What I’m Reading–Courtship in Crisis: The Case for Traditional Dating

So, as someone who has spent many years dating traditionally and occasionally wondering if I was doing something wrong, the premise of Thomas Umstattd Jr.’s book, Courtship in Crisis: The Case for Traditional Dating intrigued me.

Once a proponent of courtship as promoted by the conservative Christian homeschool community, Umstattd learned the hard way that courting is not the best method for finding a spouse—though he admits courtship has worked for some.

The restrictive nature of courtship, designed to protect the hearts and minds of its adherents, has unintended consequences, and many godly young people are actually not finding spouses.

For example, young men often have to work up the courage to ask permission of what Umstattd calls “dragon fathers” in order to enter into courtships with young ladies. Many young men don’t want to subject themselves to scrutiny that may involve submitting financial documents and résumés to the fathers. The result? Godly young women are ending up alone.

Humbled by a failed courtship and dragon-father encounter, Umstattd turned to his grandmother for advice about how her generation had dated. What he learned about her generation’s common-sense approach to finding a spouse became the basis of this book in which he makes a case for Traditional Dating.

Umstattd does a nice job of defining terminology. First, he describes Modern Courtship and its origins that were a reaction to the rampant promiscuity found in Modern Dating. He explains why both Modern Courtship and Modern Dating are fundamentally flawed, and he presents an argument for Traditional Dating that is rooted in common sense and simple rules.

Another interesting aspect of the book was when Umstattd described the history of courtship, and this was one of the chapters I enjoyed most.

I’m not the book’s target audience because Umstattd is mainly speaking to people who believe as he once did. I already believe Traditional Dating is best, yet the book held my attention, and I read it quickly.

Truthfully, no system is perfect and neither Traditional Dating nor Modern Courtship will guarantee a happy marriage. But if Modern Courtship isn’t working for you, then I highly recommend you read this well-reasoned book and seriously consider the merits of Traditional Dating.

I think you’ll be glad you did.



4 Responses to What I’m Reading–Courtship in Crisis: The Case for Traditional Dating

  1. Bekah September 2, 2015 at 8:24 am #

    Interesting! I’ve not heard of this book before, but the whole dating/courtship thing has always fascinated me, and I think I would probably agree with much of what this author says.

    To be honest, most of my exposure to courtship has come from said TV family, and I have to say with all certainty, if my father had been in charge of the permission/denial of a spouse, I would not be married to Ryan today. I would also say that if you asked my father today if Ryan is the best match for me, he would say yes. So…I’m not convinced parents always know their children’s hearts the best. And for that reason, courtship {in the way they taught it} bugs me.

    On the flip side, I will say that knowing from nearly the get-go that Ryan was dating me with the intention of marrying me, unless God led either of our hearts differently, made a HUGE difference in our dating relationship. The fear, the game-playing, the overanalyzing that I did in every other relationship was not present at all, and instead, I got to enjoy comfort, security, and excitement for what was to come.

    And one last thing – I read recently that the one son in said TV family who had entered a courtship right before the cancellation – is no longer in that courtship. I would be so interested to know if the ending of that relationship was truly because they weren’t a good match or if all the external drama scared her {and if so, I wouldn’t blame her!!}. I also wonder what the parents think of that, since this would mark the first courtship {publicly admitted anyway} to end in anything other than marriage.

    My apologies for the ridiculously long comment.

  2. Sparksofember September 2, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Courtship with financial documents and resumes?? I’ve never watched said TV show but that seems to be taking courtship a bit beyond what the word connotes to me… I liked the I Kissed Dating Good-bye book and, especially the sequel – it seemed to me Harris wasn’t advocating for the above type courtship so much as disliking modern dating.

    So what is traditional dating compared to modern dating? I’ve never been sure what to call how Hubby & I did things. We were friends who became best friends and then we were a couple “dating” with the intent to marry. But there was never any “dating” per se.

  3. Marissa Shrock September 2, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    No need to apologize for the long comment! I agree that game playing and overanalyzing can be tough in dating relationships. And about the courtship that didn’t work out for the member of the TV family–I also wondered some of the same things!

  4. Marissa Shrock September 2, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    Umstattd defines traditional dating as not getting serious too quickly and not being afraid to meet lots of people to find what will be a good fit–with no promiscuity. Often people who are in favor of courtship shun modern dating because of the promiscuity associated with dating.

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