My brother, Wulf, sent me this link.
My impression upon reading it was that it was a jumbled mess of both good and terrible points and advice. What especially got my attention was this:
Most of the moral arguments for courtship are actually arguments for arranged marriage. The arguments for the strong involvement of parents fit arranged marriage much better than they fit courtship.
I don’t see Arranged Marriage taking off in Western Culture.
We need a system to help young people make good decisions. Fortunately, we have one: Traditional Dating.
Traditional Dating fits our culture like a glove. Most of Americans already intuitively know how it works because it is part of who we are as a people. If you don’t know how it works, ask your grandparents and they will tell you of the glory days when men were free. Watch the twinkle in their eye when they tell you of a time when men and women could fall in love and pick their own spouses.
I’ve never read the author before, so I sent off a quick couple tweets to give him an opportunity to explain further.
@ThomasUmstattd So my brother just sent me a link to your article on courtship. My impression was “biblical/moral arguments all lead to(1/2)
— Moose Norseman (@MooseNorseman) August 14, 2014
@ThomasUmstattd (2/2).. arranged marriages, but USA likes sin nature and rebellion, so fuck it, let’s throw that all out. Care to reply?
@moosenorseman Could you be trying to turn my argument into a straw man? I don’t think individualism = sin and rebellion.
— Thomas Umstattd Jr. (@ThomasUmstattd) August 14, 2014
If more develops of this conversation, I will add it. Meanwhile, lets look at both the good and the terrible in his article, starting with the good.
I know several godly, hardworking and attractive homeschool guys who have been rejected by as many as a dozen fathers. I respect their tenacity. Getting turned down by courtship fathers is tough on guys because the fathers are rarely gentle or kind. So if you are a courtship-minded girl wondering why the guys are not calling, you may want to ask your dad how many guys he has run off.
I’m not sure why Mr. Umstattd is laser focused on homeschoolers. Regardless, his point stands. Many fathers today discourage, rather than encourage, the timely marriage of their daughters.
The other problem with courtship is that it often delays marriage. Courtship communities expect young people to live celibate lives in a sexually charged culture for a decade or more before they get married. The Bible instructs us to flee temptation and to marry lest you burn with lust. Courtship teaches instead to delay marriage until you are ready.
Next up, we have a couple mixed bags of advice:
If you are a single woman, realize that the reason guys are not asking you out is NOT because you are unattractive. It is because you live in a system where he must want to marry you before he can get to know you. It is the system that is broken, not you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Somewhere out there is a guy who will see you as the most beautiful woman in the world. The more guys you meet, the faster you will find him.
- If a Christian guy asks you out for dinner, say “yes”. You don’t need to love him to say yes to a first date.
- Be friendly. Give the guy hope that he has a chance with you. Coyness is not as attractive as the media makes it out to be.
- Don’t make him run a gauntlet before he can get to know you. Realize he is not asking to marry you when he asks if he can buy you dinner.
- Some guys are hidden gems and are more than meets the eye. Give him a chance to win your attention and to earn that second date.
- If you are not interested in a guy, let him down gently. There is a way to give a firm “no” to a guy without making him feel like a worm.
- Don’t call in your dad to scare him off unless he won’t take the hint. Your dad and his shotgun should be the last resort.
- Let the guy pay for dinner.
Points 1-4 are decent advice, despite the patronizing tone of the preceding paragraph. But point 5 is a wrong as can be. Telling women to “let men down gently” only leads to ambiguity. Tell him “I’m not interested in you” in those exact words. He’s a man, he can take it. What’s more, he’ll (later) be grateful to you for not wasting his time with ambiguities.
Suggestions for Single Men
- Start asking girls out. Most girls would love to be asked out and will say “yes” if you would just ask them.
- Realize that asking a girl out for dinner is not the same as proposing marriage.
- If she says you need to talk to her dad first, just move on to the next girl. Don’t let the fact that some women have controlling fathers keep you from dating the girls with more normal families. There are a lot of fish in the sea and some dads are nicer than others. Remember that this man would have become your father-in-law, and controlling people tend to control everything they can. So avoiding women with those kinds of fathers can save you a lot of heartache down the road.
- If you have been browbeaten by harsh courtship fathers, I feel your pain. Ask God to heal your heart and to give you the courage to try again. The tide is shifting. The leaders that those men used to justify their actions are quickly fading into the past. We are entering a kinder, gentler age. Who knows. Maybe the next girl you ask out could be the one.
- Get a job. Money makes you more attractive.
- Pay for dinner.
Again, some of these points are common sense. The glaring exception is point 3. No need to next a girl simply because she submits to her father’s Biblical headship. Rather, find out if that is really what is going on, or if she is just taking Mr. Umstattd’s advice to “let you down gently.” Simply say “I don’t want to waste my time here. Are you interested if I get your father’s permission, or are you just trying to say no without actually saying it?”
The last thing I want to address from his article is this:
What we have in the Old Testament is a lot of precedent: each story is different from the last.
For precedents we have:
- the woman as the protagonist in the romance (Ruth & Boaz)
- the man as the protagonist in the romance (Jacob & Rachel)
- the romance arranged by a third party (Isaac & Rebekah)
- the woman entering the man’s harem (David & Abigail, Micah, Bathsheba etc.)
Umstattd’s point is that this “variety” of Biblical precedents justifies modern dating. Note first of all his insistence in using the word “romance” rather than the word “marriage.” This is a perfect illustration of what Dalrock was talking about here:
What nearly all modern Christians have done is place romantic love above marriage. Instead of seeing marriage as the moral context to pursue romantic love and sex, romantic love is now seen as the moral place to experience sex and marriage. This inversion is subtle enough that no one seems to have noticed, but if you look for it you will see it everywhere.
But, even if we replace the word “romance” with the more appropiate “marriage,” there is still an issue with Umstattd’s point: he’s wrong. The listed examples don’t show the variety of precedents he claims. The marriage of Boaz and Ruth was machinated by Naomi but was arranged between Boaz and a relative at the gate. The marriage of Jacob and Rachel was arranged between Jacob and Laban. The marriage of Isaac and Rebecca was arranged between Abraham and Issac on one hand, and Bethuel and Laban on the other, through the proxy of a servant. And David’s marriage to Mical (the only wife of David Umstattd listed that was not a widow) was arranged between Saul and David. These precedents do not give cover to modern dating, because, unlike modern dating, in every instance the marriage was arranged between the prospective husband and the male guardian of the woman, not between the man and woman themselves.
Which brings us around full circle to the arranged marriages that Umstattd admits are the Biblical model, and his claim that this somehow validates our dating culture because certainly no one would actually apply the Biblical model in the US. This is the typical position of the “Christian” who follows the religion of progressivism rather than the religion of Christ. It’s just another example of the “sure the Bible says that, but we know better than that now” attitude that is so pervasive today. They adopt the form of Christianity, but deny the power of the Word. From such men turn away.