IS Courtship “Fundamentally Flawed”?

In Advice and Encouragement, Dating, Relationships by Debra Fileta

When I checked my inbox this morning, there was a slew of emails from my readers, asking my opinion on this article that’s going around by Thomas Umstattd, called “Why Courtship Is Fundamentally Flawed”.

I have to admit, the title, though maybe a little strong in language, totally peaked my interest. While I’ve never been one to “bash” courtship (hey, it might work for some…), I’ve been loud and clear that I believe there is a better way to do relationships.

As many of you know I am an outspoken advocate of dating and healthy relationships between the opposite sex. Just flip to the back of my book True Love Dates and you’ll read, “Fileta encourages singles not to “kiss dating goodbye” and instead experience a season of dating as a way to find real love.”

So, what do I think of Mr. Umstattd’s article? Here are some of my thoughts:

1. It’s filled with really good points: I will spare you from going back and recapping the points made in his article, because you can go and do that for yourself. All throughout the piece he makes many good points about the positive interactions that can be had when men and women interact in a culturally relevant way (ie dating), while dissecting the negatives that come within the framework of courtship. If I’m honest, I definitely agreed with most of his points. His perspective resonates with my personal approach to relationships, and while I would never go as far as to say that courtship is “fundamentally flawed” (those are some big words….) I found myself nodding in personal agreement most of the way through the article. Coming from a generation heavily influenced by “I kissed dating goodbye”, I think he tackled the topic in a very thorough way, particularly as someone who has come out of the “homeschool” culture. Much of what he said, NEEDS to be said to that generation. And I think he was the right person to do it!

2. It focuses too much on the approach, rather than on the process: Part of the reason I don’t write or focus on “criticizing courtship”, is because I think healthy relationships are less about the approach we take, and more about the process that we engage in from first meeting to marriage.  As a Professional Counselor, I don’t think that giving up dating or giving up courtship is the answer to the horrifying divorce rate. I don’t even think it’s an “either/or” subject where you have to choose one and reject the other. Again, it’s not about the approach, it’s about the process. Beyond those things, I think the answer is going into relationships as healthy individuals, with healthy perspectives, and healthy expectations. It’s about dealing with your past, understanding your present, envisioning your future, and knowing what kind of person fits into your story. It’s about becoming healthy from the inside-out. Key word in case you missed it: HEALTH.

In True Love Dates, I talk less about a person’s APPROACH to dating, and more about HOW TO BECOME HEALTHY AND ENGAGE in healthy relationships. To me, finding true love starts from the inside-out, not from the outside-in. I tackle this a lot more in True Love Dates by talking about the process spelled out in the three stages of dating: Dating Inward, Dating Outward, and Dating Upward. Let me put it this way, I think It’s less about the vehicle we’re taking to get there, and more about the journey we’re on.  Still, I am so thankful that Mr. Umstattd had the courage to talk about such an important subject, and to do it in such a graceful and honest way.

One thing I notice behind much of the courtship culture, as well as behind much of the “Christian-dating” culture at large, is that many times single men and women are actually “waiting” on relationships out of FEAR, rather than out of FAITH.

There is so much pressure surrounding this topic, so much fear that they will do it wrong, that godly men and women are truly plagued by a paralyzing anxiety when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex.

Relationships are a part of life, a part of growing up, and a part of connecting with others the way God intended for us to connect. They are here to shape us, teach us, refine us, and challenge us. We were made to connect with others, because we are made in His image- the image of a God who delights in relationships.

Whether we’re dating or not, all our relationships can be used as an avenue of glorifying God as we engage with others in a healthy, mature, and meaningful way. May God help us to take part in healthy relationships from the inside out, as we fight off the fear-culture, and step into genuine faith.

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter