I left several comments about Stacy McDonald's article in the comment string over on thatmom.com (and others left some great comments, too), but I want to address the article a bit further here. I think the article is both intellectually and spiritually dishonest, and I believe such needs to be addressed, as it has the potential to influence people with a very legalistic, doctrine over person slant.
For starters, the list of questions. I'm not going to spend a great deal of time discussing it beyond describing the list as silly, intrusive, meddling, legalistic, self-important, and a cultural circling of the wagons. I would like to note this comment by Mrs. McDonald in the occasional disclaimers...
"... And again, remember, there are no right or wrong answers. The questions are intended for the purpose of “full disclosure,” as well for discussion points."
This is a completely dishonest statement by Mrs. McDonald. Let's look at a question or two as random examples...
"What is your view of the Sabbath and the proper use of that day? What activities can children enjoy on the Sabbath?
What is the present day application of the Mosaic Law?"
I would submit that there are any number of possible answers to just those two, among the plethora of legalistic, intrusive questions, that would cause Mr. and Mrs. McDonald to run a young man out of town on a rail. And God help us all at the possibilities on this one...
"What do you see as your wife’s role in local church ministry?"
"Well, Mr. and Mrs. McDonald, I believe that modern feminism has helped to demonstrate some good things along with the bad, and I believe that it [feminism] has to be added to the filter which I measure a woman's role in church ministry through."
Anyone want to give odds on that one most definitely being a "wrong" answer? I simply don't believe Mrs. McDonald is being honest, but is attempting to deflect accusations of legalism by appearing, through lip-service, to be less legalistic. Earlier in the article, Mrs. McDonald says this...
"Therefore, please keep in mind that most of these questions do not have right or wrong answers."
The inclusion of the word "most" suggests that at least some of the questions most certainly DO have wrong answers, and I would suggest, again, that the convenient inclusion of the word "most" is still dishonest. Take the word "not" out of the statement, and you'll be getting somewhere.
"Over the years, my husband has received numerous requests from parents for his “famous” courtship questions. However, he has been hesitant to make them available, since it is easy for people to want a formula for courtship."
My word. Courtship itself IS a formula. As my friend Christi pointed out in the comments on part 1, courtship is the cultural warrior's extreme answer and formula for countering that mean ole, worldly, evil, disgusting, out-of-wedlock pregnancy causing, feminist breeding, sex-driven, send you straight to hell, marriage ending in divorce making...well, umm...dating. Courtship is the cultural warrior's "do it this way to be godly" solution. Formula, formula, formula. And, it's a commandment of men.
There are several statements in the text of the article, and in the comments that follow, that suggest that the McDonalds believe that courtship is a process that THEY should reign over, essentially, taking upon themselves authority and responsibility that God hasn't assigned them or delegated to them, becoming meddlers, "not one's own overseer", something covered in part 1.
"The Bible gives us many prescripts, but not as many processes. God’s Word presents a number of concepts on how men and women are to relate to one another, as well as how they might prepare themselves for marriage; but it is certainly not a cookbook. While I don’t see a “biblical formula,” I do see biblical principles that will help our children move toward marriage in purity."
I don't know of any biblical prescript or principle that serves as a valid foundation for courtship. It just isn't there without adding to the scripture in significant fashion and speaking on behalf of God. Also, if it isn't a cookbook, she's awfully willing to share the recipe...
"Please feel free to copy and use these questions for your own personal use. If you would like to share them with others, you can click on the options at the bottom of this page, or grab the code in the right hand column to put a button on your own blog that links to this page."
Looks like a recipe for courtship salad being promoted to me.
To go along with the talk of biblical "prescripts", there's also this...
"So, the way our family chooses to live out these precepts is just that – our choice. It is our application of the biblical precepts found in Scripture."
So now we have, in addition to the "biblical" prescripts, "biblical" precepts. I wish I knew what these "biblical" precepts were. I've heard about them for three years, and have been told that there are traces of them all through the scriptures, yet I just can't seem to find these traces, nor can anyone point me to them. Sure sounds authoritative, though, to refer to things as "biblical", so they must be valid, right?
I would offer this opinion: Just because something is recorded IN the bible, that doesn't mean it's taught or recommended by the bible. Adultery is IN the bible, so is it a biblical precept? How about murder? Slavery? Concubines?
My opinion is that most of these "precepts" are actually human ideas from tribal periods, where customs were Chaldean, Hurrian, and Sumerian - HUMAN, and when the Holy Spirit wasn't given freely to comfort and lead men and women into all truth. These precepts aren't "biblical". They're human precepts that just happen to be recorded (not taught, recommended, or instructed in any shape or form) in a historical context in the bible. Here's a genuine biblical precept of note...Hosea 5:11...
Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment,
Because he willingly walked by human precept.
That's reason enough to make me run from courtship, and Mr. and Mrs. McDonald's formula for it, like it's the plague. As far as I'm concerned, it is.