Why Courtship Fails: A Male’s Perspective

Why Courtship Fails: A Male’s Perspective March 13, 2012

by The Graduate

As a young man in my early twenties who grew up in conservative homeschool circles, I was excited to return home after spending four years in a Christian college. I had very little experience in dating and hadn’t been in a relationship in college, but I had a good degree and a solid career lined up in front of me. My parents were excited too, because they hoped that I would be able to easily find a bride among the many single homeschool girls my family knew. I was a willing participant to their plans, but I soon found out that even with the right credentials, it was still impossible for me to come against homeschool patriarchy and perfectionism.

According to Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips, a girl who has spent her entire life preparing for marriage under unquestioning submission to her father should expect to have almost too many young men seeking to win her hand. Eventually, her father would choose the right one for her. Her future husband would be a paradox: ambitious and hard-working and able to support a family, yet fully under his parents’ authority and living in their house without going to college. He would be an intelligent, independent critical thinker, yet he would agree unquestioningly with every belief of his parents and church.

Most of my family’s friends subscribed to these philosophies. But as their daughters approached their late teens, these families began to realize, either consciously or subconsciously, that many of the required attributes of a “godly young man” are mutually exclusive. An ambitious, hard-working young man is going to want to go to college, or at least live at a level of independence from his parents unacceptable to Gothard and Phillips’ teachings. And any truly intelligent and critical-thinking suitor is not going to agree with his parents on everything – especially if his parents are die-hard ATI-followers.

For many girls I know, the perfect suitor never materialized. Instead, they became forced to wait for the elusive young man who could gain the approval of their father. Many of my more ambitious male friends left the homeschool community entirely out of disgust, tired of facing impossible obstacles set up by fathers just to get to know their daughters. The boys who remained were often never given enough freedom to choose anything for themselves, and were under-employed, unable to communicate with women, and altogether as uninteresting as they were ineligible.

Faced with failure, most people don’t accept their mistakes but instead cling more dogmatically to the same beliefs that created their errors. Thus, when forced to decide between the two types of young men – those who are ambitious, entirely Christian, but not conformist, and those who were essentially mini-versions of their parents – many fathers ultimately consigned themselves to giving away their daughters to the latter. Doug Phillips loves to say that a father is in a much better position to judge the true character of a suitor than his daughter. I, on the other hand, have found that fathers are just as subject to the flattery and smooth talk of an ill-meaning young man as they assume their daughters are. I have seen young men get married who never would have had a chance of even getting a date in the real world. But for girls with no other alternative except being surrogate mothers for their younger siblings, even bad marriages often seemed desirable. If anything, it allowed them to get out of their fathers’ house.

It is a cruel irony: a culture which esteems marriage and family as the highest ideal ultimately makes it unattainable. Organizations like ATI and Vision Forum that claim that women only have a role in the house ultimately doom them to a lifestyle apart from their ideal. By idolizing marriage, finding a spouse becomes almost impossible.

I experienced this dilemma first-hand last summer when I asked a girl out from a “courtship” family. My family had known hers for several years. I had only spoken to her on a few occasions, as her parents believed very strongly in limiting male-female interaction. Still, I was very impressed with what I had heard about her. She had been accepted into a prestigious Christian university, although she was not attending in accordance of her father’s wishes. She was very intelligent, and did not agree with many of her parents’ stances but chose to live in respect of them anyway. Her family didn’t interact much with anyone outside their very narrow church circles, so she seldom came into contact with the outside world.

I did everything the way a godly young man was supposed to. I called her father first. I patiently listened to his opinions on what our “courtship” should look like for four grueling hours on the first day that I met him. I found a chaperone for our first outing. I learned from an overly-talkative younger sibling that I was the first person ever to ask her out.

Our first event went very well. We spent a day perusing a museum and getting to know each other. I was very impressed with her thoughtful insight and her cheerfulness despite her circumstances. She had the ability to run a household that wasn’t even her own, yet was not blindly accepting of everything she was told by her parents. Deeply impressed, I asked her parents’ permission for another outing.

A week later, I got a phone call from her dad. He was apologetic but firm. He told me that I was a true gentleman several times and congratulated me on my career. But there was one theological difference that he could not overcome, regardless of how his daughter felt on it. When I heard what is was, I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. The issue was so minor that my Christian parents had been married twenty years together in perfect harmony before they had ever even thought of it!

Still, I was satisfied that he at least accepted me as a person. I knew a boy who had been met with ridicule and disdain by a girl’s father when he had expressed interest in her. When she turned twenty-five, still living at home and waiting for a suitor, the dad relented and tried to get the young man to court his daughter again. The young man said in no uncertain terms that he was no longer interested. Several months later, he started dating a woman from far outside homeschool circles.

Recently, I heard that several homeschooling mothers were lamenting that he left the circle of women had grown up with in order to find a wife. To them, it was a contradiction of everything they had expected. They truly had no idea why he wasn’t in a “courtship” with one of their own daughters! I’m afraid that their daughters will also be wondering why for many lonely years.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum. Comments are also open below.

The Graduate is a young man in his mid twenties who was formerly raised in the ATI lifestyle. Although he appreciates the contributions his parents made toward his education, he now sees how many parts of his previous lifestyle were both unwise and unbiblical. Because his family has left A.T.I., he struggles to connect and relate to the people he grew up with

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


"Good old Methotrexate! That's why I went to the doctor. When the asthma goes super ..."

Open Thread COVID 19 – What ..."
"You know, the epidemiologists and assorted research institutes studying this thing recently published the finding ..."

Nancy Campbell’s Total Dismissal of Covid ..."
"Dearest ladies, these are only projections. They are what MIGHT happen. They are not fact! ..."

Nancy Campbell’s Total Dismissal of Covid ..."
"These people are afraid of everything, but have for some reason decided now is the ..."

Nancy Campbell’s Total Dismissal of Covid ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Angie

    This was a very interesting post. I still don’t understand the reason why the father wouldn’t allow the courtship to go any further. What exactly was the “issue”? If a young woman is well past 20…why does she need her dad’s permission to interact or court a guy?

    I know a few young,ATI women who are in their mid 20’s-early 30’s still living at home because they think or were taught that it is the “proper” thing to do until God sends them a husband. I can’t figure out if it’s something they really want or is it something they believe they “have” to do.

  • I’m curious about the theological issue as well…

  • The Graduate

    The issue was interpretation of Romans 14:5 and days of the week.

  • Cathy W

    I find that kind of ironic, given that Romans 14 seems to me to be about not quibbling over tiny theological points. Admittedly I’m coming at this from a radically different perspective than the man in question, but…

  • The Graduate

    The issue was if Sunday was the one true holy day. I said it was preferential; the dad disagreed.

  • Theresa

    During the 3 months I attended a Vision Forum home church, I observed exactly the same problems with the courtship model that this writer points out.

    In order to support the large family that Vision Forum says a young man should have, he needs to be ambitious and hard-working. Any kind of job that generates sufficient income to support a family requires some type of post-secondary training from a 4-year college, community college or trade school. As the author points out, ambitious and hard-working young men naturally want to attend college. Even young men who want to start their own businesses need training.

    To succeed in his career, a young man must be able to think independently. Such young men are less likely to tolerate a tyranical father who makes him jump through many hoops before courting his daughter. Ambitious and hard-working young men capable of earning a good income also want an intelligent, well-educated woman for a wife. But young women from the patriarchial movement, who are not allowed to have any opinions of their own and are often poorly educated, tend to be boring to well-educated men.

    Another problem I observed is that some young men in the movement are also poorly educated and unable to earn an income sufficient for supporting a large family. Some young men I spoke with had no realistic plans for developing a career or vocation.

  • That is really petty. Wow. In my denomination, there was a lot of approving talk about courtship, but what it amounted to was making the parents feel involved while they signed off on whoever their daughter wanted unless he was some sort of heathen. The idea that fathers actually controlled their daughters’ lives would have seemed ridiculous.

  • Meggie

    The Graduate – It is so interesting to read the experiences of a young man. We all recognise the damage done to women and it is terrible to realise from this (and posts by Incongruous Circumspect) how men suffer too.

  • Teri

    I observed the courtships of the oldest son and daughter of the home church leader. The young man approached the father and he asked his daughter if she was interested. She gave her approval and the courtship proceeded to marriage. His son also sucessfully courted a girl. But their sister still languishes without a suitor, possibly because very few young men in the movement are capable of earning enough money to keep her in the style to which she is accustomed. (How their father was able to support his family without a job is still a mystery to me. No one in their small congregation is very wealthy.)

    I was invited to both “weddings”. I put the word wedding in quotes because I later learned that this Vision Forum church did not believe in marriage licenses which they regarded as a government intrusion. The son went through this elaborate courtship ritual and traditonal wedding, but he was not really married! Why would the girl’s father go to such trouble supervising a courtship only to have his daughter not legally married? I had given their son my dead husband’s custom suit to wear at his wedding. I was angry to be an unwitting part of this charade.

  • Steve K

    this analysis appears to be “spot on” and relevant to the homeschool community in our town. I wonder if young men are afraid to talk to me about my daughter. The reality is that I want my daughter to decide, but short of printing that message on a T-shirt, I don’t know how to get that message out.

  • Dr Dale

    The way to get the message out is to take your daughter out of homeschooling. If she is out of school have her go to college.

  • I once asked my parents who they would have picked for me if they were responsible for an arranged marriage. (I have spent time in India and would prefer an arranged marriage there to one in the homeschool movement here. In the part of India I was in, the women generally have more say in the choosing of a suitor and their education an asset.)
    The first people mentioned by my parents were emotionally abusive. The third pick was a nice guy, but not suitable for me. I am so so glad I was able to go to school and university where I did find someone truly suitable (and really sexy).
    At you, Graduate, are free to find a potential spouse in other circles.

  • Flower

    “Faced with failure, most people don’t accept their mistakes but instead cling more dogmatically to the same beliefs that created their errors.”

    That’s rather profound, especially coming from a young man. It applies to many aspects of life.
    You have a lot of substance to say. Thank you for writing.

  • Lady of McCamley

    I found this article both provacative and sad. I do know a few families in our area that fit this model. Surely there is a happy middle ground between the ATI dogma and the free for all dating scene so many of us grew up with in public school and secular homes that created a lot of serial relationships, broken hearts and worse.

    I have to say that the homeschooling community I’ve been in has NEVER considered the extreme courting measures of ATI or Vision Forum…we all thought they were way too heavy handed and narrow minded….or just plain nuts. But neither do we want to go back to the dating free for all we grew up with.

    Our girls have gone to college, have jobs, our sons have gone to college and have jobs.

    Yet I still see so many wonderful lovely active bright young ladies without any suitors. Some unarranged marriages have occured, but so many young men just aren’t dating…father approved or not…and there isn’t the heavy handedness you mention…most families in my community view all involved as having input..parents as counselors but the young people as instigators…and like to see lots of healthy social interaction between the sexes.

    I’m beginning to think both our society and the church discourage marriage…society with its self centered doctrine and the church for its all mission minded doctrine that calls men to Christian sacrifice but not marriage…or is it just the lousy economy and it costs too much to get started?

  • JW

    Although this article is focused on a christianity this same thought is prevalent in secular society as well.

    Can’t tell you how often people would ask me why I am not married yet. Then I get married and it is step 2- Any kids? Geez people!

    Marriage is an honorable institution but not all people will and should be married and for others to ‘force’ their hand is absolutely wrong.


  • Liz

    Lady of McCamley,

    My experience, actually, is that churches pressure young people to get married to an extent that isn’t healthy (my sis-in-law, for example, feels awkward being a single adult in church and has trouble finding a body of believers where she truly “fits” without a husband). Of course, I can’t say what your particular church is emphasizing, and it may be that your church encourages men to “sacrifice but not marriage.” I’m just not sure one could say that about North America as a whole.

    As for the original post, I agree 100%. But I would add a caveat; you don’t have to be going to the extremes of Gothard and Vision Forum to get these kind of results.

    Long ago, when my Hubby was in high school and hadn’t met me yet, he attempted to start a serious, committed, long-term relationship with a girl whose family believed in courtship. To my knowledge, they were not part of Vision Forum or Doug Phillips’ teaching or anything like that. While the daughters were given lots of input, and the parents weren’t nitpicky about day-of-the-week doctrinal issues, THE RESULT WAS THE SAME ANYWAY. The parents would not allow my Hubby to “officially” start anything, because he was not yet at the point where he could financially support a family.

    The thing is, he and the girl knew they weren’t ready to get married. They just wanted to start something committed, with the intent of waiting for marriage until they were old enough. By the time they were old enough, he would be mostly through college and on his way to having a job. But the parents said he wasn’t eligible to start something with her until he was done with college and already making money. This left their daughter with an unfair choice; wait several years (for a man who clearly had every intention of supporting her) until he could “prove” something to her parents….or date much older guys who were already out of college.

    Sadly, these parents came to the same realization you’re describing here–the type of guy they wanted for their girls was not the type of person who’d put up with their family rules and regulations. They eventually helped their daughter settle for someone. Ironically, my husband is the better provider between the two of them. :/

  • Flower

    A lot of young people are not getting married and starting families because they cant’ afford to. If they go to school, they get out of school with student loans. The cost of going to school is so high now that you can’t just work and go to school and come out without debt. Once they leave school, the job market is depressed with the unemployment level pushing down wages for those who are lucky enough to have jobs. The top jobs for young people, Wal-Mart, Best Buy… don’t pay enough to get by much less support a family.

  • Flower

    I’ve found there is a lot of discrimination against single women in the church if they are not young, to the point that these women feel like there is no place for them and end up leaving.

  • The most profound thing you say here is that the father is just as easily misled by flattery as any naive young woman. I think you’re right, and few of us have ever thought about it that way. Good luck to you.

  • TheSquirrel

    I guess the answer to that dilemma would be for the fathers to allow men their own age, their friends, to court their daughters. This is a fairly common practice in other cultures, when it takes so long for a man to establish himself financially. I guess it’s to their credit that these dads find the idea of a forty-ish man pursuing their daughter to be icky.

  • africaturtle

    Love having another male voice around here! And the lines that stuck out to me the most were the two quoted in earlier comments: “Faced with failure, most people don’t accept their mistakes but instead cling more dogmatically to the same beliefs that created their errors.” and “the father is just as easily misled by flattery as any naive young woman” i find your observations to be quite true.

  • wow, I am so glad I stood up to my parents a long time ago about who was calling the shots of my spouse. That’s ridiculous to turn someone down for theology alone; but to speak for your daughter’s theology is even worse. Let her have her own opinions, gallie.

  • rosemerry

    Very interesting post and comments. I am a former Christian and public school teacher, and have always noticed that family influence lasts very well through “secular, dangerous” public education, which I really think is essential for children to learn about and understand people who are different from them. homeschooling should be a last resort for very isolated families or those with special reasons, no t to avoid normal people.

  • The Tragically Flip

    The Romans 14:5 thing just reeks of him grabbing whatever excuse he could to keep his daughter in the home. I’m not a fundamentalist or literalist, so maybe I’m missing some major theological debate on that passage among such communities, but I do know that people often have irrational or unsupportable inclinations, and rather than confront the impulses which make them want to do something, they rationalize any excuse they can find.

    Don’t ask me what his specific issue was. It wasn’t with the author, he clearly didn’t want his daughter leaving the house ever, despite his religious obligation to find a husband for her.

  • One of the very few friends (i.e., penpals) I had growing up, waited until she was nearly 30. The eldest of ten siblings, she was desperate to be a mother herself. Finally, her father chose a man for her. A man 11 years her senior, with four children by a recently deceased wife. Who believed her father was essentially the protestant Pope. And she was so ecstatic, I couldn’t bear to let her sense how sorry I felt for her.

    Apparently the fact that he waited until she was 30 to marry her off escaped him, since as the pastor performing the ceremony, his final words before pronouncing them wed were to “remember that the first commandment God ever gave to man was to be fruitful and multiply.” I felt humiliated on behalf of all women, and especially her; what a crude thing to hear from your own father. Like she was a prize dairy cow he’d finally sold. Gross.

    I hate that man.

    Ironically, he just chose a husband for his second daughter too. Now that she’s 30. It’s a young man she’s know since childhood.

  • Daniel

    That contradiction you point out sounds spot-on. It’s indeed hard to imagine an economically successful young man who would 1) follow everything his parents say (unless they themselves were wealthy and successful, but this seems rare in the largely rural and blue collar fundamentalist homeschool community) and 2) put up with that kind of crap to get a date. I cut all ties at age 18 (I am now 25), but while I was there, it seemed that most of the young men who would follow those rules were, indeed, losers on multiple levels. Which is also sad for the girls who try to do the right thing by honoring their fathers. But I guess “god commands it.”

  • TD22

    This article was 100% spot on. As homeschoolers we’ve run into fellow homeschoolers committed to the courtship philosophy. Courtship families do not account for the majority of homeschoolers, but they are a strong, stubborn and vocal group. We’ve made conscious decisions to distance friendships with other families and even left a church where we were often questioned and pressured to embrace the philosophy. We’ve watched a few families eventually step away from the courtship philosophy, when they realized in their children teenage to college years, that it wasn’t realistic and wouldn’t work. Others stubbornly still embrace the philosophy while it pushes their children toward rebellion or a lifetime of failure. In one family, we’ve watched their children get the courage to escape from courtship, one by one: sneak to innocently date at church (hold a hand, exchange a small kiss), escape the home however possible (signup up for the military, running away), moving in with roomates (a surprise hidden boyfriend came with it). To control their children, courtship families sit together at church and do not allow their kids to participate in church young group activities, where they would be alone and potentially tempted by members of the opposite sex.

    Our biggest problem with courtship families is how judgmental they are as they transfer their value system unto our family and the world. If you do not embrace courtship, then you are labeled worldly or ungodly. The godly choice would be to agree to disagree.

    It is indeed difficult raising and navigating our children through the dating years through marriage. It our individual parenting responsibilities to “train up a child” as we are the only ones accountable to the Lord.

  • Thanks for sharing this article very much interesting…. I can really empathize with this situation though with mine everything turns OK now when the boy really showed effort in courting not only me and the rest of my family 🙂

  • Ben Fredricks

    Wow. I’ve been blessed to be a part of a homeschool family my entire life. Over the years, we’ve evolved from being in the Bill Gothard movement to being much more free in Christ. So far my family has graduated my 3 older siblings and myself, and there are 7 more, going down to the 2 year old. My parents have been an incredible example to us, recently celebrating their 24th anniversary. All this to say, my parents have shared their values and opinions on this issue, but mostly they allowed me to form my own convictions on this topic. That being said, at 17 I’m not ready for any sort of romantic relationship, because I don’t have any sort of financial stability. I have plans for a career track, and I hope to be ready within 2 years. When I am ready, I intend to get permission from her father before even talking to her on the subject, because I believe that is the honorable thing to do. Ultimately, I believe it is the responsibility of the individuals to honor God in their actions, not the parents responsibility. Absolutely the father has a responsibility to protect his daughter, but that necessarily must be limited. That’s my 2 cents, sorry it’s so long.

    Stay Steady–1 Cor. 15:58.

  • ja miller

    Dear Graduate and anyone concerned,

    God says in His Word that the 7th day is hallowed and holy! so my challenge to all of you is ARE YOU FOLLOWING GODS WORD OR SOME MAN MADE TRADITION?

  • M

    Well, Genesis says “there was evening and there was morning, the [first, second, etc] day”. So we know that days start when the sun goes down, not when it rises. And Saturday is the 7th day according to Jews, who were God’s chosen people first so they ought to know. So I’ll repeat back to you, ARE YOU FOLLOWING GODS WORD OR SOME MAN MADE TRADITION?

    Whelp, there was my religious BS in response to religious BS argument for the week!

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Another problem I observed is that some young men in the movement are also poorly educated and unable to earn an income sufficient for supporting a large family.

    Besides ditch-digging, there’s also “Fundamentalist Preacher”. And if you’re good enough at gab and guilt-manipulation, you can grow into a CELEBRITY Megachurch Pastor/Apostle and live REAL high on Tithes(TM).

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    (How their father was able to support his family without a job is still a mystery to me. No one in their small congregation is very wealthy.)

    Does her father preach a lot about Tithing(TM)?

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    I have to say that the homeschooling community I’ve been in has NEVER considered the extreme courting measures of ATI or Vision Forum…

    ATI/Vision Forum is definitely a Lunatic Fringe of the movement.

    I’m beginning to think both our society and the church discourage marriage…society with its self centered doctrine and the church for its all mission minded doctrine that calls men to Christian sacrifice but not marriage…

    Long ago, I concluded that Christians are just as screwed-up sexually as everyone else, just in a different (and usually a knee-jerk opposite) direction.

  • shadowspring

    They believe they needs their father’s permission to do anything. You still don’t understand the level of control in these homes if you have to ask that question. This girl was raised to believe that her father speaks for God in her life, quite literally. Punishment for stepping outside of that paradigm, she has been taught, will come from God himself! Yes, the god who drowned most of the world, ordained stoning of rebellious youth in the Old Testament, who sent poisonous snakes and invading armies against his own people to teach them a lesson, and who is going to burn most of the human race in hell for all eternity. THAT God will punish you if you don’t obey your father in everything!

    It’s a very effective means of controlling your children, but only if you are unrelenting in its application so that they never dare question anything. ATI encourages parents to be relentless in applying this theology daily. It’s very twisted.

  • shadowspring

    I homeschooled my daughter through high school, but we stopped socializing through home school groups about that time. I was still a Very Committed Christian though, so she began to socialize through the mega-church youth group. Her first boyfriend was, depending on who you ask, a case of missionary dating, attraction to the bad boy, the result of never being asked out by a Committed Christian boy, or just a normal part of growing up (learning by making mistakes and surviving).

    And therein lies the whole issue with me. I saw a saying on facebook today: “what screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be”- so true! As Christian parents we are taught myths that if we do everything right, our children will grow up to be perfect little Christian clones who meet a wonderful mate on their first and only attempt, remain chaste until marriage, marry into a state of bliss with this other unexperienced-in-romance person, and easily get pregnant, and then masterfully recreate this life of contentment, peace and joy with their own family!

    Of course no one’s life fits the myth, but you are shamed by believing in the myth to never admit that. If your life isn’t following the script, you KNOW it’s because you are doing something wrong. You fear other people finding out that your life doesn’t follow the script, because you are already pretty isolated and the ostracization that would follow revelation of your failure would be devastating. So people hide it, make excuses to themselves, and agonize in self-deprecating introspection to find the problem so they can fix it. They get more desperate and take more desperate action. The might clamp down harder on the kids, or they might concede failure and give up, or they most likely will consider it a trial to get through and just double-down on prayer.

    The only way to happiness is to recognize that you are trying to make a myth into a reality and that it is never going to happen. Love is about accepting people as they are, for who they are, not about molding them into playing the part you were told they should play by your church. You have to learn to love and accept yourself too, which is hard to do if you are daily listening to preachers talk about sin and what a failure humanity is mostly. And you have to let your children have ownership of their own lives, allowing them the room to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s their rightful heritage as humans.

  • That1guy

    The Graduate
    or all it may concern. I have been in love with a girl for 6 months now. She was deathly scared to tell me that her parents believed in courtship. I am a retired military man who was injured in combat, regardless of that im still striving on to school and further greatness. Her parents found out we were talking, and invited me to their church to talk. Mind you I have a mildly christian up bringing but with what ive seen and had to do my relationship with the lord is torn apart,(working On that right now). So naturally i agree, when i arrived i was ambushed by 6 church members her parents and grandparents, where i was told i was unworthy in the eyes of god to ever be a suitor for there daughter. They did not break me and i held my ground, as i did this they tore into my love manipulating the situation, making her feel horrible. This forced me to back down for her sake. The situation was traumatizing and almost destroyed and chance of fixing my relationship with God. Now fast forward a month and a half, im still torn and hurting her mother is in constant contact with me. Secretly her daughter reaches back out for me, tells me she still loves me. Her parents find out and now want to go about courting. How could their minds have changed? What should I do? Im so distraught and am now on unlevel ground im scared. Im reaching out to you all because of your insight into this topic. I have not wronged my love in any way and will never wrong her. Its just I have no clue what im getting into and no matter how much research I do, all the answers are very bland and uninformative. Thank you

  • Retha Faurie

    Perhaps you can contact Lewis Wells. He courted a girl from such a group, and since then he spoke to many girls from that kind of groups. He will certainly give advice on how to treat a girl like that.


  • Joshua Williams

    There is a lot of truth in the author said about some fathers being too unreasonable, and the other half of the equation is that some young men are too fearful of rejection. I noticed that the author pointed out negatives, but did not offer an alternate solution.

    So granting that what we are seeing is not working well, the question is what do we change? Is it the system or the execution of it that is the problem? Is dating, which even among Christians, has resulted in a nearly 50% divorce rate a better option?

    If fathers provided protection and advice instead of trying to control, and young men acted on God’s leading with faith, instead of following their own desires and remaining fearful and apathetic, would the system work?

    If the courtship system is the problem then what do you propose as the solution?

    If you want to see where I am coming from on this, read my marriage testimony at http://betrothalandwedding.com/content/joshua-and-leila

  • First: M has a point, us worshipping on Sunday is a weekly reminder of resurrection Sunday, and not actually the 7th day of the week–a contention Jews had with early Christians. Enter: Romans 14–The day of the Sabbath isn’t the point. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So long as we rest one day of the week from our labors, we have fulfilled the Sabbath.

  • RJD

    HUG: You contribute nothing constructive to this conversation.

  • Mason Royse

    Ok, first off, let me say that there will always be some good people and some bad people in every organization, group, etc. Christians included. The thing is, they’re never the ones who think they’re bad. Don’t let a few nut-jobs ruin your opinion of all Christians. They’re a very diverse group, united by faith, but divided over petty matters that should be trifling. Anyways. I agree with your “knee-jerk opposite” assessment of some Chrisitans’ sexuality.

  • greatscott

    I know this article is really old, but I wanted to throw my two cents in anyway.

    I was raised in an atheist/apathetic household and started attending church when I was 18. I dated the guy who’d invited me to church, it didn’t end well, and I was scarred for a long time.
    A few years later my church got really into the courtship/homeschool culture. I was not only damaged goods, but by that time I had graduated from a public school and I was also a girl with a bachelor’s degree who had been accepted to graduate school. I wanted a career and wasn’t too interested in children of my own.

    I got told that it “doesn’t make sense for girls who are going to get married to go to college- oh, but it makes sense for you! You have…passion.” I already had my degree.

    As a youth ministry intern I sat through teachings describing the dangers of high school dating, because there’s no possible way to really get to know the person well enough. And then these people were turning around and marrying their daughters off after 3-4 months of courtship.

    I was lied to. I was made to believe that a “godly man” will look at what’s in a woman’s heart, but I soon realized that I didn’t meet the beauty standard. In fact, I didn’t meet any standard. I wasn’t ready- and still am not ready, at almost 23- to get married, give up a teaching career, and start having children because “that’s what Christians do.” I was scarred by the courtship movement just by being on the fringe of it, and am still trying to sort myself out.
    Aside from that, I don’t think a guy should date my father in order to marry me. My agnostic-atheist father would balk at someone asking his permission. “Are you asking me out? She’s an adult.” For once, I agree with him. I CANNOT have a partner that treats me like a child.

  • Astrin Ymris

    I’m sorry that you’ve been through all that. 🙁

    Take heart, though– there are are lots of Christian men who DON’T sign on with the whole Patriarchy meme, and would thoroughly support being a schoolteacher as a Godly occupation. If you volunteer at social justice causes, you might meet them.

    But DON’T feel the need to rush things. You are still very young, and marrying the wrong man is far worse than being single.

  • greatscott

    Thank you! I live in the south (Georgia) so it’s difficult to find solid Christian guys who don’t subscribe to patriarchy. I had the worship leader at the church, younger than me, tell me single women were no good in ministry.
    I think where I balk is the standard. Not pretty enough, not submissive enough, not enough desire for children. I’m coming to grips with it. I would much rather have passion and teach French and do mission trips.
    You are right! I so do not want to marry the wrong guy. Being single while 2 of my closest friends are engaged is hard, but it could be so much worse. c:

  • Astrin Ymris

    Have you considered joining a mainline denomination church, or a liberal evangelical church? It doesn’t sound like your current church is a good fit for you.

    Perhaps you should reconsider your ideas about what a “solid Christian” is. One of the baffling phenomena about Christianity today is the belief that many Christians aren’t “true” Christians. I’m not just talking about saying of people who commit heinous crimes while claiming to be devout that “He wasn’t a true Christian”. I’m talking about denouncing people who don’t share certain beliefs with them as “not a true Christian” even if they obey Christ fervently in loving their neighbor and following the Golden Rule.

    From an outsider perspective, most of this looks like either quibbling on the same scale as The Graduate’s Romans 14:5 disagreement with his prospective father-in-law, or an attempt to validate their bigotry through creative biblical interpretation. Just sayin’. Maybe it’s something you should think about. 🙂

  • greatscott

    I actually did leave my church and am in the process of finding another.

    I’m not sure what your comment was meant to say, but I do still consider them to be true Christians who love Christ and serve him. However, when I look at who I want and need to come beside me spiritually as friends, let alone a spouse, I cannot believe that they see me as an equal. I can’t, and it’s because of their actions and their words. For me, how we treat those made in God’s image is crucial, and what I experienced was neither “the golden rule” not the two greatest commandments.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Actually, I myself wasn’t sure what YOU meant by “solid Christian”, and was wondering if you were subconsciously limiting your search to those with very similar beliefs and practices to your original Church– and thus very likely to have similar beliefs about women.

    If you’re interested in “Two Greatest Commandments” Christians, may I suggest that you check out this site? I don’t know if they can help you find a local congregation that fits your search, but you might find it interesting anyway. My sister, who is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, told me about them.


    Glenn Beck hates them, if that helps. ;-D

  • ssohara

    My parents are from India, they had an arranged marriage and it was less onerous than this!

  • $31700438

    Good Lord. Barbaric. Oh, please, please tell me this “movement” isn’t growing.

  • Joanne

    The ‘situation’ that the Botkin sisters now find themselves in (facing their 30s as Singles in the Quiverfull movement, with no marketable skills whatsoever), now makes perfect sense. Its like they are shooting themselves in the foot and they do not even see it. I think the situation that Anna Sophia and Elizabeth find themselves in is far more convoluted than that of, say, the Duggar girls.

    Daddy Botkin has been making money from his brainwashed daughters, and I doubt that he will want to lose it to another man. The Botkin Sisters are also likely to be more reviled in the mainstream because they have put themselves out there as the champions of doormat-type of wifehood since their teenage years.