Our Courtship, Part One: No Dating
Part One: No Dating
What follows is mostly just story, with very little commentary. All memories are mine, aided a little by Luke for parts he was there for. Everything I wrote is true as far as how I remember it. I didn’t try to make anyone look any better or worse than how I remember them acting.
When I turned 12, my parents threw me a dance party for my birthday. I was in the sixth grade at the time, for what would turn out to be my last year of public school. At the party, my best friend, who was a boy, asked me to dance. We stood at arms length, awkwardly holding hands and swaying to the music.
That boy and I never went out, although I had a different boyfriend later that year. I think we ‘dated’ for about a week (talked to each other once in that time period), then the last day of school he sent me a note saying we needed to break up. I was crushed — even more crushed than when Mikey dumped me in the second grade for a girl because she was taller.
The following summer, my parents decided to homeschool us starting the upcoming school year. My parents had been reading and listening to a lot of new material. I think maybe they’d gone to a homeschooling conference by then. They became convinced that the way we had been living was not as pleasing to God as it could have been, and that meant changes were coming, but mostly for their children.
One evening that summer, my dad told me, “You’re not ever going to date.” I assumed this was a joke, along the lines of his “You can’t get married until you’re thirty” jokes.
I laughed, and he looked at me seriously, almost angrily, and told me he wasn’t joking. I was stunned. I didn’t know how I would ever get married if I didn’t date. The answer, I soon found out, was courtship.
What exactly courtship is, I wasn’t sure. It’s not a well-defined term, and people use it many different ways, but my basic understanding was that it’s a relationship that is intended to end in marriage, and in which the families, especially parents, are intimately involved.
Why I would be courting, my parents (and books they gave me) made very clear in the weeks, months, and years to follow. It was the only way to keep my heart safe for my future husband. I learned all the typical things here and there: dating was practice for divorce; giving away your virginity (or even your ‘emotional virginity’) would make you like a rose with petals torn off, a wadded up piece of paper, a candy bar that someone had licked. My dad told me that when you date someone, you knit your heart together with their heart, and if you break up, it’s the same as divorce – it tears all the knitting apart and breaks the yarn. It leaves you broken, and not whole for your future husband. Many marital problems, they said, were caused by people being broken by dating.
I didn’t want my heart to be broken.
I felt guilty for the boyfriends I’d had in grade school; I wondered if I had already ruined my future marriage.
Seeing as I was only twelve, I was far from marriage, so for the next few years, nothing much happened that’s relevant to the story. I just felt happy that my parents were going to protect my heart. I had a few crushes, which consisted of me wondering if THIS was the person I was supposed to marry, but nothing very serious. (I tried very carefully to ‘guard my heart’ which basically meant shutting down the romantic part of myself as best as I could.)
(Libby Anne talks about her crushes here, and I expect many formerly homeschooled women have had similar experiences.)
Part Two >