Courtship 2: Contemporary

Things have changed considerably from the old courtship days. Now, of course, parents, schools, and churches are not teaching reasonable expectations for marriage. The emphasis is on romantic love and finding the “perfect” mate. Not that I’m knocking romantic love—it sure beats booze for getting high! I just realize that it is an extreme example of eros.

Today young (and not-so-young) people are expected to date – which includes church socials, drunken parties, and making out in automobiles. Sometimes on the same day. Not all of these venues seem like especially good opportunities to spend quality one-on-one time with a young person of the opposite sex.

This modern version of courtship includes dating many, many people in a frantic search for “the one.” The kids are told that, when you find the right person, you’ll “just know.” But, honestly, the number of people that we get to know well through dating is probably no larger than in an old-fashioned courtship. Mostly, we date a new person once or twice and then move on without ever really getting to know them.

And we have no idea what they are really like back home in Cedar Rapids.

How well has this worked? Dalrock has several interesting posts on modern courtship: according to this one, almost 48% of women have never married before they turn 30!

I’ve also been reading Sunshine Mary’s blog regarding her take on a proper Christian marriage. This intrigues me; I have two sons in their early twenties and I would very much like for them to have healthy marriages.

My curiosity was piqued; how do young women today decide when (and who) to marry?

A Google search using the term, “who to marry christian,” led me to an article on the Christian Broadcasting Network website. It was the first article listed—after the ads.

The whole article is well worth reading (in a nausea-inducing way). The writer is Ms. Belinda Elliott. I’ve reproduced about half of the column here, the important bits:

I had dated several guys who wanted to become more serious, but when they would start talking about marriage I would start backing away – quickly. Marriage was a huge commitment, and I wasn’t about to take it lightly. In all of my relationships I had never felt like I knew for sure that the guy was the one.

So how do you know for sure? I would like to offer some ideas. These are things that helped me when I was facing the same decision.

In my case, I already knew Matt quite well. We had attended college together and had become good friends. We even went on a couple dates, but I was never interested in anything more than friendship. But eight years later that friendship had turned into something more, and we began dating. However, I still wasn’t sure I wanted to marry him.

What did it take to convince me? A lot of talking. I don’t mean that he spent hours trying to talk me into it. I mean that we had to discuss a lot of things. I wanted to know all about him, his hopes, his dreams, his fears, his expectations for marriage, and anything else I could think of. I wanted to talk about every possible situation that could arise in a marriage and find out how he would handle it.

The questions covered everything from how many kids we each wanted and where we would like to live to who would do the dishes and take out the trash. You can find many of the questions we used in the book, 1000 Questions for Couples by Michael Webb.

So how do you know for sure? I think my friends were partially right. In a sense, you do ”just know,” but it isn’t because of some magical feeling that all is right with the world. Just knowing comes from time spent contemplating your similarities, your differences, and how well you fit together. It comes from asking God in prayer if this is His will for you.

Let me interpret.

Ms. Elliott attended University where she was “friends” with Matt. That means he wasn’t “high-quality” enough to sleep with – she reserved that privilege for the jocks and jerks (with Beemers).

After college she got involved in her career – and riding the cock carousel. She “dated” several guys who proposed marriage to her but, because of her fear of not getting “Mr. Right,” she dumped them. She was in a number of relationships (practice marriages) so she’s had lots of experience at breaking up (practice divorces). Suddenly, at about 30, she came down with a bad case of “baby rabies.”

Frantically, she started running down the list of all the guys to whom she had ever said, “let’s just be friends.” She was smart enough not to marry a jerk; she knew that her LJBF list contained all of the steady, reliable men she had ever known. She discovered, to her horror, that all of them were married – except Matt, a guy she hadn’t seen much since college. But (thank God!) he was still available and still remembered her as a cute college girl. He hardly even noticed the wrinkles around her eyes.

So, after a couple of months of long-distance interrogation communication to ensure that he will allow her to run the marriage, she settles for him knows that “he’s the one!”

You might have noticed that she talks about praying, asking God if it was His will. I guess she didn’t do any praying about the situation in the twelve preceding years. Was she afraid God would say, “Yes?” She would have to give up partying!

She thoughtfully references an interrogation manual for prospective husbands. In it “[y]ou can find many of the questions we used…” Many of? 1000 weren’t enough?

My favorite quote is, “I wanted to talk about every possible situation that could arise in a marriage and find out how he would handle it.” She’s definitely going to be the captain of this boat.

This sad scenario is what CBN holds up as the standard for a Christian woman choosing a husband. I want better for my sons.