My friend Jordan told me the other day that one of his coworkers who is unchurched read my blog via a link on Jordan’s facebook. I perked my ears, expecting Jordan to tell me that it changed his friend’s life. Not quite. In fact, what the coworker said was,“Jordan, that’s some weird crap on that blog. “
I started thinking about how foreign this entire blog would sound to unchurched people, about how very strange the Christian dating culture can be at times. This is especially true about this latest series I’m writing exploring “rules” that came out of our 90’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye culture. (see 90’s Dating Gone Bad #1: Dating Isn’t Biblical.) I think it’s time that we corporately admit that we have all believed some weird crap.
One of the weird things we believed was this rule: You shouldn’t date, you should only court.
When I was in college, I was with my first serious boyfriend, and was in the throes of first love. The same was true of two of my best friends. One of the couples was on the verge of getting engaged.
One weekend, our boyfriends all went to a men’s retreat. The speaker announced that dating wasn’t biblical. Our passionate naïve men got together and decided that they should keep each other accountable to breaking up with us that very day.
One dumped woman is bad. But three simultaneously dumped women? That, my friends, is a nightmare.
Needless to say, the three of us gathered together after that horrible night and became a heaping pile of feminine despair. Our now x-boyfriends were shocked that we reacted so with so much emotion. I think they were expecting us to say “Oh thank you for being such Godly men and breaking up with us. That was so noble of you! “ Instead, we wanted to slash their tires.
The three men got together and discussed the issue again. They came back to us, saying that they didn’t have to break up with us if they could court us instead of date us. We were so relieved. There was only one problem: none of us knew what courting was. Within a few weeks, our courting life looked pretty much exactly like our dating life. But at least we were socially acceptable now.
Here is the first irony involving this rule: the word “courting” is not in the Bible, just like the word “dating” is not in the Bible. Therefore, courting is not biblical, which was the initial argument for why we should not date. Most of us assumed that courting was the biblical model for eventually marrying someone. Not true. Marriage in biblical culture was almost always arranged.
After googling “the history of courting” many times and getting nowhere, I finally figured out that courting did not come from the Bible, but centuries later, from the Amish.
In Amish culture, young people get together most Sundays after church for “socials.” Aha! You say! Group dating! But that is not the end of the story. If two people are interested in getting to know each other, they can go in a “courting buggy” which is an open horse drawn carriage. They will ride in the buggy and talk, maybe hold hands. According to my research, going on a buggy ride does not mean that it is a sure thing that the Amish people are going to get married. It is much more casual than that. It is simply a way to get to know someone. Often, the parents don’t even know who their kids are going on buggy rides with until it gets serious.
I actually think this Amish way of going about dating makes more sense than “courting” version that we were taught. Our strict 90’s Christian version said that we should not be alone and that we shouldn’t spend intentional time with someone unless we were pretty sure we were going to marry them. But how do you get to know someone enough to know that you will marry them if you are not allowed to spend time with them to get to know them? It doesn’t make much sense.
In the Amish courting buggying system, they get good information to assess over time whether this is a good match, which I have said several times is a very wise way to date.There doesn’t seem to be a lot of pressure if you buggy with someone. You are just getting to know them. They have lots of alone time that focuses on conversing, on getting good information, rather than focusing too much on anything physical.
(The rare Amish community does accept the practice “bundling” or “bed courting” which involves a courting couple sleeping in the same bed as long as they are clothed and the woman has the sheet wrapped around her. I’m not sure if this rule is for me. My inner dragon might come out in that situation. And inner dragons are not often Amish.)
One of my readers the other day commented that we should start a revolution that is more realistic than courting but more committed than dating. I liked her idea of balance. Balance is a good answer to almost everything in life.
But then I pictured my book becoming a phenom like I Kissed Dating Goodbye where people started a revolution that was right in the middle of dating and courting like she suggested.
“Maybe they would call it dorting!” I thought. “Or catering! Oh wait that doesn’t work. Buggying! That’s it ! Buggying!
People will say ‘Hey I really don’t want to date you but I don’t really want to court you either. I want to be right in the middle. I want to buggy you. We could cruise around in my convertible with the top down so people can see us that way we are in a semi public place but still alone. What do you think?’”
Then I realized that I didn’t want that to happen. You know why?
Because that’s some weird crap, y’all.
Let’s just try to date well. How does that sound?