I had no idea what courtship was until I read Josh Harris' book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I wish I could remember how I came across that book. I do remember attending a small "class" at one of those youth conferences, where two women spoke about sexual purity and recommended Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. Perhaps that is also where I heard about Kissed.
I read Passion and Purity first. The subtitle is Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ's Control. And let me tell you, Jim and Elisabeth were nothing if not controlled. And so serious. It made me a bit uncomfortable and scared that I could never live up to their severe level of discipline. Not that I could admit that to myself at the time. No, I admired them then, and I took to heart her advice not to awaken love before the time is right. When I told my mother about the book and how they had waited so long to marry, avoiding nearly all intimacy beforehand, only to suffer an early end with Jim's death, her reaction implied "what a sad and terrible waste." Now I see what she meant. I have to ask: was it really worth it to hold so much of yourselves from each other with the limited amount of time you had together? Why is that good? Is protecting your heart and your purity worth starving yourself of love and affection?
Also covered in that book was Jim's belief that you should never kiss a woman until you tell her you love her, and you should never say "I love you" unless you're proposing marriage. And Elisabeth made an argument that arranged marriages are not bad because statistically they last longer. Where do I even begin? As for kissing, I don't believe this is toying with a woman's heart. It's a sign of attraction between two people and an enjoyable activity. It can help you gauge whether someone is right for you and whether you have chemistry together. And as for "I love you," why must we hide our true feelings until we're prepared for marriage? Be honest with yourself and the person you love. I suppose some Christian groups don't believe love is a feeling--it's an action--and therefore you don't truly love someone unless you're able to act on it. What can I say except that I simply disagree. Lastly, why is the measure of a good marriage the length of it? Is a miserable long marriage better than a short and passionate one? And if a long marriage is a Christian's goal, then why does Christian culture encourage young marriages, which are less likely to succeed? Oh yeah...the temptation of sex. Is it just me or are the ideals of purity and long marriage a system set up to fail?