Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed

Lonely Woman on a Bench - Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed

Author’s Note: This blog post has been expanded and clarified in my book Courtship in Crisis.

I grew up as a member of the homeschool community back when we were hiding from the cops and getting our textbooks from public school dumpsters.  When I was a teenager, my friends started reading this new book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. For months we could talk of little else. After reading it myself, I grew into as big an opponent of dating as you could find. Dating was evil and Courtship, whatever it was, was godly, good and Biblical.

My grandparents would often ask why I wasn’t dating in high school. I explained what courtship was and quoted Joshua Harris, chapter and verse. Their response surprised me.

“I don’t think courtship is a smart idea,” my grandfather said.

“How can you tell who you want to marry if you aren’t going out on dates?” my grandmother wondered every time the topic came up. I tried to convince them but to no avail. They both obstinately held to the position that courtship was a foolish idea.

Well, what did they know? They were public schooled. I ignored their advice on relationships, preferring to listen to the young people around me who were passionate advocates of courtship.

As I grew older, I started to speak at homeschool conferences and events. I talked with homeschool parents, students and alumni all over the country and started to see some challenges with making courtship work.

Some of the specific challenges I identified were:

  • Identification (Finding that other person)
  • Interaction (Spending time with the other person)
  • Initiation (Starting the relationship)

So I founded PracticalCourtship.com. Its purpose: to instigate a national conversation about how to make courtship more practical. Visits and comments poured in from all over the country about how to make courtship work and why it did not work.

Each year I waited for courtship to start working and for my homeschool friends to start getting married. It never happened. Most of them are still single. Some have grown bitter and jaded. Then couples who did get married through courtship started getting divorced. I’m talking the kind of couples who first kissed at their wedding were filing for divorce.

This was not the deal!

The deal was that if we put up with the rules and awkwardness of courtship now we could avoid the pain of divorce later.  The whole point of courtship was to have a happy marriage, not a high divorce rate.

So I humbled myself and took my grandmother out for dinner to hear why she thought courtship was a bad idea all those years ago. She had predicted the failure of courtship back in the 90s and I wanted to understand how and why.

Now let me define what I mean by “courtship”.

So what is courtship anyway?

After 20 years there still is no general consensus as to what courtship is. But here are the elements most conservative communities have in common:

  • The man must ask the woman’s father’s permission before pursuing the woman romantically.
  • High accountability (chaperones, monitored correspondence, etc).
  • Rules about physical contact and purity. (The specific rules vary from community to community).
  • The purpose of the courtship is marriage
  • High relational intentionality and intensity
  • High parental involvement. Fathers typically hold a “permission and control” role rather than the traditional “advice and blessing” role held by their fathers.

The Case for Traditional Dating

My grandmother grew up in a marginally Christian community. People went to church on Sunday, but that was the extent of their religious activity. They were not the Bible-reading, small-grouping, mission-tripping Christian young people common in evangelical churches today.

And yet her community of friends all got married and then stayed married for decades and decades. So what on earth were they doing that worked so well? Over dinner, my grandmother shared her story about what dating was like back in the 30s and 40s.

When my grandmother dated in middle school (yes, middle school) her parents had one primary rule for her.

The Primary Dating Rule: Don’t go out with the same guy twice in a row.

So if she went out for soda with Bob on Tuesday, she had to go to a movie with Bill on Thursday before she could go to the school dance with Bob on Saturday.

That sounded crazy to me. So, I asked her the rationale behind it. She explained that the lack of exclusivity helped them guard their hearts and kept things from getting too serious too quickly. The lack of exclusivity kept the interactions fun and casual. “The guys wouldn’t even want to kiss you!” She said.

The lack of exclusivity helped the girls guard their hearts and kept the boys from feeling entitled to the girl. How could a boy have a claim to her time, heart or body if she was going out with someone else later that week?

She went on to explain that by the time she graduated from high school, she had gone out on dates with over 20 different guys. This meant that by the time she was 17 years old she knew which Bob she wanted to marry. They got married and stayed married till my grandfather passed away half a century later.

“If I had only gone out with 3 or 4 guys I wouldn’t have known what I wanted in a husband,” she said.

It is not that her parents were uninvolved; it is that they played an advisory role, particularly as she entered high school and they relaxed the rules about not going steady.

The Difference Between “Dating” and “Going Steady”

She went on to explain that there used to be a linguistic differentiation between “dating” and “going steady”. “Going steady” meant you were going out with the same person multiple times in a row. It often had symbols like the girl wearing the guy’s letter jacket. This telegraphed to everyone at school that she was “off the market” and that she had a “steady beau”.

It seems that my great grandparents’ rule forbidding my grandmother from going out with the same guy twice in a row was a common rule in those days.

The Greatest Generation was encouraged to date and discouraged from going steady while in middle school.

This is different from my generation, which is encouraged to “wait until you are ready to get married” before pursuing a romantic relationship. This advice, when combined with the fact that “the purpose of courtship is marriage”, makes asking a girl out for dinner the emotional equivalent of asking for her hand in marriage.

I am not convinced that anyone is ever truly ready to get married. Readiness can become a carrot on a stick, an ideal that can never be achieved. Marriage will always be a bit like jumping into a pool of cold water. A humble realization that you are not ready and in need of God’s help may be the more healthy way to start a marriage.

As the decades moved on, our language and behavior changed. We stopped using the phrase “going steady” and changed “dating” to mean “going steady”. For example, we would now say “John and Sarah have been dating for 3 months.” when the Greatest Generation would have said “John and Sarah have been going steady for 3 months.”

We then started using new pejoratives like “dating around” and “playing the field” to describe what used to just be called “dating”. Each decade added more exclusivity, intensity, and commitment to dating and saw a subsequent rise in temptation and promiscuity.

It is easier to justify promiscuity when you are exclusively committed to just one person, even if that commitment is only a week old.

In the late 80s and early 90s this promiscuous culture reached its peak. People would “go steady” for just a few weeks and then move on to the next relationship. It was this “hookup and breakup” culture that the founders of courtship were reacting to.

But their proposed solution involved adding even more commitment, exclusivity and intensity, the very things that lead to the problem in the first place. This is why courtship is fundamentally flawed.

The courtship movement eliminated dating and replaced it with nothing.

Or, put another way, they replaced dating with engagement. The only tangible difference between an engagement and a courtship is the ring and the date.

Similarities between Courtship & Engagement:

  • They both require the permission of the father.
  • They both are intended for marriage.
  • They are not “broken up” but are instead “called off”.
  • When they are called off there is an inevitable rending of a community as one of the couple no longer feel comfortable spending time with the community of their ex-future spouse.

Young people are expected to jump from interacting with each other in groups straight into “pseudo-engagement”. This is a jump very few are prepared to make. The result is that a commitment to courtship is often a commitment to lifelong singleness.

Why the Courtship Divorce Rate is So High

Recently 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 an idea of what they are looking for in a spouse.

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.

Right now all we have little research to go on in terms of the courtship divorce rate. In my observations, some homeschool communities have a much higher divorce rate than others. I would be very interested in seeing some research on this phenomenon. This blog post is my call for more research on the divorce rate amongst couples who “courted” before getting married.

Advantages of Traditional Dating

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. This lack of emotional commitment leads to less physical temptation.  Less temptation leads to less compromise. I have no idea how women are supposed to guard their hearts while in an exclusive relationship with the purpose of marriage.

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.

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.

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.

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.” Also let’s not also forget the emotional cost for girls of not being asked out year after year and the emotional cost for guys of being rejected by father after father.

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.

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.

Dating also trains people to continue dating their spouse after they get married. It is important for married couples to be able to have fun with each other. The kind of parents who are the strongest advocates of courtship are often the ones who go on the fewest dates with each other.

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? 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.

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.

Responding to Common Questions & Objections to Traditional Dating

Why Not Just Spend Time in Groups?

If you talk with advocates of modern courtship they speak highly of single people spending time in groups. Group settings reduce the intensity, commitment and exclusivity and thus protect the hearts of single people.

The problem with group settings is that not all personality types open up in group settings. Many married couples include one spouse who is more comfortable in group settings than the other. These couples may have never found each other if they were limited to “group dating.”

In group activities, it can be hard for the wallflowers to be discovered for the flowers that they really are. They need a less intense 1-on-1 setting in which to bloom. Group settings are particularly rough on women who grew up in communities where they were trained to value submissiveness, meekness and quietness.

The other challenge with group settings is that they are logistically complex. The more people you add to the group, the harder coordination becomes. Where is a stay-at-home daughter who attends a small family integrated church supposed to find groups of young people to hang out with? The result of limiting interaction to group settings is many lonely nights interacting with no one.

But Isn’t Courtship Biblical?

When applying Scripture, particularly the Old Testament, to our lives, it is important to differentiate between Biblical precedent, principle and precept. Just because Jacob had two wives and a seven-year engagement does not mean that God wants all men to have two wives and seven-year engagements.

What we have in the Old Testament is a lot of precedent: each story is different from the last.

For precedents we have:

  • the woman as the protagonist in the romance (Ruth & Boaz)
  • the man as the protagonist in the romance (Jacob & Rachel)
  • the romance arranged by a third party (Isaac & Rebekah)
  • the woman entering the man’s harem (David & Abigail, Micah, Bathsheba etc.)

There are some good Scriptural precepts about sexual purity in the New Testament, and there are some principles about the benefits of marrying young and that sort of thing.

But the Bible is surprisingly quiet when it comes to laying out a system of courtship. Courtship Systems are cultural, and the Bible rarely advocates one cultural approach over another. God’s heart is that every tribe and tongue come worship him without having to surrender their food, language or other cultural distinctives in the process.

Most of the moral arguments for courtship are actually arguments for arranged marriage. The arguments for the strong involvement of parents fit arranged marriage much better than they fit courtship.

When I started PracticalCourtship.com, one of my goals was to never use the site to criticize arranged marriage. In countries like India, that have both arranged marriages and “love marriages,” the arranged marriages have the lower divorce rate. Arranged marriage has been used by many cultures for many years with good results.

The problem is that arranged marriage is not a good fit for western culture. Many Americans value individual liberty more than life itself. Giving this most important decision to someone else is not something many of us are comfortable with. Also, parents are often hesitant to arrange marriages lest their child resent them if the marriage turns out to be an unhappy one.

I don’t see Arranged Marriage taking off in Western Culture.

We need a system to help young people make good decisions. Fortunately, we have one: Traditional Dating.

Traditional Dating fits our culture like a glove. Most of Americans already intuitively know how it works because it is part of who we are as a people. If you don’t know how it works, ask your grandparents and they will tell you of the glory days when men were free. Watch the twinkle in their eye when they tell you of a time when men and women could fall in love and pick their own spouses.

Hasn’t Our Sexualized Culture Ruined Dating?

There is no denying that the media is far more sexually charged than it was when my grandparents were dating in junior high. Now while some of that is the media following culture (The Beatles sang about hand holding while hippies swapped STDs in the 60s), I do believe that media affects the culture. The question is how do we best respond to that culture.

The commitment, exclusivity and intensity of dating is what lead to temptation and compromise in the first place. Courtship makes the problem worse by increasing the commitment which intensifies the temptation. The advocates of courtship know this, which is why chaperones are so critical to the system.

The other problem with courtship is that it often delays marriage. Courtship communities expect young people to live celibate lives in a sexually charged culture for a decade or more before they get married. The Bible instructs us to flee temptation and to marry lest you burn with lust. Courtship teaches instead to delay marriage until you are ready.

I recently heard a local pastor complaining about a rash of older 20 something women in his church who had given up on finding prince charming. They started making physical compromises in an effort to attract a man. Once they gave up on courtship they just grabbed whatever the world was offering.

The benefit of traditional dating is that the lack of exclusivity reduces temptation. It also helps young people find out who they are and who they are looking for faster.  Early marriage reduces the number of years a young person must resist sexual temptation through celibacy.

Finally, I should say this: Where sin abounds, grace abounds more. I understand Grace to be the power of God to do the will of God. The power of God is greater than the power of our sexualized culture. There is nothing new under the sun and no new temptation that is not already common to man. This is not the first time Christians have lived in a sexualized culture.

If you study history, you will find that this actually happens often. In each of those generations God provided a way out. I believe that for our generation that way is Traditional Dating.

Now Let’s Talk Some Specifics

Suggestions For Single Women

If you are a single woman, realize that the reason guys are not asking you out is NOT because you are unattractive. It is because you live in a system where he must want to marry you before he can get to know you. It is the system that is broken, not you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Somewhere out there is a guy who will see you as the most beautiful woman in the world. The more guys you meet, the faster you will find him.

  • If a Christian guy asks you out for dinner, say “yes”. You don’t need to love him to say yes to a first date.
  • Be friendly. Give the guy hope that he has a chance with you. Coyness is not as attractive as the media makes it out to be.
  • Don’t make him run a gauntlet before he can get to know you. Realize he is not asking to marry you when he asks if he can buy you dinner.
  • Some guys are hidden gems and are more than meets the eye. Give him a chance to win your attention and to earn that second date.
  • If you are not interested in a guy, let him down gently. There is a way to give a firm “no” to a guy without making him feel like a worm.
  • Don’t call in your dad to scare him off unless he won’t take the hint. Your dad and his shotgun should be the last resort.
  • Let the guy pay for dinner.

Suggestions for Single Men

  • Start asking girls out. Most girls would love to be asked out and will say “yes” if you would just ask them.
  • Realize that asking a girl out for dinner is not the same as proposing marriage.
  • If she says you need to talk to her dad first, take the “no” for what it is and move on to the next woman. For a better explanation of this point see 7 Reasons I Recommend Avoiding Dragon Guarded Women.
  • If you have been browbeaten by harsh courtship fathers, I feel your pain. Ask God to heal your heart and to give you the courage to try again. The tide is shifting. The leaders that those men used to justify their actions are quickly fading into the past. We are entering a kinder, gentler age. Who knows. Maybe the next girl you ask out could be the one.
  • Get a job. Money makes you more attractive.
  • Pay for dinner.

Suggestions for Both Single Men and Single Women

  • Do what your grandparents did and go out on dates with lots of different people before going steady with any of them.
  • Don’t marry the first person you have feelings for.
  • Keep an eye out for public places where you can have private conversations.
  • Find a church with lots of single people. There are still churches out there with a healthy culture of traditional dating. If no one in your church got married last year, don’t expect to break that trend. You can always move back to your parent’s church after you find your sweetheart.
  • Have fun.
  • Fear God.

Suggestions For Parents

  • Try to make marriage attractive to your children by loving and respecting your spouse the best you can. One reason that your children may not be getting married is because they don’t want what you have in your marriage.
  • Start dating your spouse again. Do whatever you can to make your marriage a happy one.
  • Encourage your sons to ask girls out on dates.
  • Allow your daughters to say yes to first dates from Christian guys you don’t know.
  • As your children become adults, give advice instead of commands. Being a parent does not make you a Pope for another adult.
  • The gentler you are in giving advice, the more it will be sought.
  • Take a step back and trust God to guide your child directly.
  • Pray earnestly and persistently for your child.
  • Encourage your children to find their way to places where they can meet other single people.
  • Don’t force your daughters to stay at home. Let them get out into the world where they can meet godly men. If you want to catch a fish you must first walk to the pond.
  • Remember that gentleness and kindness are fruits of the Spirit.
  • Treat the person interested in your child as a fellow brother or sister in Christ.

How to Talk With Your Folks About Courtship

Share this post with your parents and talk to with them about why courtship is flawed and why you are going to start going out on dates.

The older you are, the easier this conversation will be. I find that even the most controlling parents start to mellow out as their single daughters start entering their 30s. That biological clock waits for no man, even Prince Charming. It will help when their friends start bragging about their grandchildren.

Listen to them as they share the mistakes they made while dating. Listen to their story of how they fell in love. Just remember that every romance is different and your story will be different. Just because your parents got divorced or live in an unhappy marriage does not doom you to their fate.

Realize that many of their rules were created out of fear. They are afraid that you will suffer the same way they did when they were your age.

Don’t forget that they love you. Explain to them that you all want the same thing: for you to be happily married.

Explain that courtship is not helping you become happily married. Courtship leads to singleness more often than it leads to marriage.

If all else fails, play the grandchildren card. Most parents want grandchildren. Try to explain that if they want grandchildren you need to get married and courtship is not helping you do that.

Where do we go from here?

Share this post with your community on Facebook and Google+ to continue the conversation. My hope is that as single people start embracing traditional dating we can restore the fun first date to our culture. The more people who read this post the more guys that will start asking girls out and the more girls who will say “yes” to that first date.

Tweetables:

  • The Greatest Generation was encouraged to date and discouraged from going steady in middle school. (Click to Tweet)
  • The courtship movement eliminated dating and replaced it with nothing. (Click to Tweet)
  • The only tangible difference between an engagement and a courtship is the ring and the date. (Click to Tweet)
  • A commitment to courtship is often a commitment to lifelong singleness. (Click to Tweet)
  • Most of the moral arguments for courtship are actually arguments for arranged marriage. (Click to Tweet)
  • Being a parent does not make you a Pope for another adult. (Click to Tweet)
  • The benefit of traditional dating is that the lack of exclusivity reduces temptation. (Click to Tweet)
  • When applying Scripture, it is important to differentiate between precedent, principle and precept. (Click to Tweet)

What do you think?

If I have learned one thing running PracticalCourtship.com, it is that courtship is very controversial. Even the definition of the word sparks a debate. That is fine. I am happy to see your thoughts and opinions in the comments.   A few requests for the comments:

  • Keep the conversation civil. No name calling. Just because you were hurt in the past is no excuse to hurt others in the future.
  • Keep the conversation humble. Bragging about how this is not a problem in your family is not very helpful.
  • Please read the follow up article before posting comments. I may have already addressed your question in the Q&A post.
  • I reserve the right to delete comments. It is not censorship to take your comment off of my personal blog. Remember you can say whatever you want about me or this post on your own blog or Facebook page.

If you think that this post should be expanded into a book to respond to some of the concerns posted below, click here, to get book updates.

This post has turned into a book!

Courtship in Crisis

Thank you to everyone who backed Courtship in Crisis on Kickstarter. You can now find the book on Amazon.

Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of PracticalCourtship.com, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

1,482 thoughts on “Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed

  1. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this article. I was one of those “sheltered and protected” home school girls. I have long since ditched the courting concept and have thought I was worthless for several years as a result. This article expresses thoughts and feelings I have had but been unable to express clearly….Thank you so so much. :~)

    • Sheltered and protected aint such a bad thing in this modern day and age we live in. Predators are everywhere! At least in my town…
      Young girls don’t always have the wisdom to see through the layers of a “bad” guy. Dads often do 😉

  2. This post is so good! I did not get caught up in the Courtship thing myself, but the points made on this specific issue in this article are good ones for the whole process of getting married. I wish I had read this article 30 or 40 years ago. My mother encouraged me with thoughts like “There are worse things than being single, and being married to some men is one of them.” I was definitely discouraged by her showing me all the failed marriages as an example to avoid. And my parents did not have the most ideal marriage. But your article is so encouraging.

    While my time has passed, and God has worked through it all to bring me other, different blessings, I have been concerned about the largeness of singles groups in churches today. One big concern is that married people in churches keep telling the single people that singleness is BETTER because of what Paul said in the Bible. But that was for a specific time of persecution. And I see marriage as what God ordained would be the normal, not singleness. So I think churches also need to be very careful when teaching on that passage of scripture.

    I am more and more convinced that getting married younger is better because of the problems of waiting so long. While a man needs to be able to support his wife and family, there are times it is good to get married rather than be in a relationship for years waiting for the optimal time, especially when you know who you love and they know and you are both fully planning to marry.

    Thanks so much for your article!

    • It seems unfathomable some people may be happy single. I see nothing wrong with it. The idea everyone should marry is inane itself. Churches should learn embrace singleness. While you don’t have to wait until you are 35 to marry, you do need some levels of maturity. I feel some marry because of the pressure to follow a tradition instead of being who they are.

  3. Interesting and well-written article. For the most part, I agree. However, I think if a guy can’t talk to a girl’s dad and ask his blessing on taking her out, then he’s not much of a guy. It can be a great way to begin a friendship. I recognize that there are fathers out there who are controlling – but just because a gal wants her father’s blessing/approval for the guy she goes out with does not mean she’s his brain-washed girl who can’t think for herself. Her father is her spiritual head and he is the priest of his home, so if she’s living at home she should want his blessing. And it’s biblical.

    I also think middle school is too young to date. Group events, yes. Going out on a date? No. They’re kids and they don’t even know what they want to be when they grow up. There’s so much pressure out there now to date younger and younger and kids aren’t allowed to just be friends and hang out together without people making them a “couple”.

    • So, so true. I want a guy to go to my dad to ask for permission to take me out not because he is controlling, but because I want my dad to get to know the guy. And when I talk about a guy that is asking my dad, he is someone who I have known for awhile and participated in group activities and possibly had lunch, coffee, etc. with already in a friend relationship. If I ask a guy to ask my dad, that’s because the guy has asked me to take the relationship to the next level and know I definitely want my father, my spiritual leader, in on this. That does not mean that my father is controlling, or won’t let his adult daughter make her own decision.

  4. I believe you have seen and set out many of the problems of courtship. It is a flawed, man made, system. However I also believe that Scripture clearly sets out answers to these questions: and the answer isn’t ‘our society fits dating therefore dating is what our society ought to do’.

    The dating model is the model that led to our rampant fornication, adultery, divorce, and child murder rates. It is far from the answer to the flawed unBiblical system called ‘courtship’.

    • How would you respond to the OP’s argument that it was over commitment and exclusivity that lead to that problem? Not dating.

      Back in the 30s and 40s we didn’t have the problems you listed to the extent we do today. Yet they dated.

  5. This is a good discussion and some practical analysis.

    Just be careful not to make your position the new dogma of the day. Your tweetables smack of a new arrogance. Isn’t this part of the problem when everyone blindly parrots another position.

    You’ve also been guilty of broad brushing issues like throwing all parents together. As was pointed out, some daughters want their fathers involved, but that doesn’t mean the fathers are all idiots or bullies.

    Like everything else, it depends on the individuals involved. Let’s keep it that way.

    • >>Like everything else, it depends on the individuals involved.

      I’m not sure there is anything on Earth that can truly be said to fully ‘depend on the individuals involved’; but the doctrine of how to get married is definitely not one of the things. This is post-modernism run amuck (which might be said to be the definition of post-modernism).

      If something is true, it is true, and it does not depend on us. God has taught us several very important truths in his word regarding marriage and the path to marriage. It does not ‘depend on the individuals involved’.

    • “Isn’t this part of the problem when everyone blindly parrots another position.”

      YES! It’s good to talk about these issues, but I agree people shouldn’t 1) put forth their ideas as the NEW RIGHT WAY nor should 2) others jump on the bandwagon and adopt someone else’s way as best.

      • True! We have to stay humble, and I think it shows humility in the author of the article that he turned to his grandmother for wisdom and advice, and was able to admit some of his views were mistaken, or just plain wrong.

  6. A lot of what you say about courtship makes sense, except about not asking the fathers. When I was young, asking the father was as much my decision as my dads. When I had my first boyfriend (incidentally, ended up being my husband) I wanted him to ask my father. I knew it’s what my father wanted but he never pushed the issue. I wanted my boyfriend to do it as a sign of respect to my father. He never did and it breaks my heart every day. I believe wholeheartedly that you are wrong in the aspect. If a child is old enough to date, then that child is old enough to respect the parents of the person they are dating. And do you know how wrong it is to tell a young man to move on to another girl if the girl says to ask her dad. The young man should be strong enough to ask if he really likes her. Every father is going to be harsh, whether he wants to be asked by the boy or not. Every father is gonna think about showing up to the front door, cleaning his shotgun, when the boy shows up for the date. It’s how I rate a good father. And agian if a child is old enough to date, have sex, and even go on to get (their girlfriend) pregnant, then they are old enough to understand respect. You are taking that out of the equation. If the child is an adult than the respect is not generally mandatory, but if the child is still in highschool and living under my roof, I am gonna make sure she knows that it would be respectful to me and her dad to ask us. I am not gonna force it. I want it to be her decision to ask. But it will be a sign of respect from her as well as from the boy he does ask. In my house it’s not gonna be a rule, but a request.

    • There is a difference between requiring a guy to ask permission of your father to date and requiring your date to introduce himself and shake hands with your folks before you leave. The first one implies that the father has the right to tell a boy no, the latter implies the boy respects the parents enough to make his presence known. Regardless of the gender or the intent of my going out, my parents always wanted to meet who I was hanging out with. The advice to run would go double any time a man asked an adult woman out on a date. Women can vote, can drive and purchase property, certainly woman can entertain a movie or a dinner request without requiring parents to be involved in the initial yes or no to a date request. Permission really ramps up the intensity and expectations for what should be a basic conversation. Not asking permission does not imply disrespect.

      • I agree with Rita. There is a huge difference in a girl expecting her date to come in and MEET her parents and a girl expecting a guy to ASK PERMISSION of her parents for a simple date. It is common sense that it is respectful of the guy to come in and meet the parents and a red flag if he refuses to even meet them. But equating a guy being uncomfortable with asking permission from a father for a simple cup of coffee with a girl as being disrespectful is going too far. Is she old enough to go on a date or isn’t she? I also strongly agree with the folks who have said that it’s the parent’s role to give permission TO THE DAUGHTER to make dating choices (if she’s a minor). If the girl is an adult, it is not her parents job to make those rules anymore, but to give advice and wise counsel. One adult making veto choices over another adult’s choices is scary.

    • “Every father is going to be harsh, whether he wants to be asked by the boy or not. Every father is gonna think about showing up to the front door, cleaning his shotgun, when the boy shows up for the date. It’s how I rate a good father.”

      Yeesh! I’m a father, but I don’t think about cleaning shotguns to chase off boys who might be interested in my daughters. Do I cherish my daughters? You bet I do. Do I hope that my daughters will value my opinion enough to seek it about whom they are dating? Yes, absolutely. Do I need to behave like we’re the Martins & Coys to be a good or godly father? No, I don’t think so.

    • I would just like to say that I would have been highly offended if any man, once I was out on my own, thought he needed to ask my father for permission to ask me out. In fact, that alone would have ended any relationship that might have been. Why? I was an adult woman, responsible for my own future, and I would have to live with any and all consequences of my actions and decisions. For this same reason, I gave my own self permission to marry my husband. And now, here we are 15 years later, happy with the decisions we made together, raising our family to love the Lord. Did I seek the counsel of my parents? Absolutely. But did I give them the power over my decision? No, that decision (and our future) was my gift from God.

    • Good for you, Cassie.
      If a guy isn’t “man” enough to talk with my parents and have a conversation about me, then maybe they aren’t the guy for me. It’s a sign of respect!

  7. Cannot even express my relief that someone is saying this!!! So well done and practical too. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for putting into words what I have felt and lived!

  8. You are a great communicator. (Not surprised!) I agree. Good Advice.
    We were part of this homeschool movement, but we never required this of our children.
    Today, I am wondering why there are so Christians in their twenties who have not married. I think it’s fear of divorce. Of course, with each individual there are multiple reasons.
    One more thing, I have a daughter who is a professional matchmaker. I appreciate your mentioning that way of finding a mate. I hope others read this article!

  9. This is what I have been thinking for years, but have not been able to articulate it as well as you did. I knew that courtship was just as heartbreaking if not more than dating. My husband and I have struggled to know how to help our daughters and upcoming son to prepare for marriage. So many in the homeschooling community were advocating courtship, but I just didn’t think it was good. And I didn’t see the Bible advocating it either. As you say, the Bible is silent in how we are to do this.
    I think a really important point is that we need to teach our sons and daughters how to interact with others. Homeschool boys (according to my oldest daughter) often are awkward and don’t know how to relate to girls because they have been so sheltered. We need to stop sheltering our older children so much. Help them be in the world, but not of it.
    And our sons need to know that when they take girls (sisters in Christ) out on dates , their most important role is to unselfishly protect her purity. After all she may be somebody else’s future wife. If my son has that mindset, then he can date different girls, have fun, and be more natural.
    Thank you so much for writing on this controversial topic.

    • Why isn’t it important for your son to protect his *own* purity? After all, he may be someone else’s future husband.

  10. Absolutely the very best article I have ever read on this topic, hands down. I was a “rebel” and had a few “girlfriends” despite my parent’s wish that I only court and not get married (an thus implied pursue romantic relationships) until age 25. I didn’t go out on dates (cuz I didn’t work or have a car), but I’m glad I had a number of relationships because, like you said, it helped me to figure out what I did and didn’t want in a woman.
    Also reading the contrast between traditional dating and courtship made me feel physically sick that my generation of Christian young people were deceived by such a twisted system. I know many single girls in their late 20’s and I always feel bad when I think of how the courtship system let them down. Commitment to courtship really often can be commitment to long-term singleness. And to think that parents who “only wanted what was best” for their children ended up holding them back from love and life.

  11. Thomas, thank you for your thoughts on this subject and I agree with the idea that because we want our marriages to work that we try to devise a method or instruction book to “guarantee” results. I’m a homeschool kid married to a homeschool kid and our dating/courtship was anything but textbook. When I met my husband it was at a dance and we struck up conversation over cabinets (he made them). I did NOT see him as boyfriend material, he was just interesting to talk to. We friended on myspace and didn’t see each other for months because he was working 12-14 hr days…but he started calling me everyday and texting (during work) and he wormed his way in my heart before I knew it. I have to add that all this was going on while I had my own “career” in advertising and a decent social life (church, friends, etc) I can count on my hand how many “dates” we had but the next year we spent a lot of time together, working…hard, physical, even dirty work, most of the time was with his family some was alone and we got to know each other really well. We’re both serious minded people so we talked marriage pretty early in our relationship. However, no matter how much time you spend with each other before marriage things change (sometimes overnight) once you get married, the stakes are higher. What I’m trying to say is there is no “formula” for dating and you need to find what fits you. Using biblical morals as a “guide” not the rule in choosing a life partner and listening to the Lord yourself not someones “interpretation” of his will for you, they’re not the ones marrying the person, you are!

  12. The greatest generation also had ballroom dancing. Places to gather and do couples dances that were FUN. Swing is fun for the more athletic, Foxtrot, Waltz, quickstep, are all wonderful! They allow the man to demonstrate his leadership style and the woman to show her ability to cooperate and work with that style. It is a way to learn if your non-verbal communication style can fit. It is something that keeps space between you, is romantic without the sex-laden messages of modern dancing. Dance halls also had tables where couples sat and talked. Guys in groups would show their manners by dancing at least once with every girl in their group. Fun, platonic, and another means of getting to know each other.

    • Swing dance is where we met Ann! I agree, it’s a wonderful way to interact with other people and where having multiple dance partners is encouraged. A lot of communities have some form of swing/ballroom dancing, I highly recommend trying it out. Its an activity the whole family can go to.

    • I met my husband at a swing dancing venue! That is actually where I learned to really interact with boys/men at the ripe old age of 18. I was raised with the courtship model, but my teen years were spent getting attached to any guy who showed an interest because interest= marriage.

      I broke free from that and around that time found swing dancing. I was invited by a guy from the young adults group at church. I danced a few times with him, but eventually moved on. I learned to hold a conversation with a man without blushing constantly, I learned how to be physically comfortable in the presence of a guy, and I learned that passing interest is not the heart poison that I was raised to think it was.

      My husband and I met when we made eye contact across the dance floor. We were friends for about 8 months, and then started a whirlwind dating relationship and got married 15 months after we met. It was a wonderful experience. We’ve been together for 7 years and have been through so much to test our marriage and have come out stronger in the end.

      I really do credit learning to dance and going to the dances virtually alone with how I was able to become a confident young woman in a confusing culture. I plan to teach my kids to dance, not just for the exercise or fun, but also to learn how to interact with the opposite sex without the pressure of “dating”.

      • My parents went Polka dancing in the 30’s and 40’s… there’s a lot to be said for good, fun, wholesome dancing! The met at a dance, and after 54 years of marriage Mom would always say there was no one she would rather be with than my dad.

  13. My husband and I have often discussed the fact that courtship isn’t very practical and doesn’t give people the opportunity to really get to know one another. We have seen at least 2 marriages either fail or come close to failing because of the courtship decision. The pride involved in courtship is also a big issue, “I didn’t kiss him until we were married” . This certainly adds to some of the attitude problems related to courtship. We gave always told our children to date responsibly, not like the worlds view of dating. I can’t say they have always taken our advice, but at least we gave them the tools to make wise decisions regarding dating and marriage.

  14. Regarding the “heartbreak” issue, I’d like to point out another facet of the culture. When a courtship is begun, the expectation of everyone is that the couple WILL marry. In addition to the emotional trauma of a courtship “failing” or being called off – which would be similar to an engagement being broken as mentioned in the article – there is the pressure to NOT call off the courtship. As a girl, even if I’d had misgivings along the way, I would’ve been very unlikely to call it off because of the stigma involved. I would probably be viewed as “used goods” even though I was still a virgin physically, simply because I’d “given my heart” to another man already.

    In my case, I wasn’t allowed enough face-to-face time with my “suitor” & then fiance for me to get to know him properly before making (what I assumed was) a lifetime commitment to him. I’ve often wondered – if I’d gotten to know him well enough, would I have picked up on the fact that he was a closeted gay? If so, would I have had the courage to break things off or would I have married him anyway simply to save face?? (I mean no disrespect to gay people… only to those gay people who lie and pretend to be straight in order to marry straight people for social purposes!)

    When you consider all of the factors that lead up to a courtship – the completely understandable reluctance of guys to commit to marry a girl they don’t know – and when a girl finally does get a “suitor” who makes it past good ol’ daddy’s screening process, she would be extremely reluctant to let the guy go, lest there never be another marriage possibility and she die a lonely, childless old maid who rejected the only offer of “love” that ever came her way!

    Courtship may prevent the heartbreak of a dating break-up, but it so easily paves the way to a lifetime of heartbreak, both for those who never marry, and also for those like myself who marry the wrong person! The heartbreak of my husband’s cheating on me constantly and eventually the divorce was far, far, far worse than any heartbreak I could possibly have had from a dating break-up!!!

    • I was in a somewhat similar situation. The guy my dad picked out was fine enough – he was average-handsome, quiet and nice, hardworking, all of that. I knew him before we courted so I figured it would turn out well – “somehow”. He tried really hard making it work, so did I. Because somehow, calling it off was not an option. Calling it off would have made me the odd one out, damaged goods, just a complete and utter nightmare. My parents would freak out, people would eye me funny, I don’t know, I can’t find the words to describe how far off limits calling this courtship off was for me. All the time I blamed myself, thought that something wasn’t right with me and that I just need to try harder, do things the right way… I don’t know.
      Today I look at my partner (no, we are not married) whom I met through dating and I thank God for giving me the strength to call it off back then. I thank God for scaring me out of this so deeply that I was willing to risk my whole life and everything I was to get out. The thought that I’d be married with kids by now to the man I once courted, and I would have never met this wonderful man I now spend my time with, makes me want to cry. The man I courted wasn’t a bad guy, far from it. But marriage would never have worked between us. I wouldn’t have had these wonderful memories of love and affection and what it really means to love that I have now, had I married him.

  15. There are SOME good points in this article. Sadly, it sounds like the author is very bitter how her family handled courtship (and maybe they did handle it wrong, but those were the parents God handpicked for her and the way God wanted her to go through her courting/dating years).
    While I agree that people should be able to court/date without necessarily having marriage be a “guarantee”, I would not want my daughter dating a different guy every night and NOT guys we do not know. I think she gives advice to “children” to show dishonor toward parents and to “throw away” girls that have “controlling fathers” – if every guy follows her advice no girl who has a father who shows his care in this way (he doesn’t have to be “controlling” to ask that the young man ask his blessing on dating or courting) will ever get married. Guys, if the girl says, “ask my dad” and you feel she is worth getting to know, ask. If he says, “no” and she is worth getting to know, appeal. Take her dad and mom out to dinner. Pay for dinner. Ask why they have a problem. Listen to their answers. Take their advice. Win the opportunity to date/court their daughter.
    It is sad that there are controlling fathers, but it is also sad that there are fathers who don’t care who their daughters date. There needs to be a balance and remember that each set of parents answer to God for how they raise their own children.
    Girls, if your dad is controlling and “makes you court”, obey him until you are of age and then honor him and gently tell him that you appreciate his love and care for you and that you cannot see a Biblical reason for continuing to court and you are going to, Lord willing with his blessing, venture into some other means of meeting people.
    Bottom line, parents, teach your children that whether you call it courting or dating, the goal should NEVER be marriage, the goal should ALWAYS be pleasing God in EVERYTHING they do (2 Corinthians 5:9). Parents, teach your children how to appeal if they don’t like the rules you have given (Daniel 1:8-17). Parents, do not provoke your children to wrath… giving very specific and many rules and calling them “Biblical” when there isn’t a chapter/verse for it does this (Colossians 3:21). Parents, remember that your children are not called to obey you for life, but they are called to honor you for life, make it easy to obey AND to honor.

    • “I would not want my daughter dating a different guy every night and NOT guys we do not know.”

      But if you’ve raised her to honor the Lord, I’m sure she would be making good choices in the types of young men she would go out with. Are you saying she would just go out with any guy she met that day on the street? At one point we as parent have to trust that we did raise our kids properly and they can make choices for themselves.

  16. I am so thankful for this article, as I have an almost 20 year old son and a 17 year old daughter. We have discussed “dating” philosophy and they each developed their own philosophy, loosely guided by their parents. I admit that the whole thing has always been a bit scary for me. My own experience was so terrible that I wanted to make sure my kids could avoid some of the same problems.

    I was pushed into my first relationship by my mom. I was only 15 and the rule in my home was that I could not date until I was 16. Because the boy manipulated my mom into believing I wanted a relationship, she allowed us to “go steady” but not to date. That was way too much, way too fast for someone like me who had no concept of a healthy relationship. To complicate things further, I didn’t even like the boy, but was too afraid of displeasing my controlling mother that I went along with the relationship anyway. I had no self-respect. The short of it is that I ended up in an abusive relationship that left me scarred for life.

    That relationship set a new pattern for my life. I entered two more relationships in the next two years where I got too serious, too soon, and gave way too much of my heart only to have it broken when I wouldn’t give my body as well. I was abused in various ways and ended up wounded, withdrawn, and suicidal. I had no concept of just having fun and I had no relationship skills.

    By the grace of God, I got together with the man who became my husband when we were only 17 years old. I carried the same pattern of getting too serious, too soon into the relationship, except this time we were also best friends. He was a good Christian young man who respected me and adored me. I slowly learned how to laugh and have fun. We dated. We did fun things. We shared common faith and values. We got engaged when we were 19 and married when we were 20. We are coming up on our 21st anniversary and I am so thankful for how God sustained us in spite of making so many mistakes, and especially because of how broken I was for many years.

    All that to say that I wish I would have just casually dated and not gotten too serious, too quickly. It would have saved me a lot of heartache. I wish I could have “tested the waters” to see what I wanted and needed in a life partner. But I will also say that I wish my parents would have been more involved in a healthy manner. As I mentioned, my mother was controlling. My father was passive. I was left figuring out everything on my own. It made a mess of everything.

    My husband asked my dad’s permission to marry me. I think that is a simple matter of respect, so I don’t agree with that part of this article. And I don’t think parents should have no say at all. My kids want our involvement. Yet we trust our kid’s judgement enough to allow them to make their own decisions, and we especially trust that God will guide our children in the path that is right for them. That trust and respect is what makes our kids want our involvement. But overall, I agree with this article and it has opened up great discussion with my kids. It gave us some ideas and answered some of our questions of, “if not that, then what?”

  17. thank you for writing this incredible summary on courtship and dating. This was such a great read. My only question for you is whether or not you have gotten married? was it through dating?I am asking because I have a sister who just entered her 30’S and I’m trying to see how I can help her to get into dating. It really is difficult to find places where good christian single guys are still available, especially in their thirties. Would you have any suggestions as to where I am single girl can start?

    I personally have never experienced the courtship culture because I came from Russia and there was no such thing on Christians. Most of the single people interacted enough with some one of the opposite of sex in a one on one situation to see if there was someone they were really interested in before starting dating.

    the guys usually walked a girl or a couple of girls home. So it wasn’t a traditional American date, but it was a way to spend time alone and get to know one person at a time. The girl always has the choice to refuse walking her home if she was not interested and so on. ….

    when I came to the United States, I did not have time to date or even think about dating in high school. I was sheltered and only participated in church activities. I was not allowed to have many friends or go to anyones house let alone on a date.

    as I enter college, not having that parent parental control resulted in me trying to date a few guys, not thinking of whether they were Christians or not. That didn’t work out too well because most of them were not Christian…

    so I was very hopeful when I finally joined a healthy American eventually culture church with a College singles group numbering in the hundreds. I thought for sure this is the place with qualifying young man that I can date and I was looking forward to it lots of dating experience and finding that someone special.

    however, year after year no one asked me out. I was very friendly and hung out with lots of people and group settings, many guys knew who I was and I reached out to them on my all is well. Still no dates.

    I want heartbroken because I finished college moved on to working. Again I was encountering many men who asked me out upon meeting me or shortly thereafter. It showed me that I was attractive and smart and funny and all the things that guys are attracted to, but it as soon as I would tell them I am a Christian, they would tell me well then you should go to church to find a guy. The sad part was that I was going to a mega and not having anyone to ask me out.

    after another find here is that shirt and no dating experience, I finally pulled the plug and went online. Harmony just started at the time and I was excited that they promote it Christian dating. Again, I put all my hope in to finding mr. Right and did my best to but good pictures on my profile and diligently answer all questions. I met a few guys who were completely not my type and I was not attracted to them. I only went on two dates from eharmony.

    I think of the time they had a very small full of people to choose from and still many of my friends from church who were eligible to date me and people of there same qualities we’re not buying into online dating.

    my god grace I didn’t get married at the age of 29. My husband was also faced with the same problem. He changed churches to increases chances of finding a wife. We were both in harmony and the same time and evwe didn’t pursue the in harmony relationship because of that time we were both gave up on the eHarmony working well for us.

    I met him at a singles retreat of all places. We were friends for about a year and then he asked me out.

    yes because I kept thinking that given my poor record of dating, this must be God’s miracle that he provided a Christian man with the same belief system who is actually interested in me. We have a strong marriage and will be getting to our 5th anniversary in a month.

    I’m telling the story because I wanted to point out the one minor adjustments to this article. there is also they factor of God’s sovereignty.

    I have tried to date every way possible, even asking a guy out myself and still it did not work for me. Later, God brought the right man at the right time and allow the process to be simple and fun for both of us and we had an instant bonding and affection and falling in love with each other.

    so I know it is more practical to find someone if you are out there dating and meeting people than sitting at home and doing nothing. The caveat that I wanted to talk about is that even if you are doing all you can, dating, praying, going through the motions, there is the factor of God’s will and you may not encounter someone for years if God is not sending that man or woman into your life.

    I personally never agreed with the statement that girls should sit at home and wait for Prince Charming to come and knock on their door. In our society it is acceptable for a girl to put an effort into meeting a man. It’s not something to be ashamed of or to feel like you’re throwing yourself at someone’s feet.

    both single men and single women should do all they can to look for a mate. However, if God has that person for you later down the road, that may be the factor for the reason why you’re still not married. Have trust in the Lord because his ways are above our ways.

    please let me know what your recommendations are for a single woman in her early thirties as to where she can meet single Christian men, is it online dating only? Or are there places that still have such singles to meet without using the Internet?

    again, thank you so much for such a great and thoughtful article. I’m sharing it on my page on Facebook.

  18. Loved this article! Growing up with the firm belief that courtship was the only safe way to enter marriage, I was still single at the age of 24. I had been in one courtship a few years earlier that completely failed due to the fact that neither he nor I really knew what we wanted in a spouse. When I finally went on e-harmony I started meeting guys and talking to them in a way that I had never been able to do in groups. I had a great time and great conversations. I met a lot of really awesome guys and was so encouraged that they really do still exist! When I eventually met the man who was going to be my husband, I immediately knew he was the kind of guy I wanted to marry. It was so simple. Casual dating does not mean you have to throw propriety and standards to the wind. We still saved our first kiss for our wedding day.

  19. Thank you so much! I can relate so well to what you say about the flaws in courtship. (I’m 36, never been on a date, never even been asked, and yes, still very single, and living at home.) Your words make so much sense to me, and release so many of my fears (Is there something wrong with me? Why are the only guys interested in me non-Christians I’m not even remotely interested in?), and relieve so much frustration. Definitely passing this along!

  20. When we make rules that God does not, “touch not, taste not, handle not”, etc, we err from the gospel of Jesus Christ, which teaches us perfect acceptance through Him and love for people. We must maintain integrity as singles, at all cost, but this is God’s command, not human rules on every detail of the relationship. I’ve heard this and many other legalistic attempts on how to do things, and they all fail because they put human wisdom in the place of God. Where He is silent, we MUST give people freedom.

  21. Thank You! My son is 16 and I really think he should be dating. As in what your Grandmother thinks. He has been asked to go to a dance in a month. I felt like I was confessing a sin to a friend as I told her that he accepted. I feel like a bad mom because he has so many girls that are his friends. He has a full time job, volunteers in the community, plays two sports and does a huge load of schoolwork at home. He just wants to go to the movies or out to dinner with a friend. That happens to be a girl. Timely article for me today. Thank You.

  22. I hardly ever comment on blogs, but wanted to chime in. I was not homeschooled and my parents were never into the courting culture. I did, however, grow up in a strong Christian family who expected me to remain pure until marriage. My experience with “dating” matches what you say above. In college, I went on a lot of one-on-one “dates” or “friend dates” or whatever you call a night out with someone of the opposite sex. I always thought of them as a fun night out with a friend of the opposite sex – no expectations. We never held hands or had any physical intimacy, but we always enjoyed ourselves. This has led to long lasting friendships with the opposite sex with none of the awkwardness of the hookup culture. This is also how I met my husband. We started hanging out with the same friends. Group lunches and outings turned into personal lunches and outings with just him. Then one day I realized that he was the person I wanted to marry. He is today who he was those 7 years ago – thoughtful and caring and the one person I can have the most wonderful conversations with. We date on a regular basis (following my parents’ example – they date more than most teenagers) and have fun all the time. I have no regrets.

    I have noticed, however, that a few of the guys who used to go out on dates with different girls earned a reputation as someone playing the field. This wasn’t the case in college, but somehow was the case in smaller churches. I wish there was a way to reintroduce this traditional type of dating without physical intimacy without the possibility of ruining reputations. I am hoping this article will help that along.

    I also realize the concern others have over asking the father for permission. I can see advantages for both options. My concern with asking the dad for permission is that it makes the outing an official date. However, if two young people decide to go grab ice cream one afternoon without asking the dad, that could be considered a casual outing with fewer expectations. Once you ask the dad, it is more formal and can create more expectations on both sides. I see the benefit and detraction of both and I hope that others can see that as well. Maybe two or three casual friendship outings could be okay without dad’s permission, but more formal dates might require it? It would be awkward if Johnny down the street wants to walk Sarah over to the ice cream parlor after school – but can’t because he needs to ask Sarah’s dad first. On the other hand, if Johnny wants to come over on Friday night to pick Sarah up for dinner and a movie, asking the dad for permission doesn’t seem so ridiculous. BUT – it does make it more formal and less of a casual date/outing. This often creates expectations. Sarah may think Johnny *really* likes her and she may be disappointed when she doesn’t get the second date (or vice versa).

    Interesting read overall.

      • Good article… but I take issue with the suggested Tweet about the Pope….”being a parent doesn’t make you a Pope of another adult.”
        I’m assuming you don’t know that the word ‘Pope’ just means Poppa, or father. The Church is the family of God, and he is the visible head of the family(Church) on earth, Christ is the invisible head ..God would never leave His sheep without a sheperd.
        I don’t know why you felt the need to be derisive of the Catholic faith, just to make your point, it showed little understanding or knowledge of what Catholics believe — (I think you meant to say that a parent should be respectful of their adult children) ? But why malign the Pope?? Or in essence you’re saying a parent doesn’t make you a parent (father) and I don’t think that’s the point you were trying to make.
        I see an inherent problem in using the Bible alone approach with dating or courting in that Scripture itself never says to take only the (Bible) Scripture alone. Private interpretation that the Bible warns us of is a danger to people who want so much to have God lead them, yet mistakenly listen to the wrong interpretation or opinion as if it is the voice of God. This can be particularly heart-wrenching when it comes to such important topics as sexuality, courting/dating, or Marriage.

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