A Single Man’s Struggle: Does The Courthship/Group Approach Help or Hinder?

On another blog I comment on, there was a discussion about women’s dress and modesty. This was people commenting on an audio message that someone posted. The discussion lead to lust especially single men and what could be done to help it. The message quoted one single man as even saying that a purse strap over a woman caused him to stumble.

For background, one person had previously shared that the single men even in their 30’s at her courtship taught church were pretty much staying to themselves and having limited interaction with single women. Another person I know shared that the group/courtship teaching gave the single men an excuse for avoiding getting to know single women and they stuck to their hackey sack playing etc.

I wonder sometimes if a lot of the “lust” these single men seem to struggle with could be attributed to the group/courtship philosophy and/or the environment this philosophy seems to produce? One can usually tell if a church promotes this philosophy by looking at how the singles interact. If the single men and women are acting almost afraid of each other, then chances are high it is a group/courtship church.

What I am asking is that maybe a lack of genuine single brother/single sister friendships (I am not talking romantic) can produce problems such as lust. Things can lead to fantasy when normal interactions are suppressed. If the single brothers and sisters aren’t doing healthy things together as one person indicated then maybe that could be at least a partial cause.

I am not excusing behavior but just asking if maybe the situation is not helping or maybe this is even setting up single men for failure? It certainly sounds ludicrous to me for 30 year old single men to be playing video games with each other and having limited interaction with single women. I have heard people say the group/courtship system conveniently give single men and women an excuse to not interact. That may not have been the intention but it seems to be what it produces.

Maybe a lack of healthy friendships is a big cause of why a purse strap causes one to stumble?

Thoughts?

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11 Responses to “A Single Man’s Struggle: Does The Courthship/Group Approach Help or Hinder?”

  1. krismum7 Says:

    I would agree that the “courtship system” is both a symptom and a cause of what looks like an obsession with rooting out “lust” among men. It’s a symptom because humans crave a formula to deal with their sin. It’s a cause because it places far too much “heaviness” on male-female interactions.

  2. steve240 Says:

    Kris

    Thanks for your comment. Can you expound on what you mean by “too much heaviness?”

  3. krismum7 Says:

    The courtship system places far too much heaviness on male-female interactions because it creates an artificial, either/or mentality. Either a guy must treat a girl “like a sister,” or else he is sinning, or else he enters into a courtship with her. And a courtship isn’t merely “dating,” as Josh Harris has made clear in both of his books. Courtship is “interaction with a purpose, which is the intent of exploring the potential for marriage in a relationship.” Courtship as I saw it play out at my former church also involved a great deal of parental supervision and direction.

    If that ain’t heavy, then she’s your sister! 🙂

    It just seems like if there were some middle ground – a place where guys could acknowledge that they find women attractive or alluring, and even spend time with them that wasn’t automatically geared toward marriage OR viewed as “casual and therefore sinfully lustful” – then maybe this wouldn’t be such a huge “thing.”

  4. MR Says:

    I have been a man in the singles group at Josh Harris’ church for over 20 years. The pastors mean well, but there are perhaps unintended results of this policy among single guys. Those of us who have chosen life long celibacy can become very comfortable here. The friendships run deep among the men, and that can be very helpful fighting loneliness. It may look like we are just playing video games, but there is very meaningful interaction that helps us keep going without a wife.

  5. steve240 Says:

    MR

    Thanks for your comment. I am glad to hear that meaninful friendships happen. I don’t think the person who made the comment thought all that was going on.

    I think her point was that the kissing dating goodbye approach gave single men especially those that hadn’t chosen celibacy an excuse to avoid healthy interaction and friendships with women. I would also suggest that even if one feels they are to be celibate healthy male/female friendships should still occur.

    Thanks again for your comment.

  6. uberfrau Says:

    I am not particularly religious-so maybe I just don’t get the whole idea of courting-as dating doesn’t have to be casual. It also seems to me that friendship is the most natural and dare I even say it, wholesome foundation for any future relationship. Two adults should be able to sit down and talk it out. I think the problem is that the distinction between attraction and lust isn’t clearly defined. To me, there is a difference. And attraction is completely natural. I don’t understand how men who have it drummed into their heads that attraction is a sin, can form relationships with women.
    I think it also puts women in an awkward position-one thing that annoys me about church is the underlying feeling that single women are some sort of temptresses–when really, as the purse strap shows-it doesn’t take much of anything to cause a man to “stumble”-what’s the next logical solution? A separate room for women?
    Furthermore, as an adult woman-the last person I want involved in my dating life is my father So much of the evangelical movement today seems to be concerned to retreating to some earlier period of time-however, it is not the victorian era. And weirdly, many of the boundaries put on getting to know each other today seem more elaborate and stringent than they were even back then.

  7. Christina Says:

    What if the point had been, instead of kissing dating goodbye, kissing unintentional dating goodbye.

    In which case, you would have a biblical model of dating, that could be defined as courtship, but could be a more casual dating model – but with intentionality.

    And the intention would be this: Dating/courting with the sole purpose of finding a spouse.

  8. steve240 Says:

    Christina

    I can see the point of intentional dating. I can also see the point not wanting a couple to go together for years without the goal of marriage.

    On the other hand, I don’t think it is healthy how the group/courtship model seems to discourage healthy friendships between men and women. There also isn’t a distinction between doing things as friends and long term seeing someone.

  9. Matt Says:

    “It certainly sounds ludicrous to me for 30 year old single men to be playing video games with each other and having limited interaction with single women.” I found this quote to be pretty funny because I know 30-year-old single Christian guys who do this.

  10. SavvyD Says:

    If you have a wife/husband at home that you can express your sexuality with, a purse strap wouldn’t cause you to stumble–at least that’s what I think!! Besides, they should be looking at their eyes and talking to them. I’m defintely blogging about my former situation!!

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy Says:

    I think it also puts women in an awkward position-one thing that annoys me about church is the underlying feeling that single women are some sort of temptresses–when really, as the purse strap shows-it doesn’t take much of anything to cause a man to “stumble”-what’s the next logical solution? A separate room for women? — Uberfrau

    Simple. ISLAM. In its most extreme forms.

    Uberfrau, the example you cited in the above quote IS the exact chain of logic used to justify the Burqa, FGM, the Locked Harem, the Honor Killing, and all the other male-supremacist baggage that comes with Extreme Islamic Sexual Morality. Look at Saudi Arabia and/or Taliban-era Afghanistan for a preview of where that “next logical solution” to “lust” and “seductive Jezebels” will take you.

    As Internet Monk remarked a few years ago, “Much of the Christian Courtship Movement would not be out of place in Medieval Islam.”

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