I Was Taught That Dating Is From The Devil


Despite her conservative upbringing, one women decides to kiss courtship—not dating—goodbye.

As a young girl, raised in a Fundamentalist home in Texas, I believed that I was supposed to get married. My friends and I often played games where we matched ourselves up with the other boys in Sunday School. As I got older, my parents encouraged my sisters and I to think about courtship. Courtship, loosely defined, is a man asking my parents permission to "hang out" with one of us girls and then asking permission to move to "dating" only after declaring his intentions for marriage. My parents explained that the world of dating was just too full of heart break and anytime your heart broke, you lost a piece of it. "Don't you want to give your husband your WHOLE heart?" 

My family wasn't the only one caught up in this idea of courtship. In the wake of the publication of I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris, a whole generation of Christian conservatives were booting modern dating out the door. There were rallies and conferences where we jammed out to Christian music and cheered when a speaker said things like, "Dating is of the devil!" or "No kissing before marriage!" We sighed when we heard stories about a couple sharing their first kiss on their wedding day. We weren't just pledging our virginity, we were pledging to stay away from dating, hand-holding, kissing and the opposite sex. We were pledging to prepare ourselves to be good wives by staying submissive to our parents until the day they handed us over to our husbands. The 36-Year-Old Virgin

In high school, after my parents caught me skipping work to go play tennis with some guy friends, they sent me to a camp where I was put through a week of Bible studies that focused  on submission and preparing to be a Godly wife. One leader explained to me, "Women are like horses. They have power and strength, but that power and strength needs to be trained. Parents are the trainers who prepare a horse to be submissive to its eventual master." I left that camp determined to date. I figured it would be better to be a little broken hearted than to be treated like an animal. Why Being A Submissive Wife Is Hot

When I finally started dating, I was surprised at how lackluster it all was. I had been prepared for a sordid world of emotional turmoil, sin and moral compromise, instead I just found really nice guys who bored me after a while. I kissed them. We held hands, but never once did I feel like I was losing a piece of myself. On the contrary, I felt like I was regaining control of who I was and what I wanted out of life. Despite my parents best efforts, none of my sisters ever tried the courting model. One sister commented that when she finally left home she realized that relationships weren't about fitting your idea of how the world should work on a person, but accepting and enjoying people as they came.

Not every one I know abandoned the courtship model, however. One friend married the son of close family friends after their parents both approved the courtship and his stated intentions to marry her. Another girl I know is 32 and still waiting for her Prince Charming to come ask her parents for permission to court. She lives at home and runs Bible studies encouraging other young women to stay submissive to their parents as preparation for their submission to their husband. While I admire her tenacity, I wonder if God wouldn't prefer it if she slapped on some lipstick and hit the town.

The idea of courtship and this movement against dating isn't just some fad. It remains a strong counter-culture movement that influences large parts of America. The best pop-culture example is the Duggars, who don't allow casual dating. Personally, I struggle with the idea of courtship. It pigeonholes women as passive creatures and men as hormone-controlled sex machines who shouldn't be allowed to be alone with girls. And yet, I understand the desire to make relationships about something more than just sex. 5 Courtship Rules Modern Daters Can Use

I didn't kiss dating goodbye, ultimately. In fact, I welcomed it with a nice big wet one one and through it, I found the man I would eventually marry. And while he did ask for my parents' permission to marry me, the choice was ours and ours alone, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

What do you think about the idea of kissing dating goodbye?