Hello Mod bloggers!
Last month I wrote on what can be learned from the emphasis traditional courtship places on the role of the father. Lately I've been thinking about the importance of the family.
When I asked a friend how he would define courtship, he replied with a half-laugh, “chaperoned dating.” His definition, while over-simplified, does hint at a value embraced by courtship – growing in friendship amidst others, especially among family. When I had first heard of a contemporary couple who had courted, and had asked what that entailed, the answer I received certainly did involve younger siblings “chaperoning” their older sister on her first few dates with a young man (now her husband). This idea was novel to me, and certainly took me aback at first.
After continued conversation and reading on the subject, however, I have come to understand the idea of “chaperoning.” It is not necessarily a matter of not trusting the young man and young woman, but rather it is to make sure their intentions are in the right place. If a young man is willing to take a girl out even if he has to take young Sally along too for the first few dates, then certainly he is not just playing around. He is serious, showing a genuine interest for the girl.
Chaperoning also plays an additional role –
one of protection. As long as the young
couple is accompanied by others, limiting their time alone together, they
protect the relationship from accelerating too quickly too fast, especially in
areas of physical affection. One need
not look too far to realize that in today’s culture, many relationships are
founded or focused on the physical. Those
outward manifestations of affection quickly become the measure for how well the
relationship is going and for how serious the relationship is. What courtship recognizes is that physical
affection should be neither the measure, nor foundation or focus of a
relationship. Rather, it is the depth
and growth of friendship between a man and woman that should be the basis of a
Now how does family factor into this whole picture? As I made clear in my last entry on courtship, it is simply a fact that in today’s culture and society, a great deal of relationships develop after a young man or woman has left home. In such a setting, chaperoned dating is extremely impractical. What still can be learned from this aspect of courtship, though, is the emphasis on building relationships within social settings, especially within the home when possible.
Building a relationship within such settings not only confirms the couple’s good intentions and protects them from opportunities to get too intimate too fast, but is also allows them to get to know each other fully and in situations similar to those they will face in marriage. In other words, there is a value in getting to know a person in different social situations. Not only does this provide an opportunity for the couple to see if they are compatible in multiple social settings, but it also allows them to grow in understanding one another’s dispositions. This is, of course, incredibly important if one is to make one’s life with another in marriage. Growing in understanding and friendship, especially in different environments, is crucial to the dating and courtship process.
Family is perhaps the most important of these social
settings. For example, how a man treats
his mother is very often indicative of how he will treat his wife. The same is often true for a woman with her
father and husband. Furthermore, seeing
the family someone comes from also helps to understand a person and perhaps
what their expectations are for marriage and family. There is certainly some truth to the saying
that children grow up to become their parents, as it is inevitable that
children pick up certain qualities, dispositions, attitudes, etc. from those
who raised them. In effect, children
learn how to be husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, from how their own
parents raised them. Another reason why courtship (not accidentally) placed the young couple in the home environment.
Outside of a courtship model, can you think of other ways to nurture friendship and understanding in romantic relationships today?