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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Christian Courtship Movement vs. Dating: Josh Harris, "Emotional Purity", and Guarding Ones Heart: One Mom's Perspective

This is Part 1 of a series.
Part 2 is here.
Part 3 is here.
Part 4 is here.
Part 5 is here.
Part 6 is here

The following is only one mother's take on the courtship movement.  The views expressed in this series will be my own, and based on my own subjective thoughts and experiences.  They represent neither the courtship movement, nor those opposed to it.

Edmund Leighton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
With a soon to be 18 year old daughter in the house, this mom has done a lot of thinking about courtship in the past few years.  I strongly believe that ones choice of a spouse is the single most important decision, short of the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and follow Him, that a person will ever make.

It's a rare Christian, these days, who hasn't experienced at least some exposure to the courtship movement.  Josh Harris' first book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye , set off a tremendous cultural shift in how Christians, especially Protestants, look at the process of finding and getting to know ones spouse.  This movement has some very positive elements.  It also has some detractors.

Protestants may be surprised to learn that there is at least one, somewhat similar book written from a Catholic perspective: If You Really Loved Me: 100 Questions on Dating, Relationships, and Sexual Purity.

For those who are unfamiliar with the movement, it is built on some key principles. First, what popular culture calls "dating" should be  about finding someone to marry. Second, physical contact between couples who are not married should be chaste. Third, families of origin, and even church families and friends, have valuable input to offer a person who is considering a candidate for marriage.  Fourth, emotional intimacy binds hearts, and should be undertaken gradually, and only with a person with whom one is planning to enter into the marriage covenant.

In this series, I will be presenting some of my own reactions to the Courtship movement, and discussion of how we have applied it, and plan to apply it, within our own family.

Courtship discussions can be dicey.  It is a somewhat controversial topic, and can generate escalated emotions and, often, defensiveness on the part of advocates of both sides of the issue.  It is one of those matters in which key terms can mean different things to different people.  Also, because matters of the heart and family continuity are so close to our hearts and fears, those terms can become highly emotionally charged.

I believe that intentions, values, and principles are far more important than formulas. I also think that most people agree that "courtship" looks different for different people.

I will be discussing my own take on the general courtship movement, as well as some of the effects that it has had in shaping at least some members of the generation that has grown up with it.  Some of my opinions are positive; others are negative; none represents a judgment upon those who embrace aspects of the courtship movement in ways that our family has chosen not to.

I will simply be sharing my heart on this issue.

Stay tuned.  More to come.

Blessings friends,

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  1. I'll be interested to hear what you have to say on the topic. I heard someone say recently that wisdom is virtue applied to specific situations, and she used marriage as an example, pointing out that there's no universal answer to the question: "should I marry this man?", as the answer depends on specifics, i.e., who is "I" and who is "this man"?

    I think dating/courtship is similar: what method you use is going to depend largely on who you are and what culture you're living in. The goal of a good marriage is the same, but how you attain it is going to vary based on the situation (people, time, and place).

  2. Hi, Michelle,
    Wow! You have really done a great job covering so many bases! There is so much food for thought here, and mostly it is what we believe. The one thing I know is that everyone defines courtship differently and the best way to start is to define what you are talking about before you go very far! LOL Thank you for all three parts!

  3. I'll be back. I have an 18 year old daughter. She is dating! I need to read more.

  4. Thanks for your blog. It was very helpful and wise!

  5. Thanks for sharing. I'm learning lots from your post. ;) Christian dating is quite a tough phase for teens most of the times.


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