reb-meets-isaacAlthough many fundamentalists still let their teens date (translation: “sit next to someone of the opposite sex in youth group or church”) many like the idea of courtship instead.

The trend towards courtship became very popular a few years ago, when a single charismatic-leaning Calvinist teenager who was living in a basement decided to write a book about why he didn’t want to date anymore. For some reason, this book was widely accepted in fundamentalist circles where some touted it as gospel and declared it the “Biblical way.”

Using the biblical model for finding a wife, the parents of the bride and groom are the key decision makers in who their children marry. The advantage is that this eliminates emotionally painful breakups and purges out the leaven of mates who are not quite up to fundy snuff. The disadvantage is that rounding up the livestock needed to pay the bride’s dowry is a messy business. The week-long wedding feasts are also very expensive. But, if a fundamentalist is going to set out to do things the Biblical way, he can’t pick and choose which traditions he wants to follow.

Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match…

17 thoughts on “Courtship”

  1. the aforementioned book was given to me at school to read in 12th grade – one of the biggest wastes of my time… ever!

  2. You know what’s funny? Even though the author of that book is one the main leaders in my church’s family of churches (oh, just call it a denomination and be done with it!), his book isn’t really that huge among the young people or their parents. The Fundies treat that book like it’s a lost part of the Bible, but to us, the members of the Sovereign Grace church family, it’s just another opinion, and opinion most of us don’t actually follow. LOL

  3. Parents who want to over-control their children (who are actually becoming young adults) love this stuff.

  4. My parents decided that at 20 I should get married to the youth pastor’s daughter. She was 19. They were following Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians that it is better to marry than to burn. So rather than face judgement for having premarital sex, (and being good, obedient IFB’s) we married at a much too immature age. It lasted 9 years.

  5. I was told growing up that if I dated, I would be “giving bits of my heart away”, Eventually when the one God wanted me to marry came along, I wouldn’t have anything left to give and I’d be ruined. I never understood that. I remember asking, “What about someone who’s wife died and then found someone else to love years later? How do they have any heart left?” And of course the typical answer when someone is uncomfortable….. “Well that/they dont really count.”

  6. I find that the opinions in IKDG and BmG are just that… opinions. I like the thought process that the book proclaims of guarding your heart (Prov. 4:23) and trying to not make decisions based on emotion, instead on a foundation of knowledge and trust. Every time I tell someone I read the books and I let them read them, I remember to tell them that they should form their own opinion on the matter and that these books are only there to help guide you with the help of God – study them and make your own plan with His help.

  7. I read the book. I met the author. I had the author sign the book. I then discarded the book. I am glad that I did.
    My parents picked out a girl for me to marry. She was dumb as a brick so I objected. They picked someone else out for me I objected because I did not get along with her at all. Seriously, they wanted me to marry someone that I could not stand.

    I then found a wife that my parents did not like and still have trouble liking. She has been my rock and I do not know how I would live without her. I literally thank God for her every day of my life. It has been almost a decade since I fell in love with her for the first time and it gets better every day.
    I shudder to think what might have become of my life if I had followed the courtship model. I do know one thing that would have happened, I would never have met my wife.

    If I were to sit down and type up a list of what I would want in a wife I would come up with my wife exactly. (Minus the pollen allegies and the weird in-laws. I took those out per her request. 😉 )

    Courtship may work for some or even most. I do not know. I do know that I have seen it ruin many lives. I am thankful that I did not acquiesce to the pressure to “court” and instead dated.

  8. Oh boy.. this one brings back memories. I remember one guy in my IFB church. He was 30 something, but I think he must have approached every girl in the churches parents, and asked if he could court their daughter. He also asked many women who were first time visitors to marry him. The young guys at church had to act as distractions. Either talk to the new girl first (which was awkward, because she probably thought we had the same intentions as this other guy), or, talk to the guy, which was an ordeal. He would ramble on about the Orthodox Church and how people don’t really know but the Jesuits had also started them and they were a greater threat than the catholics and so on.

    He was very desperate. The final straw was when he asked the Pastors wife what the dowry was on her daughter. He was dead serious. I am dead serious. This guy was bonkers. The pastor told him to leave. No idea what happened to him. I felt sorry for him. The pastor tried to match him with this woman who was trying to marry so she could stay in the country. I don’t remember why, but he said he couldn’t marry her. Anyway, was really weird situation.

    I loved that church 🙂

    Preacher nights were great. The pastor would ask anyone to raise their hand who would like to preach and most of the guys did, above guy included. But the Pastor would act like he was invisible. Even if no other hands were up and this guy was, he would just say something like “well, I guess that’s all we have time for tonight” and preach himself. I never heard him, but apparently once he got up, he would never shut up, and would just repeat lines he heard from Jack Hyles. I wish I could have heard him preach.

  9. I’m sorry, but I don’t want the responsibility of choosing a spouse for my kid, because if it goes wrong, guess who’s to blame.

  10. Not surprised that you don’t like courtship, Darrell. It’s just not “cool”, is it?

    I see that you have to resort to mockery here because you cannot win the actual argument.

    1. Ok Henry you called the dance. Defend the Courtship model. Go ahead you get to start. Defend the courtship model and document your position.

  11. Both my parents and in-laws read that book (and the sequel) and came up with the most “perfect” one-size-fits-all(nobody) courtship formula which then then tried to cram my husband and I into before we got married. It was a train wreck.

    Our relationship began with my dad informing me that we “ruined our courtship before it even began.” because my hubby told me that he was interested in me BEFORE he had asked permission from my dad. From there on out they constantly tried to control and micromanage every aspect of our relationship. We weren’t allowed to go to Wal-Mart without a chaperon because it would be “the appearance of evil” (last I checked two people walking into Wal-Mart was the appearance of shopping, not the appearance of evil. Now if we were walking in with guns and masks, THAT might be the appearance of evil.) When we were engaged, we weren’t even allowed to go get our marriage licence without supervision. They tried to make us bring our siblings along to our premarital counseling sessions, but we put our foot down and “rebelled” on that one.

    The worst instance was right after our engagement, we thought things were going better between us and our parents, when suddenly out of the blue, my hubby’s parents sat him down and gave him a thorough brow beating for *gasp* hugging me! They accused him of hugging me simply because he wanted to feel my breasts (because obviously that is the only reason why a man would want to show affection toward the woman he loves). We were totally caught off guard by the episode because before hubby proposed to me, he had actually received permission to hug me and it had been several months since we got engaged and nobody had said anything about it. Apparently my dad had not specified that he was allowed to hug me ONCE after we got engaged, but that the permission did not continue after that. So instead of coming to us and talking to us about the misunderstanding they let several months go by, meanwhile gathering information from our siblings (who apparently were appointed to spy on us) and keeping track of all infractions before they suddenly sprung the thing on us. After my in-laws had given my hubby what for, they wouldn’t even allow him to call my dad to apologize for the misunderstanding until after our two dads had talked to each other to decide what our punishment should be (as if we were a couple of 4 year olds instead of full grown adults in our twenties). Our parents still to this day cannot figure out why we are so offended by the way they treated us before we got married.

    1. Wow.

      Parents who insist on that kind of control over their adult children have taken Biblical principals are turned them into warped permission for manipulation.

      1. OK. I was so annoyed by the way you were treated that I seem to have forgotten how to spell. Or it was George.

        *and instead of “are”

    2. Ouch. My sympathies for all the crazy you had to experience. There’s no way that any of that behavior by the parents had anything to do with the love of God. The key is the whole “building a dossier” approach to correcting all your heinous errors in “courtship.” 😎
      Reading between the lines, you two haven’t let all that parental crazy oppression spoil your marriage. Thank God, whose grace covers all our sins, be thanked for that.
      I bet that having parents as crazy as that may have helped – it could seriously reduce in-law problems. :mrgreen: At the expense, unfortunately, of general family rifts. 😐

  12. My wife and I were first generation fundamentalists, so we didn’t indure such scrutiny as Suzy’s Mamma and husband. Now, let this be a lesson to all first generation fundamentalists, and even recently former-first generation fundamentalists!

    ok…meditate….m-e-d-i-t-a-t-e….a-uhmmmmmmm, a-uhmmmmmmm.

    I shall not do that to my kids….a-uhmmmmm….I shall not do that to my kids…

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