You may be aware that the discussion of "courtship" has been making its rounds through the Christian blogosphere lately. Thomas Umstattd kicked things off by writing "Why Courthsip is Fundamentally Flawed". Douglas Wilson, a defender of courtship, responded here and again here. Before I voice any opinion on the topic I must completely disqualify myself from the discussion considering I am not a father and did not court Caroline before we got married. That being said, I'd like to dip my toe in the discussion to say one quick thing and quickly head for the door.
One of the things that Wilson brought up near the end of this piece is the importance family and community in the courtship process. Perhaps it is just one of the aspects of our modern individualistic age to try to squeeze the idea of courtship into the categories that Modernism has presented to us. Over the past four years or so I have discussed this topic with people and not really having too strong or formed an opinion on it (until the probably the past 18 months). However, one of the objections I heard a lot against courtship had to do with the family dynamic.
"How can a guy court me if my parents are divorced and my dad lives in California?!?"
"How am I supposed to court a girl if her parents aren't even Christians?"
One of the good points I think Wilson makes for courtship is that it is a communal and familial issue. Before we can start attempting courtship in a church community we must first be asking more fundamental questions about the nature of the Christian community we live in and the family dynamics of both the guy and the girl.
Courtship, like so many other cultural issues Christians are trying to work through these days (abortion, homosexuality, etc.), is an issue much further out on the branch of the tree. This is not to say that courtship, along with the issues of abortion and homosexuality, doesn't deserve our attention but it is much more difficult to deal with those issues out on the branch of the tree if the root of the tree is rotting away.
I do believe that courtship follows Biblical principles of involving the family & church community in the lives of young people coming together in marriage. However, I also believe that a vibrant Bible believing community that doesn't practice courtship will have many more successful marriages than a lifeless community trying to force courtship on their young ones. Again this isn't to excuse the vibrant community from their lack of prudence, but it is just an example of how these issues need to be taken to a more fundamental level in our day.
Food for thought.