Harris articulates his theory of dating and courtship in three resources: the initial article for New Attitude, “Dating Problems, Courtship Solutions. Joshua Harris, the Christian pastor and author who wrote I Kissed the book emphasized practices (not dating, not kissing before marriage). Reformed Christian Study on What is Christian Courtship, as opposed to worldly dating. [Dating Problems, Courtship Solutions by Josh Harris]. Dating.
But you get the idea. Robert and Alyssa were acquaintances who lived 2, miles apart. Robert had been praying for guidance in the area of marriage. He was 28 and Alyssa They decided he should speak with Alyssa. Alyssa recounts her shock when Robert told her what was on his mind.
The Lord had not turned her heart toward him, and Robert had not shown any outward interest in her. She agreed to pray, although she admits she was not interested in marriage or Robert at the time. During the proposal, Robert read Alyssa a letter her father wrote: You have just had one of the most beautiful proposals in the world presented to you by one of the most wonderful men in the world… Before you answer him your mother and I would like to express how grateful to God we are for you and for Robert.
I am grateful, Alyssa, that you have saved yourself for this moment. We know that you are also thankful for the grace of God that protected you.
What will you say? But something about the letter feels like overkill to me. My husband Josh pointed out that it seems like Alyssa has no power in the story. Everything is happening to her or behind her back. The question is, how will we respond when our hearts lead a full-scale rebellion? For me and many other people I know, it has meant rejecting typical dating.
I go out with groups of friends, I avoid one-on-one dating because it encourages physical intimacy and places me in an isolated setting with a girl. Courtship was a theory. As someone who did try the courtship route in homeschooled high school, I can attest that we were all pretty confused. It was a subtle game of hanging out in groups while inadvertently trying to impress one another.
And no one really knew what was going on…. We were all doing such a good job guarding our hearts that a prom date was almost equal to a marriage proposal.
I Kissed Courtship Goodbye | Through My Lens
He actually told me he liked me, called me, and hung out with me. It was so refreshing! But it was my first dating experience. I only knew the rules of courtship. Ruppert actually compares a dating commitment to a marriage commitment, saying that breakups often happen for the same reasons divorces happen: How do Christians think they can cultivate these attitudes during their single years and not have it affect their marital commitment?
These behaviors stem from an entirely false notion of what love is and they transfer perfectly into marriage. I was committed to the relationship.
I believed in forgiveness. I thank God that this person eventually broke up with me, and our tumultuous relationship screeched to a halt. Yes, he broke up with me.
I was committed to the first guy I ever dated because I had been taught to be committed. To look for a life partner. But I thought having multiple boyfriends was worse than one bad boyfriend. Many evangelical young people today are afraid to date. They avoid asking each other out for fear that a relationship might end in failure and leave them sullied.
Indeed, asking someone out has become almost equivalent to asking someone to marry you. Joshua Harris taught me that dating was wrong. As a result, my first romantic relationship was serious from day one. I knew that if I broke up with him I would be damaged goods. One year when I was a teenager at the annual homeschool Christmas ball yep I danced with the same guy the whole evening. The following year he waited for me and we danced together again.
At the end of the second year he asked for my number. Talk about playing hard to get…. But in my mind -in courtship culture- his asking for a way to keep in contact with me was almost like a marriage proposal. All I knew about him was that he was a moderately good dancer. But I had been primed and prepped to marry the first man I dated. So yeah, no pressure or anything. Which is good, I admit. In the good old days people dated…. Martha Ruppert is a mother of seven kids who admittedly dated in order to meet her husband.
But gone are the good old days. Ruppert says that times have changed and dating is no longer a viable option in our culture. She suggests courtship as a means to get kids married without conventional dating and she applauds the arranged marriages of Hindu and Amish culture multiple times in her book.
The problem is that she is writing about something she has only speculated about. This whole courtship thing is uncharted territory. Im not talking about conflicts between me and the girls Ive dated. I mean that Ive struggled with the whole process. And based on my experiences and my exploration of Gods Word, Ive concluded that for Christians dating is a swerver a set of values and attitudes that wants to go in a direction different from the one God has mapped out for us.
Let me tell you why.
The Seven Habits of Highly Defective Dating
Self-control isn't enough I once heard a youth minister speak on the topic of love and sex. He told a heart? Eric and Jennys dating relationship had started out innocently? Friday nights at the movies and rounds of putt?
But as time went by, their physical relationship slowly began to accelerate, and they wound up sleeping together. Soon afterward they broke up, discouraged and hurt.
The pastor telling the story saw both of them years later at a high school reunion. Jenny was now married and had a child. Eric was still single.
But both came to him separately and expressed emotional trauma and guilt over past memories. When I see him, I remember it all so vividly, Jenny cried. Eric expressed similar feelings. When I see her, the hurt comes back, he told his former youth pastor. The wounds still havent healed. When the youth minister had finished telling this story, you could have heard a pin drop. We all sat waiting for some sort of solution. We knew the reality of the story he told. Some of us had made the same mistake or watched it happen in the lives of our friends.
We wanted something better. We wanted the pastor to tell us what we were supposed to do instead. But he gave no alternative that afternoon, Evidently the pastor thought the couple's only mistake was giving in to temptation. He seemed to think that Eric and Jenny should have had more respect for each other and more self-control. Although this pastor encouraged a different outcome saving sex for marriage he didnt offer a different practice.
Is this the answer? Head out on the same course as those who have fallen and hope that in the critical moment youll be able to stay in control? Giving young people this kind of advice is like giving a person a cart that swerves and sending him into a store stocked with the worlds most expensive Chinaware.
Despite the narrow aisles and glass shelves laden with delicate dishes, this person is expected to navigate the rows with a cart known to go off course?
I dont think so. Yet this is exactly what we try in many of our relationships. We see the failed attempts around us, but we refuse to replace this cart called dating. We want to stay on the straight and narrow path and serve God, yet we continue a practice that often pull us in the wrong direction. Defective dating Dating has built-in problems, and if we continue to date according to the system as it is today, well more than likely swerve into trouble. Eric and Jenny probably had good intentions, but they founded their relationship on our cultures defective attitudes and patterns for romance.
Unfortunately, even in their adulthood they continue to reap the consequences. The following seven habits of highly defective dating are some of the swerves dating relationships often make.
The Seven Habits of Highly Defective Dating
Perhaps you can relate to one or two of them. I know I can!
Dating leads to intimacy but not necessarily to commitment Jayme was a junior in high school; her boyfriend, Troy, was a senior. Troy was everything Jayme ever wanted in a guy, and for eight months they were inseparable. But two months before Troy left for college, he abruptly announced that he didnt want to see Jayme anymore. When we broke up it was definitely the toughest thing thats ever happened to me, Jayme told me afterward. Even though theyd never physically gone beyond a kiss, Jayme had completely given her heart and emotions to Troy.
Troy had enjoyed the intimacy while it served his needs but then rejected her when he was ready to move on. Does Jaymes story sound familiar to you? Perhaps youve heard something similar from a friend, or maybe youve experienced it yourself. Like many dating relationships, Jayme and Troys became intimate with little or no thought about commitment or how either of them would be affected when it ended.
We can blame Troy for being a jerk, but lets ask ourselves a question. Whats really the point of most dating relationships?
Often dating encourages intimacy for the sake of intimacy two people getting close to each other without any real intention of making a long-term commitment.
Deepening intimacy without defining a level of commitment is plainly dangerous. Its like going mountain climbing with a partner who isnt sure that she wants the responsibility of holding your rope.
When youve climbed two thousand feet up a mountain face, you dont want to have a conversation about how she feels tied down by your relationship. In the same way, many people experience deep hurt when they open themselves up emotionally and physically only to be abandoned by others who proclaim theyre not ready for serious commitment. An intimate relationship is a beautiful experience that God wants us to enjoy.
But He has made the fulfillment of intimacy a byproduct of commitment-based love. You might say that intimacy between a man and a woman is the icing on the cake of a relationship headed toward marriage. And if we look at intimacy that way, then most dating relationships are pure icing. They usually lack a purpose or clear destination. In most cases, especially in high school, dating is short term, serving the needs of the moment. People date because they want to enjoy the emotional and even physical benefits of intimacy without the responsibility of real commitment.
In fact, thats what the original revolution of dating was all about. Dating hasnt been around forever. As I see it, dating is a product of our entertainment-driven, disposable-everything American culture. Long before Seventeen magazine ever gave teenagers tips on dating, people did things very differently. At the turn of the twentieth century, a guy and girl became romantically involved only if they planned to marry.
If a young man spent time at a girls home, family and friends assumed that he intended to propose to her. But shifting attitudes in culture and the arrival of the automobile brought radical changes. The new rules allowed people to indulge in all the thrills of romantic love without having any intention of marriage.
Author Beth Bailey documents these changes in a book whose title, From Front Porch to Backseat, says everything about the difference in societys attitude when dating became the norm. Love and romance became things people could enjoy solely for their recreational value. Though much has changed since the s, the tendency of dating relationships to move toward intimacy without commitment remains very much the same.
For Christians this negative swerve is at the root of dating problems. Intimacy without commitment awakens desiresemotional and physicalthat neither person can justly meet.
In 1 Thessalonians 4: Pastor Stephen Olford describes defrauding as arousing a hunger we cannot righteously satisfy promising something we cannot or will not provide. Intimacy without commitment, like icing without cake, can be sweet, but it ends up making us sick.
Dating tends to skip the "friendship" stage of a relationship. Jack met Libby on a church-sponsored college retreat.
Libby was a friendly girl with a reputation for taking her relationship with God seriously. Jack and Libby wound up chatting during a game of volleyball and seemed to really hit it off. Jack wasnt interested in an intense relationship, but he wanted to get to know Libby better.
Two days after the retreat he called her up and asked if shed like to go out to a movie the next weekend. Did Jack right move? Well, he did in terms of scoring a date, but if he really wanted to build a friendship, he more than likely struck out. One-on-one dating has the tendency to move a guy and girl beyond friendship and toward romance too quickly. Have you ever known someone who worried about dating a long-time friend?
If you have, youve probably heard that person say something like this: He asked me out, but Im just afraid that if we start actually dating it will change our friendship. What is this person really saying? People who make statements like that, whether or not they realize it, recognize that dating encourages romantic expectations, in a true friendship you dont feel pressured by knowing you like the other person or that he or she likes you back.
You feel free to be yourself and do things together without spending three hours in front of the mirror, making sure you look perfect. Lewis describes friendship as two people walking side by side toward a common goal. Their mutual interest brings them together. Jack skipped this commonality stage by asking Libby out on a typical, no-brainer, dinner-and-movie date where their coupleness was the focus.
In dating, romantic attraction is often the relationships cornerstone. The premise of dating is Im attracted to you; therefore, lets get to know each other.
The premise of friendship, on the other hand, is Were interested in the same things; lets enjoy these common interests together. If, after developing a friendship, romantic attraction forms, thats an added bonus. Intimacy without commitment is defrauding.
Intimacy without friendship is superficial. A relationship based only on physical attraction and romantic feelings will last only as long as the feelings last. Dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love. Dave and Heidi didnt mean to make out with each other on their first date. Dave doesnt have only one thing on his mind, and Heidi isnt that kind of girl. They had gone to a concert together and afterward watched a video at Heidis house.
During the movie, Heidi made a joke about Daves attempt at dancing during the concert. He started tickling her. Their playful wrestling suddenly stopped when they found themselves staring into each others eyes as Dave was leaning over her on the living room floor. It was like something out of a movie. It felt so right. It may have felt right, but the early introduction of physical affection to their relationship added confusion.
Dave and Heidi hadnt really gotten to know each other, but suddenly they felt close. As the relationship progressed, they found it difficult to remain objective.
Whenever theyd try to evaluate the merits of their relationship, theyd immediately picture the intimacy and passion of their physical relationship.
Its so obvious we love each other, Heidi thought. Just because lips have met doesnt mean hearts have joined. And just because two bodies are drawn to each other doesnt mean two people are right for each other. A physical relationship doesnt equal love. When we consider that our culture as a whole regards the words love and sex as interchangeable, we shouldnt be surprised that many dating relationships mistake physical attraction and sexual intimacy for true love. Sadly, many Christian dating relationships reflect this false mind-set.
When we examine the progression of most relationships, we can dearly see how dating encourages this substitution. First, as we pointed out, dating does not always lead to lifelong commitment.
For this reason, many dating relationships begin with physical attraction; the underlying attitude is that a persons primary value comes from the way he or she looks and performs as a date. Even before a kiss has been given, the physical, sensual aspect of the relationship has taken priority.
Next, the relationship often steamrolls toward intimacy.