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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Christian Courtship Part IV -- A Few Thoughts Sixteen Months Later

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

One of the most popular sets of posts on this blog has been the courtship series. Written some time ago, it conveyed my thoughts on the Christian courtship movement at that time. While the series ended, our family's exploration of the issues surrounding it has not. I think this is true for many familes that have embraced any aspect of the courtship concept.  Anything so new (to modern society, at least) is bound to go through changes. I suppose that many of the thoughts to follow involve fitting our more traditional ways into modern society at large, rather than discussion of courtship principles in particular.

As Elyse has grown older, I have been struck by the fact that for most Christian families, the courtship concept is going to be foreign to the majority peers that young adults come into contact with. It's just not the way that things are done these days, for most folks anyway. I suppose that it is valuable for families to take this into consideration when judging the actions of a child's peers.

I have also been caught off guard a bit by the speed with which young people enter into "relationships" these days. It appears, from the outside looking in anyway, that they seem to locate someone that they consider potentially suitable and then instantly enter into a sort of intimacy trial period with the thought that it can always be broken off if it does not work well. Of course it can, but it seems to me that there may be some advantage to moving into things more slowly to avoid emotional entanglements that were not well advised to begin with. That is partly what a courtship model is intended to facilitate.

The third thing that I had not anticipated is that there seems to have been a shift in how opposite gender young people spend time together. There seems to be a casualness to it that I don't recall experiencing at the very outset of relationships. There seems to be little formality in the beginning. Rather than going places together with boundaries appropriate to the stage of the new friendship, it seems common to "hang out" together as if there is already a level of intimate familiarity-- even in a home alone. Of course, my husband will fall on his sword before he allows this to happen with our daughter, but I find it remarkable that it seems to be commonplace -- even among "nice kids." I think that perhaps in a divorce culture, it seems perfectly acceptable to "play house" to try relationships out, because they are disposable.

At any rate, I find myself searching for an appropriate resting point for the practices of our very traditional, religious family within modern culture. I also find myself struggling with the degree to which parents should be involved. I do think, as I have stated before, that a courtship approach can facilitate over-involvement by parents. As my husband stated just the other day, "My daughter is a gem among women; I'm not about to be letting her go easily."  Still, I'm sure that a degree of involvement by parents that is too intense or invasive can be potentially harmful.

The final thing that I have noticed is that a courtship model -- with its emphasis upon not entering into a relationship unless and until a couple are discerning the possibility of marriage -- has the potential to halt the progress of relationships due to fear of failure. I think that we may have created such a stir about avoiding "casual dating" and the "rehearsal of serial monogamy" that we've made these kids scared to death to enter into a relationship for fear that it will fail. I'm not suggesting that this is a reason to dispense with more traditional courtship practices; I just think that it is something to be mindful of as we navigate the process.

On a positive note, I have expressed my concerns before that, although we have spend nearly 20 years pouring our hearts and souls into raising up a godly maiden of virtue, I feared that there were no parents who had made the necessary efforts to raise complimentary young men. I have come to believe that there are; it's just that one must do some searching to locate them.

I wish I had some complete thoughts to offer. In fact, we are still a family in flux on this issue. Nonetheless, I though I would share some thoughts along the way. All in all, I find that I must keep reminding myself that God is in control, and he has great plans for her. I just need to fulfill my role, but get out of his way.

Pax Christi dear ones,
I pray that you and your young ones are well,

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  1. This has made me research out some of your other "courtship" entries.

    I'm curious to know what your daughter's feelings are as she's been part of the process, herself.

    This is all really new to me, but given how spot on you've been with your reflections and acknowledgements, I'm curious to know more about how the journey unfolds for all parties involved (you, your husband, your daughter, and her potential suitors). Now obviously I don't need details, but as this is a very - VERY - new concept to me (being of the "hang out" variety growing up), I'm really interested in hearing more about it.

    BTW - your husband's comment should be tattooed to the heart of every father. <3

    1. Perhaps Miss Elyse can be cajoled into writing a post. ;)

  2. Michelle, I just love your blog. :) You wrote a post not too long ago about Catholics and Anglicans that I'm *still* thinking about. Praying for you!


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