Monday, September 10, 2007

Interesting Critique of the Courtship and Betrothal Movements

Here is a very interesting online book that is a self-proclaimed response to the courtship and betrothal movements. It is written by Robin Phillips, son of Michael and Judy Phillips, who are well-known in the courtship and betrothal communities for their writings, particularly Best Friends for Life. Unfortunately, I don't know how to copy and paste parts of a PDF file, or I'd give a sampling of the book, but let me just say, if you are an advocate of either betrothal or courtship, in whatever form, READ THIS BOOK!

It's. . . interesting. . . refreshing. . . largely true, to say the least. I like Robin Phillips perspective. He doesn't think recreational dating is a good practice, and he understands problems with our culture's general view and practices related to romance, but he also has some very good critiques of commonly-held views in courtship and betrothal circles. He attacks the movements, not all courtship. It's a very good read.


Meg G said...

OK, so I just spent time reading that book instead of checking things off of my wedding 'to do' list! It's all your fault, Susan. I didn't intend to read the whole thing, but it kept my interest, so I finished it. Fascinating, really. Eye-opening, and downright scary in some respects. I have a hundred thoughts going through my brain now, but my overall impression of the book is this: very good book. I don't necessarily agree with everything in it, but I think he shows great wisdom in most of the things he says. I had no idea of some of the extreme ideas being taught by some prominent 'courtship' proponents - wow. I'm not sure I like how often he quotes his parents' book to show his view (which is opposite his parents' views, for those of you who don't know). But at one time, he does say he quotes from it with permission. It doesn't put them in a very good light. Aside from several typos and grammatical errors, the book does a very good job of explaining the problems with recent courtship and betrothal movements. I'm still shaking my head over some of the things I read about. Reading the book, there were times I thought, "Ack! I hope nobody thinks this is what Susan and Adrian went through!" ;-)

Ben said...

"In 1997, I Kissed Dating Goodbye soured(sic) to the top of the bestseller lists"


Susan said...

Yeah. . . that was one of the more amusing ones; at first I thought he was trying to make a little bit of a jab. The book was definitely not thoroughly proof-read!

Laura said...

Hi Susan,

I found your blog a bit ago and I've enjoyed browsing through the archives. I like your writing style, not to mention your sense of humor.

I've read about 1/3 of the book (so maybe I shouldn't even be commenting yet, haha). I found it to be quite interesting, although I can't say it's "refreshing" as I'd previously never heard most of what he's refuting. (Admittedly, I am not in the thick of courtship or homeschool circles, and I can count on one hand the number of young people I know who have decided to forgo recreational/casual dating.) Is the Gothard/Lindvall type of authoritarianism more prevalent in courtship trends than I ever realized?

zan said...
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zan said...
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Lydia said...

Wow! I just skimmed through a couple chapters of this. I had no idea how wacky some of this teaching has become about courtship. I have even read Michael and Judy Phillips book, "Best Friends for Life." At the time, I thought it was a good book. I'll have to go back and re-read it sometime.

I will say this, my dad has told me numerous times before, "Don't marry someone unless you are absolutely crazy about him."

And crazy he was about my mother before he married her. He had his eye on her when she was 17 and he was 19! They knew each other for eight years before they married but they weren't in a formal relationship during that whole time. BTW, I think 8 years is entirely too long. I think you can know whether someone is right or wrong within a few months.

I wouldn't understand this "no romantic feelings" business. I think a relationship should be based on more than merely feelings but the feelings certainly have to be there. Hello? Song of Solomon, for crying out loud!

That story about the woman who married her former husband was really weird. Isn't there something in Scripture that actually forbids someone marrying their former spouse? I thought it was in the books of the law somewhere. Help me out here, someone.

Lately, I have been having second thoughts about some of the teaching related to courtship. Maybe it doesn't work for everyone. I, for, one have certainly heard and even witnessed enough failed courtship stories. But ultimately, I think it is because people put their trust in a "method" of finding a spouse rather than in God himself.

Those are my initial thoughts with what little I read of the book. I'll have to read it later.

*thinks to self* "And I told myself I wouldn't read any more books related to marriage or relationships with the opposite *ex." *groans*

Adrian C. Keister said...


There is indeed a verse about not marrying a former husband. However, the situation forbidden was this: A marries B, A divorces B, A marries C, either A divorces C or C dies, and then finally A marries B again. In other words, there needed to be someone in-between the two marriages to the same person in order for it to be forbidden. The verses in question are Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Incidentally, I'm sure that the law was written for men as well as for women.

In Christ.

Caroline said...

Thank you for taking that other post down. As funny as I thought the story was, the picture was, um, kind of gross to look at. Hope that doesn't hurt your feelings with what I just said.

Sherrin said...

I have not read the book, because I don't think I need to be spending my time doing that at the moment! Extreme courtship movements are definitely not big over here in Australia, in homeschool circles or anywhere else, so it is not of much relevance. However, I would like to make a general comment about what others have said. It does seem disrespectful to his parents to pit himself against their book in this way. I wonder if he could have found another book that dealt with the same topics?

I also wonder if it is appropriate to label Lindvall a nut because you disagree with his teachings, Zan? I dislike much of his teaching, and I can understand why you would feel even more strongly about it!!! However, it seems that he does sincerely want to apply the Bible - whether or not we agree with his conclusions.

Zan said...
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Susan said...

Sherrin, I think I do have to agree more with Zan on this, thought I would have been much more likely to agree with you (not Zan) a few years ago, and I still do see where you are coming from. I think if you read the book, you'd perhaps at least see why Zan would call Lindvall a nut, even if you would not appreciate that term. Lindvall teaches a ridiculous view of patriarchy and honoring of parents. Example:

Lindvall's father growing up was very anti-alcohol, even in moderation, and Lindvall didn't fully agree with his father on this. After growing up and becoming independent, Lindvall occasionally drank alchohol in moderation, but he realized that he was "dishonoring" his father by doing this, and so pledged that not only would he not drink alcohol because of his father, but he would also teach his children that alcohol in any form was wrong. Now, regardless of your stance on alcohol (since I don't know it), imagine deciding that in order to honor your parents, you had to pass on one of their erroneous beliefs (or what you perceived as erroneous) on to your children. Using Lindvall's logic, false doctrines could never be resolved, because that would always be breaking the 5th commandment, and would have to be continually passed down to each subsequent generation. His "Biblical" reasoning in many instances, and the way Lindvallites have shunned a couple for things like holding hands - "emotional adultery" - is truly awful.

Just because Lindvall is sincerely trying to apply the Bible doesn't mean he is not very wrong and very dangerous. Jesus spent more time blasting the sincere Biblicists of His day than anyone else. The Pharisees laid rule upon rule to God's law, just as Lindvall does. Jesus did not bless them for sincerity, but called them a "brood of vipers." The essence of the Gospel is that we are broken and cannot earn our righteousness, and those who thought they could were furthest from the Kingdom of God. Having come out of much Pharaseeism myself, I'm convinced from my own experience that many "sincere" Christian conservatives are very far from understanding the essence of the Gospel. Just as when Peter questioned the need for the cross and Jesus replied in a surprising manner, sometimes we must respond to people like Lindvall with the same startling response: "Get behind me, Satan!" But we must do so carefully, and without self-righteousness. This can only be done with godly wisdom.

Zan said...

Susan! You're back!

YAY! Fill us in.

I do think teachers like Lindvall are more dangerous than your average non-Christian. I'm not doubting his faith, though the fruit of his teachings are questionable.These people make Christianity nearly impossible for your average Joe.

After reading the e-book, I think I changed my ideas about who should marry and when. I had some pretty limiting ideas that were common sense, but not biblical.

Sherrin said...

Yes, I can see where you are coming from Susan. Do you see any other teachers in the conservative Christian scene as worthy of the same warning?

The case of alcohol is an interesting one. There is actually an instance in the Old Testament where God commended a group of people for choosing not to drink alcohol. They chose to do this solely because their ancestor had opposed it. God used them as an example to the Israelites. I heard this on a Doug Wilson CD. Are you familiar with this passage? If so, what do you make of it?

Zan said...


I feel a little bad for calling those teachers nuts. I wouldn't mind if you deleted my comments. Please? I have some friends who follow these ideas and I was thinking that they aren't "nutty" just grossly mislead. (???)

Susan said...

As you wish, Zan :-).

I do definitely see other conservative Christian teachers needing a similar warning, but I also am not sure it's wise for me to provide a list out-of-the-blue. That seems more like gossip on my part :-/. As issues come up, I think it is appropriate for me to address my disagreements with various leaders, but I'd rather mentioned them in context, if you see what I mean :-).

I think you're speaking of the Nazarites? They are people who vow to God to be set apart for a time and not drink alchohol, shave their hair, etc. Hmmm, but you say it is because their ancestore opposed it? That must be something else. I have no memory of that OT passage, and I feel like I'm semi-well-versed in OT instances like that. Hmm. I'd be interested in the specific passage, if you come across it.

Robert said...

I believe Sherrin is thinking of the Rechabites.They are mentioned in Jeremiah 35.Verse 6 says "But they said, we will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever."

Susan said...

That is rather interesting. Thanks for the reference, Robert. I'm rather perplexed by it, actually. Any thoughts, anyone?

Sherrin said...

My main thought is that perhaps Jonathan Lindvall is not such a nut after all . . . at least in this respect!

Seriously speaking though, I don't think a case can be made for total obedience to ancestors (against one's own biblical convictions) on the basis of this one passage. All it does do is make me less hesitant to dismiss such views as loony outright - after all, in one case God specifically endorsed them.

Susan said...

I agree that a blanket statement can't be made from this passage, and I also agree with you that it makes Lindvall's view on this particular point less odd. I do appreciate you bringing it up :-). He does have quite a lot of other views that I think are very dangerous. This was just one example, but the book has a lot more. *shrugs* What he labels adultery is. . . stretching the meaning considerably. Holding hands with someone while single and unattached is simply NOT "emotional adultery." And no way should a couple be shunned for that! But I digress :-).