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Courtship Perspectives (from the Dumb Kid)

February 7, 2007

I’ve been meaning to post this one of a long time, but I never got around to finishing it, and then life intervened.  So, here we go: 

Brando, I have to agree with your wisdom of years about courtship, but I must say I have the 1Up on you in terms of teaching.  I was recently at The Quest, a Sovereign Grace Men’s conference about biblical masculinity.  One of the breakouts I attended was by Bob Kauflin and was about–what do you know–courtship!

So since I’m clearly oh-so-qualified to talk on the subject, here are my two cents:

First off–I’m rather annoyed by the aversion to the words “boyfriend/girlfriend.”  They’re not vulgur (heck, they’re not even “strong” language in my book).  So why are people–especially those from Sovereign Grace–so afraid to use the term?  I think sometimes there is almost a stigma at Sovereign Grace churches to say “hey, you should come up with new terms to describe old things.” I don’t see a problem with calling the process of getting to know somone who may become your spouse a boyfriend/girlfriend.

Also, I think many singles now view courtship as some sort of system that always ends in marriage and is always painless.  This is definitely not the case.  My sister entered a courtship, and it ended up with the two parting ways saying that no, marriage to that person was not what God had in mind for them.  This blew my mind from the thinking that courtship is “pre-marriage” in the same sense that engagement is.  The entire idea of courtship is to say “maybe God would have us marry.  Let’s find out if that’s the case by learning more about each other and growing closer.”  If at any time either person feels that it will not work, then the courtship can be broken, and there should be no surprise on the part of any observers if that happens.

Am I saying courtship can be painful?  Yes!  It involves making yourself vulnerable in the most tender way, in a place where your heart is the most soft and apt to be broken.  That’s why flippant dating is so dangerous.  It’s taking something meant to be such a close part of every living person and turns it into something to be joked about, something to be reckless with.

But does that mean that the process of courtship could end in failure?  Of course!  So it could be painful and end in failure.  It involves the most vulnerable place in human beings.  So why seek a spouse?  It’s simple; to get something valuable, you must make yourself vulnerable.  To get close friends, you have to open yourself up.  I would never give up my close friends for the reason that I might get hurt because I am being open and making myself vulnerable.  How much more so with marriage!  The path of marriage is full of open vulnerability.

First  I make myself totally vulnerable when I approach a girl’s dad and ask for permission to court.  Then I ask her, again, making myself totally vulnerable and open to being hurt.  Next I ask for her hand in marriage (which makes me totally open to being hurt and denied for the third time).

Finally–but this one lasts the longest–comes the vulnerability of marriage.  This one could probably be considered the toughest (I haven’t been there, but I would guess so), because it is continual vulnerability.  However, with each increasing vulnerability comes increased intimacy and joy from knowing someone else so closely.  Just as a friend is so much sweeter than an aquaintance, so a married couple’s relationship is (I’m sure) so much more fulfilling than that of a friend.

Of course, sin comes in as well, and no marriage is without difficulty.  That’s also part of the investment.

I feel totally like a fish out of water when commenting on marriage, so I think I’ll bow out right about now.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. MichaelQ permalink
    February 26, 2007 4:34 pm

    That all sounds about right!

    (even the part about SGM people making up new terms for old stuff!)

  2. May 23, 2008 3:24 am

    You might want to take a look at my blog. I have a number of comments about Harris’s books and the system he promotes. I don’t think he has done a good job of sharing the problems with his approach though he seems to think dating has all kinds of defects.

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