Courtship Version 2.0
~ finding the right marriage partner without the emotional baggage of premarital sex ~
Sep 18, 2008
It’s probably a safe bet that today’s teenagers and young men and women never give a moment’s thought to the words “courtship” and “courting”. Young ladies that have seen Keira Knightley in her role as Elizabeth Bennet, in the movie Pride and Prejudice, might recognize the term, but only as a quaint tradition that has absolutely nothing to do with the 21st century.
One can hardly blame them. The idea of meeting Joey in the family parlor (assuming today’s houses have a parlor), is hard enough to wrap one’s mind around. To then have to put up with a chaperone and finally to ask one’s parents’ permission to marry is impossible to imagine for Western young people.
I don’t recommend that we turn back the clock and revive courtship as it used to be. The many traditions connected to courtship are not necessarily good. For example, depending upon one’s parents, requiring parental permission to marry can be a cause of great pain and tragedy. Historical courtship was far more complex than the simple Webster’s Dictionary definitions of “The act of paying court, with the intent to solicit a favor” and “The act of wooing in love; solicitation of woman to marriage”.
Yet, I believe that some elements of courtship are worth reviving, and reshaping into a new 21st century tradition of courtship. Let’s explore if “Courtship 2.0” can be a way to prevent marriage problems before they start, by finding the right marriage partner, without the baggage of premarital sex.
Is the current method of finding a lifelong spouse working? Nowadays, many preteens date and obtain boyfriends and girlfriends in a very casual way. Often unsatisfied after a short time, the offending partner is unceremoniously “dumped”. Kissing, and more, is common at a very early age, with many older teenagers engaging in oral sex as a way to have sex and declare that they are “abstinent”. Cohabitation, the practice of living together without the commitment of marriage, is common. Romance can become a shopping mall of “try before you buy” relationships, an arena where heartache is a frequent result.
Given the current environment that young people are raised in, I don’t think that it’s productive to judge anyone, least of all teenagers. How we, as a society, arrived at our current state of sexual and romantic standards is not the point. It is far more important for all of us, including all the teenagers and single persons who are seeking true love, to think independently, and ask the right questions.
For a discussion of the value of sexual abstinence before marriage, and the emotional damage that premarital sex can cause, I recommend the marriage preparation, abstinence and character education curriculum that I wrote for young people, called “The True Love Thing to Do.”
Here then are my recommendations for a new "Courtship 2.0".
The Two Pillars of Courtship 2.0
1. Maintain Sexual Abstinence Before Marriage
First, in order to avoid all of the damage and baggage that comes with premarital sex, Courtship 2.0 avoids premarital sexual activity completely, including oral sex and other sexual activities. It values long-term love and takes the view that sex is so precious and holy that it shouldn’t be engaged in until the commitment of marriage.
2. Find the Right Person for You
Second, Courtship 2.0 is based on the view that you need to marry the “right person” for you. This isn’t focused on money, status, or what society thinks. Rather, this is centered on finding your soul mate; the person whom you can love for eternity, and who can love you in return. Although you can potentially love anyone, finding the right person also means finding someone who is compatible with your mind and heart, your interests, your causes, your beliefs and value system. What kind of person do you want to wake up next to, fifty years from now?
Those who want to find a marriage partner should think deeply about what this means to them. It doesn’t mean that falling in love is invalid; it doesn’t mean that marriage should be reduced to “analysis”. It certainly doesn’t mean that one should avoid marriage because one is not confident in one’s choice. It simply means that a great deal of thought should go into what is arguably the most important step of one’s life. This may require that you think about who you are, and what you like in life, before you can understand the kind of person you would like to marry.
Let me emphasize that I am not recommending that parents should be cut out of this exploratory process. Parents can be very helpful and save young people from dreadful mistakes. Certainly, if a person is underage, it is vital to seek help from one’s parents.
Additional Guidelines for Courtship 2.0
3. Cultivate Friends Instead of a Boyfriend or Girlfriend and