thomas-umstattd-jr-married

Last year I wrote a blog post titled Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed. In that post, I explained how I went from a courtship advocate running PracticalCourtship.com to no longer believing that Modern Courtship is a viable model for most people.

The post went viral.

I hoped to reach ten or twenty thousand people. The post ended up reaching over a million people. We had visitors from every nation in the world except for North Korea.

I did not talk much about my personal life in the post. The result has been that so many people have Googled my marital status that it is now a recommended search term for my name.

So let me set the record straight that I am not married… yet.

Currently, I am happily practicing Traditional Dating and going on dates with different women. I am optimistic about the future.

Over the past several months, many people have used my marital status as a way of discounting or challenging my ideas. I would now like to respond to some of those objections.

“You don’t meet the Biblical qualifications to be a teacher because you are single.”

I have been told, “According to 1 Timothy 3:2, elders must be ‘the husband of one wife.’ So, as a single man you do not have the authority to teach.”

I would like to say that there is a difference between being an elder and sharing what I have learned. If we reject the words of single men, we would need to throw out the teachings of Jesus, Paul, and many other saints throughout the ages.

Also, many heroes of the faith started teaching before they got married:

  • John Wesley
  • George Whitefield
  • C.S. Lewis

My authority to speak does not come from being married. It comes from being a child of God.

“You are still single. So, your ideas don’t work.”

I’ve been practicing Traditional Dating for less than a year. My singleness has far more to do with my 28-year-long commitment to Modern Courtship than it does with my one year of Traditional Dating.

Complicating matters more is the fact that since the blog post went viral I now live in a fishbowl. Many people observe my personal life, looking for things to criticize.  So, dating is more complicated for me than for others.

Many people, both old and young, have used Traditional Dating, to find an amazing husband or wife. Traditional Dating is a time-tested model that worked for generations in the past and continues to work today.

“Only happily married people are qualified to give relationship advice.”

There are two problems with this kind of thinking.

The first problem with this argument is that it presupposes that we cannot learn from failure.

As my dad says, “success is a poor teacher.” In many ways, we can learn more from failure than we can from success. People who have failed are often painfully aware of why they failed. People who succeed often misattribute the cause of their success. Social Scientists call this attribution bias.

In researching this book, I have interviewed a lot of people. Even more have contacted me, filled out a survey, or left a comment on my blog. Sometimes I feel a bit like I am running a confessional as people share their mistakes and their successes with me.

So, in doing research for this book, I am just as eager to talk to people who have failed as I am to talk to those who have succeeded.

As Roy H. Williams said, “A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.”

The second problem is that this argument assumes one story can be representative.

I’ve been contacted by hundreds of married people since my blog post came out last year. Many of them share their story with me as their argument either for or against my ideas. They are describing one tree and then building an opinion about the forest from that one tree.

There is a bell curve of human experiences when it comes to relationships. Any one person’s story is just one data point along that curve. I am trying to write about the entire forest. To do that, I need perspective on more than just one tree.  I need to hear all those stories of success and failure.  The more people I talk to, the more dots along that bell curve I can construct.

If I were married, I would be tempted to give my story an extra amount of weight. In some ways, it could dilute my objectivity.  Every marriage is unique. Every family is weird. The “typical” family has two and half children. Having only half a child is really weird. No one person’s experience can be representative of the whole. This is not about me.

This blog and the book are based on my study of history, culture, and the Bible. I’ve also poured through scientific studies, statistics and have interviewed people around the country.

At first I hesitated to talk about myself at all because I was afraid my story would be a distraction from the message. The result is that people made assumptions about my personal life and then built arguments on those assumptions.

This is not about me.

The reason my original blog post spread was not because I’m a celebrity. It spread because it resonated with the people who spread it. The post has nearly 200,000 shares on Facebook because singles around the world are looking for a better path to marriage.

My marital status does not make the ideas any better or worse. The ideas stand or fall on their own. They either work or they don’t. One person’s experience will not prove the ideas good or bad.

If some people don’t want to buy Courtship in Crisis because I am still single, that’s fine. My hope, though, is that people will read the book, put the ideas into practice, and marry the love of their life.