Does Courtship Make Sense?

A "court ship"

A “court ship”

There’s an article that’s been floating around the Christian online community in the past week or so called “Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed” by Thomas Umstattdt. Like many who read it, I had some interesting thoughts and I would like to share them with you.

While I don’t agree with 100% of what the article says, I thought there were some valid points. It brought to mind certain facets of my relationship with my wife that I find are relevant to the discussion. Namely, we didn’t court. Or at least, we never said, “Hey guys! Guess what! We’re courting!” We never went on a “court” to dinner and a movie, and we certainly didn’t have 24 hour supervision that seems to characterize many courting relationships in many circles. I think it’s important to realistically look at how a relationship works.

Doug Wilson responded to the original article and rightly pointed out that no matter what model people use, the fact still remains that the relationship is comprised of sinful people who live in a sinful world, and you’re going to have to deal with sin. That’s true, but I find the original article more persuasive. Thomas Umstattd also posted a follow up where he answered some of the questions that his original post brought up.

Exclusive Relationships Invite Temptation

One of the most important things that Umstattd pointed out is that the way his grandmother dated was by having mandatory dates with different boys in order to maintain a balance without getting too attached to one or the other. He pointed out that this helped his grandmother (at least when she was young) develop skills to interact with the opposite sex as well as give her an idea of what she wanted in a man. Furthermore, it helped to calm emotional ties with boys by not making it an exclusive relationship.

Courtship, in many of its forms, emphasizes emotional and physical purity and seeks to guard that by adding layers of security on it (which in some cases, is properly interpreted as legalism). As Umstattd points out, this really just exacerbates the problem of trying to stay pure because the hurdles of simply getting into the relationship elevates it to a level of exclusivity that is far above what it needs to be. It is rightly noted that for many guys, just asking to court a girl is tantamount to asking for her hand in marriage. I remember bringing up this very point with my friends when I was in high school and we all agreed courtship was something to be avoided.

When I actually met my wife and we were dating/courting/”going steady”, purity was hard. Duh. Whenever you get a guy and girl together and they’re in love, purity will be hard. Sin makes it hard. The more exclusive the relationship is, the harder it is to fight back. It’s not a defect of relationships; it’s just a fact. My beef is that courtship often accelerates exclusivity prematurely, which makes temptation more intense because of the emotional commitment involved. I recognize that accountability is also a strong part of courting, but accountability does not kill temptation.

Opposite Sex Relationships Are What is Important

My wife and I both have always had strong opposite sex friendships which I believe was key in us meeting and getting married so quickly. We already knew what we wanted, and when we found it, what was the point in waiting? Furthermore, we were friends for a solid two years before we became “official”. We didn’t have a relationship that was closely supervised, which would have made it hard to get to really know each other. Insofar as courtship is about pursuing marriage, then yes, we courted because we always knew we wanted to get married. So in a sense, when we made our relationship official, it was kind of like the start of a very long engagement because we knew nothing would break it down.

I believe that we were unique because we had a good sense of what to look for in a partner. That sense came from having strong opposite-sex relationships prior to meeting. This is what I believe courtship harms. There is often a sense of apprehension among guys about approaching a girl and getting to know her if you believe that she or her father may interpret that as a signal towards courtship (read: engagement). This is what I believe Umstattd was getting at. Don’t kill the relationship before it’s had a chance to grow.

Maybe the system of exclusivity inadvertently invite more temptation and accountability only goes so far. We are what is flawed, and maybe having a system that discourages opposite sex friendships by invoking the specter of marriage prematurely ain’t the greatest.

I highly recommend reading both the original article and the Q&A response that clarifies some issues from the original article. It’s an issue worth thinking about.

What do you think?


More like this:

Why You Shouldn’t Wait For Marriage

3 Ultra-Stupid Pieces of Marriage Advice the World Gives You

Why “Marriage Isn’t for You” Is Wrong

3 Things to Know Before Going to Cancún

View from our room

View from our room

Hola amigos, I’m back from the wedding and subsequent honeymoon in beautiful Cancún, Mexico. This being my second time traveling outside the continental US (the first being a trip to Europe), I was excited to get outside of the resort area and try and experience some authentic Mexican food and culture. I learned a few things on the way, so I decided to impart some of the things my wife and I discovered about Cancún.

Before I lay it out, I would first recommend going to Cancún because it’s flipping awesome. There’s tons of all-inclusive resorts and the city is simply beautiful. I found that the people of Mexico were extremely friendly and all the staff who assisted us were incredible. The resort even sent us a plate of chocolate strawberries to congratulate us on our honeymoon! Everyone in Mexico very enthusiastically congratulated us on our marriage; it was really cool. Contrary to popular belief, Mexico is not just an “extension” of America. It is its own separate cultural identity and it’s pretty cool.  So now, 3 things to know about going to Cancún.

#3. Take a bunch of tip money

In Mexico, you tip almost literally tip EVERYONE. You tip your drivers and bartenders (and at an all-inclusive resort where everything is already paid for, that can be a lot), your servers, your receptionists at the front desk, your tour guides, etc. The cool thing is that we took the advice of some friends and brought a ton of $1 bills so that every time we tipped for something, we just gave a $1. That way, you can tip on a budget and still feel like you’re not being a tightwad. We found that many of the people we tipped did not give off an aura of expecting a tip, which made tipping really rewarding. At the end of our stay, we gave our favorite server a $10 tip because he was so awesome. It feels great to be able to do that, so don’t forget to bring tipping money everywhere you go!

#2. Go to Market 28. And ignore the guys asking if you would like a song.

Market 28 is the flea market in the center of Cancun, where a ton of merchants hawk their wares and you can haggle for a good price. Inside Market 28, there is a kind of Mexican food court with a bunch of family style restaurants. All these restaurants offer the same lunch deal: 55 pesos for a drink, soup, and the main meal. That’s like $3.50 American dollars, and it’s about as much food as you’d get at a nice restaurant here for $15-20. And it was incredibly delicious. Also, ignore the musicians, because they charge a fat tip, to the tune of $5 for a single song. Still not happy about that…

#1. Check the prices at the Mexican Bazaar at La Isla Shopping Mall before heading to Market 28

La Isla is the touristy shopping center in the center of the hotel zone. It’s super cool and it has an aquarium at the center (which we didn’t visit due to our budget, but it’s still cool that it’s there). There’s a Mexican Bazaar store in there that has really great prices. We saw a couple items there in the $8-10 range and when we saw those products at Market 28, the merchant tried to sell it to us for $62! So know a baseline price for comparison for what you want to get before trying to haggle a merchant to ensure you’re actually getting a deal. In general, a merchant at Market 28 is going to quote you a price 3 to 4 times higher than what you should actually pay.

2 Times I Won’t Post

Hola readers, just a heads up that SnowedIn is taking a break until January 15th, since I’m getting married and going on my honeymoon. Consequently, no posts on the 1st or the 8th. Enjoy your New Years celebrations! And since I have nothing more to say, enjoy this beautiful picture that I took recently.