Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Response to Thomas Sumstattd Article on Courtship

Lately a lot of talk has been circulating among my Christian friends about an article entitled, "Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed."  Doug Wilson has posted his always-poignant response, "Why Courtship is Fundamentally Awed." Read them both before you read my response.

SO MUCH of this article is based on the author's personal experience. My experience is the opposite. My husband and I were raised in public school and are products of the cultural failings of the dating system of the 70s and 80s. We were burned; yet God in His grace brought us together and we have been married 30 years. We now have five children, and the biblical courtship model has been very helpful to us in raising them.

We also started a Christian ministry offering families opportunities to mix and mingle with other like-minded families so our young people would be exposed to a healthy community of prospective future marriage partners.  We did not isolate our children from their peers, but we did set up an atmosphere of selectivity which allowed for a good-quality peer environment with a parental presence. This article woefully ignores the social environment that should be provided for by families in their home.

I'm sorry to hear of so many fathers being rude to those suitors. That should not be. Fathers should allow these potential-suitor young men to come hang out with the family in low-pressure situations (dinner, coffee, music-making, games, etc.) where siblings of all ages are allowed into the circle of fellowship. These young men ought to be allowed the same polite company as anyone else. They are younger brothers and disciples for the fathers in the long haul, regardless of their future marriage potential with their daughters. But alas, this again has not been our practice, nor have we observed others acting in this way. (Except perhaps in one case :P.)

Any system has its flaws because mankind is flawed. We have married off our three eldest children and our fourth is now in a courtship. We have made mistakes with each courtship, learned from our mistakes, and honed our skills with each one. We have acted on a case-by-case basis, keeping in mind the age of the children. An 18yo daughter is treated slightly differently from a 21yo daughter. An 18yo suitor likewise would be treated differently than a 24yo. We take them where they are and go from there, allowing various levels of autonomy based on their readiness and spiritual condition. I still think this is a more biblical model than dating, however way you define it.

My parents dated in the 40s and married in 1950. They did not have this no-exclusivity rule imposed on them, so it was not universal in those days, at this article seems to suggest.  My mother did not listen to her mother's warnings, and her father said nothing in criticism until after the marriage, which by then was too late. My parents' marriage was dysfunctional from the beginning until my father's death two years ago.

If you build your case and doctrine on personal experience alone, you won't be able to stand very long on such a sandy foundation. Courtship is not fundamentally flawed, it is biblical. The devil is in the details. Yes, some folks can go overboard with the principles and be unbalanced. That does not mean one should throw out the baby with the bathwater. I'm glad the suitors who came to ask permission to court our daughters did not take offense at the father's involvement. The key is the attitude and behavior of the father, who in every case is human. Cut the father some slack. He's still trying to figure this out too.

This article is disrespectful and presumptuous regarding the father's motives--an attitude you will NOT find supported by scripture!

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