Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The weaknesses of 'courting'

About a decade ago I became aware of a new trend when it comes to building relationships with the other gender: A new "courting" movement, the primary proponent of which is one Joshua Harris, just out of his teens when he published the book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" that became a hot seller in Christian circles. A follow-up, "Boy Meets Girl," really went "old-school" in which a girl's prospective suitor asks for her father's permission.

So what's wrong with that? Well, from the perspective of this perpetual "outsider," the concept smacks of more rules that you have to abide by as a Christian "ideal."

Some assumptions that the "courtship" movement maintains: You come from a strong, close-knit Christian family, especially with a strong father figure, and attend a good church where your parents are active and with lots of teens and young adults at your disposal and "safe" ways to get to know people in that age group. In that context it's thus likely that you would already know a potential partner.

But if none of these apply to you -- for example, if you're a convert, especially a male who doesn't come from that kind of background -- you're frankly handicapped. In many cases you can't spend time with other guys because they're already involved in relationships, and the girls often can't be bothered.

Having read the former book, I'm wondering how you can build such a relationship with females in that context when you just don't have the chance and you're not even around them. In most things men and boys need practice, and if you don't get those opportunities early on you might not get them later.

As you can imagine, I'm speaking from my own experience. The first woman I dated more than a couple of times I met at a small-group Bible study during my first year at my second college; although that relationship never "went anywhere," we've remained friends -- even after all this time and her marriage of 29 years. (I knew her husband before they started dating, and I did attend the wedding.) She didn't come from an ideal situation either, with her parents being divorced and none of her three parents, including a stepmother, being believers.

I understand that Harris is trying to keep young people, especially girls, from heartbreak. But I'm not convinced that more rules would do it.

No comments: