Courtship: Extending Parents “Protection” Beyond Home Schooling?

Is courtship’s true motivation a way of extending parents “protection” of their children beyond what home schooling has done for them? This certainly is a good question. If so, is this “protection” wise.

These issues and others are discussed in the following online book written by Robin Phillips. It can be downloaded at the following link:

The Way of a Man with a Maid: A Response to the Courtship & Betrothal Movements

Robin Phillips makes some very good points and comments about the courtship and betrothal movements. I would strong recommend someone with an interest courtship or “kissing dating goodby” download and read this document.

A summary of the points are:

  • The courtship/betrothal movement seems to have its roots in parents wanting to further parents’ protection of their children like they feel they do when they home school their children. Robin Phillips is 2nd generation home schooled.
  • Phillips discussed the roots of courtship going back to Bill Gothard’s teaching especially Gothard’s teaching on family authority. Phillips discusses Gothard’s view on family authority including questioning it. View’s on family authority is provides the foundation for the courtship model.
  • He reviews and critiques Jonathan Lindvall’s teaching on courtship including showing some pretty shocking examples of it going awry.
  • Courtship’s “de-emphasizing of anything relating to romantic love.” He asks if this might be because its not something parents can easily “summon” and hence try to minimize its importance.
  • Questions how biblical “emotional purity” is that is so pushed by courtship advocates.
  • Explains “Why Dating Is Not The Problem And Courtship Is Not The Answer.”

Note: The author has an appendix where he questions whether Joshua Harris is a part of this courtship/betrothal movement he is critiquing in his book. Though Phillips doesn’t seem to think Harris is, Phillips does state that “people might be inadvertently sucked into the wider courtship movement through Harris’ writings as a result of the semantic similarity.” Phillips also states “Boy Meets Girl does present some disturbing parallels with the courtship movement, particularly in his emphasis on reaching a quality of character correctness before one is ready for marriage, and his rather mechanical approach to the operation of human emotions.”

Overall a good book with quite an analysis of what is driving some groups to push toward courtship. If nothing else, reading this book helps you see a motivation behind what is being promoted.

The author of this online book indicates his requests for discussion with Harris went unanswered. I guess I shouldn’t feel slighted that he also hasn’t answered my emails.

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10 Responses to “Courtship: Extending Parents “Protection” Beyond Home Schooling?”

  1. krismum7 Says:

    Hey, Steve…

    This is a good article, and a good online book that addresses this issue. It’s the first place I actually saw anyone daring to put into words what I’d long thought – that courtship is more about parental control than it is about “purity.”

  2. CD-Host Says:

    Steve it occurred to me after you posted I should post a link to defense 5 which at the end discusses what courtship actually was when the term was invented (a ritualized form of adultery). Me thinks your readers will get a kick out of that. The part that would interest them starts at the 2nd picture.

  3. steve240 Says:


    Thanks for your post. I would say that courtship is at least as much about parental control as it is “purity” or is certainly a factor. It certainly isn’t just “purity” as many who promote it seem to say.


    Thanks for the information you shared. The teaching I have heard about “courting” don’t refer to the history you shared. Interesting point about the word history.

  4. Matt Says:

    Gothard is unbalanced to say the least. It’s interesting that a single man who has never been married with no children would have so much advice for parents.

  5. A Kindred Spirit Says:


    I agree! It always boggled my mind, as well. What married couple or set of parents in their right mind would listen to a man who has never been either. Especially considering the “extremism” of what he teaches!

    I don’t think Christians realize that when we’re told to “test everything”, it’s refering to teachings within the “church”.


  6. steve240 Says:

    Last I heard, Gothard despite his age considered himself still under his father’s authority. I find that surprising for someone who is as old as he is.

    I would also question how much he can know with his never being married.

    Thanks for your posts Kindred & Matt.

    I have also read where Gothard has refused to discuss/debate issues about what he taught with people. That makes me more suspect of someone’s teaching.

  7. DB Says:

    I wonder about the wisdom of a system that puts a girl under the absolute control of her parents from birth until they marry her off to a “suitable husband.”

    A woman who has lived this type of life has never had one moment of autonomy going from the, “umbrella of protection,” of her father right to that of her husband.

    Sort of oppressive in my opinion.

  8. Isabelle Says:

    Harris is homeschooled. A lot of the concerns written in books are probably a reflection of his homeschooling. People who are homeschooled have never interacted the female specie other than their mothers and sisters. SO, problems come when they are in contact with this new specie.

    The book “Boy meets the girl” mentioned the issue of having the guy to lead decisions, and asking girls to suppress themselves from making decisions. Who knew if it is his own life encounter where he knows very little of the real world that his wife had to walk him through the real world situations. The male ego is hurt. must write it in the book.

  9. SpurgeonFan Says:

    Isabelle, you said “People who are homeschooled have never interacted the female specie other than their mothers and sisters.” I was educated at home through high school, and am shocked at the arrogance you have to make such a derogatory claim without any justification.

    The vast majority of homeschoolers spend plenty of time with others–just like children in a public or private school setting, they make friends and want to spend time with them. Many families also participate in group social activities, such as classes with other homeschool students, debate leagues, and even homeschool sports teams. I can only conclude you have either no experience with homeschooling or a brief, skewed experience of it.

  10. steve240 Says:


    Welcome to my blog. I am sure not all homeschoolers are the same. Some have interaction with those of the opposite sex (outside of their immediate family) while others don’t.

    Not being a homeschooler, my experience with “kissing dating goodbye” is that teaches people to AVOID relating to those of the opposite sex vs. learning HOW to properly relate.

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