Best of Bweinh! — Dating or Courtship?

April 30, 2008, 12:30 pm; posted by
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Originally published November 5, 2007.

Read volume 1 here and volume 3 here!

Q.   How should a young Christian bachelor handle a romantic relationship?

Focus on the Fancy-FreeA.   Hiding in the alleyway to the heart of every desirable, virtuous Christian female I’ve ever pursued was the darkly-shrouded character of Joshua Harris, author of the equally praised and notorious I Kissed Dating Goodbye. In this alleyway I have put up some spirited and tremendous fights, but always seemed to fail, as Harris swung the proverbial tire iron against my mouth just as I uttered a final, desperate “Fascist!” I’d wake up out on the curb the following morning, blinking in the sunlight . . . bruised and battered. Throttled. The loser.

My foil, this Harris fellow. He always seemed to head me off in college, and as time went on, he even seemed to take preemptive steps to ensure my romantic failure. I decided to wait him out, for surely his influence would drop off, and I could mount new offensives on the hearts I treasured. This never happened. I thought these women were asking for the impossible; ironically over-romanticizing our interaction by never allowing for a medium ground. It was go big or go home with these chicks. Suddenly, parents were part of the quotient, friends had to be courted and won over with equal necessity. Anger.

The female I pursued with the greatest amount of energy in my career — Lady Jerusalem of my Crusades — was a devout follower of Harris’s philosophy. In desperation I waited for a time when a friend was working the register at the college bookstore, bought the book with a wink, snuck it back to the dorm and proceeded to read it furiously, not for edification, but as a coach who had miraculously come across his rival’s playbook. Finally, theology to pick apart, poor analogies to dismantle, and an infuriating condescension to inflate and act injured by.

When it was finally fully read (much to the jealousy of my uncracked textbooks), I sat back and realized what was so wrong with the book, where its flaw was most exaggerated.

The book was not written for Americans. It’s written, rather, for some romanticized Victorian-era youth, ripped straight from the pages of Pride and Prejudice. I was infuriated. A little research revealed my suspicions that Harris was homeschooled (as was I; stand by).

I prepared my verbal counter-offensive, deciding that the best way to slip past Harris in the alleyway was to complement him to a degree while roundly dismissing him. I looked to President Hoover for guidance, memorizing his dismissal of prohibition: “Our country has deliberately undertaken a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose.” Yes, that’s the ticket, I told myself. Americans don’t court, we date. And if we were to attempt a comprehensively Biblical approach to love, we’d do neither, leaving the decision entirely to our parents.

So I played the role of a Benedict Arnold, betraying my homeschooled tribe. I told the object of my desires how flawed his worldview had to be, having been so isolated for so long. I told her I had suffered the same fate, but was smarter than the average bear and came through unscathed. She seemed to be listening anew. I went for the kill, tearing homeschooling a new one, while loving all it had done for me.

Did I feel dirty? Absolutely.
Did I feel bad? Not even a little bit.

It’s a good premise, I assured her, noble and just — just not achievable. I’d love to convince your parents first, but I don’t even know if I want to convince them — eyes sheepishly on the carpet, with a hushed whisper — without knowing if I like you enough. What do you say we catch some mini-golf and a movie this weekend?

I mean, if you had camels, I’d water them for you, but since you don’t, how about we get a couple of slices?

We’re Americans, for the love of Mike — Christian Americans, 8 days a week; but Americans, still. Let’s do it our way. Let’s rebel against this rebellion!

Of course I never offered, and don’t still, any clear response to Harris and his followers, other than the status quo highlighted with Christian integrity. But at the time I was able to offer up a dazzling array of one-liners that kept the defense guessing with every snap.

And while I am, of course, unmarried and hopeless, with zero prospects, I hold it as a point of personal pride (an eternal ego ember, no matter how immature I may have been) that I was able to waltz into that alleyway, after so many repeat beatings, feed Joshy a corner of that proverbial dumpster, then take his recently brain-soiled apostle to see a movie — stealing a kiss during the lull in the story and the climax of our relationship.

Popcorn, Josh. She tasted like hot, buttered popcorn.


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