Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Christian Courtship" and Neurosis



My friend Sean Dailey posted a link on Facebook to the article Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed by Thomas Umstattd Jr., which is a long article on the topic of Christian dating (a topic I've been writing about recently).  Many of my readers had already called my attention to this article, which is jaw dropping in its description of a world I didn't know existed, a world of contrived pseudo-romance and brutal repression that is far worse than the dysfunctional but relatively normal problems in the dating world that I have seen and have been reflecting upon.

Apparently, there's a trend in devout Christian circles to turn any form of dating - which should be a casual and fun way of getting to learn about the opposite sex - into super-serious "courtship", which is not exactly courtship, but an obsessive-compulsive attempt to drain desire, affection and fun of anything spontaneous.  This is clearly a reaction against the sexual hook-up culture, but one wonders which is worse - the disease or the cure.

Chestertonian Reilly Washburn has some very perceptive and funny things to say ...

Frankly, it wouldn't frustrate so much, but for the fact that it's just so unbearably silly. And not Silly, like Monty Python, or wearing a lampshade on your head with a bottle of champagne, silly. It's knee-jerk reactionism. Theologically reductionist, historically revisionist, linguistically post-modernist, packaged and sold with a Cross and an Ichthys. Christianity's latest version of double-think and newspeak, like "Facetious" instead of "Sarcastic", or "Bless your heart" instead of "Screw Off", or "Covenant" instead of "contract". Compartmentalized, dichotomized, un-analyzed, nonsense. Intolerable bollucks. The old heresy of Secular vs. Sacred, and it didn't even have the decency to put on a new dress. Just borrowed something from her great-great-grandmother's closet, dusted it off, cut it shorter, and voila! "Courting" 
On the plus side, however, this is always something that gives me a great zest for the drink! Because, you can't argue with these people. They are like cultists. Courting cultists, cultivating delusional courtly gestures. I sincerely wouldn't have a problem with earnest people desiring to bring back an agrarian lifestyle and traditional courting. I may not agree with it, but I could respect it. But, don't half-ass it! Don't get your oxfords all polished up, your dress slacks in order and lint-free, and then throw on a tuxedo t-shirt. Don't tell me you're "Courting" when in reality, you're just dating with an unhealthy obsession and fear of loneliness and failure. Call it "dating with an unhealthy obsession and fear of failure", or what the rest of us call, "Dating". 

Meanwhile, these posts on dating have touched on something that goes far beyond the frustrations of single young Catholics.  They've touched on a problem central to the Catholic Church and to Christian life itself.

But more on that later ...



5 comments:

Chris said...

I would ask what circles Umstattd is in to think that his version of courtship is some kind of big practice/problem. (I’m not sure if this is big in some evangelical circles or in home-school ones, which he is then projecting at large?) The subject that has been discussed and seems to be the more observable is the opposite: the lack of formal dating/courtship and a Christian version of the hook-up culture amongst Catholic young adult crowds. Most young adult Catholics I would say are even kind of clueless to the notion of traditional courtship, as they are often more in tune with things from the popular culture, such as precisely having unwittingly adopted a hook-up mentality. His conclusions are also tenuous anyway, e.g., the divorce rate amongst courting folks- it is a fine line to denote one couple as a courtship one and another not so, while there is clearly a high divorce rate amongst the majority of folks, who do “dating” or other alternatives.

jvc said...

This sounds like the exact same cult that Christopher West came out of. Identical.

Anonymous said...

Dating is less than 100 years old. Courting is found in every culture on earth and goes back to before Jesus. Is is a coincidence that when we adopted dating, we adopted divorce into out culture as well?

jvc said...

Divorce is only 100 years old as well?

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