Is courtship the answer? | Part 1

Courthsip IS the answer - post header JPG

 

I started this article very differently… and after writing… a LOT… of information, I decided I had better just get to the point!

I’m an author – I know how to edit… so I hit delete and started over.

 

Several weeks ago, I started a blog series rebutting an article written against courtship. After posting 5 articles myself, I have decided that this situation requires a different approach. So I took down the articles and I have been slowly rewriting them.

This is the first one.

 

As an author of Amish fiction, I have to deal with romance in my novels quite a bit and this is actually more than a little difficult for me since, for myself, I am dedicated to courtship!

But the Amish don’t do things that way – and it has taken a lot of research and long conversations to get to the bottom of just why they do things the way they do.

And I will say this – they know what they’re doing! And their idea of dating is a heck of a lot closer to my ideas on courtship than any ideas the world has about “dating“!

 

I feel very strongly about courtship. I don’t look at it as just another form of dating. I look at it as a lost art, as a thing of beauty. Courtship is not just another type of relationship – it is an exploration, of who you are, what you truly want in life as well as who the other person is and what they truly want from life.

If you are someone who is only interested in a series of quick flings or a meaningless string of casual encounters – then NO, courtship is not a right fit for you.

If you are someone who is genuinely interested in seeking out a meaningful and lasting relationship, then courtship IS the answer for you!

 

So…what started all of this? An online article written by someone who clearly has no idea what he’s talking about and I have no patience for people who claim to know everything about a subject but obviously have no background to speak of, have done zero research and don’t even bother to check their facts.

For this part, I will be dealing with some common myths about courtship.

 

Myth 1:

Courtship is just another word for dating… The behavior is no different – it’s just a different name.

 

I can not count the number of times I have read articles where people claim to have read the very popular book I Kissed Dating Goodbye – but clearly did not get past the cover/ title.

Actually maybe that’s the problem – most of them don’t even bother to read the entire title – I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Relationships and Romance. However, for the sake of space and sanity, I will refer to it by the shortened first part below.

 

The world is full of people who love to sound like they know what they are talking about – but that’s all there is to most of them. They sound like they know but they really don’t. They just like to be heard.

Despite what so many people would LIKE to think, the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye was NOT written as a be-all, end-all information guide on courtship. It was one young man’s take on the problems he saw with traditional dating.

As a matter of fact, among the families who have committed to follow courtship, you will probably get a little different answer from each one you ask… and their answers will most likely differ from Joshua Harris’ ideas too.

This clever young man saw a problem with how young people today treat a relationship that is supposed to be taken very seriously – and he gave us his ideas and his ideals and I applaud him for the courage it must have taken to do this. It’s never easy to go out on a limb and stand up for your principles!

Joshua Harris makes a very strong point several times in his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye that what he was doing did not look a whole lot different from dating. He simply doesn’t call it that because his approach to the “getting to know each other” phase was very different than what most young people do when “dating”.

 

Actual quotes from the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye:

“And I think that’s the story of our generation’s pursuit of fulfillment in relationships. We wished for intimacy without obligation. We wished for sex with no strings attached. We wished for the pleasure of love with none of the work, none of the vows, none of the sacrifice.

And we got it.

But the results aren’t what we hoped for. And we’re left feeling emptier than before. The intimacy is superficial. The sex leaves us dissatisfied and hungry for something real, something true.

Where is true joy? It’s found in God’s brand of love – love founded on faithfulness, rooted in commitment.

The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment.”
Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye

“Intimacy without commitment, like icing without cake, can be sweet, but it ends up making us sick.”
Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye

“We express true love in obedience to God and service to others – not reckless or selfish behavior – and we choose these behaviors.”
Joshua Harris, I Kissed Dating Goodbye

 

“The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment.” – Joshua HarrisTweet this!

 

And… I think I’ve found the first big problem in that last quote. “Dating” is full of selfish behavior and rebellion!
  • Teens become physically intimate long before they are truly ready to
  • They forego studying, time spent with friends and family time to be with their “significant other”
  • They sneak out to parties and experiment with drugs and alcohol
  • They “act” grown-up so they begin to make what seems like grown-up decisions when they are ill-equipped to do so
  • Often they are not truly seeking a life partner so they become too emotionally involved with a person they have no real interest in – hearts are broken, bad patterns begin and sometimes life-altering consequences follow their actions

 

Too harsh…?

Remember I speak from experience. I did the whole dating thing. And I fell into more than my fair share of these types of behaviors… and I was the “good girl”.

I witnessed much worse behavior from other high school acquaintances.

On the other side of the coin, I witnessed many couples who did not engage in any of these things. They took their relationship seriously. Some of them may have engaged in a bit too much physical interaction but they did not take it lightly.

Neither end of the spectrum can be applied to every single person – just as there are many young people who fall somewhere in between the two extremes.

The point is that dating in general is very different from courtship in general!

 

 

Myth 2:

Being home-schooled means you lack socialization and social skills.

 

Before I say anything else, I just want to take a moment to point out that I have two of the most outgoing children on the face of the planet. We tried public school with my son when he was in preschool. He went from being a happy, outgoing, social, sweet child to being a sullen, angry, withdrawn, shy child in just under four months.

It took nearly two years to get him back to where he was before that experience. Actually scratch that… he has NEVER gotten back to where he was before that experience but he is closer.

Suffice to say a traditional classroom is not the place for him.

My son and my daughter are both thrilled with homeschooling. They get to learn things that they’re excited about. They have time for their music. And they aren’t confined to socializing with twenty or thirty kids the exact same age as them.

They socialize with the maintenance man and the ladies who work in the office. They chat with the UPS delivery guy and the mail carrier. They talk to kids in the neighborhood and not just the ones who are the same age as them. My son especially has a soft spot for toddlers. He enjoys so much being a big brother – that it spills over when we are at the playground and he plays with the little kids we meet there as if they are his own siblings.

 

I was home-schooled in 1984. No it wasn’t easy – there were no local co-ops or support groups and we didn’t know about any of the fantastic home-school organizations who would have been thrilled to help us along the way, but all we had to do to find curriculum (otherwise known as school books) was to drive to the local Christian school and buy it.

And I would have loved to continue on that path but there simply were not the same sort of resources available to a single mother then so off to public school I went.

And I whole-heartedly believe that many of the issues I faced growing up were entirely due to the experiences I went through, the hardships I encountered and the influences of my “friends”. And those reckless, haphazard examples led me down a road that has seen so very many bumps and ruts and potholes, it’s amazing I survived.

 

I often wonder if my parents had been involved with the home-school organization I belong to now, how different my life would have been. Would they have stayed together? Would I ever have attended public school? Would I have made the same choices I made?

Clearly some of them would have been different simply because I would not have known many of the same people who I met after my parents split up and we moved far apart. But there’s really no use in playing the what-if game now.

 

Whether I would have made the same choices or not, the facts are that my public school experiences were not good. They started me down a path that only led to self-destruction and misery.

Oh how I wish I had known about courtship.

Oh how I wish I had understood the Biblical principles behind marriage and what it was meant to be.

But I didn’t and my story is an ugly, sad, painful one that far too many young women share.
(I’ll go into more detail later on)

 

Peer pressure is not just about drugs and alcohol.Tweet this!

 

 

Myth 3:

Our grandparents dated earlier and more often than we do. And their parents trusted them enough to go out and do pretty much the same things we do today on dates.

 

A note here: my Grandmother died when my Mother was 18. Less than a year afterward, my Grandfather remarried. They went on dates with my mother in tow (and often the two teen sons that became Mom’s step-brothers). They did this happily and the most shocking thing they did on a date was to go on a picnic…

Don’t you miss the simplicity of picnics…

Clearly the world worked differently 60 years ago, 40 years ago – even 20 years ago when I made my first forays into the dating world.

20 years ago, the phrase date rape was not around… or if it was, I never heard it.

And no matter what anyone tells you, 60 years ago – the average teens did NOT do any of the things that are currently typical for a “date”.

If you ask your grandparents what they would have considered a date when they were teens – they would likely mention things like studying together at the library, sitting together in church or having a soda together at the local diner or malt shop.

Yes I know, it’s shocking how light the argument is on this one – but there’s only so much you can say after the words “malt shop”…

 

And yes… I will be back next week with more!

© Rachel L. Miller 2015

 

Tweetables:

Courtship vs Dating – popular myths debunked!Tweet this!

Oh how I wish I had known about courtship twenty years ago!Tweet this!

 

Disclaimer: For now I will allow comments to this post. I reserve the right to delete any and all derogatory or abusive comments and if I must, I will turn off comments. 

The Amish have it right – they really do!

Psalms 1:
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

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Recently we were watching David Gibbs Jr.’s talk at a previous ATI conference about Psalm 1 – Whatever You Do Will Prosper and I realized something as I was listening.

Psalm 1 explains why  the Amish are so staunch in their faith… at least it does for me. I don’t know if it is their explanation or not but each of the three challenges that God puts forth to us in the Psalm go along with Amish philosophy so it makes sense.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…”

David Gibbs explained this in a way that I’ve never truly thought about it. When the Bible says “ungodly” here, it doesn’t mean the worst of the worst – even though that is what it has come to mean in our society. It simply means anything/one that is not of God or following God – anyone who is not doing it God’s way, in other words.

The Amish purposely keep themselves apart. They don’t do it to be mean or secretive or because they think they’re better than  us. They do it because they do not want to be tempted. And that’s really all there is to it. They do not want to be tempted by the “ungodly” things of this world.

“nor standeth in the way of sinners…”

Again, this has been twisted and misunderstood for many years. It doesn’t mean we get in their way and it doesn’t mean we follow their path. It means we do not allow ourselves to appear like sinners. Obviously we are all sinners. We are none of us perfect. But we don’t have to look like the sin or the other people who are happily wallowing in it.

And that is why the Amish are so adamant to look different, and to put forth their best. They aren’t looking down their nose at us. They just want to show the world what it looks like to be a child of God.

Another of my favorite preachers who speaks at the ATI conferences is Tom Harmon. He said in one of his sessions that “The world is sick of our theology. They want to see our faith.” – Tom Harmon. And he is absolutely right. The world is so tired of hearing us say that God expects us to do things and say things a certain way – and then those same people see us out in public somewhere doing or saying the very things we just said we weren’t supposed to.

So the Amish LIVE their faith. They live it, breathe it and show it to the world!

and this next one was what really got me…

“nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful…”

I thought that meant to make fun or judge other people openly. And, while I admit freely that I’m not perfect and I slip and do that very thing sometimes, I thought I had that one down. Wrong again! That’s not at all what it means. It means we are not to complain, gripe, whine or moan about anything.

Well the Amish certainly have that one. Someone loses a spouse – they THANK GOD. Someone loses a child – they THANK GOD. Someone loses their home – they THANK GOD. The Amish are astonishing. And WOW wouldn’t I LOVE to have their perseverance.

I’m not there yet… far far far from it in fact – but I’m working on it. And God is working on me too. He always will be and I am extremely thankful for that!

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

King James Version (KJV)

18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

© Rachel L. Miller 2014

Do what you love… tomorrow?

A popular retirement company recently started running a new ad campaign. It says to “Start planning now to do what you love tomorrow”.

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“Apparently they’re unaware that we are not guaranteed tomorrow…”

Aside from the obvious flaw in their thinking, I’m more than a little confused by the idea promoted by this new campaign concept.

Wouldn’t we rather do what we love TODAY? Isn’t that better, smarter?

“I personally feel very strongly that this is one of the biggest problems with America today.”

We are so concerned about getting ahead in business, saving for the future, building our portfolio… But when do we take the time to enjoy it? People always say they will take a break someday… But for far too many of those people “someday” never comes because they work themselves into a heart attack at 40 or a nervous breakdown at 30.

 “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” – Acts 24:25

I am reminded of a wonderful sermon I saw recently by Tom Harmon (He speaks at most of the ATI Conferences we attend). He talked about how important it is to Follow God in the days of our Youth.

I believe it was his sermon “You can make choices but you cannot choose consequences” but I’m not 100% sure.

You can find his materials in the IBLP Store HERE and on Embassy Institute HERE)

What is even more confusing is that there are many secular philosophies that proclaim this message as well. So, if the idea of “quality time” and “living life to the fullest…” and “taking time to stop and smell the roses…” are so popular, why would this company think their new ad campaign is such a great idea?

Because we are locked in to the “rat race” mentality.

“Just one more reason I believe the Amish community has the right idea.”

© Rachel L. Miller 2013

Attitude is Everything

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I am a single mom, have been from the very beginning.

I grew up in church but religion doesn’t always leave a whole lot of room for a relationship with God. And my mother and I both have discovered in recent years that churches are very good at teaching you the rules but not why God intended it to be that way.

They were also very good at telling you everyone has to be saved but there was very little guidance about how that actually worked and what you should do after you “gave your life to Christ” . . . aside from follow the rules, of course.

So we’ve both spent a large part of our lives making bad choices and I can only imagine how many times God has had to send his angels in to protect us from what could have been disastrous results. He must have big plans, maybe not for us specifically but at the very least for the amazingly wonderful children he has blessed us with. And without mom – “Grandma”, we would not be able to do what we are doing right now. Which is to homeschool them and get them into God’s word in a serious way.

Over the past five years, we have made sweeping changes in every area of our lives. We’ve eliminated cable TV and even most movies/TV shows we used to watch on DVD. Our clothing choices have changed drastically  and we’ve even begun wearing head coverings. My daughter keeps asking “Why are we being Amish?”

Recently I attended an ATI conference and while we were there God convicted me about the way I speak to my children. My mom has been telling me for years that I sounded too harsh sometimes when I was upset or “at the end of my rope”. All moms go there at some point.

We attended our first conference last year and we were exceedingly blessed by the wonderful speakers but this year was even better. At the conference, one of the speakers was talking about how important it is to forgive those who have wronged you. I kept waiting for him to touch on how to deal with people who don’t want forgiveness or who refuse to accept any responsibility for the hurts they’ve caused you but it never came. Instead God spoke to me (I’m getting better at hearing and listening to that still small voice) and he led me to release years of built up bitterness. Bitterness I didn’t even realize I had in me. After that, without even realizing what I was doing, my attitude started to change.

It was not an instantaneous thing and it hasn’t been easy but I am tickled to say that everyone has noticed the difference. My entire family has commented on the changes in me. My son is thrilled with my “sweet voice. My mom is grateful I’ve stopped speaking so harshly to both kids. My relationship with my father (which has always been a bit rocky) is much better now too.

Praise God!

He is so good to us. He is so patient with us. He is so much more forgiving than we deserve. And I am Thankful for it. Otherwise, we’d be sunk.

So take a minute to examine your past. If there are hurts there that you might be holding on to, take a few minutes to get on your knees and release those hurts and the bitterness that goes along with them.

You’ll never be the same.

God Bless You!

© Rachel L. Miller 2013