Doug Wilson responds to “Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed"

Why Courtship Is Fundamentally Awed

"Sane people who date are better off than courtship nerds. Absolutely. But courting couples are better off than a lust monkey who has made out with 13 girls, your daughters being two of them, before exiting junior high"

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Jim's picture

  • Purity is the model: "abstain from fleshly lusts" (1 Peter 2:11); "But fornication .... let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints" (Ephesians 5:3); "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14); "It is good for a man not to touch a woman" (1 Corinthians 7:1)
  • Marriage is normal: "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. " (1 Corinthians 7:2-3); "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4); "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." (Genesis 2:18)
  • Singleness is OK but for the majority of believers marriage is normal
  • What is abnormal (aside what what is sinful): extended adolescence, delayed adulthood. 
Don Johnson's picture

One issue that I haven't seen discussed much in this debate is what the term "dating" means. I read somewhere that in current usage it often includes casual sex as a fundamental component. At some point in the pre-courtship world, the term did not include that - going down to the drug store and having a soda or taking a girl to lunch counted as a date. Somehow the courtship model has hyper formalized events like this and there seems to be very little ability for a guy and a girl to get to know the other person as a person. I took Thomas Umstaddt to mean that kind of dating in his piece. As I look at dating, that kind of casual friendship is very helpful for developing (or not) deeper relationships.

Bottom line: count me as opposed to the courtship nonsense.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jim's picture

I was a hopeless bachelor w no cooking skills. I was 1000 miles from home (having been transferred from Cincinnati to Tampa FL). My weekly cooking schedule:

  • Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Grilled peanut butter sandwiches
  • Canned chili
  • Canned hash
  • Hamburger helper
  • Hotdogs and beans
  • Steak 
  • Repeat (sometimes I would have granola for dinner)

God brought my wife to me. She was hired by my company and was providentially assigned to my quad of desks. She had pity on me and knowing my ineptness in the kitchen won my stomach and my heart. (Her Mom could cook too!)

Our first date: I invited her and a friend to my house for a steak dinner. That day I bought a used vacuum cleaner and vacuumed my apartment for the first time in about a year.

Don Johnson's picture

with that menu plan. ??? I don't see it!

I do appreciate my wife's touch around the house though. When I was baching it she took pity on me and cleaned the apartment. Found a contact lens that I had lost the year before. Enough said.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jim's picture

I cooked everything (except the steaks) in a Sunbeam aluminun electric skillet. Steaks were done on a grill on my patio. This was pre-consumer microwave. God forbid, if I had to, I could probably live with a microwave. 

Famous cooking mistakes (while wife away on business):

  • Waffles that fell apart .... something not mixed right I think .... I made the kids eat 'em and like 'em
  • Baked potatoes with canned chili on top .... kids hated 'em
  • Met to turn oven top to simmer but turned the wrong burner down. Other one on high with meal in it. Coming out of the shower the kitchen was a smoke . Ruined wife's calphalon pan. 
  • Reheated left over pizza on high in microwave. 7 min too long. See above for "a smoke"

Now when she is gone: Subway ... McD's .... et cetera 

alex o.'s picture

Jim wrote:

I cooked everything (except the steaks) in a Sunbeam aluminun electric skillet. Steaks were done on a grill on my patio. This was pre-consumer microwave. God forbid, if I had to, I could probably live with a microwave. 

Famous cooking mistakes (while wife away on business):

  • Waffles that fell apart .... something not mixed right I think .... I made the kids eat 'em and like 'em
  • Baked potatoes with canned chili on top .... kids hated 'em
  • Met to turn oven top to simmer but turned the wrong burner down. Other one on high with meal in it. Coming out of the shower the kitchen was a smoke . Ruined wife's calphalon pan. 
  • Reheated left over pizza on high in microwave. 7 min too long. See above for "a smoke"

Now when she is gone: Subway ... McD's .... et cetera 

That's funny Jim.

On the other hand, most chefs are male (I think). In our household my wife has never, ever, cooked us a meal. I am the chef and she loves it this way (She does all the clean up though). I have the life of Riley: I cook up all kinds of creations and get to leave the mess!

As for courtship, the church can be a good place to observe and recognize traits suitable to form a partnership. I think I knew right away my wife's characteristics which attracted me. My wife said something early on in our relationship which was profound to me (and still is): It is important to "be the right person". All the time I was trying to find the "right person" instead of being the right person for someone else. Walk with the Lord and try to be the right person is probably the best way I would counsel a young person today. The Lord will either open or close doors in each case. God superintends and meets His people's needs in all things. "Wait, I say on the Lord".

 

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Regarding the quoted portion, fortunately those are not the only choices, as the post he is responding to shows.

Jim's picture

I got to know my wife pre marriage by:

  • We worked together. She was an engineer and me a salesman. We made several sales calls together. One famous one: I had to  drive some demo computer equipment to a customer site (this was back when mini-computers were kind of large). On the way back, I turned quickly and the equipment shifted in the rental van and smashed against the side of the van. So she saw some of my zaniness and tendency to get into interesting jams 
  • Her Mom and Dad (living a the time in Saint Petersburg, FL) were building a cabin in the woods near Brooksville. We would drive up Friday night and I would help her Dad on Saturday before we drove back on Sunday. Whole family slept in cots in a garage for the weekend
  • Also Kathee and I took a family vacation to Michigan with my parents. Spent a week in a cabin together with them (the week Nixon resigned ..  all we had was a radio to keep up with the news)
  • She saw my work ethic ... that I made $$, paid bills, provided for self, advanced my career (besides the spiritual side of me). I got to know her parents very well and she got to know mine.
  • We both come from fairly humble backgrounds. She was born into poverty and lived in a very small farm in Wisconsin. At my birth my parents lived in a trailer (I mean a real .... pull behind a car trailer). I thought I was very conservative with $$ but she was uber-conservative. Both of us paid our own way through college with no loans and no help from parents (who couldn't afford it anyway). Interestingly in college, both of us (although we did not know each other then) had VW bugs ....mine a '68 her's a '66
Lee's picture

...had a signature sermon on Ps. 127 ("...except the Lord build the house...") in which he stated something akin to "a successful marriage is not so much in finding the right person as in being the right person."  I might add for this discussions' sake "not so much finding the right person or method...."

Selfish people do selfish things, like pursue divorce.

Those conformed to the image of Christ preserve the marriage union in the face of practically any obstacle regardless of whether the marriage is based on the courtship model, the dating model, or was arranged at the cost of a couple of chickens and a goat. 

Lee

alex o.'s picture

Lee wrote:

...had a signature sermon on Ps. 127 ("...except the Lord build the house...") in which he stated something akin to "a successful marriage is not so much in finding the right person as in being the right person."  I might add for this discussions' sake "not so much finding the right person or method...."

Selfish people do selfish things, like pursue divorce.

Those conformed to the image of Christ preserve the marriage union in the face of practically any obstacle regardless of whether the marriage is based on the courtship model, the dating model, or was arranged at the cost of a couple of chickens and a goat. 

Dr. Ben, my former pastor, influenced me to go to Pillsbury back in 1973 (I wanted to go to TTU for certain reasons but they were filled that year). I did not hear the "being" quote from him probably because of brevity of actual sitting under him.

[redacted by moderator at request of author]

I agree with you Lee that selflessness is vital in the marriage union.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Rob Fall's picture

It's a matter of

  • not proper footnoting
  • preaching a message your congregation could have easily read in the Sword of the Lord.
  • if this wasn't the only non-original message he preached, the leadership could well ask what he was doing with his sermon prep time.

[redacted by moderator at request of author]

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

alex o.'s picture

[quote=Rob Fall]

It's a matter of

  • not proper footnoting
  • preaching a message your congregation could have easily read in the Sword of the Lord.
  • if this wasn't the only non-original message he preached, the leadership could well ask what he was doing with his sermon prep time.

 

[redacted by moderator at request of author]

Without knowing the situation fully, it seems the church did have certain expectations of originality (which, again, I fail to see the need for STRICT adherence). I have never, ever, heard of footnoting a sermon and the idea seems a bit preposterous to list every source in a message unless the source could be helpful to others for further perusal. What pastor hasn't used either unoriginal illustrations, commentary helps, lexicons in crafting their sermon? As I recall, the sermon was one of those 'classics' which had all the elements which makes a certain message great: A timely principle based on careful exegesis with a close and careful reading of the text offering insight applicable to the congregants' everyday life.

This was not a "Sword of the Lord" type of sermon but much deeper. As for Dr. Strohbehn's work ethic, it was unquestioned. He earned his doctorate in education instead of the fake ones of the Sword of the Lord variety. I do think his gifts were pastoral care and administration, counseling, and hospitality too. He was very godly and an overall diligent person. He once shared a tip with me that when he was at a red light he would get his prayer list out and pray for the needs of his flock. He had a long list of different needs on 3x5 cards he kept in his shirt pocket. He really was a 'peoples pastor' who was also very moral and I might say ethical. I am sure he did not feel that he was 'cheating' the church in any way, but instead, giving them an insightful message.

Again, this 'burning requirement' of originality probably causes more harm than good but maybe the church felt that they needed to be consistent with the philosophy of ministry given at Pillsbury. The Owatonna church could have done much worse in choosing a pastor such as Dr. Strohbehn.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

TylerR's picture

Editor

I footnote all my sermons extensively, so I can follow my own train of thought when (or if) I ever come back to that passage again. I admit, though, that this is probably a very rare and strange practice. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

I made no secret that I used commentaries in my preparation; I assume most pastors do. I shared sources with anyone who was interested. I only attributed quotes or unique thoughts while I was preaching; general information was considered fair game.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

the people who create them and use them are flawed.

"The way men and women get together is a grand mystery. Those who want to reduce this grand mystery to a paint-by-numbers approach, whether that safe and predictable approach is a “courtship” approach, or a clunky approach to traditional dating, are missing something important.Systems won’t solve personal problems."

Greg Long's picture

It's a world of difference between on the one hand not verbally citing every resource used to prepare a sermon (while at the same time the sermon itself--its structure and primary content--is original with you) and the other hand preaching a complete (or almost complete) sermon that you didn't originally prepare. Most people have the expectation that the pastor prepared the essence of what he is presenting, or else he would state otherwise.

When I was in Bible college and volunteering at a local church, a missionary preached a sermon on Is. 49:16 about how God has "graven thee on the palms of my hands." It was pretty good. Not soon after that I had missed some sessions of our Bible college Bible conference and so to make it up I had to listen to tapes (yes, cassette tapes) of archived sermons in the library. I picked one from a well-known preacher in our circles from yesteryear, and what do you know...it was pretty much the exact same sermon as what the missionary speaker had preached. Same illustrations and everything.
 

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

josh p's picture

Our church once had a guy come and teach on music and he ripped off a big section of the only John Piper sermon I have listened to. It was a pretty good sermon but it was funny because the guy teaching it would say that we should not have anything to do with John Piper. 

Rob Fall's picture

That's pretty much what I meant to write.

There's a difference between saying in your introduction

Folks, when I was back at XYZ Conference, I heard Brother de Blanc preach efg.  So, I'm going to borrow his outline.

and off you go into your message.  This is what I meant by proper footnoting.

And not saying anything at all, thus letting your hearers believe the whole message was original to you.

Greg Long wrote:

It's a world of difference between on the one hand not verbally citing every resource used to prepare a sermon (while at the same time the sermon itself--its structure and primary content--is original with you) and the other hand preaching a complete (or almost complete) sermon that you didn't originally prepare. Most people have the expectation that the pastor prepared the essence of what he is presenting, or else he would state otherwise.

When I was in Bible college and volunteering at a local church, a missionary preached a sermon on Is. 49:16 about how God has "graven thee on the palms of my hands." It was pretty good. Not soon after that I had missed some sessions of our Bible college Bible conference and so to make it up I had to listen to tapes (yes, cassette tapes) of archived sermons in the library. I picked one from a well-known preacher in our circles from yesteryear, and what do you know...it was pretty much the exact same sermon as what the missionary speaker had preached. Same illustrations and everything.
 

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

alex o.'s picture

More on "originality": The pastorate is more than formulating catchy messages. In my mind correct "teaching" (1 Tim. 4.13) is much more important and warranted in scripture. Was Paul just saying that "reading", "exhortation", and "teaching" were temporary things? No, the force of Paul's instruction to Timothy was that these things were to be the primary features of the assembly. The apostle was going to give further information when he arrived but described the functioning elements of a gathering. In my mind, "teaching" does not have to be "original" and by its nature really can't be "original." The sermon preserves the "teaching" and, so, in my mind, it doesn't need to be "original" in its basic framework. How am I wrong? Isn't it a danger to be 'too original'?

Going back on the topic of finding and being a good marriage partner, the boys' vocations is probably the key ("vocations" since the timeless book of Ecclesiastes counsels a dual track-"let not your hand be idle at night"). The girls probably needs security and commitment is how God made them (I know I am sounding very 'traditional' here).

However, boys need time to grow up and can't be pushed too hard (it took me 44 years "to grow up" before I got married). In my mind this is where all the "breaks" in the bible come in: the Sabbath, the first day of the month (New Moon), the festivals which praised God for His bounty, and the fasts which recognized our deficiency. So the daily task of pursuing two possible vocations is tempered by rest, diversions (I find this in other places in scripture), and maintaining perspective. This daily grinding out to get ahead is probably counterproductive and leads to burnout.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Doug Flynn's picture

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Gothard's influence. He has had an enormous influence within the homeschooling community which goes well beyond those he directly influences. Of those that I know of having marriage or other family relationship problems within the homeschooling community, they have all been heavily influenced by Gothardism. Dropping out of church and following recipes promoted by parachurch ministries, or allowing them to be the primary authority in your life, is no substitute for genuine Christian living accountable to a healthy body of believers. Too often, that is the approach taken by the Gothardites and those that have accepted much of his teaching without knowing the source. This seems to be more a problem of free-range "Christianity". They supposedly know a better way, generally lack respect for the authority of the church and pastors, and eventually suffer the consequences. Courtship followed by divorce just happens to be a more public manifestation of the problem. If you look closer, you'll find many other examples of business and relationship issues related to a refusal to accept outside authority/accountability. Homeschooling is the natural schooling choice for people with this mindset and our homeschooling communities, for the most part, are blind to the problem. (btw, I'm a homeschooler. This isn't a criticism of homeschooling. It is a criticism of a certain mindset of some homeschoolers.)

TylerR's picture

Editor

I genuinely want some feedback on whether so-called 'Gothardism' is overblown. My wife and I homeschool our kids, and have been in many different churches over the course of my military career, and now we're in ministry ourselves. 

  • We've never seen anything by Bill Gothard
  • We've never read anything by Gothard
  • He's just a name to me, and my wife doesn't even recognize the name 
  • No church we've been to has ever carried any of his stuff in the bookstore or recommended it at all - he's never even been mentioned

We're in our 30's. I suspect that "Gothardism" is something that people of an older generation would know more about. That may mean that fears of "Gothardism" are overblown. As another example, Jack Hyles is also meaningless to me. Never heard him preach. Never read a book. Never listened to a tape. I understand his legacy intellectually very well, but all he is to me personally is a dead guy with a bad rep.

  • By the way, that should be a lesson to all wannabe Christian celebrities - all the hubris and selfish ambition in the world will get you in the end is to have some younger preacher years later call you a dead guy with a bad rep who he's read about in a book . . . 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I think Gothardism is a bit overblown, but even amongst people who don't know who Gothard is, I see the influence of his teachings. Ditto Hyles - I know churches that never heard of Hyles that somehow picked up the flavor of his soulwinning methods, church promotions, and operating bus routes. When someone makes a big splash, don't underestimate the ripple effect. 

GregH's picture

TylerR wrote:

I genuinely want some feedback on whether so-called 'Gothardism' is overblown. My wife and I homeschool our kids, and have been in many different churches over the course of my military career, and now we're in ministry ourselves. 

  • We've never seen anything by Bill Gothard
  • We've never read anything by Gothard
  • He's just a name to me, and my wife doesn't even recognize the name 
  • No church we've been to has ever carried any of his stuff in the bookstore or recommended it at all - he's never even been mentioned

We're in our 30's. I suspect that "Gothardism" is something that people of an older generation would know more about. That may mean that fears of "Gothardism" are overblown. As another example, Jack Hyles is also meaningless to me. Never heard him preach. Never read a book. Never listened to a tape. I understand his legacy intellectually very well, but all he is to me personally is a dead guy with a bad rep.

  • By the way, that should be a lesson to all wannabe Christian celebrities - all the hubris and selfish ambition in the world will get you in the end is to have some younger preacher years later call you a dead guy with a bad rep who he's read about in a book . . . 

Gothard is not as influential as he was but believe me, he is still influential. For example, consider the Duggars who are hugely influential and are very closely connected with Gothard.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Appreciate the feedback

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

JohnBrian's picture

Most of my sermons come from borrowed outlines, very few from my own original outlines.

I seldom if ever use illustrations, instead I quote dead guys (Spurgeon among my favorites to quote), and lyrics of songs. I footnote everything that is not original. When I was in Jamaica last year and preached in a church my missionary daddy used to pastor, a gentleman asked me for my outline (original to me) and I gladly handed it to him. 

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

Doug Flynn's picture

On the decline definitely, but it still takes awhile for the stench to evaporate and the stain is left behind.