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

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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.

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Why “Marriage Isn’t For You” Is Wrong

(c) xElectricHigh on DeviantArt

(c) xElectricHigh on DeviantArt

Yesterday, I reposted the viral article, “Marriage Isn’t For You” by Seth Adam Smith. While I normally write my own stuff, I reposted this particular article because, on first glance, it looked good and I was rushed with some wedding plans and didn’t have time to write. However, a friend (who is married and has more credibility on this issue than I) commented on my repost and brought some really good insights forward.

Namely, that the author is actually wrong.

The whole premise of his article is that marriage isn’t about a selfish quest to make yourself happy, and to a certain extent, he’s right. Marriage isn’t about you. But a lot of Christians, myself included, read through that and thought, “Oh yeah, that sounds Christian. And after all, the only young people to get married are Christians, so this must be from a Christian guy writing about Christian marriage!”

Wrong.

Here’s the thing. Marriage is a beautiful relationship that God created. It should not be about you because marriage shouldn’t be selfish. But it should not be about your spouse. Why? Because you’re marrying a flawed, sinful human being that cannot possibly bear the weight of your worship. Because at that point, that’s what it is. Your spouse becomes an idol when the entire marriage is all about them. If your entire reasoning for getting married is solely to make another person happy, you’ve missed something along the way. Of course, this makes sense considering the author’s viewpoint (a Mormon who subscribes to the “Anasazi Way”, a New Age spiritual philosophy about communal living).

But in some ways, he’s right. Marriage isn’t about you. But it’s not about your spouse. It’s about Jesus. I don’t expect Sean to write about that because he doesn’t believe in the Jesus that I believe in. But Christ has to be the center of a marriage. He brings balance to the whole thing and He is the one we worship. When two people are worshiping Christ within their marriage, then everything else really falls into place.

So is marriage about you? No. Is it about your spouse? No. Is it about Christ? Yes. It has to be about Christ because marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Apart from him, the institution doesn’t make sense. It’s in the picture of Christ giving himself for the Church that we can understand marriage and the love that binds it together.

As my friend said, “Love is centered in Jesus, and true love may not always make your spouse “happy”– sometimes love is shown from one spouse to another through loving rebuke when the other is in sin.”

That’s what marriage is about.

Marriage Isn’t For You

As someone who is getting married soon, this post struck a chord with me. Also, as someone who is getting married soon, I have very little time for my own original posts, so here’s a repost from Seth Adam Smith and his blog. Original post can be found here. 

Marriage Isn’t For You

By Seth Adam Smith

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each of us have moments in our lives when it feels like time slows down or the air becomes still and everything around us seems to draw in, marking that moment as one we will never forget.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raisethem? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

Some time ago, my wife showed me what it means to love selflessly. For many months, my heart had been hardening with a mixture of fear and resentment. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous. I was selfish.

But instead of matching my selfishness, Kim did something beyond wonderful—she showed an outpouring of love. Laying aside all of the pain and aguish I had caused her, she lovingly took me in her arms and soothed my soul.

SKwedding394

Marriage is about family.

I realized that I had forgotten my dad’s advice. While Kim’s side of the marriage had been to love me, my side of the marriage had become all about me. This awful realization brought me to tears, and I promised my wife that I would try to be better.

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.

Truly, love and marriage isn’t for you. It’s for others.

3 Reasons to Not Send Your Son to College

exam-finals-loan-officer-college-ecards-someecards

A while ago, there was a blog post that was circulating the social media world about how girls don’t belong in college. It was titled 6 Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College and it’s by Raylan Alleman. Then, there was a response from Rachel Miller (news editor for The Aquila Report) on the question of whether or not it’s wrong to send young women to college. Rachel has written some really cool stuff that I enthusiastically agree with (Google “Rachel Miller Aquila Report” and you’ll see what I mean). Of course, the whole idea that a woman shouldn’t go to college is kind of ridiculous, and the article that advocates it doesn’t really give good reasons and overall, Rachel gives a good answer. But I want to get away from the whole notion of going to college as a necessary activity for young people and, instead of responding for why women SHOULD go to college (which they should certainly have that freedom if they want), I want to talk about good reasons for anyone to skip college. Sons included.

1. College is expensive

This is one of the reasons Raylan lists for why women shouldn’t go to college. While I disagree with his premise that girls shouldn’t go to college because they’re girls, it’s actually a really valid reason for anyone to skip out. College is expensive. Like, really, really expensive. In a world where a degree is worth less and less, it’s not always in the best economic interests of students to subject themselves to a mountain of student debt. For your son who needs to provide for a family someday, an apprenticeship or self-education might be a better option, and avoiding that $27,000 of average student debt may be a wise decision. Of course, a degree is still a requirement for many jobs so college may be unavoidable for some, but the high price tag is enough to give anyone pause.

2. College extends adolescence

Rachel talks about how college is like real life with training wheels, and is a good place to learn how to own your faith. While this has elements of truth, I think there is a larger culture of “college as an extension of high school.” You have 4 years where you’re largely free from the responsibilities of adult life. The typical college student might be living on campus, is funded by student loans, maybe has a student job, and whose primary responsibility is homework. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, the culture of college still treats you like an adolescent that constantly needs to be reminded to be an adult. It’s no surprise that many people push off important decisions like marriage until they’re almost 30 ( 28.9 for men, to be exact) when we have a culture that treats you like you’re a kid until you’re 25. College life leaves a lot to be desired in terms of actually preparing you for the “real world”.

3. College and education are not synonymous

My biggest beef with college has always been that it’s not necessarily the best place to get an education. Education is really important and is absolutely necessary to be a well-adjusted member of society. It opens up tons of opportunities and is the best indicator of social mobility. But college in the last few years has been less about education and apparently more about social engineering or raising tuition (at least that’s how it feels). I question the effectiveness of general education requirements (read: thief of time and money) and the semester system in general. If you can educate yourself better by reading books on your own or working under an expert, then why go to college? Better yourself through education, but realize that college may not be where you get that education. Especially if you get $27k in debt from the experience.

That’s all I have for now. It’s a little difficult to respond to Raylan’s article that seriously lists the danger of parents using contraception as a reason for daughters not to go to college, but I agree with the idea that college may not be a wise choice for everyone. Rachel makes the case for college so check out her blog as well at Daughter of the Reformation. 

What do you think? Is college the greatest thing since sliced bread or an expensive scam? 

Why You Shouldn’t Wait For Marriage

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Pretty picture

The title of this post may seem like I’m going to launch into a neo-Christian heresy about how the Greek root of such-and-such word actually means that we can have sex whenever we want, and waiting for marriage is a sham.

But that’s not what this post is about, so you can put away your pitchforks and douse your torches.

Should you wait for marriage to have sex? Yes, that’s so soundly Biblical it’s not even open for debate. But there are good reasons on WHY we should wait and there are bad reason, and there is one popular reason that I’ve discovered that really isn’t Biblical.

Marriage Isn’t The Ultimate Goal

I ran into this blog from Grace for the road that was published about a year and a half ago, talking about why she got rid of her purity ring. The post was called I Don’t Wait Anymore. To give you an idea of what she’s talking about, here’s a killer quote from that post:

“But many of them – if they’re honest – will tell you that time has passed, and it’s wrecking their view of God.

If this is who God’s supposed to be, then He’s tragically late.

So some decide to chuck “Lady in Waiting” out the window … and possibly their virginity with it. Church goes next. God might go next, too. If He doesn’t answer these prayers after they’ve held up their end of the bargain, why would He answer any others?

Whether it was the fault of the leaders, the fault of us girls, or both, a tragedy happened back then.

A lot of girls were sold on a deal and not on a Savior. [emphasis added]”

There is a longstanding movement to sign the little pledge card, put on your purity ring, and then commit to waiting for marriage. Which is awesome, because you should wait to have sex until you’re married. But inadvertently, that little card or purity ring comes to mean something else entirely, that you’re making a deal with God by exchanging your patience for His promise. But it doesn’t work that way. Waiting for marriage is about glorifying God in Christ through obedience; not a leverage mechanism for forcing a spouse out of God.

Being Single Can Suck…I Know

I deeply sympathize with my brothers and sisters in Christ who are patiently searching for a spouse. But even for those married or engaged couples, marriage is not the end goal. Christ is. As the author of the blog states, we need a savior, not a deal. It’s so easy to let our perceptions of our own happiness cloud what we really, truly need, which is Christ.

As humans, we often put our faith in Christ on a conditional basis; contingent upon our circumstances. When our circumstances change, our faith wavers. And in this case, faith becomes attached to waiting for a spouse, and when one doesn’t show up, the faith disappears.

I guess the point is that we are fulfilled in Christ already and marriage will not change that. We have every thing we need in Him. Just like Ephesians 1:3 says, we have been blessed with ALL blessings in Christ. We have it all.

Don’t Give Up

So I just want to say, don’t give up. Don’t make your faith in Christ contingent on a circumstance in your life, because He actually is working everything for your good, if you love Him (Romans 8:28). Wait because it matters to God, but don’t wait because you think you can store up brownie points with Jesus that you can eventually cash in for a spouse.

That’s it. I hope I came across well, but please sound off in the comments if you have a different perspective!