Don’t Touch Me — A Reflection on Courtship and Purity: Merab’s Story, Part Two
HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Merab” is a pseudonym.
< Part One
Sometime after my first boyfriend and I broke up, Stephen (my old friend from the NCFCA) surprisingly called me. He and I caught up about our lives, about college, and reminisced about our golden debate years. One memory still sticks out in my mind: several years prior, we had gone to NCFCA Nationals; at the afterparty, Stephen had led me up multiple flights of stairs to the top of an historic statue, and we looked out over the city and talked.
I had been convinced I was going to marry him, and now, two years later, he was calling me!
We had been talking on the phone for several months when one day he called me again, his voice different. “I’ve been thinking,” he said, “and I’m just not sure we should be talking on the phone like this. What’s it going to lead to?”
“I’m…I’m not sure,” I said.
“I just think that we don’t want to encourage something that can’t happen right now. I’m just in college, and not in a position to be with someone or support anyone. I don’t want us to spend time leading each other on with no point to it,” he said.
I really respected this guy as a friend, a rational being, and a “good” Christian man, so I immediately agreed. How respectful of me he was, putting us first, breaking things off so our emotional purity was not jeopardized.
I felt like this for a few minutes after I hung up the phone, and then I realized—wait, how we were going to talk?
After thinking some more, I resolved to wait until he was ready. He’d know when the time was right, when God told him he could court someone. If we were supposed to be together, God would bring us together.
And wait I did.
I didn’t have a boyfriend for two years, chiefly because I couldn’t find someone I liked as much as Stephen, who was sweet, rational, artistic, and intelligent—and shared my ideology about dating.
Then, in my senior year of college, the waiting paid off. Stephen got in touch with me again. One conversation led to another and I agreed to make the three-hour drive to his university so we could see each other.
The evening was perfect. We went out to dinner, talking about our families and politics and pasts and dreams for the future. I had just found a job as a teacher after graduation, and he was going to travel. We watched a television show with some of his friends, sitting next to each other but not touching. When it was time for me to leave, he walked me out to my car.
We lingered outside in the cold, neither of us wanting to leave. Finally, stepping closer, he said, “I’ve liked you for a long time.” I told him I had liked him too. After we hugged (quickly), he closed my car door for me, smiling. I felt joyful—everything was finally working out.
But then, nothing. He didn’t call or text me. The silence continued for a week. By now it was Christmas break, and at home my sister saw me miserable with apprehension, so she messaged him on Facebook and asked him to get in touch.
He called me the next day. “I’m sorry I said what I did,” he said. “I’m very fond of you as a friend. I’m still not in a position to be with you; I’m studying abroad next term.”
“I completely understand,” I said calmly, my eyes filling up with tears. I sobbed uncontrollably after he hung up. I didn’t care that we would have had to be in a long-distance relationship; I felt I would have waited years for him, a champion of purity. I finally began to view his dating ideology as an excuse for not stepping up and being real with me. I wish he had cut the “I can’t support a wife” line and just said, “I’m not sure if I like you romantically.”
To me, the courtship movement gave men and women alike a ready excuse to not speak the truth.
Even when I knew Stephen was using the “I’m not in a position to support you” statement as an excuse, I still pretended to agree with this because I was supposed to, according to the courtship movement. If someone couldn’t support a wife, he couldn’t support a wife.
At about this time, I began to realize that I could support myself, and that the previous statement was problematic, implying a power structure that favored male earning of income. As more and more of my public-schooled college friends began to date without constantly questioning their purity and value in life, dating also lost its stigma for me. I concluded that I would never be able to know if I wanted to marry someone if I didn’t actually spend time with them, even if I wasn’t ready to drop everything and get married that instant.
I resolved to focus on the work of teaching.
God would still send the right pure man along for me, and we would ride off into a glorious sunset (and have amazing sex because we were pure).