When Your Dad Dates Your Boyfriends: Inside Christian Courtship / More Erroneous Christian Ideas About Marriage, Dating, Singleness
Regarding the article about courtship linked to much farther below (I had a bunch of things I wanted to pontificate about before getting to the article itself):
I do not support this, where the parent “chooses” the spouse for the daughter.
One reason: we are Americans living in 2015, we are not in India, where the culture is into arranged marriages. We are not in 3,000 BC in Israel, where arranged marriages were common.
I almost never hear of a situation where, in Christian culture, the father (or mother) chooses a mate for the son, it’s almost always for the daughter. So this practice reeks of sexism, for one thing.
I have no problem with parents advising their daughter on what traits to look for in a mate, and what qualities to be leery of, but this nonsense where the dad basically has “final say” over this choice?
As a parent, you are to raise your daughter to be a fully independent adult, which means, when she is young, conveying your values to her, but it also means allowing her, when she gets older, to make her OWN choices, even if they are choices you may not agree with.
For a father to make these sorts of major life choices for his daughter is to infantalize her, and this will be dangerous to her as she grows older.
The daughter needs to be able to determine for herself what her boundaries are, and when and how to say “no” to men she dates.
There will be cases where dear old dad will not always be there for her, to hold the daughter’s hand through the dating process, so she will have to be able to fend for herself.
Another issue I have with these sorts of teachings, even the more “watered down” variety by run of the mill evangelical families, is that they are ensuring that their kid will face a lifetime of singledom, because the parents create mate selection lists that are too long and too stringent.
The typical Christian lists of requirements for a mate I have seen are so absurdly complicated and strict that there are NO MEN ALIVE who will meet the criteria on such lists.
Regarding this quote from the article:
- Instead of relying on OkCupid’s [dating site] matchmaking algorithms, [in Christian families who believe in courtship] women and men entrust God to find them an eligible spouse.
If these parents believe it is up to God to send the girl a mate, why are the fathers getting involved at all? To be consistent in their beliefs, shouldn’t they be stepping aside?
At any rate, I too was raised to believe that I should “entrust God to find me an eligible spouse,” and here I am, over the age of 40, and still single.
All my years of waiting on God, trusting God, praying to God, going to churches to meet a potential spouse, and so on, left me single.
Using faith to get a spouse simply does not work.
Christians need to stop promoting belief and faith as a tool to get a spouse, because God is not involved in the process, apparently.
Regarding this summary from the article of what one Christian mother is teaching her daughters about being married one day:
- And if God doesn’t like what He sees, He may not bless her with a kind and loving husband.
This mother’s views are incorrect and un-biblical. Marriage is not a reward for “good girls,” or girls who follow all the rules; it’s surely not presented as such in the Bible, and I can tell you based on real life experience, things do not work this way.
God is not going to with-hold a spouse from you because you sin, or have sex prior to marriage, or what have you.
I have blogged about this topic before, in two or three posts, including these:
- (Link): Does God Require Singles to Be Perfect Before He Will Send Them a Spouse
- (Link): Cheating Married Christian Women and Lessons I Take Away – and Being a Virgin aka Sexually Pure Does Not Guarantee God will Send You a Spouse
- (Link): Magical Christian Thinking: If you have pre-marital sex you won’t get a decent spouse
I am a virgin over the age of 40. No penis has been in my vagina; I was a super sweet, godly Christian lady for many years – and yet, God did not “bless me” or “reward me” with a husband.
If anyone deserves a husband from God based on merit, surely it is myself – but God never sent me one.
Conversely, I have a long list of examples on my blog of ungodly, fat, stupid, drug addicted, or child molesting, wife abusing, serial raping, self-professing Christian people who ended up married.
If it were true that God doles out marriage as a reward to the obedient and faithful, then I would not be seeing the numerous stories on news sites about Christian men who do things like look at porn all day, who beat their wives up, who cheat and lie on their jobs, who sell drugs, who molest children, and so forth. But such scum of society, some of them Christian, do eventually get married.
Regarding this quote by the pro-courtship Mother:
- “When you are born a girl, it doesn’t matter whether you give her all the guns and G.I. Joes in the world, she’s still going to dream about her wedding day,” Dawn says in the film. “We have the hormones. We have the makeup. It’s just who we are.”
Speak for yourself, sister.
Look, I had long wanted to be married, but I didn’t think strongly about the topic until my mid 20s or so.
I did NOT spend my youth or teen years “day dreaming” fondly about the dress I would wear one day, and so forth. I did not give getting married a lot of thought.
As a matter of fact, I do NOT like the idea of a big, expensive wedding, not then, and not now. Such weddings are impractical and a waste of money.
I grew up being a tom boy. I loved Bat Man, science fiction movies, riding my bike, and I wanted to buy and ride a motorcycle one day. My life was not defined by getting married one day. So it’s not a universal truth that all girls fixate on marriage and their wedding day.
I have some more observations below this very long series of excerpts:
- Ron Wright sees it as his duty to date his daughters’ prospective boyfriends to ensure they share his family’s Christian ideals.
- A Courtship, which debuts at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, documents an Evangelical alternative to modern dating: Instead of relying on OkCupid’s matchmaking algorithms, women and men entrust God to find them an eligible spouse.
- We meet the Wright family in their nondescript hometown outside Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Ron Wright runs an educational website promoting Christian courtship, .When he isn’t working as a snowplow dispatcher, Ron and his wife, Dawn, proselytize courtship to other Christians.Dawn homeschools their two daughters, aged 11 and 9, who are taught that secular dating is forbidden under Christian courtship.
- They also learn that marriages can only be happy and successful when arranged by God (and vetted by the family patriarch), and that kissing and hand-holding are “treasures” to be saved for marriage.
- “The stuff you’re doing now matters to your husband,” Dawn tells her 9-year-old daughter Annika, a not-so-subtle reminder that God, like Santa Claus, is always watching.And if God doesn’t like what He sees, He may not bless her with a kind and loving husband.
- …Her older sister, Savannah, fantasizes about a Civil War-themed wedding, with her future husband in a Confederate uniform.
- …“When you are born a girl, it doesn’t matter whether you give her all the guns and G.I. Joes in the world, she’s still going to dream about her wedding day,” Dawn says in the film. “We have the hormones. We have the makeup. It’s just who we are.”
- ..This kind of ideology is alien to many Americans who aren’t religious or socially conservative, let alone to the progressive, largely secular demographic of New Yorkers who attend the Tribeca Film Festival every year.
- Christian conservatives like the Wrights are often written off as crazy, uneducated hicks by educated, white, upper-middle-class urbanites, who are much more tolerant of other orthodox religions.
- But director and producer Amy Kohn has faith in her New York audience. “I think they love to see worlds they haven’t seen before,” she says, though she acknowledges the pitbull mentality on both sides of the political spectrum.
- But in New York, political and religious conservatives aren’t just outnumbered; they’re anathema.
- ….In the film those experiences are mined through Kelly Boggas, the Wright’s former babysitter and “spiritual daughter,” who has been living with the family for seven years and hopes to find her husband through courtship.At 33, Kelly has already given away her first kiss (she grew up in a secular family and found God during her sophomore year of college, a year after her parents split up). But she’d give anything to be like the Wright girls, who will save theirs for the altar.Kelly disliked dating in her teens and was even more wary of secular relationships after her parents’ marriage collapsed.
- …Courtship gives her a sense of security.
- As Kelly’s spiritual father, Ron has made it his duty to oversee her courtship.
- He goes on dates for her and interviews potential partners, asking pointed questions about their religious and political views: “Do you ever watch Glenn Beck? Would you be comfortable with a homosexual elder that wasn’t practicing?”
- The film follows Kelly’s courtship with a young man named Ross, who, like the Wrights’ daughters, was homeschooled and raised to find a wife through courtship.
- …The Wrights invite Ross over for family dinners; they accompany him and Kelly, who teaches ballet, to a local production of The Nutcracker.
- Ross is shy and polite, tall and lanky in his ill-fitting jeans and sweater vests. He is a talented oboist and—perhaps as a result of this hobby—has perennially chapped lips.
- High school is unkind to kids like Ross (one imagines him being ruthlessly bullied by his male peers and pitied by girls). His chin is mottled with acne and his voice frequently cracks during conversation.
- Kelly is more poised, but being “popular” is certainly not a priority for her.
- She doesn’t seem to have many friends her age, nor does she socialize with anyone outside of the Wrights’ insular Christian community. She also seems younger than 33, and not just because she is so pure and good.
- ….Her bedroom looks like that of a 13-year-old girl: the bed covered with stuffed animals and a quilt printed with pictures of her when she was much younger. On her bedside table are two copies of the Bible and Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar’s A Love that Multiplies.When Kelly meets Ross, all she cares about—and all Ron cares about, really—is that he’s a sweet kid and a good Christian.After a few meetings, Ron has a premonition that God has plans for Ross and Kelly to marry. Dawn thinks the two have palpable chemistry.
- ….Meanwhile, the film doesn’t give us Ross’s perspective. So while Kelly thinks their courtship is progressing, we wonder if Ross feels the same, especially when they discover their opposing theological views on predestination.
- They hash things out in lengthy Facebook messages, and Kelly thinks they end this exchange more or less on the same page.But Ross quietly demurs, cancels dates, and ultimately cuts off their courtship—through Ron, of course.While some viewers may be surprised that they cared about this unusual relationship at all, most will likely be frustrated that they cared so little.In that sense, A Courtship fails to emotionally manipulate its viewers. And Kohn, careful not to exploit the Wrights, occasionally fetishizes them and their beliefs instead.
- …But the film succeeds in other areas: We are left thinking Kelly is deserving of a husband, and wondering why, exactly, she has failed to find one over the years despite Ron’s help.
- Or is it because of him that she hasn’t met anyone?“We will keep you as long as we need to,” Ron reassures Kelly after delivering the news that she and Ross won’t see each other anymore. Dawn adds less reassuringly: “When you moved in, I realized that you might never get married.”
- Rejection is another universal experience, and like many of us, Kelly wonders what went wrong. She mourns her would-be relationship with Ross. But she doesn’t totally lose faith.
- …Today, three years after the film was made, Kelly still lives with the Wrights, and Ron is still keeping an eye open for her husband. But he hasn’t overseen any courtships since Ross.
- Kelly doesn’t mind that she has no autonomy when it comes to her romantic life.
- “It removes some of the burden to know that someone else is looking out for me,” she tells me.
- …She was happy that she “guarded her heart” and didn’t get too emotionally invested in the idea of a future with Ross. Her disappointment that things didn’t work out was nothing compared to what she suffered in secular relationships.
- …But it’s not something that preoccupies Kelly. She’s in a better place, having been spared emotional pain during her courtship with Ross.
Regarding the portion in the article where the director says she does not want New York liberals to hate the religious families in the movie:
I hate to tell the director this, but I am not a New York liberal who hates social conservatives and religious people.
I grew up in evangelical Christianity and used to believe in a lot of these views this family does, though not as extreme. And yet I still disagree with a lot of their views and find their views weird and sexist.
You don’t have to be secular or a liberal to find this courtship stuff backwards, stupid, sexist, and weird – I am right wing, a social conservative, and I still disagree with it and now realize how limiting and dangerous it is for people, especially women, who are brainwashed to believe this is how they ought to be living life, and how God wants them to live life.
Regarding this quote:
- Kelly doesn’t mind that she has no autonomy when it comes to her romantic life.
And this one, a quote by Kelly, commenting on the fact that her “spiritual father” is trying to find her a spouse:
- “It removes some of the burden to know that someone else is looking out for me,” she tells me
I grew up in a family that was somewhat similar to what the article refers to as Kelly’s “spiritual family,” though not near as extreme.
Of course Kelly does not currently mind she has little autonomy in this area (or in others) because she does not know any better.
I was similar to this years ago.
When Kelly gets older, she will probably re-evaluate the beliefs she has now (especially if something very traumatic or life changing happens to her) and realize how naive she was, and how wrong.
She will be angry at this family for encouraging her to hold these views and live them out, and she will be angry with herself.
She will get angry at herself for following these beliefs about dating and courting (which really are not biblical, nor is turning over your decision making to another person biblical).
She will probably come to regret this era of her life, and how she turned over all this control to this family. She will likely have major regrets later in life, assuming she ever wakes up and realizes how awful and damaging all these beliefs are – and I stress: these are not even biblical views.
She is hoodwinked into thinking by this family she is staying with and probably by her local church that all this is “biblical” and pleasing to God.
Kelly is actually, I think, committing a sin by over-relying on her step father.
God expects, you, Kelly, to get off your behind and make your own choices about your life. Stop relying on your step father (whatever he is) to make your choices for you and to help you land a spouse.
God does not intend or want an adult, one like Kelly who is over the age of 30, to turn over all her decision-making to another adult. But that is exactly what Kelly is doing, allowing this man to control and pilot her life.
Kelly is supposed to be the pilot of her own life, including how, when, or if she dates or marries.
She is abdicating her responsibility to another adult. Because doing so can be easier, less scary, and less stressful than her thinking for herself and taking risks in life.
And her over-reliance on her step father figure is one reason I figure she will stay single perpetually.
Her step mother basically said as much to her. I found the adoptive mother’s comments very revealing, where she said, “I just knew the minute you moved in with us that you would never marry.”
Yeah, that mother figure is likely saying that because she either knows that she and her husband have no intention of helping you move out and get a husband of your own, or she intuitively knows they won’t try very hard to help you out – whether this is intentional on their part or is on a subconscious level, I do not know.
But basically, if the first words out of your spiritual mother’s mouth were, “I just knew the minute you moved in with us that you would never marry,” she is spelling out your future, dear.
If you want to get married, you need to get employed, save up, get your own place, and start dating.
Here were a few comments below the article, some of them I agreed with:
- “And if God doesn’t like what He sees, He may not bless her with a kind and loving husband.”
- She’s being raised by a creepy, coercive family, so He obviously must have her already on his Sh%t list.
Comment by JayMcL
- Trying to control their child’s life forever,shame.
Comment by Vargaz
- “They also learn that marriages can only be happy and successful when arranged by God (and vetted by the family patriarch), and that kissing and hand-holding are “treasures” to be saved for marriage.”
- When you meet a girl who has a family that believes and enforces this on their kids and try to enforce it on you, they are Taliban under a different flag. Get yourself a new girlfriend with parents that are human.
(Index Topic Link): Married Christian Couples Engage in Sexual Sin (examples, editorials)
(Link): The Scandal of Singleness
(Link): Problems Created by Conservative Christian Teachings About Virginity, Sex, and Marriage: Christian Couple Who Were Virgins At Marriage Are Experiencing Sexual Problems – Re: UnVeiled Wife (Marriage does not guarantee great sex)
(Link): Christian Host Pat Robertson Tells Christian Woman Who Married Christian Man Who Turned Out to Be Totally Unethical That She has Discernment of a Slug – Single Women: toss Be Equally Yoked teaching in the trash can