I am beginning a series on courtship–a subject about which I’m extremely passionate. But to discuss the need for courtship, first we have to dismantle the model of dating. It is only fitting that we discuss this subject right after our series on homechooling. It was the very issue of dating that prompted our first thoughts of homeschooling. I’ll explain later…
Dating is an acceptable practice for the majority of US citizens, including Christians. Dating, I believe, is one of Satan’s biggest knee-slappers. I’m not at all reluctant to make such a statement. I think a major component of the staggering divorce rate is related to our practice of finding a spouse. I am a victim of its poison, and I watch its horrible effects every single day. You are probably a victim too. We all have varying degrees of damage, but very few escape unscathed. The problem is, we have been conditioned to accept the atrocities of dating as “normal”, even necessary for life.
I’m horrified at Christians who won’t even consider the damage recreational dating is doing to our youth culture, continuing, instead, to assist their own children in perpetuating broken relationships that turn into broken marriages. We are called to be discerning, to walk circumspectly, to be set apart. Why won’t we look at the statistics, look at our youth culture, look at our failed marriages within the church and say “SOMETHING IS TERRIBLY WRONG HERE!”
Dating doesn’t make sense from any angle.
First of all, dating conditions us to approach relationships merely for how they benefit us (which is the opposite for the preparations of marriage). How many times during your dating years did you find yourself saying, “I really don’t like this guy anymore…but, I’m going to give up my own happiness for his, and stay with him, and serve him, and place his needs over my own”?
No, instead, we date a guy because we “like” him, or because he’s popular, or good-looking or has some other physical/infatuating quality that appeals to us. We are not very interested in his character, or how he treats his mother, or how he responds to negative situations. As soon as he doesn’t fulfill our needs, he’s history, or vice-versa. A whole book could be written just on the emotional damage that repeated break-ups do to a person, and their conditioning for future relationships.
Secondly, we send our children off “dating” as early as 13 or 14 years old–what logic is this? They are no where near marriageable age, nor are they even thinking of it. Their hormones are completely out of whack, and they lack maturity and discernment in every area. Add to this insanity the way most young girls leave the house dressed, and you have just orchestrated a disaster.
That’s why I call it recreational dating. It is often merely a past time, not related at all to finding a spouse, which is what the ultimate goal should be. The most crucial training time for a person is the time prior to marriage. The youth years should be spent focusing on life-skills, building a strong relationship with the Lord and with family, and preparing for the future. Instead, most of these years in the typical life are squandered–being completely distracted by shallow relationships that actually work to destroy our foundations for a healthy future, and interfering with the strong bonds of family that are so crucial.
Assuming that our model of dating was suppose to actually prepare for marriage…we send two hormonal teenagers out together, alone, and even “expect” them to be intimate–two married people could hardly hold up to that kind of physical temptation…how can we expect them to?
Thirdly, there’s the emotional attachment. A few years ago churches everywhere launched a “True Love Waits” campaign. While their efforts were noble, their understanding was terribly off. True love does wait…it waits for everything. I know many people who somehow managed to get through their dating experience and marry as virgins, but they were emotionally violated.
Think about this…what do we expect from our husbands in relation to his faithfulness to us? Would you be upset if your husband winked flirtatiously at another woman? What if he just enjoyed talking to her on the phone ever so often? What if just held her hand? All these activities would strongly violate marriage fidelity. And yet, every girl and boy who partakes of all these “harmless” activities stores them up in their emotional treasure. They don’t just erase every encounter they’ve had at the altar–those encounters become a permanent part of their lives. Every unmarried person is some one’s husband or wife. Why is it OK to violate them before the altar?
The typical dating experience involves at least some level of intimate attachment with at least two or three different people. The dating victims “practice” attaching then breaking up…attaching then breaking up, over and over. They strengthen the innate selfish pursuit of “my happiness”, and they set themselves up for virtually impossible temptations. They give away parts of their hearts, their minds, their dreams, their bodies, their emotions, all to someone who, in a few years will be nothing more than a stranger. They finally get to the altar broken, used, and carrying enormous baggage that will greatly affect their marriage.
Unfortunately, most of us will never personally know what a marriage really can be–approached from the beginning, God’s way. In fact, I have no doubt that many reading this will scoff…”She’s crazy. I dated, have no emotional scars and have a wonderful marriage”. And you may–praise God for His unfathomable grace! But we also have nothing to compare to. It may be possible that we will never know the bliss of the marriage God intended for us, had we kept our hearts for just our husbands. But we can prepare our sons and daughters for marriages that truly reflect the beauty and purity of Christ and his bride.
There is a much better way…not the world’s way, so of course, we can expect opposition. But isn’t that what the Bible teaches? To be thankful when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake?
My next post will get into the meaning of courtship. In the mean time, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts about the damage you perceive dating to be doing to us. Likewise, I would love to hear from you if you disagree–that’s what makes this blog a debate! I left much unsaid here…perhaps your comments/questions/opposition will flesh out the topic a bit more.