Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Case Thrown Out of Courtship

Grift Your Hearts generated some interesting responses, most of them coming from people on the business end of the debris of the commandments of men. Those people could relate. On the other hand, it riled a few of you up, and all of the standard responses and talking points came in. Love it. (those last two words were sarcasm, for those with busted or improperly functioning meters)

What I'm writing here is in no way, shape, or form a disclaimer. I'll stand by every word I've ever written about courtship all the way to my grave. Where adults are concerned, courtship is stupid. S-T-O-O-P-I-D. I don't care about the intentions of the people involved. I don't care if courtship "worked" for you. It's stupid.

I'm firmly convinced that if some dude wrote a book about the godly wonders of broccoli, a large portion of the Christian community (particularly in conservative sectors) would soon be eating nothing but broccoli, wearing clothing made only from broccoli, developing homeschool curriculum that centered around the godliness of broccoli, teaching men that godly fathers should guard their daughter's broccoli until a man comes along who maybe is deemed worthy to steam it. People would buy in, just like they did with this courtship crapola. People would buy in.

Let's look at a few of the standard responses...

You're throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Ugggh. I'm not a drinker, but that phrase makes me want to tie one on in righteous fashion. My last post made my position clear on the matter. It isn't my fault if you still want to sift through the piles of human debris in the wake of the "courtship model" to find some reason to be justified in clinging to it. We all make mistakes. If you've chosen, practice, or promote courtship, you've made one. Stop it. Acknowledge it, correct it, and move on from it. And, for the record, the above is the final time that phrase will ever be published on this blog - and although it isn't my policy to moderate comments, any comment espousing that phrase in defense of the P/QF lifestyle (and all of it's seedy little offshoots) will get the boot. I give you my word on that.

Courtship isn't a formula.

Yes it is. To say otherwise is intellectually dishonest. The most dangerous lies are the lies we tell ourselves.

Courtship looks different for every family.

No it doesn't. That's a lie that the proponents would have you believe to convince you that you aren't following a formula. How do I arrive at this conclusion? Well, everyone who tells me this feels compelled to tell me how their family did courtship. Guess what? It sounds just like every other case of courtship I've ever heard of. Once you, as an adult, let someone else (your parents) dictate the parameters of your personal/emotional life and micro-manage the process on your behalf, you're no longer practicing SELF-control (a fruit of the Holy Spirit, btw), but rather you're BEING controlled. Courtship invites the Holy Spirit right out the door.

Any person would be wise to seek the input of their parents.

When it's needed, and when the parents are qualified to offer input, I agree whole-heartedly. But relinquishing SELF-control, and relying on someone else to set your personal boundaries isn't healthy spiritually or emotionally - regardless of any "good intentions" behind it. Frankly, too many parents are compensating for their own past failures through the use of the courtship model on their children, and that's blatantly unhealthy.

Structure is needed to counter temptation.

Despite what brocco...err, I mean "courtship model" proponents would have you believe, not all men are horny toads looking only to get into a women's pants, not all women are gullible and "easily deceived" into becoming harlots and hussies, and a man and a woman bumping into each other in the hallway isn't a guarantee that they'll be bumping uglies in the backseat of a Buick moments later. If any of these things ARE true of you, you've got problems a lot deeper than anything courtship can remedy. But if you want to believe this cheese about temptation and all, well, living a life predicated on potential failure and defined by fear is always a good thing, right?

I'm pretty sure the bible tells us that God always provides a means of escape from temptation, and being it comes from God, it probably has something to do with SELF-control, not with running away from a tempting situation to avoid dealing with it when it can be dealt with. But, if you guys prefer, keep on buying that broccoli, believing in your inevitable, looming failure, and believing in the puniness and powerlessness of the Holy Spirit within you.

My marriage is proof that courtship works when done right.

No it isn't. Your marriage is proof that courtship wasn't the utter catastrophy in your relationship that it is for most of those who read here - probably because you willingly surrendered your brain to the movement and never questioned any of it. Your marriage is no more proof of the "rightness" of courtship than a successful bank robbery is proof that robbing banks is the best way to get out of debt. I'd dare say that if you HAD questioned, if you HAD used critical thought, if you HAD said "thanks but no thanks" to the courtship model, things might not have been so rosy, both in your relationship with your future spouse or with your parents, and a great deal of under-the-surface dysfunction (the fruit of conservative and fundamentalist Christianity) would've become surface. Again, I've nothing BUT evidence to support that position. I hear all the time from grown women who had a seemingly healthy and happy family life - until - they dared to examine the family belief systems, and then...Hell on earth. Facades are funny things, and religious systems provide great ones as long as everybody dutifully and unquestioningly buys in.

It's troubling how those who practice and advocate courtship all speak the same group language, use the same buzzwords, use the same illogical, canned, and rehearsed defenses. It's very cultic and strikes me as very unhealthy. When you surrender your own voice, you're living dangerously. When you surrender your mind, turn out the lights cause the party's over.

Courtship is ridiculous on every level. It's stupid. Don't be duped by religious fads.

Guard your own broccoli.


  1. Love it. :)

    I was complaining to my husband about people telling me to "not throw the baby out with the bathwater" in regards to a certain teacher that was speaking at a marriage conference this weekend. Hubby replied "Tell them that in this case the analogy of the dog crap in the brownies is more applicable. Tell them to eat the brownies and spit out the dog crap and see how that works for 'em." I love that man. :D

  2. Ahahaa Darcy... that is the greatest analogy ever! And so much more fitting for the subject matter...

    I really hate the "baby with the bathwater" argument. How do they know we're not throwing the bathwater out, and it just happens that OUR baby looks different than theirs? :-P

    And it's so so true... everyone's courtship stories look strangely (or not so strangely) familiar. Aka The Same. In THEORY it works, and no hearts are broken, and everyone's relationship plays out differently than everyone else's... but in actual real time, all the courtships that actually "worked" look the same as every single other one.

  3. The broccoli analogy is great, Lewis. "Godly Broccoli." I need a shirt or something. "I only eat Godly Broccoli." LOL

    Darcy, that is an awesome saying from Sky. I'll have to remember that one.

  4. Lewis, you know how to go straight to the heart of this nightmare. Many thanks.

  5. Oh my...have you been reading my Facebook today? I think every single one of those arguments was used by someone in the discussion. And I'm tired. And I think I WILL have a drink. LOL :)

  6. "I'd dare say that if you HAD questioned, if you HAD used critical thought, if you HAD said "thanks but no thanks" to the courtship model, things might not have been so rosy...I hear all the time from grown women who had a seemingly healthy and happy family life - until - they dared to examine the family belief systems, and then...Hell on earth."

    Exactly, EXACTLY. GREAT post.

  7. I wonder if the argument "The phrase 'don't throw out the baby with the bathwater' cannot be found anywhere in Scripture, but is an example of how ungodly secular culture has influenced the thinking of the modern church today" would carry any force?

    Ah well, worth a shot.

  8. dude! I've been trying to put this into words for a while, and you basically took the thoughts that have been swirling around and said them. Thank you.

  9. Your writing is important, and needed, and well-reasoned, and all that stuff, but most importantly, it is a hell of a lot of fun. When you're on, you're really on.

  10. Excellent! When do Quiverfull/Patriarchy kids ever get to be entrusted to the care of God and trusted to obey his commandments without a body guard, I mean without an accountability partner?? If I understand correctly, it's only upon marriage [only not really since that offers a built-in accountability partner of sorts]. And since marriage may take place at 17 or 70 depending on the whim of the parents that means a whole lot of folks are not "growing up" and relying on their faith and SELF CONTROL to behave in an appropriate manner for each situation. Far from "wolves" getting them, they might need to be able to think, but the movement won't allow that.........

    Ranting, I know......

  11. Well I've always thought courtship was silly. SO unrealistic for me having not-so-Christian parents. So when people told me I should do it and even gave me a pamphlet on I wish I could say I laughed or told them to slag off. But I didn't. I was hurt. I felt left out. I thought "Why don't I have wonderful Chrsitian parents to help me choose my mate? Does that make me less of a Christian because I can't do things "God's way"? I tried to get my friends to help out so that my fiance and I were never alone together. I do think that part is a good one...we were alone together too much and I'm sorry to say that is one temptation I should've run from. But thankfully with God's grace it did not destroy me or my relationship with my wonderful husband!!

  12. Teacher...I agree with the exception of needing what amounts to a chaperon. I think the emphasis of discipline in any personal relationship, romantic or otherwise, should be on SELF-control.

  13. hah! Totally. If someone did courtship and has a great marriage, its despite courtship not because of it.

  14. For the first few years of my marriage, I was happy in the thought that we'd done courtship right, so had a happy marriage and a happy story.

    Gradually I realized that we didn't do courtship right *at all.* We set our own boundaries, discussed important issues between ourselves, and spent a whole lot of time alone together (although always easily accessible to other people, which put a limit on what we could do). Our parents had no official say in what we did, although I spent hours talking to my mom about it all.

    Reading through this post, I had to laugh. It's all so true. Now I'm a big proponent of the right motivations, but not so much how it looks on the surface. I guess I'm not really "for" courtship anymore.

    -- SaraJ

  15. Wow. I'm new to your blog and I've found your perspective to be very interesting. You also have the makings of a first class comedian!
    I think I'm going to start using" broccoli" as my code word for" crap in the brownies."

  16. I just found this blog and I'm loving everything I'm reading! I grew up somewhat fundie, homeschooled and all, but thankfully my mother had enough sense not to buy into the whole charade. "Courtship" is great for teens learning about relationships with their parents' guidance - not so much for grown adults. The godly broccoli and crap in the brownies analogies literally had me laughing till I cried. Keep it up bro!

  17. Bumping uglies? That made me laugh out loud! What a phrase.... And I am with you...courtship is way overrated.

  18. Yeah, here's the skinny on what courtship does.

    It encourages girls to think that they shouldn't be attracted to guys until they're ready to get married.

    So guess what happens the first time they're attracted to a guy? They think they're ready to get married. (Even if they're 18 and the guy's a douche). Otherwise, they'd have to admit that they're feeling an attraction "before they're ready" or at "too young of an age," and that is an unGodly thing to do.

    So, instead of "guarding her heart," a girl will give her heart away too fast. Because, in order to feel her heart at all, she's been told that this feeling MUST be connected to marriage intent. Otherwise she's being date-ish and worldly.

    By the way. My friends envy my marriage, and it started with dating, had almost no rules at any time, and our relationship stayed physically pure without any---I repeat, any---supervision from parents.

  19. Dude, when you get married you need to have something about broccoli written into your vows ... "do you promise to love, honor, cherish and steam her broccoli?" ...

    ... great post :D