It seems that my great grandparents’ rule forbidding my grandmother from going out with the same guy twice in a row was a common rule in those days.The Greatest Generation was encouraged to date and discouraged from going steady while in middle school.I explained what courtship was and quoted Joshua Harris, chapter and verse. “I don’t think courtship is a smart idea,” my grandfather said.“How can you tell who you want to marry if you aren’t going out on dates? I ignored their advice on relationships, preferring to listen to the young people around me who were passionate advocates of courtship.They were not the Bible-reading, small-grouping, mission-tripping Christian young people common in evangelical churches today.And yet her community of friends all got married and then stayed married for decades and decades.“If I had only gone out with 3 or 4 guys I wouldn’t have known what I wanted in a husband,” she said.It is not that her parents were uninvolved; it is that they played an advisory role, particularly as she entered high school and they relaxed the rules about not going steady.
Over dinner, my grandmother shared her story about what dating was like back in the 30s and 40s.Visits and comments poured in from all over the country about how to make courtship work and why it did not work. I’m talking the kind of couples who first kissed at their wedding were filing for divorce. The deal was that if we put up with the rules and awkwardness of courtship now we could avoid the pain of divorce later.Each year I waited for courtship to start working and for my homeschool friends to start getting married. The whole point of courtship was to have a happy marriage, not a high divorce rate.Dating was evil and Courtship, whatever it was, was godly, good and Biblical.My grandparents would often ask why I wasn’t dating in high school.