Monday, January 02, 2006

Breaking the Impasse: Introducing "Dateship"

Having examined courtship and dating, and having seen each system lacking in some way, it's time to propose another onramp to the highway of sanctified love.

Here's my solution: combine the two. I noted a few days back that the great weakness of courtship is that has a tendency to stunt relational growth between two people. It has a way of removing the nitty and gritty of life and making romance a matter of predetermined, polite, and often frustrating encounters in which neither party gets to know the other the way they need to in order to enter marriage comfortably. Dating poses the perfect solution to this problem. By first engaging in a period of pressure-less dating, and then, if things go well in it, proceeding to courtship, one preserves the best aspects of each system and avoids their pitfalls.

I can say this with confidence because if a couple knows they can get to know one another in a personal way in a dating period, they will surely feel comfortable evaluating the prospect of a courtship period. The dating period, of course, will not be without standards of conduct and ought to have some time limit, even if it's vague. It also should involve friends and church members whenever possible. But neither party will operate under the assumption that if things go well in this period, a shiny little object is procured. Both understand that this is an initial getting-to-know-you period. That removes the pressure of a courtship-only system, but promises the helpful structure and accountability of courtship, should romance blossom.

I might add a significant point, that a "dateship" system (it's better than "courtdate") will do much to encourage initial interaction between the sexes, where courtship alone squelches it. Like I said, girls and guys who think that they need to have everything but the kitchen cabinets picked out to court simply won't do it often. They'll be afraid of taking of such a big step with such little information--and rightfully so! It's ridiculous to ask that of them. No, with dateship, they can take a risk, and go to coffee, and not worry that they've preliminarily indicated an interest in marrying their coffee-consuming friend. This problem, the Achilles heel of courtship, is thus avoided.

So my solution is this: a man should ask a girl he likes on a series of dates. They might even become boyfriend and girlfriend, albeit with clear standards of physical and emotional conduct. They will proceed to date for some amount of time, perhaps a season (e.g., summer), and then evaluate whether they ought to court. If both say yes, then they court for a time, the man having asked the woman's father, and then they proceed through a courtship, and then on to, well, bells or broken hearts. That's my system, the Owen Strachan "dateship" system. Feel free to use it at will, or to not. Either way, conduct your romance to the glory of our great God, with holiness and joy ever in view.

2 Comments:

Anonymous AE said...

Good discussion, but what happens if your blog falls into the hands of a certain legal clerk in Pennsylvania? Just kidding. The fact is, having just stepped across the line of engagement into marriage, you get married when you want to and the confussion of the pre-marriage timeperiod (whatever you want to call it) is over. Intimacy, friendship and love are best cultivated within the covenant relationship of marriage regardless of how long your friendship w/the person was before you got married. I imagine that in periods past, friendship was preliminary to and had a context before courtship, but since we live in such a transient society (such as college, DC, and graduate school in your case) there is often not a pre-established time of friendship. Hence, we are forced into courtships w/out knowing someone. Or, we could trust the recommendations of parents (in my case), friends or pastors and move into a courtship even w/out a sustained friendship to begin with. In the end, we must decide to love someone and fulfill our role as husband and wife through God's grace. As always, it's great to see you thinking through things in the meticulous yet chary way that you do.
PS-Answer your phone when I call, you dork. I got some news.

6:01 AM  
Anonymous AE said...

Sharon Tendler of England might need to read your blog. See http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,180478,00.html

4:04 PM  

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