December 11, 2006

Congratulations Aren’t In Order

Category: Marriage :: Permalink

Have you ever seen this?  A young man starts courting a girl and people come up to him or to her and offer congratulations, sometimes with expressions of great joy.  From the way people carry on, anyone watching would think the couple was engaged.

But they aren’t.  They’re only starting the process of courtship.  They’re still getting to know each other, trying to discover whether they really do want to get married.  And they’re free to break off that courtship at any time without any shame.  Courtship isn’t engagement.  Courtship doesn’t imply commitment.

But tell that to the people who are so excited that you’re courting someone or being courted and who are bubbling over with congratulations as if they’re so glad you’ve finally found someone.  Well, Doug Wilson tells them here.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:20 pm | Discuss (5)

5 Responses to “Congratulations Aren’t In Order”

  1. Mark Says:

    Personally, this would indicate me a great many advantages to casual dating as a way to decide on a spouse rather than courtship.

    Of course, in some circles “casueal dating” is virtually a synonym for casual sex.

    I long for the days when dating and courting were synonyms, and neither entailed premarital sex.

  2. Elliot Says:

    I used to see this with the Jehovah’s Witnesses alot. See, you don’t date for fun, only if you’re intending to get married. So if you were dating someone, you’d practically asked them to marry you. Breaking up with someone you’d been dating was pretty serious – it implied you were one of those callous, selfish people who only dated so you could party or cop a feel or whatever.

    Of course young people found ways around things, but one of the big effects was just to drive dating underground, so people carried on in secret. The reverse of the rule’s original intention, I should think.

  3. Larson Hicks Says:

    Great point John. Courtship is NOT a public relationship – it’s a sort of private invterviewing process between a man and a lady and her family. I am equally frustrated by this phenomena. But, not as frustrated by it than I am by people like Mark (no offense Mark ) who react by recommending casual dating – don’t see any wisdom in that game.

  4. Tim G Says:

    I see the point. But… the analogy is not apt. An application is one-way only; courtship is two-way. The man who asks to court is making the application; if he receives that permission, there is something more than an application, and I don’t think the university analogy is really going to work to describe what that is.

  5. John Barach Says:

    I think the analogy is apt enough to make Doug’s point. People act as if a courtship implies something more than a courtship.

    But just as no one should congratulate a young man or a young woman because he or she is dating, so no one should congratulate a young man because he’s courting a girl or a young girl because she’s being courted.

    An application, you say, is one-way. I’m not sure that’s true. If you’re applying, there are at least two people involved: you and the person who has to examine your application. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding the distinction you’re drawing?

    When a man asks a girl’s father for permission to court her and the father says, “Yes, you may,” the father is NOT saying, “You may marry my daughter.” He is not saying, “I think you’d make a good husband.” He’s saying, “While there are other guys I wouldn’t even consider, I would consider you. Now let’s get to know you some more.”

    And that being the case, it’s still true that congratulations aren’t in order. They’re premature. The dad or the girl could break off the courtship at any time.

    If a guy is courting a girl and she thinks, “Nope. Nice guy, but no. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with him,” she or her dad can simply tell him that the courtship is over.

    In that regard, courtship is not different from dating and a guy and girl going into courtship need to know that. But so do their friends who shouldn’t be foolish enough to congratulate them for courting.

    Or to put it another way: Let not those who put on their armor (or their friends and fellow churchmembers) boast like those who take it off.

Leave a Reply