What ever happened to courtship?
In August of 1888, Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz the inventor of the Motorwagen, took Karl’s automobile without his knowledge and drove it on the first long-distance road trip. She completed a 121-mile roundtrip journey where she purchased fuel from a pharmacy, cleaned the carburetor with her hatpin and used her garter to insulate a wire. With a maximum speed of only 10mph, she arrived safely at her mother’s house where she sent a telegram to her husband and returned home three days later.
Video Source: MercedesClass1886
Cars forever changed the way people lived.
By the 1930’s there were so many accidents and fatalities that States began to enforce driver’s exams and licenses. Roads were being paved, cars could go faster and safety features were being implemented. Driver’s Ed was now mandated in every High School across the nation so that we could ensure novice teens would be “safe, responsible drivers.” So what does this have to do with dating or courting?
One of the most profound impacts the automobile had was on the introduction to dating. No longer did a young man walk to a girl’s house and sit in the parlor with a chaperone as the two young people politely engaged in conversation sitting in opposite chairs. Instead, this same boy could now borrow his dad’s car, pick up his sweetie and head out for dancing or a movie followed by “heavy petting.” Yes, cars did that.
Traditional courting was now under the threat of extinction; dating had arrived. Frantic parents fought the change in a losing battle as hormones and happiness gripped vulnerable teens. Boundaries loosened, commitment intensified and supervision disappeared. It became almost impossible to stop reckless dating. Young hearts were now torn between dating or courting.
In the past 100 years, cars have undergone rapid transformation driven by the cultural supply and demand. Driving styles now vary from the experienced grandmother in the fast lane gripping the wheel with her soft leather hands to the overly confident teen weaving in an out of traffic blaring music through an iPhone and chugging an energy drink. Safe, responsible drivers are now defined by a matter of personal opinion. Likewise, the question to date or court does not seem to have a one-size-fits-all answer. Dating has evolved into a wide range of behaviors making it very difficult to recognize true love relationships at all. Courting, on the other hand, has gained some momentum in recent years as parents try to reestablish authority and influence.
But teens don’t want to court; they want to date.
Why? Because everyone else is doing it? Sure, that may be part of it but a much bigger reason is a cultural shift that is not going to change. Social media is now driving the process. And, unless you are willing to give up your family’s Smartphone, move to the Australian outback, trade in your car for a Motorwagen and refuse electronics in your home, social media WILL impact teen behavior. That is exactly why it is called, “social” media.
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
What is the solution to the escalating problem of teen desire and temptation? Is there a way that we can guide our teens to be in the world and not of the world? The answer is, yes!
Is it dating or courting?
We don’t have to choose one or the other. We can take the best of both courting and dating, apply the Word of God and redesign a safe, responsible model for teens to learn about relationships. Look at cars; the Motorwagen was redesigned with 4 wheels instead of 3 to add stability. Airbags, antilock brakes, and shatterproof glass did not make a car, no longer a car. Cars from the 1990’s are no longer being manufactured; progress happens. No one wants to go backward – especially teens. How can we expect them to call their car an “automobile” and go back to hand crank windows? Which is more important, what we call it or whether or not it keeps our precious babies safe and gets them from point “A” to point “B?”
As parents, we can redefine dating and flush out the sludge of unhealthy relational disciplines by strategically injecting courting concepts in a current and relevant way. Dating does not have to be bad. It does not have to be evil. Well-defined dating can pave the way to healthy, Godly love when clearly understood and continuously modeled. It can be slow, intentional, purposeful, safe and appropriate. The question is, can we embrace change and still honor God?