Normal Version Print Version

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
    Make a New Tradition of “No-Sex” Dating

Don’t declare that anyone is your boyfriend or girlfriend. Thus, there’s no one to “dump”. Cultivate many friends in an effort to discover who you would like to marry. Make sure that sex is not involved if you go on a “date”; this keeps your search for the perfect spouse uncomplicated. Make a new tradition of “No-Sex” Dating.

4. Marry a Person Who Will be Your Dearest Friend

As you meet many potential marriage partners, look for the one who can be your dearest friend. Find out what makes them tick, by talking deeply and watching them in action in their lives. Discover their passions, their philosophies and ethics, and their hearts and souls. Find out if you are compatible with them by spending a great deal of non-sexual time with them. Look for the one who can be your dearest friend. If you cannot be friends, how can you live together in a happy marriage?

5. Make Sure that Your Future Spouse
    Shares Your Views and Expectations about Marriage

It’s very important to talk at length with your potential spouse about his or her views on marriage. This includes views on man and woman relationships, including such topics as “who’s the boss?” (I think that “true love is the boss”.) What about child rearing issues and careers? What about joint bank accounts? How do both parties feel about daily communication? What about sex? Both parties need to be on the same page before they get married.

6. You Can Marry a Flawed Person,
    but Don’t Marry a Person Whose Lifestyle Violates Your Conscience

We’re all flawed, so marrying a flawed person is a given. Our idols will have feet of clay. Expecting our spouse to not have flaws is unreasonable and unrealistic. To make a marriage work, we’ll have to love our spouse in spite of his or her flaws and hope that they do the same for us.

Yet, we should not marry a person whose lifestyle violates our conscience; that is, someone who is living their life in a “bad” way. You will have to define what “bad” means to you. Criminals are frequently included in this category (which does not mean that those individuals can’t turn their lives around). Sometimes true love is all it takes. However, marrying someone in order to “save them” is a course fraught with risk and emotional pain, and sometimes with physical danger. We should not marry someone who might abuse us, either physically or emotionally, either publicly or privately.

George Washington stated “...’tis better to be alone than in bad company.” If this is true for normal acquaintances, how much more so is it true for our eternal mates?

7. Make Sure that Both of You Commit To Each Other 100%

For richer, for poorer, in good times and bad really means something. You will fight; some more than others. Can you both commit to love each other in spite of your flaws, beyond any limitations? Can you both commit to never divorce and stay together no matter what? Commitment becomes vitally important when you have children.

Do you only want to commit to marriage “until death does you part” or would you like to commit to the newer standard of a God-centered “eternal triune marriage”? An eternal commitment provides the most strength in a marriage, because both parties gain a long-term perspective, based on their belief that they will be together “a thousand years from now” (and more) and will have time to grow, improve and mature.

8. Enter Marriage with a Maintenance Plan:
    Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Decide in advance to communicate, on a deep, internal level, every day, after you’re married. Maintaining a healthy marriage is Job Number 1, for married couples, for it affects their children, their daily joy, their inspiration, their finances and innumerable other areas of their lives. It takes work, committed love and service, and complete and constant honesty about internal and external issues. Communication during marriage is, in every sense of the phrase, a “maintenance plan”.

•  •  •

Are the above guidelines for Courtship 2.0 realistic for today’s teenagers, young people and older singles? I believe they are. Some of them may be controversial – but people interested in finding their one true love don't need to shrink from controversy.

In the end, getting married is something that each person has to come to terms with by themselves (with help from one’s parents whenever possible). Still, when we reach adulthood, we are under no obligation to anyone, when it comes to marriage, except ourselves, our spouses and children, and if you feel so inclined to believe so, to God. Marriage, perhaps more than any other pursuit, deserves the phrase, “To thine own self be true.”


(Comments are moderated and must be approved.)
Peter Falkenberg Brown
Subscribe to our FREE E-Newsletter!
“The Epiphany of Zebediah Clump”
Watch our first film right here.