The Lost Art of Courtship

21 03 2010

I was in a public place the other day; one of those places where you drink coffee and read one of the papers provided in the racks. The only trouble was that the only paper left was the Daily Mirror which I scanned for lack of anything else to read.  So, OK, I am naive and this is not part of the media I usually habit, but it struck me that here is a paper written by and for people who have little else on their minds than sex and broken relationships.  If an alien landed here and picked up the Mirror it would have a very poor view of human beings.

It was somewhere in these pages that I noted survey ‘facts’  about how fast women on dates end up in bed: a few the first time, more the second time, and even more the third time.  A day or so later I  found myself in conversation with someone who spoke of a friend, “She needs sex.”  Well no, I  thought, she needs love and you are both confusing the two.  Sex should flow out of love but don’t tell me you love someone on your first date. Sex in that context is purely a physical gratification thing and it seems that such sex is the equivalent of ‘comfort eating’, done  by those in need of cheering up. The only trouble is that the next morning you are back where you started, still hungry for comfort.  As I wrote in the previous  blog, it is a difficult world for single people who live according to the deceptive teaching of the media!

A few days prior to all this I had found myself meditating on Ecclesiastes 4:9 – “Two are better than one,” and in the course of writing the meditation had observed as follows:

“So many things in modern life, it seems, separate and divide and cause loneliness. Possibly one of the most obvious ways in our modern society is what used to be called ‘courting’. How alien that concept seems to have become in a world where it seems it is common to not even wait for the third date to end up in bed. Yet sexual intimacy has proved to be elusive for many. Sex isn’t necessarily intimate; it can be purely exploitive, and we feel used. The excitement of once-forbidden fruit lasts only a while and then the couple realise they are miles apart; there is inner loneliness, even though there is outer closeness.

The advice I (as a pastor) used to give to young people, and still do if they are willing to listen, is develop your relationship in three slow stages. First of all get to know each other by just being with each other, talking and sharing and finding out about each other, i.e. build the social aspect of the relationship first. Second, if the couple are Christians  then develop your spiritual relationships together – read the Bible together, pray together, go to church and worship together, and seek God’s will together and serve God together. Then, and only then, if these two facets of your relationship together indicate you are compatible, you talk about life-long commitment and only when you are committed for life, do you develop the physical side of your relationship.”

In the light of the Daily Mirror’s ramblings about sexual behaviour and the conversation I had about a friend’s ‘needs’, these words seem, I agree, staggeringly naive yet it is patently obvious that the mating rituals (even you could even call it that!) of modern couples do not bring about happy and secure relationships – simply because they have the order wrong!   Seriously, think about it!  Social – spiritual – physical.  It works!

The thing about old-fashioned courtship was that the boy worked to win the heart of the girl, which was not (obviously at least) given over easily. She wanted to be told that she was special and she needed the behaviour to go with the words to make them real. She wanted to know that he appreciated all of her, not just a few minutes in bed. She wanted far more than that and so he had to work for it. It wasn’t sex she ‘needed’, it was love, and that had to be worked at, worked for and proven. Modern girls have abandoned that and are clearly the poorer for it! Time for a change?

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