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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Post # 2 on serious topics

Wellwell. I got a sizable turnout of opinions on my last post, both here on the blog and on Facebook, where my blog posts to as well. On to the next [related] topic. Below is a comment I posted on another blog, which was reviewing the book Before You Meet Prince Charming, by Sarah Mally.  What I wrote below is really more in regards to some other, similar books.
Again, if you haven't read the books mentioned this may not make a lot of sense....I'll try to provide links and so on.  And I know this topic could create a bit of conflict, and people disagreeing with me, I'll take that as it comes.
The comment below was posted on this blog article here:

I was required to read this book, as well as Beautiful Girlhood [by Karen Andreola, I believe? Or edited by her?] and Raising Maidens of Virtue [Stacy McDonald] in my early teens. If anything, these books alienated me somewhat from Christianity, and from the courtship movement, something I deeply regret. Only in the past two years or so have I more fully embraced God and the idea of a courtship-based approach to marriage [and I still consider that the last needs to be carefully handled, a la Josh Harris].

I found myself continually taking issue with the points raised, probably because I felt convicted of my own failings [and of their truth? I'm still not sure].  For a girl who has often been over-fond of the company of boys, almost everything that I read in these books felt as though it was aimed at me.

My mom realized that I would probably never fully embrace all the philosophies in Before You Meet Prince Charming, and sold the book at a homeschool book sale last year, so I unfortunately do not have it to refer to here.   But I remember arguing [in my own head] with the idea that if girls live outside of the home [i.e. college], they will become used to independence and feel stifled when it comes time for them to marry. The idea was that this would be prevented by a girl's living under her father's roof until marriage.
My arguments were 1) that if a girl feels [and probably knows she will feel] 'stifled' by marriage, it is not yet TIME to get married! There comes a time when a woman [or anyone, IMO] becomes lonely with a solitary life, and I think that maybe one cannot appreciate the companionship of marriage without a previous time of 'freedom'. What would be more submissive than a woman entering into a marriage contract when both she and her husband know she is giving up what the world calls freedom FOR this one man?

and 2) that if one is afraid that a girl will become used to feeling independent and enjoy it, how fragile must be the 'benefits' of eschewing that independence! 'The truth needs no strength to sustain it' [probably a mis-quote on my part...]

There is, in all three of the books I mentioned, a concern with girls guarding the hearts of the young men around them, something I heartily endorse. [I personally am enraged at some girls' careless and selfish behavior with young Christian men.] However there is always mention of some behaviors as incorrect or even sinful, which I have indulged in and hope to be innocent.
   The most hurtful thing I ever remember one of my girl friends saying to me was at the age of 12 or so, in a tone of disgust at what she must have thought to be my purposeful attention-getting: 'Bethany, why do you always make such a show of yourself?'   It so happened that at the time I had NO idea I was 'making a show of myself', but it certainly looked that way, I will admit. I was also once nicknamed 'Peacock' for a [short] while. All of this going on in a small Christian homeschool co-op group...  Anyways, my point is that some girls feel horribly offended and hurt if they are told they are trying to get attention. Books [Beautiful Girlhood, which I know is not the topic of this post] often mention girls who 'do their hair in new and daring styles' [that IS a quote, at the time I read that I was about 11 and enjoyed braiding my hair in new styles and so on...I memorized that darn phrase] or are fond of being in town, in negative lights [usually the harlot's-feet-abiding-not-in-her-house comes up].

My other major concern is with the concept of courtship, only as portrayed by Sarah Mally in this book.
Please correct me if I am wrong on this though! :)

At least in the allegorical story which is woven through the book, the Princess finally marries a Prince who approaches her [or rather her FATHER] in the appropriate way, and who is also a courageous and caring young man. BUT BUT BUT...I can recall little or no time with the young couple shown getting to know each other! Did I just miss this? It certainly was not harped upon in the accompanying text. How did they know that they shared the same interests? Ideals? Did they at least know where the other stood on important issues, even if they didn't agree? Just because a person is 'good', even just because they are a strong Christian, does not mean that they will automatically make YOU a good marriage partner.

I do not consider that dating is a good choice for most people, certainly not in any form of 'dating around' just for fun. But on the other hand, surely getting to know members of the opposite gender, however little dating actually performs that task, is preferable to being close friends with NO ONE! I recall now another book [Emotional Purity, by Heather Paulsen I believe] which made the case that it is dangerous to be close friends with anyone of the opposite gender. It referred to 'emotional fornication' which, if I recall correctly, was not lust as we would think of it, but instead the sharing of one's MIND with another person. Having in-depth talks about one's faith were to be avoided. There was something to the effect of, you only want to share your spiritual life with your spouse, isn't it emotional fornication to do anything else?  

My main concern is that young people may wind up marrying each other without knowing each other very well. Sure, they may get better acquainted during courtship and engagement, but isn't it a little late to be finding out important stuff about your significant other at that point?

I am amazed and thankful to find that this view of courtship is not the only one. Josh Harris' is, I think, much better. One of my very close Christian friends ascribes to a courtship ideal which I consider extremely sensible. It involves being very clear with people on where your relationship with them stands, and not dating just for fun. The plan is to be allowed to get to know lots of people very well, but be open and honest with all of them. When you know who the best choice for marriage is, you hopefully already know a LOT about them...and one would hope that one of the first criteria is being compatible in faith, interests, and personality.

It seems that girls who follow some of BYMPC's guidelines will miss out on many good and innocent relationships. Friendships that is.  [for me personally at least. Some girls do connect well with other girls, I tend to have trouble doing so with all but a few. In addition, my scholastic/career interests put me in contact with chiefly guys. While I would hate to appear to undervalue female companionship, I also frequently find it easier to give and receive help in spiritual and faith-based areas with young men.]
I know this is getting long, so I will wind up after just one more [heh heh] personal testimony. Had I followed some of BYMPC and Emotional Purity's guidelines, I am pretty sure I would have missed out on one of my deepest friendships: more importantly, I very well might still be in the fairly lukewarm Christianity that I was a few months ago. Conversing with a young man who deeply loves God helped me in so many ways that I hate to think of the sort of person I was even a few months ago. That provided a sort of springboard to pursuing God more strongly than I have in all my years of being a Christian. While God might very well have opened my heart in other or better ways, the fact remains that whenever purity has been a focus of my friendships with young men, nothing but good has resulted.

Hum. Almost done now. I would like to say that I highly support many of the principles outlined in Sarah Mally's book. Purity before marriage is a very important topic but I feel that this book has some worrying ideas and perhaps fallacies in it.


Carol said...

"What would be more submissive than a woman entering into a marriage contract when both she and her husband know she is giving up what the world calls freedom FOR this one man?"

Right on! Very true. That is me right there in a nutshell. Was out of the home for 13 years and had a career. Submission isn't a problem, and it has been great.

Some of my best friends were guys prior to marriage, and they contributed greatly to my growth. One of those best friends did become my husband, but we had spent two years together as friends before we even started courting.

The Cult Next Door said...

Beautiful thoughts!