, I have a tendency to use pragmatism combined with the counsel of God’s word.
In the case of AIM/CIA, I would do nothing to usurp the ultimate standards put in place by those in authority.  To do so is disrespect, and that would never be my intention; however, if someone were to ask me if dating were wrong, I would simply have to reply with a “no.”   There is nothing inherently wrong with dating, and there is nothing wrong with courtship.  Each can be used to the glory of God.
When I was younger (in high school, early college years), my parents did not want me to date.  Rather, they chose to embrace the idea of courtship, which they never got a chance to use very well, because no one legitimately expressed interest in me.  I have read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Waiting for Her Isaac, Boy Meets Girl,  When God Writes Your Love Story, and countless other books on courtship.  I am now on my late twenties, have lived on my own, have gone out on dates, and have come to realize that courtship is not for everyone.

“Courtship” is the general process whereby a man pursues a woman.  Method is not important, as a man who is “dating” a woman could easily say “I am courting _______.”  Back before women gained more independence (early 20th century and before), courtship was used in a broad and specific sense because a man would court a girl at home under the supervision of parents, and “dating” had not yet arrived on the scene.

The term “courtship” has been more recently associated (mostly in the home school circles) with an alternative to “dating”  as a throwback to the old-fashioned way of doing things, per se.  Usually, when a guy is interested in a girl, he would speak to her father.  If the father approved, then the guy would be given permission to visit the girl at home, in the company of her family.  Restrictions vary from family to family, but the main goal is to “court” with the ultimate intention/goal of marriage, under the strict guidance of the parents, as opposed to “dating”, which does not usually involve the parents as much, and does not often have the goal of marriage.

Courtship (from hereon as defined in the second paragraph), is very often  purported  to be the “biblical alternative” to dating, implying that dating is not biblical, but that idea has been sorely misconstrued.  First, courtship is found nowhere in the Bible.  Anyone who knows the Scriptures well knows that couples were married by betrothal.  Secondly, it is not guaranteed that every courtship will end in marriage.  The purpose of courtship is to seriously consider the possibility of marriage; to guarantee a marriage would be to utilize the method of betrothal.

Dating (and here I am referring to a case in which a girl gets asked out by a guy, without going through her father)  has a different approach  than courtship, but, for the most part, serves the same purpose.  Most people in their twenties and beyond who are looking for a serious relationship leading to marriage will use dating as their approach.  And again, as with courtship, it is not guaranteed to end in marriage.

Based on the above, I do not believe courtship is superior to or more biblical than dating.  They both serve the same purpose, and marriage cannot be guaranteed by either one.  For the Christian who wants to please God, s/he will date or court for God’s glory, and will seek wisdom no matter which method they choose to use.  To say that courtship is more biblical than dating is a fallacy.

I do not recommend courtship as the only way to go for everyone.   For the girl or guy who is still in high school, still living at home, I certainly do not recommend one-on-one dating.  For the woman who has established a singular identity, no longer living at home with her parents, dating would be more convenient.  In both scenarios, however,  it would be remiss not to seek wise counsel, and in some instances, I would advise against either approach, because a person must have his/her life right before God before pursuing a relationship with anyone.  In short, I have a tendency to use pragmatism combined with the counsel of God’s word.

In the case of AIM/CIA, I would do nothing to usurp the ultimate standards put in place by those in authority.  To do so is disrespect, and that would never be my intention; however, if someone were to ask me if dating were wrong, I would simply have to reply with a “no.”   There is nothing inherently wrong with dating, and there is nothing wrong with courtship.  Each can be used to the glory of God.

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12 thoughts on “hot homeschooler’s topic

  1. Matt R. says:

    As a former homeschooler,

    I agree

    The End

  2. Dionne C says:

    Perfectly put. I agree ka jillion percent!

  3. Steve says:

    Nice blog entry.

    You might be interested in my blog entry where I critique Josh Harris’s book:

    http://www.ikdg.wordpress.com
    “I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?”

    I believe the book has both. Unfortunately Josh Harris doesn’t share the problems his approach has caused over the years including at the church he is now Sr. Pastor.

    Trying to have a “one size fits all” approach despite differences in ages etc. can cause problems. What might be appropriate for teenagers isn’t appropriate for those singles in their 20’s and older.

    The “kissing dating goodbye” mentality seems to teach people to not be open to relationships IMO.

    Good post again.

  4. Steve says:

    Did my post go through?

    • Sabrina says:

      @steve: yes, it did, but because you wrote in a url, it got sent to my spam box for approval. obviously, i approved it. 🙂

  5. Caroline says:

    I think this is a very sagacious and practical answer to the question of “Courtship v. dating.” I think we are so concerned with finding a way to avoid getting hurt or “choosing the wrong person,” that we have become convinced that there is a fail-safe way to find a husband/wife. The case is, as we all know, that we simply cannot. We will get hurt, whether we are courted or on a date, whether our parents are standing two inches from our face at the front door when a guy walks you up, or whether they never even meet the guy till you’ve known him for months.

    Fact is, we take risks on both fronts, and neither give us a guarantee. When I read “Boy meets Girl,” I came away with the conviction that if I just followed his checklists and suggestions, somehow, whatever relationship I pursued would blossom into a Godly marriage without fail. I don’t know if anyone else got that impression, but it was a dangerous thing to believe. Several years later, I have since recovered from that notion, and now think, like you, that you must know yourself and be secure in your identity in God before you ever attempt to pull another human being into the mix. Any kind of relationship is a risk, even one where God is a central factor.

    Anyway, good post.
    I hope you get the mentor position!

  6. steve240 says:

    Caroline

    Good points you make. It always amazed me that during the “kissing dating goodbye fad” so many people assumed that they should follow what worked for Josh Harris despite being in different circumstances. What worked and was needed at the time for him isn’t necessarily what others should do all the time.

    I think people look for a patter because it is easier.

    Josh Harris married pretty young and thus I am sure he has a hard time relating or understanding older singles and their position. In some ways his book should be titled “I Postponed Dating” or “Temporarily Stopped Dating.”

    Unfortunately those that promote courtship are rarely if ever willing to admit the problems of that approach while mentioning all the problems that can occur with dating.

  7. Caroline says:

    @Steve240:

    Very true — his story is only one example and so many people take it as gospel truth. I appreciated what Sabrina mentioned in that courtship, nor dating, is biblical. It simply comes down to what works for a person. Out of curiosity last night, I dug out “Boy Meets Girl” (boy, was it dusty) and reread portions of it. For the most part, years later, it now strikes me as extreme and not terribly practical. I’ll admit, parts of it had a point, but mostly…well…I tried to wipe the horrified look on my face off. I’m nearly 25 years old…I don’t think it’s my father’s place to be the mediator between me and a potential “suitor.” In fact, I think it would incredibly weird for all parties involved.

    While courting may make some sense when you are young (read: 14 to 18 or so), once you get past puberty, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. At least not the whole shebang of courtship — by all means, at all ages, use the wisdom, see the person as a whole, spend time with their family and they with yours, etc. But really…the rest of it, I could do without.

  8. Steve240 says:

    Caroline

    Good points. I have seen a few groups where they impose a group dating rule where they expect all singles to do things in groups. This is expected despite the age of singles. My thought was that this requirement is more appropriate for teenagers vs. older single adults. It is baffling that pastors can think that the what might be correct for one age group is appropriate for all ages.

    Carolyn McCulley wrote a book titled something along the lines of Have I Kissed Marriage Goodbye. In the introduction, she talks about a group of single women that embraced the “kissing dating goodbye” philosophy. Then seven years later (when she published the book) she indicates that most of these women are still not married. The fact that she says “most” is quite puzzling.

    I looked in her book to see if she even makes a connection between the two (kissing dating goodbye leading to kissing marriage goodbye). I didn’t see her even mention that possibility.

    Sometimes the environment that “kissing dating goodbye” produces an environment where the singles become almost afraid of each other. Josh Harris on a tape even acknowledged this problem at his own church (but doesn’t share this on his website). I wonder if that type of environment in Carolyn McCulley’s Church lead to her plight?

    One thought I have on courtship and the requirement to do things in groups is that it is reactionary. Of course one needs to make sure they don’t err on the opposite extreme but need to find a balance.

  9. Sabrina says:

    @steve:

    i’ve actually read carolyn mcculley’s book, and had some trouble accepting the basis for it. the whole book is based on the proverbs 31 woman who does her husband good “ALL the days of her life.” in other words, a woman is to live with the expectation that she will one day be married, when that is not even guaranteed. i think that is a shaky foundation if the author is just basing it on the hebrew, and, i’m not even sure that the proverbs 31 woman is meant to be literal; that is, it might even be a culmination of the personification of the wisdom described throughout the book of proverbs, wherein wisdom is depicted as a woman.

    @caroline:
    i was still young and impressionable when i read both of harris’s books, and felt exactly the same way as you did after i read it.

  10. Steve240 says:

    One thing that I find strange about how courtship is practiced in some circles is that it almost like putting the cart before the horse as one says. In some circles, the boy before being able to get to spend much (if any) time with the girl has to meet with and convince the father that he is a good match and “worthy” to court the father’s daughter This usually requires spending significant time with the girl’s father before the boy is allowed to “court” the daughter

    This procedure seems a little backwards or maybe a Catch-22. Until you get to know the girl to some degree, it is hard to have the energy to spend the time to convince the dad you are suitable for courting his daughter. Maybe if you have gotten to know the girl in the church you both attend something like this might work.

    Also, what happens if you devote all this time to convincing the dad to let you court his daughter but then find out fairly soon when courting she isn’t a good match? One has a lot of time invested. How much time is there available to repeat this till you find a good match?

    It all just seems so unworkable.

    @Sabrina

    Josh Harris endorsed and wrote the forward to Carolyn McCulley’s book. With that being the case it was highly likely she would be questioning or pointing out the negative effects that “kissing dating goodbye” had even if she did see these.

    • Sabrina says:

      Hey people,

      I think this subject has been thoroughly exhausted on my blog. If you have any further comments, feel free to email me or see Steve’s blog above. Thx.

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